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“Danny? Come on, son, wake up. You’ve been out long enough.”
“Throw water at him!”
“Frank, don’t be an asshole. The drug probably hit him hard. He’s not very big.”
“Wake him up, Rick! I have some feelers out for him and I can’t wait much longer.”
“Wake up, Danny… come on… wake up.”

Danny struggled to the surface of conscienceness., guided by the somewhat familiar voice that he heard from far way.
“That’s it.” Fingers stroking his face. A hand smoothing his hair. It was Steve. Somehow he had fallen asleep on their honeymoon night.
“”Steve?” He asked with a frown. Opening his eyes, he looked around himself, blinking owlishly. Steve was not here and he wasn’t in a hotel but a small cell like room with a bed and a sink.
“Hey there.”
Danny’s eyes widened as he realized who was in his field of vision.
“You!” Danny scrambled up, his vision suddenly going south, as he moved so fast. He felt the champagne coming up and staggered towards the sink, walking on legs that just didn’t work, his hand across his mouth so he wouldn’t hurl Until he got to where he needed to be.
Peterson was right behind him, trying to help him but the second Danny felt the man’s hands on him, Danny pulled away.
“Fuck off!” Danny said as he grabbed the edges of the sink with both hands and vomited. He didn’t stop until there was nothing left, effectively evacuating his stomach of the wonderful food he had eaten at his wedding.
After he was done, stomach hurting and legs shaking, he turned on the faucets and rinsed his face and swished out his mouth, then cleaned the sink.
“Feeling better?”
“Fuck you.” Danny turned and wrapped his arms around himself.
“Danny Danny Danny… oh wait what does Steve call you? Danno right?”
“Don’t you…” Danny held up his fist. “Ever let that name cross your lips!”

“We are wasting time.”
Danny looked up at the new player in the room. He was a well dressed portly kind of handsome in a rugged way man and he looked impatient.
“He just woke up,” Peterson said.
“And I need to know if he can actually ‘do’ what you think he can ‘do.’” Delano growled.
“He can. He comes with a great pedigree,” Peterson countered. He went to take a hold of Danny’s elbow and Danny pushed Peterson’s arm away.
“You’d better take me back to Steve because when he finds you he is going to kick your ass!”
“Ooooo so scared!” Delano waved his hands in the air. “You better know one thing, Danny.” He emphasized Danny’s name with a hard edge. “We are in charge here. Not you. Not your fuck bucket McGarrett. Ok fun is over. I need to show him something.”
“Hear that? Come with me so he doesn’t hit you,” Peterson instructed.
“I’m not going anywhere,” Danny said stubbornly.

Suddenly, Danny felt an intense pain bloom on the left side of his face and he gasped as he fell to his knees.
“Get him over here!” Delano barked.
Peterson grabbed Danny under the arms and lifted him up, trying to ignore the swelling of Danny’s face from the punch Delano had thrown. Peterson half threw Danny into a straight backed chair and turned on a monitor that was on the table in front of Danny.
“Watch.”

Danny’s eyes grew big as he saw Steve and John and Harry on the screen. They were standing in front of the hotel, talking. Steve looked determined.
“I’m watching them, your boyfriend oh excuse me husband and good old John. John McGarrett. He arrested me for gun running. I guess he hasn’t heard I got out of jail on good behavior.” Delano laughed. He turned to Danny and pointed to the screen. “You cooperate or I’ll kill them and do not fuck with me because I won’t be fucked with! I will kill your son! You hear me?”
“Noooo!” Danny yelled trying to get up. Not Garrett! Not Steve or John!!
“Then you’d best be a good boy and do as you’re asked. Now I need you to chill for a couple days. The man who is interested in your uh gifts is going to be coming to see what you can do. And Danny? You can do a lot, or so I hear.”
“Just don’t hurt them. I’ll do what you want,” Danny said quietly, reaching up to touch his face. His swelling cheek was almost cutting off the vision in his one eye and was beginning to throb.
“Then cooperate!” Delano hissed, grabbing Danny’s arm and pushing him back on the chair. “Get him some ice, Peterson!” With that, Delano was out the door, the heavy metal slamming shut with a thud.

“So you’re Peterson?” Danny asked as Rick opened the small fridge on the other side of the room. He took out an ice cube bin and wrapped some ice in a pillowcase he took from the pillow on the bed.
“Yeah Rick is my first name.” He looked up as he walked back over to Danny. “I actually know Steve from the Naval Academy.”
“So if you’re a friend, why are you doing this?” Danny asked.
“I didn’t say I was a friend. I said I knew him,” Rick snorted. “Good old Steve McGarrett. A real pussy for Joe White.”
“They have a father son relationship,” Danny growled accepting the ice and placing it against his cheek.
“ yeah ok if incest is your thing. No way McGarrett should have risen to that rank. No way!!”
“Let me guess,” Danny sneered. “You were kicked out.”
“Maybe I was but it was always about good old Steve McGarrett. Fucking brown nose!”
“You’re jealous because he is so much better than you!” Danny snorted.
“Yeah we’ll see who’s better,” Rick retorted.

“He’s got the ring, Steve! We can do the GPS and see where he is!” Harry said, clapping Steve on the shoulder. “Let’s do it!”
“I can’t believe I was dragged,” Steve muttered. He ran a hand through his hair and tried not to panic. “They gelled the cameras so we don’t even know who it was! Christ, this can’t be happening!”
John squeezed Steve’s shoulder and tried to convey calmness. He totally understood how Steve felt. It was horrible, the thought that Danny had been abducted during his honeymoon and he and Steve had been drugged. He had enemies. He didn’t know if Steve had any.
“I remember his dream. I remember he… he… said the guy who came to him about the dog had something to do with it. That he dreamed about the guy! Handcuffing him! If we can also go through our RING videos we can identify him!”
“Well now see? You have a couple leads!” Harry said happily.
“Let’s get a bead on the GPS,” Steve said.

“You can’t sit there and ignore me,” Rick said.
Danny turned a shoulder and looked away. Rick had just stared at him the entire time they were sitting there and it was creepy and nasty.
“I could be really good to you.”
“Not interested,” Danny answered.
“Tell you what? I’ll go get you something to eat. Do you want some waffles and chicken? I know you liked that when eating with Steve.”

“Fuck off,” Danny answered.
“Danny, you can’t be like that! Do you want me to let Delano get after you? You saw what he can do, hell, you’re experiencing it with your face!”
“I. Don’t. Care.” Danny pulled his knees to his chest and wrapped his arms around his legs.
“Alright. I’ll be back and maybe when I get back you’ll be more receptive.” Rick got up and headed to the door. He banged on it and someone opened it from the other side. “Don’t miss me too much.”

Danny waited a few minutes then stood up and started to explore the room. Sadly there weren’t any windows or other entry points except that one door. He was also aware that a camera on the wall was trailing his every move.
Christ what a predicament! He thought about his dream. Who was the other man, the one with the artifacts? Was that who Delano was referencing? Sighing, Danny sat down and bit his lip. He’d have to be clever and smart. He’d have to entertain this Peterson guy and be cool until Steve found him.

Rick returned with, as promised, the waffles and chicken. He set the tray down and walked around the bed to where Danny was sitting on the floor, staring off into space. Rick sat down beside him.
“Danny, I’m not that bad. Honestly I could be your meal ticket out of here.”
At that, Danny perked up. He snorted and rubbed his arms. “Yeah? And just what do I have to do to have you stamp my meal ticket?”
“Be nice. You know.” Rick ran a hand up Danny’s leg.

“Stop!” Danny immediately stood up and walked over to the other side of the room. “Dint you touch me like that!”
“Well, shit,” Rick said. “You see you don’t really have a choice. I’ll be riding you even if you say no. So you can be nice and accept your fate or we can do it the hard painful way.”
“Try it. I will destroy you,” Danny said.
“Tsk tsk remember Garrett.” Rick sighed and opened the take away bag. “Now come eat.”

Danny thought about his sweet innocent son. If only he had a way to contact Steve to warn him! But there was no way.
“Better eat, Danny. You’re going to need your energy. Frank is going to want a demo so he has something in mind for you tomorrow. You’d best not fail him.”
“Look,” Danny said angrily. “I don’t know what the fuck you want. I don’t know why you’re holding me captive and expecting me to perform like a trained seal! I’m not interested in being your friend nor do I want to even think about going to bed with you willingly! “
“Well then Danny I guess we’ll go to the other alternative that I warned you about.”
“You can fuck your self because you won’t be fucking me.”

Danny did not eat despite Peterson’s prompts. His captor set Danny’s aside on the table with the monitor and proceeded to watch Danny. The blonde tried to ignore him but after half hour, it was getting to be a little much. Just as he was ready to say something to Peterson, Delano burst through the door, brandishing a knife.
“Put your hand out!” He snarled. Danny stared not understanding what Delano wanted. “Give me your damn hand!” Delano grabbed Danny’s hand and pulled it towards him, splaying his hand flat against the desk. Danny tried to shirk back but Delano held him fast. “Hold him, Rick!”
Peterson gripped Danny’s shoulders so there was no way to get away. With a downward chop, Delano cut off Danny’s finger, rings and all.
The pain hit him like a firebrand. Danny fell back, holding his hand as the hole where his finger was pumped blood. Danny felt the room spin as Delano left, taking finger and rings with him. Blessedly, Danny fell to the floor, unconscious.

“We’ve got a bead on them, Steve! We’re going to get Danny back now!” Harry turned the car into the drive of the house where the GPS had kept pinging. He roared up to almost the porch of the drab grey building, police cars behind them. Steve was the first one out, running towards the door under cover of the police. Danny had to be there! Danny had to be there!!
He threw open the door. “Danny!! Danny!!!!” The police ran all over and looked in the rooms. Suddenly Steve stopped, eyes wide as he spotted something on the desk. Fearfully, he approached it and with sick horror realized that it was Danny’s ring finger and the ring with the GPS was still on it.

Chapter Text

Pursey Genchmyer was a loner. He struck out with the ladies, and as someone who didn’t care about his appearance, he just acted like the world owed him a favour. It wasn’t that he cared and it wasn’t like he even bothered but he liked to lurk on the perimeter of the action picking and choosing his battles.
He had made acquaintances with Jerry Ortega, a non conventional student who shared some of the same conspiracy theories that Pursey believed in. And along with Jerry Ortega came Danny Williams, a young man who actually tried to befriend Pursey.
There was, though, something different about Danny Williams. Beneath that cute small guy exterior which admittedly Pursey was jealous of, ran a set of strange vibrations. Danny had, according to Jerry, some supernatural experiences. Jerry liked to talk about them but Danny did not so Pursey only heard of these things second hand. Pursey had filed the info away for when he might need it and this was how he now found himself on a small plane with Frank Delano, Rick Peterson and Danny Williams.

“He’s not much of a friend if you sold him out for ten thousand,” Delano smirked. “You should have held out for twenty.”
“I’m just grateful you guys are my new friends and you can use Danny’s gifts. What are you going to have him do first? Summon a genie from a bottle?” Purvey asked pushing his glasses up on his nose. He glanced down at the blanket rolled body of Danny, who had been given an injection of Sodium Pentanol to keep him quiet. Peterson had tried to wrap Danny’s bleeding hand and it must have worked since Danny was not bleeding any longer. There were no signs of blood seeping through the blanket fabric.
“A.. a genie?” Delano looked askance at the nerd who was looking hopeful. “Sure. Yeah. A genie.”
“Where we are going is a pretty magical place. The reason you’re here is to help Danny with what he needs since you call yourself a Spellcaster.” Peterson looked at the sweaty man sitting next to him.
“Well yeah I mean a Spellcaster but in a board game or with die. I’m a first level. But I don’t know anything about what Danny does except what I’ve heard.”

Danny was waking up. The men were talking but it seemed so far away even if one of the voices sounded very familiar. He tried to move his hand but found he was pretty much rolled in the blanket like a sausage which limited any movement.
Christ, they had cut off his damn finger! Chopped it off like it was nothing! Damn Delano and Peterson. Danny closed his eyes and let himself tumble over the edge. He’d check out for a bit and when he woke he hoped that things would be better.

Steve slammed his fist on Chin’s desk. “Dammit I have no idea who these people are and why they want Danny only to cut off his fucking finger! I will end them when I find them! Now we have no way of finding them without the GPS!”
“Steve, we should have a name to the image on your RING video. Sorry it has taken so long but we’re at a guess here since he was careful to mostly stay out of video range, but Kono and Fong are working on it. We will find him, Steve, I promise you.”
“I don’t know how you can promise that,” Steve muttered. “I’m going to hit the restroom. Be right back.”

Steve slammed the stall door simply because he could and it felt good to do it. As he washed his hands he glanced at himself in the mirror and was aghast at how haunted he looked. Dark circles stood out under his eyes and his chin was ringed with day old stubble.
“You need to take better care of yourself, Steven.”
Steve stopped wiping his hands and slowly turned around. To his amazement, a young woman stood next to the paper towel dispenser, her red hair up in a messy chignon, her clothing fitted and bright.
“Sarah?” Steve asked incredulously. It had to be her! Even though Steve had never met her in the flesh Danny had shown him photos of her.
“Well don’t look so surprised! God you ARE good looking! Wow! Danny has great taste and Vice versa. You do know I asked to sleep with him a number of times and he always hesitated. I guess I’m glad we didn’t. That would have been weird you know?”
“I can’t believe… you’re here.. Can I touch you?”
“Sure yeah knock yourself out. Here,” Sarah stood on her tip toes and brushed Steve’s cheek with a kiss. Her lips were warm, alive and yet….
“That’s nice,” Steve said with a goofy grin. He rubbed his cheek and took a deep breath. “What can I help you with?”
“Where’s Danny’s finger? We can’t have the little bugger running around without a ring finger. He needs one so you can slide those rings on again!”
“He uh it’s on ice in Forensics. I can get it if you—“
“No it’s ok, handsome. I’ll find it. Now I gotta run but you… you need to believe in yourself to find Danny and believe in Danny too. You know how resourceful he is.”
“Sarah!” Steve called out.
She turned with a sassy wiggle of her hips. “Yeeees?”
“Help him if you can. And I hope to see you again.”
“I’ll be around. I’m always with you and Danny. You just need to open your eyes.”

“Steve? Steve? Open your eyes!! Hey are you ok?” Chin was tapping Steve’s cheek after finding his friend sprawled on the floor by the sink.
“I’m ok… where did she go?”
“Who Steve? You were alone in here!” Chin helped Steve sit up.
“She was right here… she took Danny’s finger…” Steve rubbed his head and with Chin’s assistance stood up. He felt a bit weak and remembered how Danny was always very shaky after his dreams. It was the energy exchange, Milly told them.
“Sorry Chin I guess I should maybe dial it down a bit.”
“I get it though Steve. So we have an ID on the guy from the video.”
“Let’s see who it is,” Steve said, practically running out the door and down the hall, hope fueling his strength.

“His name is Rick Peterson. Believe it or not the guy was a decorated NYC cop who ran into some trouble when his name came up in a drug bust ring. Some probing found he had 5 million dollars in an offshore account, made from keeping the drug family, the Delano family, under the radar. He was released on bail and dropped off the grid. Interestingly enough, Delano, the head of the drug ring, also went silent. Bets they are working together?”
“But why Danny? I don’t get it.”
“Revenge? Your father was the arresting officer in the Delano case. He worked for months on it but could only get him for gun running.”
“So my Dad might be able to help us?” Steve asked.
“Let’s get him down here!”
“Send a car for him,” Steve said. “I’m going to check something and I’ll be right back.”

Steve found Forensics quickly enough. Max Bergman was flitting about doing some paperwork when Steve arrived.
“Ah Lieutenant Commander McGarrett. What can I do for you?”
“Hey Max. And it’s Steve.” Steve took a deep breath. “Do you.. I mean did you…”
“I don’t want to interrupt but I did give Danny’s finger to the kind nurse who stopped by. She said her name was Sarah and you had sent her.”
“Was she … red haired? Pretty?”
“Oh yes.” Max smiled. “And very kind. Perhaps I’ll get the courage to approach her to ask her out.” Max beamed. Steve sighed and squeezed Max’s shoulder.
“That would be very strange indeed.”

Danny sat cross legged on the bed. He watched as Sarah unwrapped his finger and waggled it in his face. “Why is it blue tinged?”
“Oh stop. Once the blood flows to it the skin will look positively rosy! Now hold out your hand and I’m not going to Lie. This is going to hurt a bit. Well. Maybe a little. Hold still, bro.”
“Trust me going back on is going to feel a lot better than when he chopped it off!” Danny muttered. He held his hand out and squeezed his eyes shut.
“While I’m doing this,” Sarah said as she took Danny’s finger and pressed it against his hand. “I’ll tell you I saw Steve.”
“ yeah?” Danny hissed. Fuck it DID hurt!
“Oh my God he’s perfect! Those shoulders, eyes, hair, body!!! Whew! Stop wincing! I’m almost done!”
“Can’t help it,” Danny said through gritted teeth but suddenly she let go of his hand and he could move his fingers. All 4 of them.
“How’s that feel?”
“Good! It’s like it never left!” Danny flexed his hand and grinned.
“Ok go back to sleep. See you later, Danno.”
“Sarah?” Danny asked as she walked away.
“I know I know. Love you too, kid.”

“He’s moving around in that blanket.” Peterson nudged Danny with his foot.
“Fuck you!” Came the muffled response.
“Leave him alone,” Delano ordered. He looked at Pursey who was sitting quietly in the plane seat, not looking so confident as he had before.
“So you’re telling me you only do magic through some damn game? You’re not a real Spellcaster?” Delano snarled.
“Well it’s not like that… I mean of course I can do it for real! Danny will need me to assist him!”
“If you’re lying—“
“I’m not! Really! I’m not!!”
“Christ, more baggage.” Delano glared at Pursey and shook his head. “I have a whole lot of special artifacts I purchased for an interested buyer and I have Danny who is going to activate them. I don’t know if I need you.”
“You do you do! Ask Danny!”
“If you’re lying I’ll kill you myself.”

Peterson pulled Danny out of the plane via the blanket. Danny was awake and struggling and as he emerged from the confines of the wrap, Peterson noticed Danny had all his fingers on his left hand. He grabbed Danny’s hand and stared at it.
“What the fuck?”
“Let go!” Danny pulled away but his momentum hurled him into Delano.
“How did that happen?” Peterson yelled. “Frank look at his hand!”

Delano grabbed Danny’s hand and stared in disbelief. Slowly though a grin replaced that look. “You’re like a fucking salamander re-growing your tail. You really are the real deal!”
“You’re out of your mind if you think I’m helping you do anything!” Danny said. He shoved his hands in his pockets. Damn but his face was throbbing.
“Remember your loved ones,” Delano snarled. “Click click bang!”
“Not to break up this happy party but we need to get to the cabin before our buyer arrives.” Peterson tapped his watch face.
“You’re right. Let’s go gentlemen. The cabin is at the end of this lane.”

John McGarrett shook his head. “That’s him. Frank Delano. Is he behind Danny’s kidnapping?”
“Yes. Along with this guy Rick Peterson.” Chin said.
John stared at the screen and bit his lip. He knew Steve was more than upset about them taking Danny but they had a plan now.
“Rental cars. Plus someone knows something about the champagne being drugged,” John said.
“Checking on that now. Kono went to speak with the staff.”
“The more evidence we get the better our chances of bringing Danny home.”
“I can’t wait for that,” Steve said.

“Home sweet home!” Delano unlocked the door and ushered them in, his hand lingering on Danny’s back a fraction longer than it should. Peterson glared.
“At least it beats that other place we were at,” Danny muttered. He was still flexing his hand, grateful his Sarah had come to reattach his finger.
“How did that happen exactly,” Delano pointed to Danny’s hand.
“I don’t know,” Danny answered.
“Liar! Well maybe with the help of this guy” Delano poked Pursey in the stomach, “you 2 can conjure up Heidi Klum .”
“Like that would happen,” Danny said. He followed Peterson to a bedroom with a large bed and an en suite.
“We want you to be comfortable,” Peterson said. You and your friend can share this room. And don’t worry,” he winked at Danny, “I’ll be checking in on you so don’t get any ideas to run.”
“Right now I need a shower,” Danny said. “I don’t suppose you have clothes I can wear?”
“I’d like you without clothes,” Peterson sneered. Danny ignored him and got a towel out of the linen closet.
“Rick!” Delano called from somewhere in the cabin. “I need you to go pick up our buyer!”
“We got some clothes for you,” Peterson pointed at the closet. “I’ll be back. Try not to miss me too much.”

Once Peterson left, Danny turned around and glAred at Pursey.
“What the fuck? What are you doing here?”
“Well I answered an ad on Craig’s List for a Spellcaster. You know I thought they meant for D&D. Turns out they mean business. “ Pursey sat on the edge of the bed. “Did they uh do that to your face?”
“Yeah. You’re right when you said they mean business. I got this plus they chopped off my finger.”
“They… chopped off….”
“My finger. Yeah.”
“But you … have all of your fingers so I don’t….”
“It’s a long story, Pursey.” Danny retreated into the bathroom to scrub the dirt and blood off his body. “I honestly think you’re way over your head.”

Rick Peterson had picked up Gabriel Waincroft at the designated time. The man wasn’t a talker; he mainly looked out the windows and checked his phone. Rick only knew him as the advance scout for someone else. He and his boss wanted to see if Danny was the real deal before they bought him and Rick had no idea whether or not that weird guy went with the deal or not. He was supposedly a ‘spellcaster’ but Rick didn’t believe that for one second. He didn’t think Danny needed anyone else. The proof was in growing that finger back. If that didn’t demonstrate the depth of his abilities nothing would!

After his shower, Danny sat on the bed beside Pursey.
“These guys are dangerous. If they don’t think you can help me, they will kill you.”
“Kill me? They can’t do that!” Pursey said.
“They can and they will do it! Are you that stupid you don’t realize that?”
“I don’t know! I just wanted to … be a part of something!”
“Well you’re a part of something alright. And what did you tell them about me?” Danny asked.
“I… might have said that you are magical like I heard Jerry say.”
“Thanks for that,” Danny groused. He looked down at his hand still amazed that his Sarah had helped him. “Well we had better come up with a plan. Something that they will believe. Something that says I need you to … to help me do whatever.”
“I could be your assistant!” Pursey said.
“Ok and then….” Danny raised his eyebrows.
“I could get you the artifacts you know bring them to you.”
“I’m not even sure I can do anything with them but we will have to make it look believable,” Danny said. “Just try to follow my lead and don’t act stupid. Delano seems to be able to sniff out fear like nobody can.”

“Steve! We got a hit on a rental!” Kono came running in to the big room where they were all standing beside the big computer. “Seems that Rick Jeffrey, an alias obviously, rented an SUV with a credit card registered to Delano Brothers Excavating Firm. I put the tracker on and it stops at a small regional airport outside of town.”
“Let’s go then!” Steve said but Chin stopped him.
“Steve, you’re not a cop per se. Plus you’re pretty close to this whole thing seeing as how it’s about Danny. I can’t let you go with us.”
“Fine,” Steve said. “I’ll drive separately. See you at the airport.”
“That’s not… what I meant!” Chin protested but Steve and his father were aleady on their way out the door and down the stairs.

“I need to speak to Danny alone so get out! Go to the kitchen or something!” Peterson commanded. Pursey got up and with a backwards look at Danny shut the door behind him.
“Good.” Peterson advanced to where Danny was sitting. He smiled but it was a predatory look that made Danny’s skin crawl. “Danny. I can help you out here.”
“How?” Danny asked playing Devil’s Advocate.
“I can take you away from here. We could live in Europe or on an island. I’d be good to you, you know. I have plenty of money and nothing would make me happier than to share it with you.” He ran a hand up Danny’s leg.

Danny thought fast. On one hand, Peterson was a liability. He was a crazy guy who yelled a lot under the thumb of Delano. On the other hand if Danny could play into that weakness…
“I’ll think about it, ok” Danny gave Rick one of his smiles that he hoped would convince the man he was on the up and up.
“Don’t take too long,” Peterson said, rubbing Danny’s leg. He grasped Danny’s left wrist and stared at Danny’s hand. “Amazing. You ARE the real deal!”
“I really am. Say, Rick, what’s up with this guy Delano had you pick up? I mean, what does he want?” Danny stood up and stepped closed to Peterson, lowering his eyes and biting his lip.
“He’s the advance scout for the guy Delano is going to sell you off to,” Peterson answered.
“Sell me?” Danny gasped.
“Yeah. So you see.. you’d best think pretty quickly about my offer.”
Peterson grabbed Danny by the shoulders and bumped foreheads with him, letting go and heading to the door.
Danny swallowed and felt his knees get weak. Delano was going to sell him! Geezus but he’d better do some fast thinking!

As the police and Steve and his dad pulled up to the airport, there was a loud boom and fire started to pour out of the hanger. Chin called for fire emergency immediately while Steve ran towards the hanger, his father calling him to stay back. If the place was rigged with a bomb, there would go all the flight plans! They’d never know where Danny was being kept captive! But the smoke and fire were too intense, and Steve stood watching their leads burn up, feeling helpless.

“Go get Danny,” Delano snarled at Pursey who stood up and did as he was told. Danny was pacing around the windowless bedroom and Pursey jerked his head out towards where the men were. “Come on. I guess it’s showtime.”
“Fuck.” Danny reluctantly went with Pursey and as soon as they emerged, a man younger than Delano but older than Danny stood up, half leering half sneering. His hair was combed back and held in a ponytail with a band and his body was obviously that of someone who worked out. A lot.

“What happened to his face?”
“He fell,” Delano said guiding Danny by his shoulders, fingers digging deeply into Danny’s flesh so there were sure to be bruises the next day. “We have a special room for you and your assistant.”
“We aren’t paying for an assistant,” the man said.
“That’s fine. We can discuss it.” Delano unlocked a door and pushed Danny inside. With a head jerk he indicated that Pursey follow him too.
“This is your conjuring room. Notice we painted nice colours on the wall and the tile is from Mexico. All of these artifacts are from various points around the world. Now do your thing so Gabriel here can see what it is you do best.”

Danny walked around the large circular room with the mosaic flooring tiles it was bright and full of colours like pinks and azure on the wall. The man named Gabriel settled into a chair and watched as Danny walked around the room and touched the odd looking artifacts on the pedestals.
“What are these?”
“You should know. You’re here to make them do what they are supposed to do. That’s why my boss is interested in your abilities. Some of these dusty things weld great power!”
“Pursey!” Danny called out. “Hand me that… that monkey thing.”
Pursey did just that, giving Danny the old coppery looking heavy item. Danny sat on the floor cross legged, cradling the old thing in his hands and concentrated on it. He thought about all of the times he was curious about different items and tried to figure them out. He closed his eyes and called on the powers that lie within him to help him out.
“chéng wéi lì liàng。duó qǔ quán lì。zhǎn shì lì liàng。”
(Be the power. Take the power. Share the power.)

“What’s he doing?” Waincroft asked. “What’s he saying?”
“Shhhhhhh,” Pursey said, eyes open wide as he watched Danny. Were his eyes going bad or was Danny shimmering?
Again, Danny repeated the words and turned the relic over and over in his hands.
Just as Waincroft was going to interrupt, he felt hands closing around his own throat though nobody was there! He could hardly breathe and was choking!
“Stop!” He gasped at Danny. “S-s-stop! “
Danny raised his hand and the grip on Waincroft’s neck ended Danny fell over sideways, panting. “He’s dangerous! He’s…. He’s….”
“He’s amazing. I got it on video. Peterson will escort you back to the meeting point so you can go tell your man that Danny Williams is the real thing.”Delano grinned wickedly.
“It’s Williams-McGarrett, you fucking moron,” Danny growled. He sat up with Pursey’s help and glared as much as he could at Waincroft.
“Ok you know I’ll be back. I’ll be back with my boss and he can do another demonstration.”
“Still on track to buy him?”
“Yeah,” Waincroft said. “And he can choke my boss because that shit is off the charts.”

“Hey!”
Danny looked up, suddenly weary. Pursey had taken him into the bedroom to rest but Danny couldn’t completely unwind and now Delano was standing beside the bed, impatience in his voice.
“Get up. You and nerd boy can get up and fix dinner. Come on!”
Danny sighed and stood up, another wave of fatigue hitting him. Delano grabbed Danny by the arm and roughly pulled him up, causing the blonde to cry out.
“Move it! Now!”
Danny didn’t have the will or the strength to fight so he just staggered out and into the kitchen, Pursey now holding one arm.
“Now make something good! Show me you are more than a pretty face!” Delano settled down on the couch, gun in his lap, Eagle eyes watching every move they made.

Danny went through the cupboards. He thought about chili Mac but he didn’t want to make that because it was Steve’s and his dish. “There’s ground beef,” Danny said looking into the fridge. “We can make a kind of stroganoff.”
“I like that! You’re good for something besides spooky shit.” Delano snickered.
“When Steve gets here, he’s going to kill you, Delano.” Danny muttered.
“That’s funny!” Delano laughed. “In fact it’s hilarious!
“I’m glad you think it’s funny,” Danny answered.

“It was a timed explosive. Took out everything and the guys who work there. We got 2 bodies, the manager and the pilot.” Chin stepped away from the smoldering mess and shook his head. “Where’s Steve?”
Kono pointed to where Steve was sitting, perched on an upside down milk crate, running a hand through his hair.
“We’ll find him. I just want to tell him that he doesn’t have to worry. Danny is clever even though… well he lost a finger…” Kono’s voice trailed off.
“We’d better find Peterson and Delano first before Steve or he’s going to do something he is going to regret,” Chin added.
“I agree, cuz.”
“Is Harry back from NYC yet? Why did he run off all of a sudden anyways?”
“I’m not sure but whatever it was he sure left in a hurry.”

Danny shoved the food around on his plate. He wasn’t hungry and he just wanted to curl up to sleep but Pursey talked him into sticking it out.
‘Don’t show the enemy any weakness’ he had said. And it made sense. Danny also knew that Pursey was scared because Delano would sometimes look at the poor man with a calculating look.
Ultimately, Danny thought, they were kind of up shit creek. But he did have one ace up his sleeve and that was Peterson. Obviously the man liked Danny. He had to use that to his advantage!

“Nerd, do the dishes!” Delano ordered.
“I’ll help you,” Danny said.
“No, you’re going to sit here and tell me how you grew that finger back.” Delano rubbed the barrel of the pistol he was holding.
“It just…. I dunno… grew.” Danny shrugged. “Why did you cut it off and leave my rings?”
“There was a problem with your ring. Your ring had a GPS in it and I’m not going to allow your bumbling SEAL boyfriend—“
“—HUSBAND,” Danny corrected through clenched teeth.
“To come out on top.” Delano finished. “I simply can’t.”
“There was a GPS in the ring?” Danny asked.
“Oh yes your buddy that fucking Brit did that. Little does he know that anyone will sing if the price is right. 20,000 though for the information.”
Danny shook his head. Nobody was loyal any
more. People would sell their souls for a sum.

He sat in uncomfortable silence until Pursey was done and only then did Delano allow Danny and Pursey to escape to the bedroom they shared.
“Fuck. I need a way out of here,” Pursey said. “I hate Craig’s List!”
Danny chuckled.
“A little late now for that.” He wondered if he should try to lure Peterson into the room so he and Pursey could overcome him and escape. That might be a plan if Delano was not sitting out there with a damn gun on his lap.
“Don’t worry. I’ll come up with a plan,” Danny said, trying to give Pursey some of his own courage. “Either we get out of here or Steve will find us. I’m confident.”

Harry knocked on the jeweler’s door. The man had totally betrayed Harry by telling Delano that the rings had the GPS chips in them. This made Harry so angry he wasn’t sure what he was going to do. No answer so Harry banged on the door again. Still nothing.
Harry tried the door and it opened. He examined the lock which was broken and carefully crept inside the apartment gun drawn, though he shouldn’t have worried. The man who had chipped the rings was already dead, laying motionless on the floor, arms splayed. Damn Delano had covered his tracks! Harry sighed and walked out the door heading back to Annapolis and Steve to try to find Danny.

Chapter Text

The knock on the door came round about 11 just as Danny was drifting to sleep. Pursey was a snorer. He said he used a CPAP machine but he would just have to wing it while he was here. Danny had tried to put the pillows over his head but that seemed to amplify it. Then he poked Pursey but all Pursey did was grunt and move around. Finally, Danny just curled up with his fingers in his ears. So when he heard the light knock on the door, Danny braced himself because he knew who it was.
“Just a sec!” Danny called out in a lilting voice. Then he turned to Pursey. “Wake up! Wake up and put your shoes on! Do it! And don’t say a word just pretend to be sleeping after your shoes are on!”
“Got it.”

Danny slipped out of bed and opened the door which he now saw was unlocked. Peterson must have done that when he decided to drop by because Danny had tried the door before and it would not budge. Peterson was on the other side, holding a bottle of wine.
“You came prepared,” Danny whispered, stepping out of the way and letting Peterson in.
“I figured you’d like that. Seeing as how we ruined your champagne toast.”
Danny had to dig his fingernails into his hands when he heard that but he kept his features schooled to be even and pleasant.
“Shall we go somewhere else?” Danny asked.

“No I think your room is good but of course he,” Peterson pointed at Pursey, “needs to leave.”
Danny shrugged. “As you wish. Pursey, go on now.”
“I’ll be on the couch if anyone needs me,” Pursey said looking askance at Danny.

“So. We’re alone now.” Peterson sat down on the edge of the bed and patted the area beside him. “Sit down Danny.”
“Ok. But I’ll skip the wine.” Danny sat down on the bed a bit of a distance from Peterson and crossed his legs Indian style. He was tired, and had not realized it until just that moment. The drugs in both the champagne and when they transferred him in the plane, Sarah giving him his finger back and working with the artifact had all taken a physical and emotional toll on his mind and body and all he wanted to do was curl up and close his eyes. But he had to build. He had to allow himself to let Rick Peterson in just enough for him to take the bait.
“Are you tired?” Peterson asked him. He started to rub Danny’s back. Danny tried not to flinch, thinking about how wonderful it was when Steve did the same thing.
“I truly am. Conjuring takes a lot out of me.”
“Why don’t you lay down and I’ll hold you?”
Danny tried not to let himself show his disgust and lay down on his side. Peterson slipped behind him and wrapped an arm around Danny’s waist.

Everything about this was wrong and Danny’s body, so used to the kind loving muscular tattooed arms of Steve almost flipped out but somehow the blonde held it together. He tried to relax as he felt Peterson rub his shoulder and kiss the back of his neck.
Danny told himself he could do this. He could and would. He HAD to so he could prepare for his and Pursey’s escape.
“Wow D…. You’re really tense. Not used to having a man behind you?”
“You have to admit I don’t know you. Give me a little slack ok?” Danny said trying to keep the edge of anger out of his tone. He also hated to be called ‘D.’ It was a nickname the cousins gave him at one time and he just grew to despise it.
“You’re pretty. I thought that the second I saw you. You know you’re pretty?”
“I’m not. Let’s just go to sleep.”
“Ok, D. That nerd assistant can sleep on the couch. Good night.” Peterson planted a kiss at the back of Danny’s head causing him to shiver. “You cold?”
“Yeah.” Better that Peterson think that instead of what Danny really felt. It took a long time but eventually Danny fell asleep, exhausted and worn out.

Steve sat in the family room with Queenie on his lap and Sabrina by his side on the couch. He had been absolutely determined to find Danny that day yet it seemed that Delano was just smart enough to keep one step ahead of them. “What do you think, Queenie? Do you have any outstanding ideas?”

>>I’m not a detective. Though I do have one idea. Not sure you can do it.<<

Bark Bark
REACH OUT TO HIM TRY TO FOCUS ON WHERE HE IS!

“I can do that?” Steve leaned forward. “I … used to meditate. I think I remember the mechanisms of doing just that. But how do I get in touch with Danny?”

>>the best way is to hold a photo and a cherished memory of his …. like Charlie. Hold on to the stuffie and look at the picture and think of Danny<<

“Will you guys help me?” Steve asked hopefully.

Bark Bark
WE CAN TRY!

>>count me in. We need to find him.<<

Steve ran upstairs and picked out his favourute photo of Danny. It was taken at the University when Danny had participated in the
Photo Essay exhibit. And Danny was perched on the floor, knees up, wild patterned socks showing. His blonde hair fell across his forehead and he looked adorable, face open and innocent. Steve held the photo tightly to his chest and blinked back the tears. Danny was in the hands of a madman. Would Delano hurt him more and how could Steve prevent it?
Steve gripped Charlie to him too. There had been occasions when Danny would take a nap and Steve would find the stuffie in bed later. It was very clear how much the tattered animal meant to Danny.

>>now now Steven you need to focus and try to think positive thoughts so Danny can find you. He needs your strength. <<

Bark Bark
THINK OF HIM IN THE PHOTO THINK OF HIM
WHEN YOU SHUT THE DOOR AND WE ARE NOT ALLOWED INSIDE

>>think of making humans <<

Steve chuckled and patted Queenie’s butt. “Ok. Let me just try to clear my head of negative space and reach out to him.” Steve leaned back against the couch, the photo on his chest where his heart beat. Queenie moved closer and cuddled up to Steve’s leg. Sabrina sat on Steve’s feet, her solid warm body a comfort in Steve’s misery.

At first nothing happened. Steve tried to de clutter his thoughts but it was more difficult than he thought. Suddenly he had a mental
Image of Queenie using her back legs to kick his bad thoughts out of the way and Sabrina pulling those bad thoughts away using her teeth.

Steve relaxed. Danny. Danny Danny Danny where are you? Where are you my darling? Danny can you hear me?

Danny sat straight up, eyes still closed. Was it truly Steve? He could see his mate on the couch, holding Charlie with the rabbit and dog around him.
“Steve!?” He whispered.
And it was good that Peterson had left at some point and Pursey was back snoring softly.
“Steve?!” Danny whispered again. “We’re in a cabin but I can hear traffic. I can’t tell you more than that. Oh there’s a small airport nearby. That’s where we landed to come up here. There are pine trees. Big towering trees. Oh and I saw a trail ride like people riding on horses in a row like it was kind of paid for experience. As soon as I can I promise you I’m looing out of here. God I love you. I miss you.”
Steve was desperately trying to hold on to Danny but he felt his mate slipping away. The vision he had had was getting all blurry and as Steve landed with a mental thud back at the house, he opened his eyes and blinked rapidly.

“I know where there are some cabins next to an airstrip,” Steve said. As a matter of fact I know several areas but we can narrow it down.” He stood up after making sure that Sabrina and Queenie had enough room to stretch out. Immediately he got queasy and sat down. “Holy shit! What’s up with the feeling like a bus hit me? It’s the energy thing huh?”
Neither Queenie nor Sabrina moved. They were asleep, heads on paws. If this had worn Steve out it had exhausted them.

Still Steve wanted to strike while the memories were fresh. He wrote down everything Danny told him and even drew what he thought he saw. Someone was in bed with Danny but the man looked like some kind of nerd. Steve didn’t bother with him, as he did not resemble either Peterson or Delano in their mug shots. He debated on waking his dad and Harry up then thought of Burke. He and Milly were still there at the house and the older man could have some knowledge of trail rides and ranches that held them.

Steve walked up the stairs, holding on to the photo and Charlie. It felt like he was climbing the steps at the Empire State Building such was his lung capacity. He stopped outside of Harry’s room, who was sharing with John.
“Your Father is asleep,” Harry whispered as he slipped out the door before Steve could knock and disturb anyone. “Are you alright? You look like you’ve run a marathon!”
“I’m good. We need to talk to Burke.” Steve paused outside the bedroom door where Milly and Burke were. Steve tapped lightly and after a few minutes, Burke opened the door looking half asleep. “We need to pow wow.”
“You got it!” Burke slipped out the room, being quiet so as to not wake Milly though he suspected she was not sleeping.
“Let’s go downstairs,” Steve suggested.
“After you,” Harry said and suddenly they were joined by John.
“I’m here,Steve. I want to help.” Steve nodded and the men tried not to make a lot of noise as they descended.

Danny hugged his pillow to his chest. He’d seen Steve! Steve was trying to contact him! He had also seen Queenie and Sabrina! Oh God he could not wait to get home again! He hoped the clues he had given Steve would help find him though he knew it was like searching for a needle in a haystack. Danny might have to institute his plan sooner than later. But for now, he was going to sleep and be surrounded by the comforts of home.

“So,” Steve began getting out a map. “Here’s the air strip they flew out of.” Steve spread the map on the table in the dining room and circled an area. “We know that there are only 4 passenger to 2 seat gliders that were available at the airport meaning flying time is limited without getting a gas fill up.”
“If we trace the plane’s route going this way that’s right over the water so I’m going to rule that out.”

“How about going west? Or northwest? That would be logical,” John said.
“There is a ranch up there in this hills. I remember they were a member of our Horse Sense Community. Hang on.let me bring it up.” Burke fumbled with his phone.
“So you’re saying that this area,” Steve circled a forested area, “looks like where they might have gone.”
“I can get Joe to bring us better maps,” John said as he took out his phone.
“Dad, it’s 3 o’clock in the morning!” Steve protested.
“And? Your point is? Joe! We need some good topography maps, detailed and downright sensible. We’re talking about the Temple Hills area.”
Dad!” Steve made a face. “How do you know so much about this area?”
“You will? Great. Coffee is on. See ya soon.” John hung up. “What?”
“I said how do you know all about this area—“
“When you have Lou Grover for a realtor you learn things. Now about that coffee.”

Steve grinned as he looked around the dining room table. He had such lovely friends and family. And they would find Danny. He knew they would!

Chapter Text

“Hey kiddo. How was your first day of school after the holiday?” Cecil stopped to pick Garrett up where he was standing but instead, the child shrunk away against the wall. Cecil looked alarmed and quickly walked into the dining room where Steve, John, Burke, Harry and Chin stood around the table full of maps.
“Steve, you need to see what’s wrong with Garrett. I think right now… he needs his Daddy.”

Steve looked up, looked at his watch and was surprised that it was after the time Garrett usually came home. He had been immersed in these maps the whole afternoon. . “Yeah sure I’m coming now.”
As Steve followed Cecil out to the kitchen he mentally booted himself for not meeting his child’s needs before all of this detective work to find Danny.
Sure enough, Garrett was sitting on the floor next to the door, Sabrina half on his lap. A quick glance over at the kitchen island told Steve that Queenie was perched up there but had turned and was watching Garrett.

“Hey hey little man,” Steve said gently, sitting down next to Garrett.
“I’m mad!” The little boy said, his hands bunched into fists.
“Yeah? Me too but you tell me first why you’re mad and then I’ll tell you why I’m mad after. Deal?” Garrett nodded.
“I want my Mom to come home!” With that, Garrett started to cry, big fat tears rolling down his face as he raised his fists to his face to angrily poke at the falling tears.
“That’s precisely why I’m mad too, GMan!” Steve said. He wrapped an arm around the child and pulled him close. “I’m sorry you are here to go through this—“
“I want him to come home!!” With that, Garrett unleashed a torrent of tears and wails. Steve picked him up and carried him over to a chair so the child could hold on to Steve and just let him cry it out. Sabrina sat worriedly at Steve’s feet.
“That’s what we are trying to do,” Steve said. “We’re using maps to figure out exactly where Danny is so we can go get him.”
“B-b-b-but what if he’s lost forever?” Garrett wailed and Steve’s heart shattered into a million pieces.
“Don’t you worry. Grandpa and Uncle Burke and Uncle Harry and Uncle Chin will help us find him. And Uncle Joe should be back any minute with some information we need!”
Garrett’s little hand was holding on to Steve’s shirt where it bunched at the neck. He let Steve wipe some of his tears away with a tissue and blew his nose.

“You promise Mommy will come home?” He asked. His face was so hopeful that Steve had to swallow down the lump building in his throat.
“Absolutely! You know your Mom is very stubborn and smart. He will make sure he helps us find him.”
“I hope so!” Garrett said with a new volley of tears. Steve just held the boy to him and let him cry. Tears were falling down his face too; he truly wanted to believe in what he was saying.
“Do you want to come sit with us while we go over the maps?” Steve asked. When Garrett nodded, Steve stood up with the boy in his arms. “Well then let’s wash our faces in the washroom and go back to see what Uncle Joe has. I hear him in there with everyone.”
“Ok and can Sabrina and Queenie come too?”
“Yes but the rabbit will have to sit on the chair. There’s no room on the table.”

True to his words, Steve set the bunny on a chair while Garrett sat next to her. Sabrina laid on the floor pressed against Garrett’s chair.

Joe raised his eyebrows at Steve when Steve had initially entered the room with Garrett but said nothing and continued to unroll a document.
“These cabins are a 45 minute airplane ride away and there’s a small airstrip and airport about ten minutes from them. Burke, you are right that there’s a ranch that offers horseback lessons about 3 miles from the cabins. So this is what we are looking at. How do you guys feel about a road trip?

Danny picked at the oatmeal and finally just gave up.
“What’s the matter? You expect the Ritz menu?” Delano sneered. He grabbed Danny’s hair in the back and pulled his head back. “Spoiled little maggot.” He let go and Danny felt his face throb with the earlier abuse.
“When is the buyer coming?” Peterson asked.
“Sometime this afternoon. We can have another sample of powers this morning and I’m going to record it on my phone. You ever bring someone back from the dead, Danny boy?”

Danny practically dropped his spoon. He gasped and looked up at Delano. “I have never done that nor will I.”
“You will if I tell you to. Remember we have men watching your house. Watching your loved ones. Watching—“
“I get it, “ said Danny. He wasn’t sure if he totally believed Delano though but it was possible.
“So now I want you and nerd boy to go into the artifact room and practice. You can turn him into a frog or something.”
Pursey looked sideways at Danny and was quite nervous.
“Ok fine. But I suppose you want us to do dishes right?” Danny asked.
“Nerd can do them. Get your ass in there and make things float.” Delano grabbed Danny’s arm and propelled him towards the hall that led to the room.
“I’ll take him. Gotta unlock the room,” Peterson said.

Danny stepped into the room and felt like he was being assaulted with sounds, feels and sights. His head began to pound and as he walked towards a table that held a set of very old looking chains, he rubbed his temples.
“What is it D?” Peterson asked but it was as if he was far away.
“These are….. not good…..” Next, Danny walked over to the one item that looked like a huge golden ring. “The ring of Senicianus…. Why do you have this? You’re playing with fire!” Danny turned and pointed around the room. “How did a guy like Delano get these? You just don’t go out and buy these things! And don’t you understand? These will KILL you!”

Peterson shut the door and hustled over to Danny’s side, putting his finger to his lips to urge Danny to keep his voice down. “Danny, I don’t know where he got these. He’s got a lot of connections and I’m talking about important connections! He’s a very powerful man!” Peterson tried to hug Danny but the blonde moved away.
“I am NOT going to manipulate these for his entertainment. So he can sell me to someone???”
“I won’t let that happen, D. I’ll keep you safe.” Peterson hugged Danny and tried to pull him close. “You have to give me something though. Just a little something to show me that you’re on the same page as me.”

To Danny’s disgust, Peterson tried to kiss him, stiff lips on his mouth, a rubbery tongue seeking entrance. With a sharp cry, Danny pushed the man away and backed up wiping his mouth. “Don’t you ever do that again!” Danny hissed.
Peterson came towards Danny but his stride was interrupted by Delano opening the door and walking in. He looked at the situation and shook his head.
“Quit thinking with your Dick, Peterson! He’s here to do a job not to do you.”
“I wasn’t… “ Peterson glared at Danny.
“Well? What do you think? Which one is first?” Delano asked Danny with a jovial air.
“You’re insane,” Danny said and instantly regretted saying it because Delano was muscling past Peterson with clenched fists. “Because I could turn you into a rat if I used this!” Danny grabbed the relic closest to him. The Ballista Balls from Roman Empire times, used as weapons against invading armies. Danny had no real idea of what they were but then again neither did Delano. Danny could win with the bluff.
Delano paused and raised his arms.
“Ok ok cool it I’m not going to hurt you so just put those down!”

“Get Pursey in here. I need him,” Danny said.
“Go get the nerd, Peterson.” When Peterson hesitated, Delano’s features turned into a snarl. “Go on!”

Once Peterson left, Delano looked at Danny. “Look here you little shit. If it was up to me I’d rape you in a second and bury your cold dead ass in the ground out here. But I need you for my big pay out so let’s make a deal… you want to make a deal?”
“What?” Danny said suspiciously.
“You do what you’re supposed to do so I can sell you off and I … I leave your pretty face alone as well as everything else.”
“You don’t have the cajones to do anything to me except rough me up a little. See all of this?” Danny waved his arms around the room. “I have everything I need to kill you and your lackey. Do you get it? I’m magical, dude. I can bring this place down!”
“You will do as I tell you!” Delano yelled as Peterson ushered Pursey in. “Don’t you threaten me you slut!”

Danny felt the veil of red fall over his eyes. He wasn’t a slut! Delano knew nothing about him!! Delano had taken him from his Steve and Garrett and friends! The room began to vibrate softly as some of the relics began to shake. Danny heard nothing though. He could not hear or see. All he could see was his own anger. It was time for a payback!

“Watch out!”
Danny stopped what he was doing, startled at the loud command that had come out of the blue. Pursey was kneeling with his hands over his head while Delano and Peterson came to their senses. Unfortunately, Danny’s Carrie moment had come to an end and he collapsed, his energy spent.

“He’s dangerous,” Delano shouted. “He’s not coming back in here until the buyer gets here! Get him out of here! There’s a shed out back. Throw him in there!”
“It’s cold—“ Peterson said.
“Give him a blanket then! And get him out of here!!”

“I told you, kid. I told you I’d take care of you but you had to pull that shit. You shouldn’t have done that. You just needed to be cool.”
“Steve is coming, Peterson! Steve is coming and he’s going to rain pain on all of you! Danny tried to resist as they headed to the somewhat dilapidated shed but the use of magic had exhausted him. Peterson shook his head and shoved Danny into the shed throwing a blanket and a bottle of water on the floor in the corner.
“Have fun freezing out here D.” Peterson slammed the door and put a padlock on the outside handle. “You did it to yourself!”he yelled as his footfalls faded away.

Danny closed his eyes and thought about Steve. His lover, his friend, his goofing around buddy, his funny valentine. That was enough to sustain him and drive him to figure out a plan of escape. First he would walk around the small confines and see what he had to work with.

Originally intended as a shed to keep lawn equipment, because there was a lawn mower there, the actual shed was sparse with a raised bottom. The floor was nothing but a sheet of hard vinyl like part of the walls and as Danny jumped on it, the floor bowed easily. There aren’t any windows but there was enough light leeching in from the cracks in the corners where the vinyl sheets didn’t totally meet. Danny looked at the mower and looked at the bottom vinyl he stood on. All he needed was a screw driver or a handle or a …. He spied the table knife on the deck of the mower and thanked the Spirits.

Working quickly, because he didn’t know how much time he actually had before Peterson returned, Danny sat on the floor beside the mower and lifted up the bottom to prop it up on a cement block near the back wall. With the knife, he unscrewed the screws that held the blades of the mower. Once those were off, Danny pushed the mower back and took one of the blades. There was a pair of work gloves laying on the floor as though they had been randomly dropped, and Danny picked them up, gave them a shake to get rid of the dirt and slid them on his hands. They were cold and dirty but they would do to protect his hands as he did what he was going to do.

Time to work his magic, though spirits had nothing to do with it.
Danny held the blade carefully and began to saw the floor vinyl. He was hoping to make a hole large enough for him to shimmy though to the ground and crawl out the raised side of the shed and though it was taking him a while, Danny kept at it.
He sat back and pulled the sheet back with the force of his body’s momentum; the sheet tore easily and Danny was elated to see the ground underneath. Grabbing the blanket and the water, Danny threw them down to the ground so they were out of the way and shimmied through the opening to crawl towards freedom.

As Danny emerged on the other side of the shed from the space between foundation and ground, he was completely free now. He took a quick stock of what he was wearing. That morning, Peterson had brought in a pair of baggy sweats, a tee shirt, underwear and slippers. Danny knew he was ill prepared to be out in the 40 degree weather wearing just that but he had a blanket which he tied around his neck so it trailed like a cape. The water he put in the pocket of his sweats. He had kept the gloves so those too went into a pocket. It was far from perfect but it would do. He was finally free and ready to go and he did just that, sprinting away from the cabin and towards the woods in the back.

“We should be there in ten minutes”, Steve said. He was piloting the chopper that Chin, Harry and Joe were riding in. Steve would not let Burke and John come because it was bound to become a firefight and Steve didn’t want them involved. No, they were holding down the fort at home.
Steve set the chopper down about 4 clicks from the cabin encampment. Steve had already vowed to kick in the doors of every one of the 15 cabins to find his Danny.
“This way!” Steve said as the 4 spread out into battalion formation, close behind Steve and letting him lead.

“I’m expecting our buyer,” Delano said as he pushed the end button on his phone. I told him which drive we are on and Waincroft is bringing him. I suppose you should go get Danny now.”
Peterson nodded and stood up to go and get their captive. He felt bad that Danny was stuck in a shed but Danny had, Peterson reasoned, brought it on himself. He grabbed the key for the padlock and walked out the back door, towards the shed. Danny would probably be freezing right about now. Peterson wished he could warm him up but maybe someday that would happen.
Peterson unlocked the padlock and set it aside and rolled the door open. He stood in complete bafflement when he saw Danny was not in the building and quickly put together how he’d escaped. Oh this was bad. Delano was going to go apeshit. Peterson looked back towards the cabin and then at the woods. He made a decision that he was not going back inside for Delano to scream or worse yet to shoot him. Danny’s tracks disappeared into the copse of woods behind the house. Without a backwards glance, Peterson started running, following Danny, hoping to find the blonde first before Danny could bolt to freedom.

Chapter Text

It was cold.
Danny pulled the soggy gloves over his hands and tucked the blanket into his pants waistband. That helped with the cold. Now all he had to do was figure out a way to get to the main Highway or run into someone camping out, though he hardly thought that was a possibility. Most people came in the spring and summer to cabins like the one Delano had procured for them.
Still, Danny was cautious. He backtracked in his footprints several times and scurried away when it looked like he had just stopped mid stride. He was also careful not to run pellmell breaking off branches and bending bushes back.
He wondered if anyone was following him and ruled it out for now. Delano was probably arranging the ‘buyer’ (the very word disgusted Danny) to arrive and wouldn’t they both be shocked when Danny was nowhere to be seen! Still, there was Peterson to contend with and Danny hoped his escape had not been discovered yet or likely the evil man would come looking for him!

Peterson followed Danny’s trail, smiling to himself when he ascertained exactly what Danny was doing with the footstep thing. Clever boy. And just holding Danny a couple times like he had done even against Danny’s will had remained burned in Peterson’s mind like a brand. He wished things were different and he could steal Danny away and they could live somewhere. That was always the fantasy he returned to, one with no Steve McGarrett or Delano.
It appeared as though Danny was heading to the river, which was a good thing since at this time of year it was high with the winter rains and there were no footbridges across. He would then have Danny where he wanted him and Danny would not be able to say no.

Joe used a hand signal for STOP as he, Chin, Steve and Harry approached the cabin. There was a sedan parked off to one side of the drive and smoke coming out of the chimney. Chin called Kono back at HQ to ask her to run the plate and the car turned out to belong to Frank Delano of New Jersey. Steve smiled to himself. He couldn’t wait for the reign of revenge to begin and judging by the looks on his friends’ faces, all except Joe’s of course as he remained resolutely devoid of all tells, they were anxious too.
Steve stood at Joe’s side, his Glock ready, his vest protecting him from bullets around his chest and back areas.
“The element of surprise,” Joe whispered, “will work like a charm. Chin, you and Harry be the advance scouts and come back to let us know the layout of that place.”
Steve was going to ask why not me but he knew he might not have the patience to return and report so they could make a plan. Chin and Harry both nodded and ran, crouched, towards the cabin using trees and whatever they had to hide behind as they progressed.
“Steve,” Joe said quietly, “we’re going to find Danny. You just need to keep that thought going in your head.”
“I get it,” Steve said. “Yes sir.”
“Good.” Joe patted Steve’s arm and kept his eyes on their friends as Steve soaked up Joe’s quiet energy. It had been like this before, the 2 of them on missions where Joe usually took the lead and Steve learned from Joe’s tactics and strengths.

Chin and Harry returned and joined Steve and Joe behind the trees they were using as cover.
“Two people are all I saw, Delano and some weird looking guy with big glasses. I didn’t see Danny or Peterson.”
“Is there a back door we can access?” Joe asked.
“There is and a side door as well.”
“Saw something unusual in the side yard though,” Harry whispered. “A type of out building like a shed where you’d keep supplies. The door was standing open and upon further inspection someone had escaped via the floor as it was cut and thrown aside.”

Steve felt his heartbeat go into overdrive. Danny! Was Danny being held there and somehow escaped? That made the most sense actually.
“You saw no sign of Danny or Peterson?” Steve asked.
“No.”
“Looks like Danny has been using his head,” Joe said. “Steve? Do you and Chin want to do some wilderness exploring?”
“Never thought you’d ask,” Chin said with a grin and a few seconds later he and Steve were off fanning out towards the woods to the rear of the cabin.
“This leaves you and me Harry,” Joe said amiably. “Let’s surprise them by the side door.I feel like kickin’ it today.”
“Jolly good. Let’s do it!”

Danny crawled up the dirt mound leading to the river he heard and stopped. The river was high and moving fast. He had no chance to traverse it to get to the other side where another bank led to a highway. So close, he thought, listening to the cars. So close and yet here he was. Chancing a look behind him, he saw to his horror that Peterson was approaching. Peterson didn’t see Danny yet but he was coming his way.

Frantically, Danny tried to think fast. He scuttled along the embankment and slid down to the river. He had no idea of how cold the water was, how deep it was or if the current would sweep him away but he was damn sure he was not going to be caught by some maniac.
Danny thought of Steve and Garrett, of Sabrina and Queenie, of Milly and Burke and their friends. He thought about John and Aunt Deb. Without opening his eyes, Danny took a deep breath and dove into the water.

“Steve! Looks like someone is following Danny! Look here!” Chin pointed at a faint boot track near Danny’s prints. And I don’t think Danny is wearing shoes.”
“He’s gonna be cold,” Steve muttered, half jogging as Chin led the way. They had to get to Danny immediately; they just had to!

Joe counted to three on his fingers and nodded as Harry kicked the door in. They split as they breached the cabin, Harry going one way, gun up and Joe going the other way. They heard someone, probably Delano, swear as they came together into the living area but Delano and the nerdy guy with him escaped into another room.
Harry jerked his head towards the door that had just closed snd Joe nodded but pantomimed toHarry to fan out. They spread away from the door as they came towards it and it was a good thing because Delano fired through the door.

“Delano! You’re surrounded! Get out here and we might be lenient on you!” Joe said.
“Are you really going to be lenient on him?” Harry asked.
“Of course not,” Joe answered.
“Just try to come get me! I have a whole room of magical and dangerous items of which,” Delano chortled, “nerd guy here knows how to use.”
“Well that’s wonderful! Conjure up a carpet and you can ride out of there but the only way you’ll be coming out is in cuffs!” Harry yelled.

Delano looked at Pursey with unabated hate. “So do your thing, Spellcaster. Do what Danny did earlier!”
“I don’t know how to do that,” Pursey wailed.
Joe and Harry looked at each other and Harry smiled.
“Sounds like you’re in a pickle!” Harry called out.
Swearing, Delano randomly chose the monkey paperweight he’d seen Danny work with the day before. As he held it, Delano felt its’ heat, its’ weight, its’ sinister heartbeat. Suddenly he felt his arm turning solid and he stared at it in disbelief, watching as the veins stood out on the clay coloured arm, solid and Stoney.
He tried dropping it but no matter how he turned his arm, nothing happened. The object was stuck like glue to him.

“Help me! Surely you can do that!” Delano screeched at Pursey who had backed up outside of the realm circle and sat on the floor with his hands on his head. Delano tried to move away too but he could not because his leg was turning solid as well, appearing statue like before his very eyes. Screaming and using his gun hand to hit his leg, he looked like an over the top Jackass performer.
“Help me! Help me!!!” He screamed at Joe who was moving cautiously into the room. However, movement from beside him caught his eye and he backed away and out, putting an arm up so as to not let Harry enter.

The items were starting to float, levitating before their eyes, swirling around now towards the ceiling in a ghoulish facade of noise snd colour. Strange babbling and guttural chanting rained down on Delano as he slowly turned to stone, gun and all, the final expression on his face one of horror.
But the relics were not done yet. They spun and circled and the frequency became faster and faster until they were just a blur. With a mighty roar of triumph, the relics caused the roof to explode and as the pieces of wood and shingles rained down in the room, and Harry and Joe shielded themselves against the far wall, a hole on the sky opened and all the relics were sucked in, the last one inside before the hole became sky again and aside from the damage done to the roof, everything was back to normal.

“That was… amazing?” Harry asked Joe. They entered the room carefully, walking around a solidified Delano. Harry tapped Delano’s arm and suddenly, the statue crumbled into a pile of fine shards on the floor.
“He got what he deserved,” Joe muttered. They looked at Pursey who was in the corner, looking scared. “You have a lot of explaining to do. Lie down hands behind your head let’s go,” Harry said.
“Where’s Danny?” Joe asked.
“I don’t know! Peterson locked him in the shed and when he went to get him, Peterson never came back! That’s all I know! Really!!”
Joe and Harry exchanged looks over Pursey’s prone body. Their worst fear was realized.

Danny swam as best he could, fighting against the current and the general numbness from the cold water. He vaguely heard someone yelling his name but he kept going, trying to reach the other side. He thought of Billy Selway, of Sarah and her family and he just knew he was not going to lose his life in a river in the middle of nowhere.
Suddenly his feet touched bottom and he rejoiced that he had made it. With every ounce of his strength, Danny crawled on to the rock covered bank and sat down, gasping and shivering.
“Danny!!! You ok?”
Danny looked up and over at the riverbank on the other side. Grinning, he waved and allowed himself to lay back and try to catch his breath.
“I can still shoot you! You’re in range!”
And fuck. Danny stopped gloating and sat up slowly.
“Don’t make me do it D! I don’t want to hurt you but you need to just listen to me!”
“I don’t need to listen to you,” Danny said as he started to stand up. “You’re an asshole! I’m not in love with you! I’ll never be in love with you! You can shoot me all you want to but you see that bank back here? That leads me to the Highway! So if I were you, I’d best get to running!”
“D!! Come on!!!” Peterson fired and the bullet struck the soft dirt beside Danny’s foot.
Danny jumped and scrambled for the bank, shedding the blanket and grabbing hold of whatever he could find to grab to propel him upwards.

“D!! Oh shit come on would you not do that?!” Peterson fired again this time near Danny’s head but Danny was almost there! He reached for a tree root and pulled but just as he was ready to vault over the edge, the root broke and he tumbled down the slope and fell hard on his left side.
The immediate pain in his arm made his eyes water. Something was wrong.

“Stay there, D! I’m coming ok! I’m coming!”
“Fuck you, Peterson,” Danny groaned and tried to turn on his back. He felt dizzy and nauseous and closed his eyes to fight off the feeling of needing to vomit.
“Rick Peterson! Stay where you are! Hands up and put the gun down!!”

Was that Chin? Oh God was that Chin’s voice Danny heard. Was Steve with him?

Danny struggled to look and saw with a burst of love that Chin was cuffing Peterson and Steve was standing next to the river.
“Danny! Are you ok?” Steve called out.
“Yeah I’m good! Can’t move my arm though! It feels weird!”
“Just stay put!” I’ve called EMS and we are going to cross the river to get you so don’t move!”
“How are you… how are you… oh Steve! That’s how you’re crossing the river!” Danny heard a splash. Of course the SEAL was going to swim. Danny just closed his eyes and waited.

“Danny.” Steve knelt beside Danny and gently lifted him to sit up one arm behind Danny’s back. The blonde’s teeth were chattering and his lips were a shade of mottled blue. Where Delano had hit him had morphed into a rainbow of blue and yellow and purple. But oh my God he was beautiful! Steve laid down and gently cradled Danny in his arms. He heard the wails of the sirens. He heard Joe talking from far away but all he wanted to do was to concentrate on having Danny close to him again.
“I love you.”
“I love you too you schmuck! Can’t believe you swam over here but then again you never met a body of water that you didn’t like!” Danny said.
“I might have figured you’d escape.”
“They made it easy for me,” Danny laughed and opened his eyes to stare up at Steve’s handsome face. “Thank you.”
“You’re welcome.”

Chapter Text

Steve shrugged off the offers to go in another ambulance to the hospital until Joe stepped in.
“You’re soaking wet, Steve, and shivering. You want to be able to stay with Danny then you’d best go get looked at and get warm. You aren’t doing anyone any favors by playing the macho man.”
Steve took one last look at Danny and nodded, finally acknowledging that he should accept help. He walked to the bus, though, and climbed in the back himself, sitting down on the gurney.
“He’s so stubborn,” Harry said standing by Joe and watching as EMS started looking Steve over.
“You could say that,” Joe nodded. “ so…. Our friend Peterson is going to be going away for a good long while.”
“For sure. And all he keeps blabbering about is seeing Danny one more time. I do believe he’s got a sensitivity chip missing,” Harry scoffed.
“At least he didn’t end up like Delano. Now that was a fitting end to a bad ass criminal!”

Once at the hospital, Steve took a shower and pulled on the scrubs he was given. He almost felt like a real doctor and twice as he walked from the locker rooms to the ER desk patients stopped him with a question.
“Have you been released, Mr. uh McGarrett?” The ward clerk asked, shuffling through papers.
“Yes. I was supposed to come here to sign out and then I want to see my mate, Danny Williams McGarrett.
The ward clerk, whose name was Betsy (Steve read it in her badge) smiled and nodded. “He’s in surgery right now, though don’t look so alarmed, it’s just for his arm. He has a torn bicep so they’re fixing it.”
“So it’s kind of a … non emergency surgery type of thing?” Steve asked worriedly. He remembered what Danny said about his arm hurting so much.
“It needed to be fixed but it’s not a high risk type of thing. He will have to wear a brace and sling to keep the arm immobile and afterwards get some PT.”
“Sounds reasonable,” Steve said. “Where do I wait for him?”
“You can wait in his room which is down the hall almost to the stairs, Number 402.”
“Thank you!” With a friendly nod, Steve headed towards what would be Danny’s room, suddenly feeling the effects of the long uncertain and emotional day. By the time Steve got to the room, he headed for the chair in the corner and fell into it, running a hand through his hair and wishing he could just stretch his aching body out to sleep.

“Steve! Got your clothes here. Thought I’d take them home for you.” Chin walked in carrying a plastic bag containing Steve’s wet clothes from his swim in the river. “I’ll be back for you guys tomorrow. It’s my understanding Danny is going to stay overnight.”
“I’d appreciate that, brah.” Steve stood and gave Chin a half hearted bro hug. As tired as he was, it was an effort that made Steve short of breath. Chin noticed immediately.
“Sit sit sit,” Chin said as he propelled Steve back to the chair. Steve sat with a groan and tried not to look at Chin. “Did you get checked over?”
“Yes before I showered.” Steve sighed and leaned forward in the chair. “I’m just weary. I’m worried about Danny and hope he’s ok.”
“A torn bicep is nothing,” Chin said as he patted Steve’s back. “Danny’s a kid. He will recover from it pretty fast.”
“Yeah but we don’t know what he’s been through. So help me if either Peterson or Delano touched him—“
“I asked Danny and he said no. Calm down. It’s ok.” Chin started to rub Steve’s back. “I can’t believe how Danny got out of that garage! Cutting a hole in the floor using the mower blades… ingenious!”
“Danny is very clever.” Steve felt the fight leave him and closed his eyes. He could just happily fall asleep right here right now.

“Somebody is anxious to see you,” the nurse who was guiding Danny’s bed inside the room said. She expertly turned the bed to line up with the bed in the room and raised the bed she was currently wheeling to match the height of Danny’s.
“Steve…. Hey …” Danny said groggily. Steve waited until Danny was moved into the bed in the room to try to inch over and see him, careful of the telemetry board and the IV stand. Danny was reaching for Steve with his right hand, waving it in the general direction of where he’d seen his mate.

“Hi sweetheart,” Steve whispered, grabbing that hand and moving close. Chin slid the chair over behind Steve and with a hand on Steve’s shoulder, urged him to sit.
“My bicep I guess…” Danny looked askance at his arm. “I guess it’s torn? They corrected it or sumthin….” His voice trailed off.
“Yeah and they looked you over really well. Nothing broken on your face, just bruised. Your vitals are good.” Steve glanced at the beeping board.
“Tired.” Danny yawned. “Wait… Delano?”
“That’s a story for when you’re more awake,” Steve said, stroking Danny’s hair.
“Pursey?”
“Who?” Steve asked, frowning.
“He’s in jail,” Chin interrupted. “Maybe he will make some new friends there.”
“Serves him right,” Danny muttered.
“I’m going to get you 2 something to eat before I leave,” Chin said. “I’ll be back so try to stay awake for a bit ok?”
“Try,” Danny repeated. He closed his eyes as he settled down in the bed.
“Don’t worry about it, Chin. You have a long way to drive home and if you’re coming back to get us, tomorrow, you might as well leave now. I can call down for something for us to eat.”
“You sure?” Chin asked, hovering.
“Go. See you tomorrow.” Steve reached out and gratefully squeezed Chin’s arm. “Thank you.”
“See you 2 tomorrow,” Chin said.

“Get in bed wit’ me?” Danny whispered.
Steve had already been trying to figure out the best way to do exactly that for the last few minutes. “Scooch over a little, to your left,” Steve asked.
“M’kay.”
“Great! Let’s see now…” Steve picked up the line from the IV and slid into bed as gently as he could. There wasn’t a lot of room but they could make it work especially if Steve lay on his left side as close to Danny as he could get.
“There you are,” Danny said with a yawn. He snuggled into Steve and sighed deeply. Within seconds he and Steve were asleep.

Jerry caught up with Cecil after he had parked Steve’s truck in the hospital lot. Cecil was waiting patiently at the visitor entrance holding a small duffel with clothes for both Danny and Steve.
“I still say I was pretty happy Chin got busy and couldn’t come pick them up! Driving the truck that belongs to Steve McGarrett…” Jerry made a motion as though admiring something, “priceless!!”
“Dude, he’s just a regular guy.” Cecil started towards the elevator bay. “So is Danny. It just so happens that sometimes you know stuff happens!”
“Man I wish I could have seen Steve take on that sea monster with all of those explosives!” Jerry shook his head. “Ok maybe it’s just that I compare him to a superhero in the Marvel Universe.”
“You obviously haven’t ever seen him grumpy,” Cecil laughed.

They got off at the designated floor and headed down the hall to Danny’s room. The hospital wasn’t too busy but they were both mindful to walk to one side and keep their voices down. Cecil knocked on the door and poked his head into Danny’s room.
“Hi guys! Ready to go home?”
Steve sat up and swung his legs over the bed. Surprisingly he’d had a good night, slept well and enjoyed Danny’s furnace like capabilities.
“Chin texted me and said he was sending you guys. Appreciate it. Thanks.” Steve accepted the duffel.

Danny peeked out from around Steve looking very much like someone who had just woken up from a long nap. “Hey guys. How is Garrett? Where is he?”
“He’s at home with John. They were going to walk to the park because it’s such a nice day today,” Cecil said.
“Ok. Just so he’s doing alright.”
“Guys give us a few so we can shower and get ready and then the doc’s coming in to put the brace on Danny’s arm. “
“Yeah sure we uh we will be out here.” Cecil waved.

Steve gently took Danny’s hand and kissed it, eyes totally fixated on his mate. “Missed you so much. That idiot fucked up our honeymoon and we didn’t even get a wedding night!”
“Oh my Gooood …” Danny shook his head. “We didn’t have anything because of those jerks! Alternative plan will have to wait. I don’t want to honeymoon with this arm like it is.”
“I figure we can recreate a wedding night at home,” Steve said waggling his eyebrows. “And I’m certain that we can go to Montreal in the spring.”
“Montreal? Ohhhh man how cool! That’s where you were going to take me?” Danny asked.
“Yeah and we can still stay at the Chateaux, because it will still be there obviously.”
“Steve,” Danny sighed. “You’re such a romantic. I love you.” He reached out with his good arm and stroked Steve’s cheek. “And thank you fur swimming that river.”
“Well I couldn’t let you be the only one who did that,” Steve scoffed.

“Mr. Williams? Danny?” A scrubs clad young man came bustling in holding a brace and a sling. “I’d like to put this on your arm before you do anything else. You tore your bicep in the fall and even though we reattached it you’re going to have to baby it a bit and use this brace every day for at least a month.”
“A month, huh.” Danny sighed.
“Anyways I’m Henry and I’m the main PT person here. So let’s get you set up.”

An hour later, Steve was wheeling Danny’s wheelchair down the hall to where Cecil and Jerry were waiting. Both Steve and Danny had showered and dressed in their own clothes but Danny looked small and pale as he held on to the folder for his aftercare. His arm was supported by a steel and rubber brace with more than a few adjustment areas. Around his neck he had a black sling that supported his arm.
“Lead on, guys. Though I think it’s de rigeur for one of you to bring the truck? Car? Up to the patient loading area.” Steve chuckled.
“Oh!” Jerry suddenly blushed and raised his finger. “One minute! I’ll be right back!” Off he scurried moving remarkably fast for a man his size.
“Sorry,” Cecil said. “We didn’t realize we needed to pick you up somewhere else.”
“It’s just easier because of the chair.” Steve patted Danny’s shoulder and bent forward to look down at the blonde. “You ok?”
“Of course,” Danny replied.

Cecil pulled the truck up and to Danny’s surprise and delight, Sabrina was jumping up at the back windows.
“Oh you didn’t tell me you brought her!” Danny stood up from the wheelchair.
“We also had to bring you know who because if Sabrina was going SHE had to also come along!” Cecil shook his head and pushed the button on the fob.
Danny opened the truck door and a wiggling barking mass of white and black Border Collie fur greeted him and Steve. Sabrina jumped vertically a few times, just yipping in her happiness.
“I’m happy to see you too, Girl,” Danny said between licks on his hands and a wiggly butt against his leg. She also leaped on Steve, her barks nothing but happy greetings and of how much she missed them.
“Do you uh want me to drive?” Jerry asked not wading into the fray but hovering at the fringe of the welcome reception.
“Huh?” Steve looked up. “No I’ll drive. Let Danny sit in the backseat so we can prop up his arm a bit with the duffel bag.” Steve opened the front passenger door and stopped abruptly because Queenie was staring out of her pet carrier.

>>well are you just going to stand there or are you going to let me out so I can hug you and Danny?<<

Steve grinned and quickly opened the carrier to carefully reach in to pick up the rabbit. As he lifted her, he feigned that she was heavy and pretended that his back was broken.
“Steve!!!” Danny protested. By now he had climbed into the back seat and was letting Cecil prop up his arm. Still he reached down with his other good arm towards Steve and the bunny. “Let me see her!”
Steve placed the rabbit on Danny’s lap and stepped back. Queenie turned around, legs slipping off Danny’s lap, and stood on her hind legs to hug Danny around his neck.
“Hey Bun. I’m happy to see you too.” Danny buried his face in her soft fur and suddenly sniffed. “Why does she smell like lemons?”
“Oh oh I can explain that!” Jerry said. He wrangled Sabrina into the back seat and got in himself, though he really wanted to sit up front with Steve. Cecil had called shotgun dibs so Jerry had no choice. “She’s into lemongrass. We had some Thai foods and you know they pack little edibles to go with the main dishes? She really loves that stuff!”
“Well then my bun bun has a big treat she loves! Yes she does!” Danny hugged her to him.

>>I missed you and Steve. Sabrina and I were worried. I tried to be with Garrett.<<

“Thank you,” Danny said and felt the tears prick his eyes. He didn’t want to cry but the emotions of the past few days were bubbling up and were waiting to spill out. “Better put you back in your carrier. Here Cece. Careful.”

Once everything was situated, Steve started the truck and pulled out into the road that surrounded the hospital. Fast food alley lay ahead in the next neighbourhood over and his stomach was growling.
“Anyone want to get something to eat? Danny and I somehow missed breakfast.”
“I could use a pick me up,” Jerry said agreeably.
“I’m in,” Cecil agreed.
“I want Panera,” Danny said.

Bark Bark
I WOULD LOVE SOME BACON!

“Gotcha. Let’s do it then,” Steve said enthusiastically.

After the food stop, where Sabrina definitely lucked out in eating all of the food Danny couldn’t, Steve headed home. It didn’t take long and Danny slept the whole way, holding the rabbit carrier on his lap. As Steve pulled into the driveway, they saw John and Garrett sitting on the bench outside the front door; John held a book in his hand and Garrett in his lap. John kept an arm around the child until the ignition was off. Only then did they hustle over to the garage.

“Daddy! Mom!!” Garrett launched himself happily at Steve. He patted Steve’s legs and Steve picked him up and hugged him to his chest. Danny had emerged from the back seat, and walked quickly over to Steve, extending his arm towards their child. “What is that?” Garrett asked, pointing to Danny’s brace.
“It’s my brace, kiddo. I need to wear it for a few weeks because I fell down a hill and hurt my arm.” Garrett hesitated for just a moment but threw his arms around Danny while Steve was still holding him. “I missed you! I missed you so much!” Danny said through tears.
“Let’s get everyone inside,” John suggested. And we can all sit down and hug.”

Bark Bark—
LET’S GO TO BED!

“Shhhhhh,” Steve told the dog. “Danny is sleeping with Garrett. I’ll let you up on the couch but you have to be quiet.”
Sabrina bowed in front of Steve and shook her head side to side which was her way to apologize.
“It’s ok but come on. Jump up don’t disturb and leave room for me behind Danny.” Steve waited for the dog to find her position and slid carefully around the rabbit who was snuggled as close as she could to Danny’s thigh. Garrett was sleeping beside Danny, holding Danny’s hand. “Alrighty then.” Steve settled on the other side of Danny and felt Sabrina lay on his lower legs. Steve threw an arm around Danny and pulled the covers up over all of them. It felt so good to be home.

“I’m planning for New Year’s Eve,” Danny said as he walked into the kitchen holding a tablet and pen. Garrett stopped eating his cereal and frowned pushing his lips out in a pout.. “What? What’s that look?” Danny asked.
“Is it going to be a grown up party cuz if so I want to at least stay up for a little while.” Garrett waved his cereal spoon around for emphasis, a motion that completely transfixed Sabrina, who was hoping for a cereal fail to the floor.
“Let’s push your bowl back,” Danny said. He looked down at the dog who tried to feign innocence.
“Is it? For grown ups?” Garrett asked.
“No, actually, your Dad and I were invited to a few parties but we are not going. We thought we’d stay home and enjoy the night with you and Grandpa. I believe Cecil and Jerry are going to be going to New York City and Harry is in London.”
“Yay! Can I pick something then?” Garrett asked seriously.
“You may,” Danny said.
“Chex mix the kind with cheese!”
“Ohhh you and your Dad are so much alike! Ok Chex Mix it is. Sabrina? What would you like and don’t say bacon.”

Bark Bark Bark
I WOULD LIKE CHICKEN WINGS PLEASE!

“Ok but they’re gonna be the boneless kind.” Danny write that down on his list. “Queenie?”

>>some good music not that disturbing thump thump bass kind.<<

“Good music. You got it!” Danny wrote it down.
Suddenly Steve came hustling out into the kitchen, wearing a pair of shorts and a tee. He went to the fridge and took out the orange juice, pouring himself a big glass full.
“Steve, we’re all picking something for New Year’s Eve. What’s your choice?”
Steve thought for a minute, sipping on his juice. His gaze over the glass met Danny’s and he grinned. They had had some great sex in the shower that morning. Steve was still glowing.
“Spinach dip with crackers and chunks of cheese.”
“Alright.” Danny felt more than saw that Steve was now behind him. “What are you doing? And why are you wearing shorts?”
“Just breathing you in. As to the shorts, I’m going to be stopping in at the gym to spar with Joe.”
“Invite him too. I’m sure he does not have any big plans for New Year’s Eve,” Danny said.
“Ok. Hey I’ll see you after a bit. I’ll call you when I’m on my way home so I can pick up some food for us.” He kissed the back of Danny’s neck, rinsed his glass out and sprinted towards the door. “Later my taters.”

Danny and Garrett exchanged glances and both started to giggle. “He’s cuckoo.” Danny said.
“He’s Steve McGarrett!” John added as he walked in to the kitchen. “Am I too late for that casserole you made?”
“Actually no I haven’t eaten yet so it’s perfect. By the way thank you for getting Garrett set up and feeding him.”
“Part of my grandfatherly duties,” John responded.
“Ok casserole!” Danny happily pulled it out of the oven and set it on the counter on 2 hot tiles.

“Hey John, did you get the mail yet? I’m expecting something for Steve. It’s a late present.”
“I did not,” John said as he readied 2 plates.
“Ok give me a second! You can cut pieces for you and me cuz I want to go check!”
Danny scurried out towards the front door, Sabrina at his heels. She loved the mail carrier mostly because he or she always left a treat for her inside of their mail box. “Oh I’m sure there’s something in there for you,” Danny said rubbing the dog’s head.
Sure enough there was but the watch that Danny had ordered and bought for Steve had not arrived yet. “Wow it’s getting colder!” Danny said as he pulled the mail from the box. As he gave Sabrina the treat, he looked up and around at the surrounding houses snd street. It felt like someone was watching him. Or maybe he was just paranoid? But no. And Sabrina dropped the dog treat to stand by his leg, leaning against him and growling softly. “You feel it too, huh girl?” Danny pushed up the box lid, shoved the mail under his bad arm and started back towards the house. As he walked he felt eyes boring into his back.

Steve arrived at the gym and jumped out of his truck ready to box with some of the gym rats. Boxing kept him sharp and he liked the feel of punching a bag as well as dodging a gloved fist. Joe was already here and as Steve walked by Joe’s car he gave the hood a little thump. Nothing was going to spoil his good mood today! After spending the early morning eliciting every type of groan and moan out of Danny as they did wonderful things to each other, Steve was ready to spar.

Joe met Steve at the door, his face a blank canvas though Steve instinctively knew something was up.
“Mornin,” Steve said.
“I have some news and you’re not going to like it, Steve.” Joe gripped Steve’s shoulder.
“What’s going on?” Steve asked, worry a spike of adrenaline to his system.
“Peterson escaped police custody’s last night. He was being transferred to the Federal lock up. Two officers wounded and an unmarked car stolen from the lot.”
Steve felt his good mood evaporate. “I know what he wants,” Steve said licking his bottom lip. “And he’s not going to get him.”
“We need to be smart about this, son. Have a plan.”
“I agree.” Steve sighed. “I’d better work out a bit before going home or I’ll be punching holes in the walls. Do me a favour and call Danny? Tell him to put security on and lock the doors.”
“Won’t he wonder what’s going on?” Joe asked.
“I have a feeling he will already know.”

Chapter Text

Steve’s mood was definitely not better as he pulled his truck into the driveway. The boxing and sparring sessions had helped him release the bad energies he’d felt but he was still very concerned over Peterson’s escape. Tomorrow was New Year’s Eve and he had wanted to do a little ceremony to give Danny back his wedding ring but would the mood be spoiled? He wasn’t sure too if he should tell Danny but that was probably a no brainer. Danny probably already knew. Steve needed to fess up.
The mood in the house, though light, was also tinged with concern. There was a heaviness Steve recognized and he knew then that not telling Danny the truth wouldn’t be fair.
“Hey!” He said calmly, peeking his head into the family room where Garrett was busily assembling a house with his Lincoln Logs and Danny was curled up on one of the big chairs with both animals. “Where’s Dad?”
“In the study doing some research on something,” Danny answered. “You taking a shower so I can throw those sweaty things in the laundry?” Danny sniffed disdainfully.
“No I thought I would come over there and rub my sweaty self all over you,” Steve countered playfully.

Danny giggled and Garrett stood up to run over and show Steve the picture of the cabin he was trying to make.
“And I need your help too,” Garrett added.
“I’ll be right down to assist. Let me go get to smelling better,” Steve laughed. He winked at Danny and took the steps 2 at a time. He wanted some family moments before coming clean about Peterson.

When Steve was finished with his shower and dressed again he came back out to the bedroom and was surprised to see John sitting on the bed. He was holding a couple of pieces of paper in his hands.
“Dad? What’s up?” Steve asked.
“I got an email from my friend in Hawaii, the man who is still on the force. Remember Mamo?”
“How could I forget? You mean he’s still working?”
“This is his last year. As his former partner I know he’s hanging in there because the job is his family. His wife Edie died 2 years ago.”
“Oh man, I didn’t know that.” Steve sat down next to his dad. “She made the best sugar cookies in the world!”
“She did.” John was silent for a moment and then continued. “After she passed away I think Mamo just lost his way and spent more time at the precinct than he did anywhere else.”
“He was a career cop,” Steve said.
“Yes and still is but….” John gave Steve the papers. “He sent this to me this morning. Is it true?”

Without looking, Steve knew what his father was talking about. The police agencies worldwide used an information system and released updates hourly. No doubt John had been talking to Mamo about what had happened and Mamo had seen the alert bulletin regarding Peterson’s escape.
“So you know?” Steve asked.
“Yes. But Danny doesn’t. Are you going to tell him?”
“Do you think I should?” Steve asked. “I kinda think he knows something is amiss. It’s that special gift he has. I don’t want to scare him but at the same time I want him to be aware.”
“Be honest with him, Steve. At least then he could be more careful.”
“Yeah you’re right.” Steve sighed and stood up waiting for his dad. “There goes a perfect day.”

While John was helping Garrett with setting up for lunch, Danny and Steve remained behind in the family room. Sabrina had scampered out to the kitchen to go outside and John had carried the rabbit out to place her on her table mat.
“What are you thinking?” Steve asked anxiously after Danny read the statement about Peterson’s escape.
“How sick I am of this besotted asshole.” Danny bit his lip trying to keep the anger inside. “He’s just so hung up on me, Steve. I think he was watching me from somewhere this morning when I got the mail. I felt this creepy sense of presence…. How can we go on in our lives with this specter hanging over our heads?”
“We don’t. I swear to you that I’ll find him. I will find him and I’ll put an end to this once and for all.” Steve hugged Danny to him fiercely.
“I know you will. I believe in you,” Danny said. They stood locked in an embrace for a few seconds longer.
“Let’s go have some lunch with our son and your Dad. I swear the more I let him in my head the more it takes away from the things and people I love.” Danny gently pulled away.
“Agree.” Steve captured Danny’s lips in a kiss and pressed their bodies back to be tightly together. “Mmmm I think Garrett has a nap coming up.”
“Oh really!? You think you’re gonna get lucky, sailor?” Danny playfully nipped Steve’s shoulder.
“I was hoping so ow! Those teeth!”
When Steve went to retaliate, Danny was already on the move towards the hall, breaking free from Steve’s embrace.

Peterson walked into the dimly lit bar and found a stool. He was thinking about Danny and his failure to keep him. Breaking away from the cops had been easy; managing to possess Danny Williams was proving to be difficult.
He ordered a beer and slid his money towards the bartender, but his eyes caught sight of an older woman who was obviously a regular there and who was giving Peterson ‘the eye.’ Just what he needed. Jesus.
And sure enough….
“Hello there. What’s going on?” She asked as she sat down next to him, her chunky body a prisoner in the too tight dress she wore.
“I’m not interested,” Peterson said as he turned a shoulder towards her. There was a moment of silence when he thought she was gone but a hand on his leg told him otherwise.
“I haven’t ever seen you here before. Did you just get out of jail or something?”
Peterson bristled. Did this woman know him? He swore he’d never seen her before!
“Now what makes you say that?” He asked.

“Well now, I have seen a lot of people come and go in my life and I see someone who just looks like he’s been in trouble before. But that’s ok. I like the troublemakers.”
“Look, I’m sure you are a nice woman but I have no … interest in you or anyone else. I have somebody.”
“Why didn’t you bring her here then, to a seedy bar, in the middle of the afternoon?”
Peterson finally turned to look at her and saw she was staring at him with dead set interest.
“Because… because I… he… it’s a he.” He said finally.
“Oh I guess I mistook you for a ladies man. My apologies.”
“That’s ok.” Peterson sighed. “Do you want a drink? I’m buying.”
“Perfect. I’ll take a whiskey neat two fingers.”

Peterson signaled the bartender who took the order and returned with a tumbler of amber coloured liquid. She sipped at it and smiled.
“I’m Megan. And you are?”
“Rick.” They shook hands and she seemed satisfied for a few minutes.
“So where is he?” She asked.
“Who?”
“Your man? Where is he?”
“Oh.” Peterson snorted and took a gulp of beer. “That’s a long story.”
“I got time,” she said. She sipped her whiskey as she listened, her hand still on Peterson’s leg.
“Well ok if you must know he’s… not exactly.. attainable. He’s married and lives with his tough guy mate in a huge house with their adopted kid. I think if he was around me more he’d dump Muscles in a minute. I just have to be able to spend time with him, see, but it’s hard because I can’t.” Peterson glanced over at her. “I’ve said too much.”
“So what do you need to do to uh persuade him to your side?” She asked.
“I need to just find a way to get him to come with me and … and BE with me!”

Megan nodded. “Do you want some help?”
Peterson paused. He didn’t know what she was implying really but his interest was piqued.
“What do you mean?”
“Let’s say he knows what you look like, right? He’s familiar with you? “
“Yessss,” Peterson answered.
“So what if I was to help you? You know, persuade him to go with you? I’m a nurse. Or I used to be but I still have access to some… helpful things…” she winked at him.
“Really?” Peterson finished his beer. The more she talked, the more a plan was coming to mind. Maybe this wasn’t such a lost cause after all. “Megan, why don’t we go talk at a table? Just to firm things up a bit.”
“I thought you’d never ask,” she giggled.

Sabrina was antsy. She picked up on Danny’s mood and especially Steve’s anger and wondered what was going on. Those 2 kept things from her sometimes and Sabrina didn’t like that. As a Guardian she should know what was happening but Steve and Danny weren’t seeing it that way. Instead it was looks passed between the 2, conversations that meant nothing in front of her and Queenie and Danny’s withdrawal about things that mattered.
Standing in the back yard, she sniffed the wind currents, trying to ascertain if there was anything different. Sadly, there was just the usual salt water smell, car smells, the fire pit in the neighbours’ yard smells and the familiar smells of home. Whatever was going on, she vowed to find out. She didn’t like not being in the loop and having to guess or pry what was happening. She needed to help Danny and Steve, and nothing would stop her from doing just that!

“That was very excellent reading by the way, GMan!” Danny said, full of praise for the boy who had just conquered his first real book. It wasn’t a simple thing to get through The Ghost In The Attic but Garrett nailed it and did so nicely!
“See now I can read YOU a story!” Garrett giggled.
“I would very much like that,” Danny answered. He gently tucked a strand of blonde hair behind Garrett’s ear. “I love you so much. Have I told you that today?” When Garrett shook his head no, Danny feigned shock. “I haven’t? What is wrong with me? Well then, I’ll say it again and again,” Danny continued, tickling Garrett. The child giggled and dove head first into the blankets but by now Steve had come in and gently grabbed Garrett’s feet to hang on to him. The 3 flopped on the bed and hugged and laughed until Danny called it a night.

“He’s such a sweet child,” Steve said as they walked down the stairs.
“He is which is surprising considering where he came from. The upbringing he had…” Steve’s voice trailed off.
“I guess whatever doesn’t kill your makes you stronger.”
“I guess in a way.” Steve sat down on the couch and patted the area next to him. “You defied the odds.”
Yeah I guess so…. But looking back on it, it was hard. Nobody loved me, Steve. Nobody wanted me.” Danny looked down at where Sabrina was now laying, ears on alert. “And now look at me! In a marriage with the man I love, with a child, and an eavesdropping dog and sleepy rabbit!”

Bark Bark Bark
I KNOW SOMETHING IS GOING ON! TELL ME

“Nothing is going on, Sabrina!” Danny ruffled up her fur and leaned against Steve. “Don’t you think if there was I would have told you?”
“Besides, I’m here and I will take care of him.” Steve said smugly.
Sabrina whined and turned her back on them yet still stayed on the couch. Queenie looked up from her perch on the blankets.

>>is it Peterson? I heard John talking to someone on the phone about him.<<

Bark Bark Bark Bark
I MUST DOUBLE DOWN ON GUARD DUTY! WE NEED TO BE CAREFUL!!

Sabrina jumped off the couch and pawed at Danny’s leg.
“Ok yes it’s him it’s Peterson. He’s escaped and I just felt like not telling you because… because it’s just.. it sucks….” Danny took a deep breath and swallowed his tears.
“Big butted bunnies have big ears,” Steve muttered. He pulled Danny close to him and began to stroke Danny’s hair. “Between us, there’s no way he can get to you.”
Danny wanted to believe that but there was a little part of him that was terrified Rick Peterson would turn up again.

“Happy New Year’s Eve Day,” Steve announced, turning from the stove where he was making breakfast. “Sit down because the boss is making breakfast.”
“The boss eh?” Danny snickered. He slid onto his chair and cringed. That morning’s lovemaking session had been delightfully rough, with Steve inside of him for the longest time, turning Danny this way and that in different positions. “I see you’re still in that kind of mood,” Danny laughed.
“Tell Danny who wears the pants in this family, Queenie.” Steve told the rabbit who was chewing up her fruit salad breakfast Steve had made her.

>>Danny truly is the b-o-s.<<

“Nawwww just bring it on. What are we having?” Danny sipped his tea and rescued Garrett’s napkin as it slid off the boy’s lap towards the floor.
“Scrambled eggs with cheese and red pepper… Turkey sausage links… cream cheese coffee cake.” Steve took the plates that he had waiting on the counter beside the stove and started to dish the food up just as John came bustling in.
“We might be getting some snow later on. Sure has gotten colder.” He patted Danny’s shoulder as he sat down. “How’s the arm, son?”
“Better. Hurts less every day.”
“You know I was talking to Joe and he’s going to send out some …” John halted as Garrett looked up at him. “FRIENDS who can help watch for that pelican.”
“They do that?” Garrett asked innocently and his sweet tone made Danny just want to cry.
“Yes absolutely. It’s all in who you know,” John said with a wink.
“I’d be all for that,” Danny said. “Seriously. There’s no way I want to see that… pelican… again.”
“I’ll call Joe after we eat to tell him it’s a go,” Steve said.

After breakfast, Danny sat at the dining room table and coloured with Garrett. Steve had a grocery list and he and John were going to get the items they had discussed for the celebrations that night. “Now remember,” Steve had told Danny. “That door doesn’t open except for us.”
“Roger that.” Danny answered him with a kiss and focused on what their son was creating.
“I like your black and white cat,” Danny said to Garrett as the child finished his picture.
“Queenie told me she was once a calico cat. Until she changed again.” Garrett explained as he reached for a blue marker.
“She did, did she?” Danny looked over at the rabbit who was munching on some Timothy hay. Queenie turned so Danny only saw her butt.
“Nice,” Danny chuckled. “Hey GMan I’m going to get us some water so I’ll be right back.”
“K.” The little boy nodded and carefully filled in the background of his picture with the blue marker.

Danny swished out to the kitchen, his Adidas slides making a thumpity thwack sound on the wooden floor. He glanced out the patio doors to see the squad car sitting right outside. He felt safer and more settled with the police providing protection. “Let’s see you get through that, you obsessed asshole,” Danny muttered. He filled up his water bottle and Garrett’s and returned to the dining room.
“Here we go.”
“Mom?”
“Hmmm?”
“Are you happy?”
“Am I… am I happy?? I am soooo happy! I have to be the happiest I have ever in my life been because I have you and Steve and Grandpa John and… everyone who loves us! Of course let’s not forget Queenie and Sabrina! I met them in the same city as we met you.”
“I’m happy too!!”
“That’s excellent.” Danny kissed Garrett on his forehead. “Were you wondering? Because there’s no way in this world I’ could get any happier.”
“Queenie says you and Dad are going to make more babies.” Garrett frowned as he concentrated to remember what the rabbit had told him.

>>it’s the d-o-o-r thing. Soon Garrett soon<<

“Big eared bunnies need to mind their own business because they don’t know everything.”
“Mom! Is that true? Are you going to have another baby?” Garrett slid closer to the table top.
“Well for one thing I can’t have babies because I’m a boy just like you.” Danny felt his face turn red. He was not prepared to have the birds and bee talk quite yet. “But if we find another child who needs us we can always adopt him or her just like we did you.”
Garrett was quiet for a long moment as he digested what Danny had said. And just when Danny was going to ask if he was ok, Garrett beamed at Danny with a big smile on his face.
“That would be cool! I hope so!”
“I love you, Peanut,” Danny said as he kissed the top of Garrett’s head.
“Love you too, Mom.”

 

“Did you get everything?” Danny asked Steve, helping carry the bags into the kitchen.
“Yes and a few other things. I actually bought some good champagne. You know, still sealed, bottle cork tight, untampered.” Steve grinned at Danny and set some bags on the counter.
“So I thought we’d set stuff up like a buffet.” Danny began to unpack the bags. “Oh that’s smart you got cubed cheese.”
“That was Dad’s idea.”
“Can you believe it is New Year’s Eve?” Danny asked. “Geez where does the time go?”
“You know what they say— what you do on New Year’s Eve is what you are going to do all year long.” Steve raised his eyebrows and smiled rakishly.
“Whatever could you mean?” Danny asked.

“Dad! Maybe you could set up the small tables in the family room so we can eat and watch the hall drop!”
“Already done, Steve,” Danny said. He shuffled over to Steve and hugged him, breathing in Steve’s scent, his cologne, his soap. This was his man and would always be his man. He loved Steve with every fiber of his being and could not understand why creeps like Peterson didn’t get that. Exactly WHY did Peterson think he had a ghost of a chance with Danny, forced or otherwise?
“I love this attention,” Steve said. And in a whisper so only Danny could hear he added “I’m going to take you apart piece by piece tonight.” After which he playfully pushed Danny away and palmed his butt. Danny swatted Steve’s hand away and started to mess with the groceries on the counter.
“I’d best get to marinating the boneless wings. I thought about the honey spice recipe Milly gave me and I’ll set aside Sabrina’s so they are plain.” Upon hearing her name, Sabrina poked her head between Steve and Danny and snuggled. “Yeah I get it. You love these!”

The 4 of them decided to eat kind of a late dinner to carry them into the midnight hours with just snacks. Garrett made it until 9, after which Steve carried him up to go to sleep. John begged off around 11 saying if he wanted to watch the ball drop he would in his room. He wished both Danny and Steve a most Happy New Year and retreated, yawning, to his bedroom. Sabrina followed John and Danny took Queenie up to sleep with Garrett.
“Alone at last,” Steve said. He held up his finger to indicate Danny wait for him and trotted off to the kitchen, returning with the champagne that he’d already opened and 2 flukes.
“I have been looking forward to this,” Danny sighed. He waited until Steve poured the bubbly into the flukes and gave Danny one. “What? You’re so serious looking.”
“I have something that belongs to you,” Steve said. He reached into his pocket to produce Danny’s wedding ring.
“Ohhhhh! Steve!!” Danny smiled happily and held out his hand. It wasn’t like Danny hadn’t thought about the lost ring; he hoped Steve was planning something a little special for its’ return. Danny was not disappointed.

Steve kneeled on the floor beside the couch where Danny sat. His eyes, those gorgeous long lashed eyes, looked at Danny with such love and warmth that Danny caught his breath.
“I love you.” Steve kissed Danny’s hand, concentrating on the spot where the ring would fit. “This ring seals our connection. It illustrates the deep love we have for each other. And I will ALWAYS treasure and love you.”
“Thank you,” Danny whispered as Steve slipped it on.
“You’re all mine and no one will ever come between us.”

Steve stood up and resumed sitting beside Danny. The warmth between their bodies was electric; their pressing thighs promised there was more to come.
“You’re so right,” Danny whispered, sipping his champagne. They said nothing for a long moment, time spent staring into each others’ eyes, conveying the myriad of deep emotions.
“I love you.” Steve moved closer and gently took Danny’s glass out of his hand to set on the table. Danny was spellbound, breathing a bit uneven, totally captivated by Steve.

In the minutes that followed, both Steve and Danny demonstrated their love and exactly how they felt about each other. Light fluttery kisses became more passionate with mouths moving together and tongues exploring. Clothes were discarded impatiently, leaving them naked and wrapped around each other. When Steve finally moved to take Danny, the blonde arched up to meet the thrust he knew would fill him to his very soul. It was hot and magical and slow and burning and quiet and breathy and just perfect.

“Happy New Year, Babe,” Danny whispered as he lay under Steve, feeling as though he had been transported to another place when they made love. It was hard to come back and he blinked sleepily, satisfied, riding the wave of post orgasm.
“Happy New Year, Danno.” Steve pulled the blanket up around both of them and snuggled in to his position on top of his mate. “Am I too heavy?” He asked.
“Move and I’ll kill you,” Danny answered, nipping Steve’s shoulder playfully.
“I think I’ll be ready again very soon,” Steve said, licking and nibbling Danny’s neck.
“Don’t you leave a mark!”
“And so what if I do? I should give you the biggest hickey this side of the Mason Dixon Line!”
“Steven don’t you even do it!” Danny warned, giving his mate’s ribs a poke.
“Tempting though,” Steve said.
“Just keep kissing me. That will keep your mouth busy.”
So Steve did.
And it did.

In the week that followed their idyllic New Year’s, the days found both Danny and Steve busy with the tasks of getting Garrett back in school mode as well as Steve in work mode. John was pretty sure he was going to buy a condo in western Annapolis, not far from the house or downtown, and spent the majority of his time with Lou. Steve said he wasn’t sure whether or not all of those hours were used for house hunting, knowing how both men enjoyed a good cigar and a glass of Jameson’s at one of the wood paneled bars. Danny meanwhile stayed ever vigilante for any signs of Peterson, appreciating the steady presence of the squad car out back.
Sometimes, he would take the officer on duty coffee or tea along with lunch for the appreciative recipient. Sabrina always tagged along to get a few pets too, so it was a habit they had made to thank the police for watching over them so well.

“Ok, girl. We have a nice lunch here. Ready to take it out?” Danny looked around for the dog, who was usually so adamant about going outside to do this simple task. “Sabrina?” Danny checked for the dog under the table but she wasn’t there. Curious now, Danny wondered if Sabrina and the rabbit were pulling off some kind of acrobatic feat to obtain the box of homemade chocolates on the upper reaches of the dining room cupboard.
“Sabrina? Hey girl?” Danny glanced at the cupboard as he ambled through the dining room. “Sabrina come on! We have to take this out to our police friend.”
Suddenly, a streak of black and white fur ran past Danny’s legs towards the kitchen and the back patio doors. She was growling deep in her throat and Danny froze, suddenly feeling that icy pierce of fear gnawing at his stomach. As Danny turned back to see what the dog was doing, he caught the sight of the bunny out of the corner of his eye. She was erect at her place on the kitchen table, feet thumping in warning.
“Ok probably a false alarm but you never know,” Danny muttered, pulling his phone out of his pocket and pressing Chin’s number. Sabrina was in full flight now, barking and growling, throwing herself at the window.

Chin answered on the first ring and barely got a greeting out when Danny interrupted him.
“Hey this is probably nothing but there’s a situation. Sabrina well you can hear her and the rabbit is also warning me. Could you contact whoever is in the squad car?”
“No worries, Danny. As a matter of fact I’m not too far from you so stay inside and I’ll be there soon!” Danny heard Chin switch on the siren and pressed END, and as he pushed his phone in his pocket, he noticed his hands were shaking.

“Sabrina! Who is out there!” Danny asked over the din of her barking.

Bark Bark Bark Bark Bark Bark Bark Bark Bark
NOT THE COP NOT THE COP NOT THE COP

Oh this was great. Danny slunk towards the pantry and suddenly he heard glass shattering from the direction of the entryway. Fuck! Looking around wildly, Danny spied Garrett’s t ball bat so he grabbed that and a knife from the bloc on the counter and watched as Sabrina ran out towards the entry way. “Sabrina! Nooooo!!”
Danny hurried after the dog and to his abject horror, there was Peterson by the front door, gun out and aimed at the dog who was growling and circling him. Sabrina knew what a gun meant. She was also waiting to see how Danny was going to react.

“Get the fuck out of my house!” Danny said, taking a step towards Peterson, knife raised.
“D, if you don’t call off this mongrel I’m going to put a bullet right in its head I swear.”
“Sabrina!!” Danny yelled, and the dog slunk behind him, still growling.
“I made a new friend too, D. She’s a real schemer. A real sharp cookie, that one.” Peterson pointed towards the driveway. “Come with me and don’t try anything. My friend is entertaining your father in law in the side yard. She already took care of the cop in the car.”

Danny wondered just exactly what Peterson meant when he said ‘entertained’ and ‘took care of.’ He knew John could handle himself but who was this friend Peterson was speaking of?
“You better not have hurt him! So help me you must be obtuse to not get that I’m never going to be yours.” Danny screamed. He heard the wails of the siren and gripped the handle of his knife tightly. “You need to get out! Chin is coming!”

He was terrified inside. Peterson had broken into their home, their sanctuary, their one safe haven from the darkness against the world. Everywhere in the house were signs of their love, the bonds between him and Steve, their union over Garrett and the 2 unique animals they had made family.
All of these thoughts flooded his head as he kept dancing around with the intruder. Danny couldn’t let the man hurt Sabrina so he kept the dog behind him, pushing her back with his leg.
“D! You’re only delaying the inevitable. You and me, we are DESTINED to be together—“
“Shut up shut up shut the fuck up!” Danny screamed back.
“So come here and I won’t blow a hole in that mutt’s chest!”

Somewhere far away Danny heard the high pitched wail of the bunny. The heating system had switched on due to the cold seeping through the broken window. Peterson was saying something else but Danny didn’t want to know. It was as if he was in a bubble looking down at himself and as he saw Chin and his crew running towards the house, he realized that maybe, after a spate of such happiness with Steve and Garrett and those he held dear, that this was how it would end.
Dreamlike, Danny felt himself step forward towards his attacker, the knife in his hand raised high. Sabrina in her protective mode, attempted to push Danny back, standing between Danny and Peterson.

Danny couldn’t let anything happen to The dog, and he saw the pistol pointed right at her chest. If he was moving slow motion, like in the Matrix movies, it couldn’t have happened and it shouldn’t have happened. But as Danny leaped, pushing the dog away, he saw the muzzle of the gun, heard Chin’s men breech the door, felt the bullet as it pierced his femoral artery. From even further away he heard Steve yelling his name. And Sabrina barking barking so much. And Peterson who started wailing and fell on his hands and knees beside Danny’s prone body.

He saw Virginia as he closed his eyes.
He was 9 years old and sitting in a big velvet chair that was so high his feet were dangling.
“There’s no Heaven as we know it, Danny.” Virginia stroked his cheek and he stilled his leg kicks. “The course is in front of you. Make your choice.”

Chapter Text

“Steve? Steve? Steve! Come on, son, you need to eat something. Here,” John took the sandwich he held and shoved it into Steve’s hand.
“Don’ want it,” Steve muttered, leaning forward towards Danny’s hospital bed.
“Not taking care of yourself isn’t going to make him come back, Steve.”
No answer, just that stubborn son of a bitch posture of straight back and intense gaze like a decommissioned Naval officer on a stick.

Steve had not left Danny’s side in 3 days, ever since the surgery, ever since the shooting, ever since It had taken 6 men to prevent Steve from tearing Rick Peterson apart limb from limb. And how any of them could forget the anguished howl that Steve had cried when he first saw Danny, laying motionless on the floor in the hall, eyes open but not seeing, blood forming into a huge puddle around and beneath his body.

Ever since Sabrina slunk into the corner of the family room, not allowing anyone to pet her, not eating and barely drinking. Ever since Queenie lay listlessly on the dining room table with her back towards everyone, chewing at the fur around her paws. Ever since Garrett was sent home from school because he got into a fist fight at recess.

Thank goodness Steve had a great support system. John was there of course, having not been hurt in the altercation with Peterson’s helper, and Milly and Burke came immediately to stay at the house and take care of things.

Ever since Danny coded in the ambulance on the way to the hospital with a frantic Steve plastered against the side of the moving bus, stretching his arm out to try to touch his mate. Ever since the surgeon told a bunch of tearful friends that Danny had less than a 20 percent chance of living because the artery was so damaged. Ever since the neurologist told Steve that all of the blood loss might mean Danny’s mental faculties would be affected.

John had tried to lure Steve away from the bedside vigil he was keeping. The promise of a hot shower and a hot meal had little or no effect on Steve who merely grunted and kept his gaze fixated on Danny. Steve kept hold of Danny’s hand, the one hand that didn’t have an IV in it so Steve could kiss Danny’s limp fingers over and over again like he was saying the Rosary with them. Whether Danny was aware or not was anyone’s guess but Steve was beginning to look like a haunted specter himself.

“Danny? Have you seen my ring? The big ring with the purple stone?” She paused in front of the 11 year old boy, who was sitting cross legged on the floor amidst the piles of junk that littered the room.
Danny sighed. Not again. Cleo always lost that same ring only because she got hammered (or lit as Efrom would say slyly giving Danny ‘the wink.’) afterwards, when she wanted to wear it again, she would ask Danny to find it for her.
If there was one positive thing to living here among the old furniture and the junk, it was Cleo and Efrom appreciated Danny’s little quirks. When it came time to finding lost rings or anticipating when the bail bondsman would come calling, they used Danny, his hidden talents discovered one night when Efrom had misplaced the EBT card.
“It’s probably in your room,” Danny said as he stood and ventured down the hall. He stood by a large closed wooden door. “Permission?”
“Oh you go right on in there, Danny. You find my going to church ring ya hear?”
“Yes Ma’am,” Danny answered and opened the door, prepared for all of the junk that he was about to find.

Danny had no idea at his age what a hoarder was. He only knew these 2 foster parents had a lot of stuff, stuff that was sometimes smelly and moving, and with what Danny didn’t want to know.
He stepped around the door frame gingerly and made his way through a mountain of stuff to the dresser, which was buried on top by a doll collection and literally buried on the bottom by the junk on the floor. Although it was quiet in her bedroom, Danny could hear the unpleasant scuttling of insects and by the smell there was no shortage of spoiled food.
Danny tried to scatter those thoughts to the wind. He wanted to concentrate which he did and within a few seconds he spotted the gaudy thing sitting next to a box of old magazines.

“Here,” he said as he pressed the ring into her hand. She slid it on her finger and gave Danny a pat on the head for his troubles.
“Thanks.” Cleo turned to face Danny but didn’t look him in the eyes. He knew even at his age that the woman had the knowledge that the way they lived was wrong and she felt guilty. “We’ll bring you back a Happy Meal.” With that and a jaunty wave from Efrom, they were out, door shutting solidly behind them. Danny waited until their Chevy van pulled out of the driveway, itself also loaded with junk and with barely enough room for all 3 to ride in when Danny needed to go anywhere.
Not that he ever did.
Swinging into action, Danny pulled his backpack down from the only clean roach free place he had found earlier and strapped it on his back. The act of pulling it down from its’ resting place also brought down a framed photo of what looked like some weird guy wearing a bow tie. Danny read the writing on the back.
‘Our Pursey. 2010 Graduation.’
Danny chucked it aside. He didn’t know who Pursey was but he certainly didn’t care. His plan would be executed tonight while Efrom and Pearl were at Purse Bingo, whatever that was.
Making sure he had what he needed, Danny checked his pockets again. Good old Efrom had left and forgotten about a 50 dollar bill he’d won at illegal bingo but Danny had scooped it up, saving it from whatever fate had befallen the surface of junk on the floor. Without turning back, Danny climbed up and out the window of the front door, the door being in two pieces, and as soon as his sneaker clad feet hit the porch he was gone.

“Steve? Please. Son, how can you be strong for Danny if you won’t eat anything?”
Steve sat up a bit straighter. Joe. Joe White. That’s his voice, Steve thought. Steve slowly turned to look at his former CO.
“Please? Your Dad is worried about you.” Joe held out a wrapped sandwich and the smell caught Steve off guard. It was a Big Mac, something he hadn’t had in ages but now the thought of eating it sounded right.
“M’ok,” he murmured, taking the sandwich from Joe. At first bite, he didn’t think he’d want any more but at the end, as the Bog Mac disappeared, Steve thought he could eat another one.
“How about if I ask the hospital if you can have a recliner—“
“—no. No no no.” Steve shook his head, now fiercely holding on to Danny’s hand. “I need to be close to him, understand? I just want to be close to him.”
Joe sighed. “Ok, but you WILL drink something when I return or you’re going to find yourself being carried out of here and I’m not talking Princess carry!”
Steve’s lips did turn up at that for a minute. Admittedly he was thirsty, he DID feel hunger but Danny was his own personal mission and nothing was going to deter him.

Energized from the very small amount of calories he’d taken in from the sandwich, Steve decided to get up and use the bathroom.
“I’ll be right back, my sweetheart,” Steve said almost choking on the words he’d said to Danny just a few days ago. He rose, felt a bit light headed and sat down again, accidentally bumping Danny’s arm. Steve looked to see if Danny was waking up, and that perhaps an errant bump would be the catalyst. But he wasn’t. He was as still and grey as he had been for the last 3 days.m, just doing what the machines told him.

After things were wrapped up, Chin had apologized to Steve. He said that if he’d arrived sooner this wouldn’t have happened. Chin shouldn’t have worried because Steve understood these things. Sometimes, the law was too late to assist. What Chin should be concerned about was Peterson who was on a very short list that Steve kept in his head. It would be so amazing to just shoot that sick sonofabitch. And it could still happen.

What happens to kids who run away from the foster parent appointments? Danny asked himself in his head. He needed something to concentrate on because the woods beside the tracks were a little scary at night. But it was the simplest route by walking into the outskirts of Ryderstown, according to the map Danny had studied, so here he was.
The answer, Danny thought, was said runaways were taken back to the state facility shelters, given a slap on the wrist and some meaningless jumbo jumbo words, and kept there until another family came along. By now, Danny had no faith in family. He’d never find another Virginia or sit in a nice playroom like the one in the firefighter’s home. There would simply be an endless parade of abusers, people who just took fosters for the money or religious weirdos like the Krayniaks Danny had lived with for 4 months. With them, church was everything and it hadn’t taken long for them to see that Danny wasn’t the Angel they’d originally thought.

A train whistle blew in the murky heat of that summer night and Danny paused, huddling a little closer to the woods line, giving the big train ample room on the tracks. He wished he had brought something to eat but nothing was safe in that house and Danny didn’t want to chance taking roaches with him. Better to just slink into a convenience store and get a few things with his money. As the train wailed its’ lonesome song passing by where Danny stood, Danny shivered and decided he’d rather risk being on his own than being trapped in a horrible house somewhere.

“He’s sat there for 3 damn days,” Kono said impatiently. Chin nodded, agreeing but knowing that where Steve was concerned there wasn’t a lot to do about it. “Oh Christ, cuz.” She huffed air, blowing her bangs on her forehead ever so slightly.
“The docs are going to give Danny another day and then they are going to talk about…” Chin let it hang. He didn’t know whether or not he could even say the words that the doctors had said. It might curse Danny’s chances all together.
“Danny’s a fighter,” Kono said as fat tears rolled down her cheeks. She clenched her fists and wiped them away, aware now of John and Joe sitting across from them in the waiting room.
“I like to think that Danny’s gone somewhere in his head; that he will be back when the time is right. Burke said that.” Joe finished and tried to smile reassuringly at Kono and Chin.
“How’s Garrett doing?” Chin asked.
“He’s all full of emotions. He’s worried about his Mommy, worried about his Daddy. Worried about the animals. Sabrina refuses to eat. The rabbit refuses to eat. Milly and Burke have their hands full.” John shook his head. “It’s just one fucked up mess.”

“I’m going to keep talkingto you,” Steve said as he kissed Danny’s fingers. He tried to ignore the sounds of the vent or the telemetry panel or worse yet the ‘beep beep’ of the IV. “Do you remember the first time we did anything? Well, you know, sexual? I do.” Steve smiled as he thought about their hot fumbling in the RV before good old Bigfoot had ruined their stay. “I kind of reacted badly to any uh cuddling afterwards. And you.. you got so mad at me! You left the RV and slammed the door and I thought I’d ended us before we got started. But when you came back,” Steve said struggling to keep the tears at bay, “when you came back you said ‘if that ever happens again, if you leave me after we make love or have sex or knock boots or whatever…it will be the last time. I will walk away and there won’t be any us, you know, you and me.’”
Steve took a deep breath. “In for the Penny in for the pound. I’m so in love with you that you’re like a drug and if I don’t get enough I.. I…” Steve tried to stop crying. The tears were zooming down his face at an impossible rate while his shoulders shook with emotion.

And just as suddenly, there was his dad, wrapping him up in a hug and kissing Steve’s head like he had when Steve was 3 years old and needed to go to the hospital for a tonsillectomy. It was too much and not enough and just right and Steve welcomed it all, gasping and sobbing like a newborn in the midst of his father’s loving embrace.

Danny started seeing signs of life around 4 am. He had walked, by his own calculations through the map, 4 miles and his diligence paid off. Ahead was a row of houses and a busy street, albeit stopping at the railroad crossings. Danny shuffled down that street, looking at the modest homes and wondering what it would be like to live permanently in one.
Ahead was a crosswalk so he took it, careful not to draw attention to himself, and when he reached the other side of the street, he was rewarded with a business plaza within sight. A 7-11 loomed amongst the businesses as Danny could tell by the neon sigh still lit even though daylight was coming for the dark. Ok so he needed to wait for a few hours, lest he go in and make the proprietor wonder why a child was up and about at this time of day.
Danny looked around. He needed to be clever for just a couple hours or so and to do this he needed a house and a yard. Retracing his steps, Danny began to scope out the yards in back of the houses along the boulevard.
“Yes!” He said out loud when he found what he was looking for.

“Do you think he looks less pale?” Milly asked, peering at Danny. “He must be having some adventure in that head of his.”
“I don’t care about any adventure,” Steve growled. “I just want him here. With us. And I can give him all the adventures he will ever need!”
“I know, Son.” Burke stood behind Steve and with one hand on Steve’s shoulder he said more in the simple gesture than any words.
“Did Garrett go to school?” Steve asked.
“No he’s with Jerry and Cecil right now. It’s Saturday.” Milly patted Steve’s hand. “They’re taking the animals to the vet.”
“What,,, why … why what happened?” Steve asked frantically.
“They won’t eat, neither one of them. I told them if you aren’t eating you’ll go see the doctor.” Milly sighed. “And here’s where we are.”
“Oh God I have been so worried about Danny that I forgot Garrett and … and… and … and… Queenie and Sabrina!” Steve ran a hand through his hair.
“Just don’t worry. We have things all taken care of, don’t we Burke?”
“I suppose we do,” Burke chuckled.

The treehouse was just perfect for Danny to stretch out his legs and use the backpack for a pillow. Once or twice he thought about the roaches and the house from hell but decided to concentrate on what his next move would be. But the treehouse was delightfully shaded and so he slept, not paying any attention to the lanky child a little younger than himself who had come out to read in his treehouse but instead found it occupied.
When Danny did wake up it was because of a gentle pat on his arm. He suddenly sat up and moved back, reaching for and placing his backpack in front of him like a shield.
“You don’t have to be afraid. I’m not going to tell anyone you’re here.”
Danny looked the child up and down and decided he was ok to trust. It was an instinct Danny had, knowing to check people out before trusting them.
“I’m Cole.. What’s your name?” Cole held out his hand to shake.
“Danny. I’m Danny.” They shook hands and Danny started to get up. “I’m kinda late I was supposed to meet my mom and now look she will be mad—“
A friendly hand on Danny’s arm stopped him from getting up.
“I know you’re a runaway and I won’t tell anyone! Promise.” Cole pretended to lock his lip and throw away the key.
“Why do you think I’m a runaway?” Danny asked warily.
“I dunno. You just look like one.” Cole pushed his glasses up on his nose and stood up. Danny cringed thinking at any second the kid is going to blow me in but Cole simply disappeared into the larger room behind the deck and emerged with blankets and a pillow. “Here. These will help keep you warm up here.Secondly, are you hungry? My Dad is working today… he’s always working for the cops, so he’s not home.”
“Your Dad is a cop?” Danny started to scramble again but Cole shook his head.
“He’s never around. Don’t worry about it. My mom said he has other fish to fry whatever that means.” Cole shrugged. Danny thought that indeed, Cole did not want to know about frying someone else’s fish or eating it either! That was always code for fooling around on someone.
“If you say so. What about your Mom?” Danny asked looking at the ranch home spread out in front of the treehouse.
“She’s busy with her pals on My Space whatever that is. Hey! Are you hungry? I could get us something to eat!”
“Yeah I mean… if you don’t mind,” Danny said.
“As a matter of fact, just come in the house with me. She doesn’t really care what I do on a Saturday as long as I don’t bug her too much.”
“If you’re sure?” Danny asked. He could sure stand to use the bathroom and the thought of food made his stomach rumble.
So he followed Cole from the treehouse to the back door. On the top of the cement step leading into the house was a doormat.
“Welcome to the Peterson’s’ it said in bright red amidst a background of police cars.
Danny stepped squarely on it as he entered the house.

“So how can you make him wake up?” Steve asked. The question was intended for Milly but if anyone else in the little group clustered around the bed had any ideas, Steve was willing to hear them.
“Danny will wake up when he wants to. I imagine he’s doing some sorting of his own in his head.” Milly saw the way that Steve’s shoulders sank, as if all the air he’d been holding in to sit erect had suddenly been deflated. “We need to let Danny do what he needs to do,” she said patiently. “Even though we may not like it.”
“But he WILL wake up right? And he WILL be himself not… not damaged, right?” Steve insisted, grasping Danny’s hand tightly.
“We need to give him his space, Steve. I know you may not understand but that’s important. And yes, he will be himself once he comes to.”
“I suppose I can’t ask anything else than that,” Steve muttered. “But I would hope he knows how important it is that he returns to us… that he’s in the here and now!”
“That’s not our choice and really it isn’t his either.” Milly stroked Steve’s hair. “Now I want you to go home, get some sleep, a shower and something to eat. You can ride home with your Dad and after you’ve done all of what I said, you can come back to stand vigil. He’s not waking up anytime today,” Milly said.
Steve closed his eyes and tried not to protest. He knew what Milly was saying was probably true; she and Danny had a connection. Still it was hard to leave his Danny.
“Garrett needs a little time with his Daddy,” Milly added.

Steve’s head jerked up. Garrett! The look of guilt on his face must have been intense because immediately John stepped in.
“I think both you and Garrett would benefit from some time together. What do you say, Steve?”
“Yeah… yeah I.. I’d like that. I need to see my boy.”

Cole’s house was nice but the best part about it was that it was clean. This was how real people lived, Danny thought, not surrounded by junk and clutter. Since Cole’s mom was busy at her computer, Cole told Danny he could use the shower and when he was done they could take some food outside to the treehouse and eat. It didn’t take long for Danny to get around the plan and by 9 am, they were both sitting in the comfy confines of the treehouse, eating Pop Tarts, potato chips and Coca Cola.
“Where are you from?” Cole asked.
“Eh you know… New Jersey. But I have lived in a lot of places.” Danny opened another package of the strawberry frosted pastries.
“But doesn’t anybody make you go to school?”
Danny shrugged. “I go when I have to. School isn’t a big thing for me.”
“My Dad says kids who don’t go to school are truants.” Cole sat back and his voice dropped to a whisper. “Maybe when you leave I could go too.”

Danny stopped eating and looked up at his new friend. Cole was hanging on to every one of Danny’s words like they were gospel. This was starting to become a bit uncomfortable.
Danny shifted, trying to figure out the best way to discourage Cole from painting him as some kind of hero.
“Basically I’m a one man show, you know,” Danny said, brushing the crumbs off his jeans. “Hey, do you have any more Pop Tarts?”
“Yeah! I could get us some!” Cole said excitedly as he stood up. “Be right back!”

Danny waited until the boy was back in the house before he made his move. Taking the rest of the food Cole had originally brought out— chips, Pop, pb&j sammies, Tastykakes— and filling his backpack with it, Danny scrambled down the ladder and ran towards the back fence. He threw his pack over first and then followed, reaching the other side and taking off on a dead run towards the city, leaving his new friend far behind.

When Steve walked in to the house, he expected a greeting from Sabrina but the dog wasn’t at her usual playing greeter. Garrett, though, saw Steve and came running, and in mid stride Steve picked him up and held him tightly. Garrett’s arms encircled Steve’s neck and in a few seconds there were sobs coming from the little boy.
“It’s ok, GMan. Your Mom’s coming home soon. He just needs to get better.”
“Sabrina and Queenie won’t talk to me!” Garrett wailed.
“Well let’s see if they feel more like talking today,” Steve patiently said, carrying the child towards the family room. “Plus they went to the vet. What did the doctor say?”
Garrett paused, scowling trying to think. “Um she said um that they need to eat and if they don’t eat they would get a shot.”
“I don’t know about you,” Steve said, “but I’d rather eat something than get a jab.”
“Me too!”

As they came into the family room, Sabrina, who was laying by the fireplace, started to wag her tail.
“Hey girl,” Steve said softly. “Hi beautiful. Gonna come sit with us?”
The dog looked as though she was debating but in the end she came over to where Steve and Garrett were sitting and jumped on the couch beside them. She lay her head on Steve’s lap and sighed.
“You know, Sabrina, you need to eat so you can protect the house and Garrett. You need to be strong.” Steve stroked a silky ear.

Bark Bark Bark
IT IS MY FAULT. ALL MY FAULT.

“It is not your fault! Why do you think that? You protected Danny and helped him. You have no reason to feel guilty! We need you strong and healthy. Strong and able to be on watch for us! You need to eat!”
“We love you Sabrina!” Garrett said petting the dog’s head.
“Where’s Queenie?” Steve asked.

Bark
DINING ROOM TABLE

“Stay here.” Steve got up and went to the dining room area where he saw the rabbit on the table. He was a bit surprised that she had her back towards the door but even more shocked when he saw the areas around her feet where she had been chewing her own fur.
“Hi Queenie,” Steve said picking up the bunny and facing her towards his chest. She was docile in his arms and he could feel her little heart beating.

>>Danny? Is he…. <<

“Noooo, Danny is doing ok. He’s getting better. But I hear you and Sabrina aren’t doing so well. How about if I make you a fruit salad and you try to eat a little for me?”

>>that sounds good actually<<

“Ok a salad it is.” Steve carried the bunny to the kitchen where Cecil was chopping up what looked like tomatoes and mushrooms.
“Hey Steve,” he said. When he saw the rabbit he looked shocked. “You got her to come out here?”
“I gave her no choice.” Steve set Queenie down on her table mat and rounded up his dad, Garrett and Sabrina. Soon they were all seated around the table digging into one of Cecil’s delightful pasta concoctions. And Steve wasn’t sure how long ago he had eaten an actual hot meal but this was tasty and filling and he enjoyed every bite.
Sabrina ate too, her bowl that was brimming with pasta and chicken clean by the time she was done. And Queenie demolished her fruit salad and went on to munching on some of her Timothy hay..
“Do you think Mom will wake up soon?” Garrett asked.
“I hope so! He’s missing a lot being asleep,” Steve said trying to keep a cheerful demeanor. But suddenly he was tired. Oh so very tired. He rubbed his face with his hands. “Don’t suppose you want to take a nap with me?” Steve asked, wiggling his eyebrows.
“Yeah ok!” Garrett nodded enthusiastically.
“Come on then. Family room it is!” Steve led the way and within ten minutes, he, Garrett, Sabrina and yes even the rabbit were all curled up in a pile, sound asleep.

Danny scoped out the town’s business center, courtesy of a plastic billboard map by the bus terminal. He knew he would have to find shelter for the night; that was most important. There were shelters and even something called a ‘Youth Depot’ but he knew if he went there he’d be sent back to Foster Care. And traversing the roaches and garbage was not something he could stand to do a second time. No, it appeared he was on his own.
“Hey kid! Need a ride?” Danny didn’t turn around or acknowledge the voice. Instead he saw a young man walking briskly towards him so Danny ran up to meet him.
“Hey pretend you know me like I’m your little brother or something. “ Danny said to the stranger. “There’s someone at the bus terminal that’s giving me a hassle.”
The young man eyed Danny up and down and suddenly threw an arm around his shoulders. “Mikey! Mom is gonna be so mad at you for skipping school today! Let’s go home and face the music!”

Danny watched as the man who had called out to him melted into the crowd. “Thanks man.” And Danny turned to go but a firm hand on the back of his pack prevented him from doing just that.
“And I take it you DID skip school?”
“I don’t want any trouble,” Danny said. “Just let me go and everything will be fine.”
“Where are you going to go? Huh? Not too many places you can hide out during the day without being conspicuous.” The young man let go of Danny but stood back with arms crossed. “Let me help you.”
“I can take care of myself,” Danny muttered.
“Well ok but it’s going to storm later and a kid your age is going to stand out wherever you go because kids all have parents around them. And you have none.”
“Whatever.” Danny started to walk away refusing to admit that maybe yes he was. a bit worried.
“Look. I’m a priest at a local parish. You can come home with me, get a hot meal and a bed for the night before heading on your way.”
Danny stopped, considering. He turned towards the stranger.
“Show me proof you’re a priest,” Danny said, eyes narrowing.
“Ok well here’s my collar,” the young man pulled a stiff white collar from his messenger bag. “ and here’s my credentials.” He fumbled with his wallet but found a card and gave it to Danny, who read it.
“Father Damien Lucas…. Our Lady of The Sacrament.”
“That’s me.”
Danny considered the offer. Sadly the priest was right when he said that Danny would stick out like a sore thumb. It was either the police or the church.
“Yeah ok I’ll go with you. But no funny stuff, hear me?”
“Nobody likes my jokes anyway,” Father Damien said. He looked askance at Danny who just rolled his eyes. “Not funny? A little funny?”
“Not at all.”
“Ok well I will keep trying.”

Steve woke up groggily. He’d slept like ten men and now the aftereffects were settling. Garrett was awake and petting Sabrina, both of whom impossibly were laying on Steve while the rabbit was on the floor playing with a brightly coloured ball.
“About time you had some sleep, Steve.” John sat on the other end of the couch.
“I feel worse than when I was awake,” Steve admitted.
“A hot shower and some more food will fix that.”
“Did we hear anything about Danny?” Steve asked hopefully.
“Milly called and said his vitals are all good. But he didn’t wake up yet, no.”
“He won’t without me there,” Steve said guiltily.
“I’m sure he won’t but you’re still going to get cleaned up and eat something before you go back.”

>>I want to see Danny>>

Bark!
ME TOO

“Dad? Can I go see Mom?” Garrett’s sleepy little voice was next to Steve’s ear.
“You know what? I think so. We can all go cheer Mom up and afterwards, Milly and Burke can take you guys home!”
Steve looked at his dad who nodded in agreement. Maybe the influx of family would make Danny open his eyes.

The church was nothing like Danny expected. Granted, he had not been in many churches in his young life. None of the fosters, except the Krayniaks had been church goers. So when Father Damien and Danny got off the city bus to reach Our Lady Of The Sacrament, Danny could only pause and stare at the imposing structure surrounded by houses and shops up and down the street.
“Wow. Nice statues,” Danny said as the priest led him to the front doors.
“They are icons of saints. I could bore you telling you who and what they are but I won’t.”
Danny followed Father into the entryway where a fountain with holy water stood. “Don’t drink that,” Damien said with a smile.
“As if!” Danny scoffed. They walked inside the church and Danny stood in awe to see how grand the sanctuary was.
“It’s something, right?” Damien asked, a hand on the boy’s shoulder.
“Yeah it’s… pretty awesome.”
“I’ll give you a tour later. Let’s go to the left here so we can go to the back of the church where you can have a room.”
“Why are you being so nice to me?” Danny asked, grateful for the kindness yet at the same time suspicious.
“Because I like kids and I want to help those in my community who need help. You coming?” Damien started to walk away.
Danny shifted his backpack on his shoulders. “Ok! Hang on!! I’m coming!”

As promised there was a room for Danny’s use and though simple with a bed, a dresser and a desk, it fit his needs. Damien showed Danny where the bathroom was and allowed the boy to have some space promising to come back to get him for lunch in a few minutes.
Danny sighed and put his bag on the bed. He wasn’t sure how long he was going to be here but any port in a storm and speaking of storms he heard an occasional rumble of thunder. Better to be inside then, he thought.
Outside his room, he heard Father Damien speaking to a woman but they were both using a language Danny had never heard before so he couldn’t eavesdrop. The next thing he knew, Father was poking his head inside the door and beckoning.
“Want some lunch? Margaret makes the best hash and eggs.”
“Hash and eggs?” And somehow that sounded good so Danny followed Damien to a cozy kitchen where a smiling lady wearing an apron and a pretty pink shirt served them platters of tasty food.

Steve watched as Queenie settled herself against Danny’s thigh. Sabrina had jumped up to lick Danny’s face but was now sitting on the other side of the bed, head against the mattress. Garrett was sitting beside Danny little hands gently touching Danny’s face and hair.
“Why does he have that thing on his face?” Garrett asked.
“To help him breathe.” Steve gently pushed a stray limp curl behind Danny’s ear. “I think he looks a little better today. He has colour.”
“I miss him,” Garrett whispered. “I wish he would come home.”
“He will I promise.” Steve swallowed hard. He needed to believe that too.
They sat with Danny quite a while, nobody saying anything, just enjoying the time with him, all of them hoping and praying he would wake up. And his colour DID seem better to Steve. There was some pink in his cheeks.
“Are you going to stay much longer?” The nurse asked kindly.
“I guess we’d best be heading out.” Burke stood in the doorway and cleared his throat. “Let me go get the car and meet you out front, Milly.”

Milly started to put Queenie in her carrier even though it was evident by the way the rabbit’s feet were kicking that she didn’t want to go. Nevertheless, Milly was determined and soon Queenie was all zipped in and ready to go.
“I’ll let you guys come back again. Maybe tomorrow,” Steve promised swallowing around the lump in his throat.
“Yes we can bring you all tomorrow. I think Danny would like that.” Milly handed the carrier to Steve so he could snap Sabrina’s leash on her.
“Garrett? You have to go to school tomorrow and be good” Steve said as he picked up the child. “After you get home I’ll have Milly and Burke or my Dad bring you all here. Sound like a plan?”
“Yes,” Garrett answered. He hugged Steve fiercely. “I know! I’ll make a card for Mom!”
“He would love that!” Steve said. He watched as Garrett carefully kissed Danny on the side of his cheek.
“Night Mommy. I love you. And Queenie and Sabrina love you too.” Garrett slid off the bed and wrapped his arms around Steve’s legs.
“It’s going to be ok, GMan. Just you wait and see.” Steve picked him up and hugged him fiercely. “Love you so very very much.”
“Will you be coming home too?” Garrett asked, eyes wide.
“Not tonight. I’m going to stay with Danny.”
Garrett sighed. “Ok. See you tomorrow.”
“Tomorrow, baby.”

After Danny and Damien ate, Damien took Danny on a tour of the church. The one thing that fascinated Danny were the confessions booths. Damien explained what they were for and Danny sat in one but he was trying to wrap his head around people willingly coming in to tell a priest bad things they had done only to expect to be forgiven.
“Do you have to forgive everyone?” Danny asked.
“I can’t pick and choose, Danny. I’m an instrument of God.”
“I’m glad I don’t have your job,” Danny shrugged and they continued their tour.
“Do you believe in God, Danny?” Damien asked.
“I guess so.” Danny sighed and listened to the usual spiel of being saved. He didn’t think God had given a lot of good things to him in his life but he supposed that was ok. He was just sort of ambivalent.

Father Damien had to call the numbers at the church’s fund raising every Saturday night’s Bingo game so Danny agreed to help with the trays. His job would be to collect the used trays from people’s tables and bring them to the kitchen to be washed. At first it was easy. But as more and more people ordered food and more and more trays piled up, Danny was hustling. Some of the people were nice. More were all consumed with the game, playing a lot of cards in front of them! Danny thought those people were the meanest and by the end of the night, he was tired and quite fed up with impatient bingo players.
“Did you have fun, Danny?” Father Damien asked as they walked back to the living area.
“It was ok.” Danny shrugged.
“Well Monday we will get you into school again. And you can attend church tomorrow. There’s an excellent Parochial school attached to the church. So get some sleep and see you bright and early in the morning!”

Danny sat on the edge of the bed. He had not turned his light off yet and he was not sure he was going to. Parochial school? Church? Danny pulled out the crumpled bills people had pushed into his hands at Bingo. They were his ‘tips’ they told him. He counted the money and with the 50 he already had, came up with 73 dollars. That would last a while.
He found a notebook in the drawer and a pen to write Father Damien a combined thank you/goodbye note. Quietly he grabbed his pack and crept out of his room, stopping to hear if anyone was coming. The coast was clear.
Danny ran through the church and out the big main doors, into the night and on his way again.

Steve drowsed holding on to Danny’s hand. He was thinking about their stalled honeymoon and how he needed to get the details sorted. He thought about their New Year’s Eve together and how beautiful it was. He remembered when he first encountered Danny and beat him up in the RV.
They’d come so far.
Oh how he wanted Danny to open those beautiful eyes again and call him ‘Babe.’ Just to hear his voice would be the best gift of all.
“Wake up, darling and come back to me.” Steve kissed Danny’s fingers. “I love you so much.”

Danny decided the best thing he could do was to return to the tree house. He would have to be careful that Cole wouldn’t be there but it was a safe haven and right now, Danny didn’t have a lot of options. He remembered the bus number that he and Father Damien had taken to the church from the bus station that had been nearest the subdivision with the tree house so Danny got on board the bus, stuffed the fare into the box and off he went, back the way he’d come.
It wasn’t as if he wasn’t grateful for people like Father Damien. Danny had not met too many kind selfless people like him. It was just that Danny had no interest in being a child of the church or going to that school or confessing in a booth. He wasn’t sure what he wanted; he only knew what he didn’t want.
From the bus depot it was pretty easy to retrace his steps to the tree house. The houses were dark, including Cole’s, so Danny climbed the steps and slid into the house quietly. The pillows and blankets were still there so Danny settled in under them, grateful for a roof over his head. He was asleep in seconds.

“The monitors are picking up on elevated brain activity,” Dr. Russel said as he showed Steve the printed tapes. “That’s excellent! Let’s hope your Danny decides it’s time to open his eyes and join us!”
“I’d be really so grateful if that happens, Doc,” Steve said with a sigh. “He’s really doing better?”
“According to this he sure is!”
“That’s… that makes me feel really.. relieved…” Steve turned back towards the bed. “Guess I’ll grab a bite from the cafeteria and resume my watch.”
“Mr. McGarrett? Steve?” The doctor said. “He’s going to be just fine wait and see.”
“Hope so. Thanks.” Steve tried to fight the tears that threatened to spill down his face. With a deep shaky breath he walked out of the room towards the cafeteria not really hungry but needing to use up the energy that seemed to be coiled in his legs. Hearing that from the doctor had been what he needed to know. Now Danny just needed to get on board with the program.

Chapter Text

When Steve woke up it was not to anyone calling his name but to an increased grip on his hand. He sat up, completely awake, no signs of cobwebs chasing in his head. Maybe he was dreaming but he hoped he wasn’t and when he looked down at his hand which where he was holding loosely 3 of Danny’s fingers, he saw that Danny had bent his fingers and was holding on. Not tightly he thought but just enough to have pressure. To be noticeable.
“Danny?” He whispered, using his other hand to brush Danny’s silky strands of blonde hair back from his face. “You awake?”

“You awake Danny? Huh?”
Danny sat up and looked around. Of course he hadn’t meant to sleep for so long but he had and he did and now Cole was sitting across from him staring at him intently.
“Hey, Cole.” Danny sat up. “The friends I was going to stay with didn’t pan out,” he lied, and felt bad for doing it. “Naw. Really I made friends with a priest and had an offer to stay with him. But I didn’t like the whole religion thing.”
“Wow! You just get to choose where you go?”
“Yeah sure I mean,” Danny shrugged. “Yeah.”
“That’s so cool! And your parents don’t care?” Cole was so sincere it was difficult for Danny to keep lying.
“They don’t care hey! Want to go for a walk? Explore the neighborhood?” Danny changed the subject.
“I’m not really allowed and besides my mom and I have to go to my Gram’s house. Mom and Dad are fighting again.” Cole rolled his eyes.
“That sucks.” Danny was quiet for a moment thinking how many times he had been in foster care and witnessed the bitter divide between parents. “When are you leaving?”
“As soon as Mom gets off the computer. But you can come into the house. I’ll leave the back door open.”
“Really? Just to use the bathroom would be nice.”
“Yeah sure! Oops there’s Mom. Gotta go! Oh I brought some food out to you. It’s in the bag.” Cole pointed to a plastic grocery bag off to the side. “ see ya tomorrow!”
“See ya!” Danny waved and watched Cole go down the ladder and towards the house.

Steve felt his phone vibrate in his jeans pocket and used his free hand, the one not lovingly holding Danny’s fingers, to reach it.
“McGarrett,” he answered.
“Hey Steve it’s your Dad. Any change in Danny?”
“Yes! He uh he’s gripping my fingers! Dad! He really is!” Steve looked down at their joined hands.
“That’s wonderful news, son. Well, it’s Sunday so I was wondering if we could all come in to see him? Garrett especially has been asking to go.”
“Yeah bring everyone! The more stimulation the better I think.”
“I’ll bring you a change of clothing, Steve. I know the staff will let you use the showers there.”
“Thanks Dad. See you later.”

Steve pressed EndCall and turned his attention back to Danny. “Hear that? Everyone is coming to see you today. Maybe you’ll decide to wake up then.”
The staff nurse on the floor bustled in to check Danny’s vitals. She wrote everything down on a paper on her clipboard and smiled at Steve.
“You want some breakfast? Pancakes aren’t bad here,” she said.
“You know, I’ll take you up on that offer, thanks. Oh and hey did you see this? Danny is responding! He’s holding my fingers!”
She peered down at their hands and straightened back up.
“Yes it does appear that that’s what he is doing,” she said with a note of excitement in her tone. “I’ll let Dr. Russell know.”
“Yeah thanks.” Steve just kept gazing at Danny and their joined hands. Was this the start of recovery?

Danny slept a while and when he woke up, he realized he needed to use the bathroom. He pulled on his shoes and dug through his pack for clean undies, socks and a shirt. He supposed his jeans would have to do. Additionally he found his own shave kit as he called it because that’s what athletes called it. It was really just a bar of soap, toothbrush and paste and deodorant but Danny pretended it was in one of those cool black cases he had seen once at Target. In reality, he had found a clean zip vinyl case of some sort at Cleo’s so he had stuck all of his stuff in it so he’d have his own shave kit.
With everything stuffed in a grocery bag, Danny climbed down from the treehouse and stealthily made his way to the back door. Inside he could hear a tv and for a moment, he almost ditched the idea. However, the tv suddenly shut off and someone left the house via the front door. Danny heard a car start and drive off down the street. He was alone.

Quickly, Danny tried the door; it was open so he stepped inside and remembered where Cole’s bathroom was. There didn’t seem to be anyone in the house which worked well in Danny’s favour, and a hot shower was just what he needed. He washed in the sink the clothes he’d been wearing and balled them up in the bag intending to hang them up in the treehouse. Suddenly he stopped. Had he heard a car door? Fuck! Danny hurried out of the bathroom and towards the back door but it seemed like whoever had returned in the car was now coming in the front door so Danny wasn’t sure he’d have time to get out. Frantically he looked for a place to hide and decided on the small pantry room that Cole had showed him when they had been in the house earlier. Danny quickly walked in and closed the door, sitting on the floor with his ear pressed to the wood grain.

Steve knew eventually he would have to let go of Danny’s fingers and although he did not want to, he had things he had to do. Giving Danny a kiss on his forehead, Steve gently pulled away from Danny’s hand.
“I’ll be back I promise.”
Steve ate the breakfast from the cafeteria possibly beating his old Navy record of 3 courses in 3 minutes. Gulping the orange juice he slammed the carton on to the tray and wiped his hands on his pants and hurried back to Danny.
Danny looked the same Steve thought, and if it wasn’t for the fact he was intubated, you’d think he was asleep. He kissed Danny softly and pulled his phone out of his jeans pocket to text his dad to ask when the crew was showing up as he linked his fingers with Danny again. He wanted to tell Danny that he was back, that he hadn’t left him for long and he would give anything to see those beautiful blue eyes. “Wherever you are, Danny,” Steve whispered, “come back to me.”

Steve had another half hour of quiet with Danny before his dad showed up with child, dog and bunny. When Steve took Queenie out of her carrier, she swung her foot up to get her balance and accidentally thumped Danny’s arm.

>>oh no! I am so sorry Danny<<

“Shhh he’s fine.” Steve assured her and placed her on her mat next to Danny’s thigh. Sabrina was sniffing over by the small couch in the room but when she heard Steve talking to Queenie she came running over. Steve held Garrett so the child could be close to Danny and allowed Sabrina to sit next to his feet so her head would be within reach of Danny. Steve moved his hand linked with Danny’s and petted the top of Sabrina’s head.
“Look who is here, Danny,” Steve said quietly. “And Garrett’s here too. Say hi, kiddo.”
“Hi Mommy! Queenie is here too! She got her toenails cut. Cecil did it! Oh yeah and Cecil says he will wait til you’re better before he comes to see you!” Garrett was practically shouting as he bent towards Danny’s head.
“I think he can hear you just fine, GMan.” Steve chuckled and gave the boy a hug. “Let’s tell Mim all the stuff you are doing at school!”

The telephone rang. Danny counted the rings—4– until the man, Cole’s father, picked up. Danny could not make out the words but the man’s voice rose and fell until at the end he was yelling. Danny tried to make himself smaller in that room, wishing he had a wand to render himself invisible like in Harry Potter. Footsteps now. The ugly tirade had something to do with a ‘drop off’ and ‘pay out’ but Danny just wanted it over so he could possibly escape.
After a few minutes, The call ended or maybe they got disconnected. Efrom and Cleo were always getting disconnected when they talked to the bailsbond people. Or the utility people. Or the Office Of Children And Youth.
The call was done and Cole’s Dad was on his way to the kitchen. Danny shut his eyes and crossed his fingers and it seemed that worked, for the man just rummaged around in the fridge—Danny heard the clinking of bottles—and retreated.
Whew!
Cole’s Dad turned the tv on again and all seemed calm. Carefully and as quietly as he could, Danny opened the pantry door and emerged, trying hard not to make a sound. About 10 feet of floor stood between him and freedom. Glancing around him and behind him, Danny saw the coast was clear so he walked, toe to heel toe to heel to reduce sound. His shaking hand reached for the door knob just as the phone rang which caused Danny’s fight or flight instinct to shift to definite flight. He opened the back door and tumbled out into the yard making sure there was no back drag from the door to make noise. Once his sneakers hit the lawn he streaked across the back yard, up the ladder and into the tree house.
Oh he had made it!! He lay on his stomach and watched the door for any signs that anyone followed him or heard the door but after a few minutes when there was not a response, Danny relaxed.
“Fuck….” He exhaled deeply.
Quickly he unrolled his wet clothes and laid them over the floor to dry. As soon as he was done with that, he spied the bag of food Cole
brought him so he rummaged around in that and destroyed 2 bottles of juice, 2 Turkey sandwiches and a bag of chips. Deciding to save the Tastycakes for later, Danny curled up under a light blanket. The afternoon was cool but humid and once again it looked like rain.

“It was raining pretty good when we came over,” John said.
“I really appreciate you bringing everyone here, Dad,” Steve said. “Do you want to trade places so I can go get cleaned up?”
“I think I can do that,” John said but Steve caught the wince on his dad’s face when the older man rose.
“Dad? You ok?” Steve asked. He let Garrett sit on the edge of the bed while he joined his father by the chair.
“I’m too damn old to be fighting with some crazy drunk woman,” John chuckled. “But I have to say that I kicked her ass.”
“What exactly DID happen, Dad?” Steve asked.
“Well, as you know, I had been minding my own business when all hell broke loose. I went to investigate why the squad car’s lights were turned on and suddenly, out from behind the car, I see this vision of a tall plump woman with dark hair, a hook nose and crazy eyes. She has a knife in her hands and she’s coming my way.”
“Jesus, Dad, how did I not know this?” Steve asked.
“You had enough on your plate with Danny. Besides I managed. I remembered what you said about attackers with knives, remember when we had that discussion?”
“Well yes but—“
“—I remembered too. I didn’t watch the knife. I watched the person who held it. I watched her. So she lunged at me and I ducked out of the way, grabbed the waistband of her pants and threw her against the car. She hit her head. Times up. All done.”

Steve frowned and buy his lip. “Dad are you telling the truth?”
“Steve, I swear I am. Thank God for those pants!”
“But you’re wincing,” Steve pointed out.
“I am because I’m not used to throwing heavy women against cars. Well, heavy women who have a knife in hand.”
“You’re something else,” Steve said and hugged his Dad. He didn’t really remember his dad being much of a hugger when he was growing up but this was nice.
“Let me tell you about my son!” John said. “He’s the one you have to see to believe!”

After a hot shower, Steve made a quick trip to the lobby where there were several kiosks of fast food set up along the perimeter of the hospital. He got a few snacks— cookies, a couple muffins, some plain chicken, carrots and celery, and a coffee for him and his Dad and returned to the room.
“Anyone hungry? Come here Garrett. Let me set you up on this couch. Dad can you bring Queenie over here and she can be on her mat on the floor. Sabrina you just have to wait a few minutes ok!? Alright now let’s have a quick snack and we can bother Danny again.”

Danny woke up to thunder. He retreated further into the treehouse, more under the roof so he would not get wet. Still he didn’t like storms and this was shaping up to be a doozy. At least he wasn’t just wandering in the city out in the open.
Grabbing his pack, he pulled out Charlie and held the worn stuffie tightly against him. There was a huge rumble and a sharp smell of something metallic and as the storm started, Danny closed his eyes and tried to think of something else. Something good. The house and Virginia. His Mom reading him a story.The firefighter who helped Danny make Rice Krispie Treats. Another rumble and lightning split the sky. Rain was torrential but Danny was dry, a testament to the tree house. He tried to think of himself as encased in bubble wrap so nothing bad could happen to him and as the storm raged on it helped to take his mind off the severity of it.

Just as quickly as the storm appeared, it disappeared. The rumblings moved on leaving a humid but wet night. Crickets started to chirp and somewhere a dog barked. The lights remained on in Cole’s house and Danny wondered if Cole’s Dad was asleep in front of the tv, a mortal sin in everyone’s marriage.
Suddenly the back door opened and the back light came on. Danny froze, huddled as he was holding Charlie, he couldn’t be seen by a casual observer but what if Cole’s Dad wanted to climb up? For nostalgia sake?
And sure enough there he was, smoking a cigarette, his gaze fixated on the tree.

Moving quickly but carefully, Danny gathered up his clothes, took the bag of food and stuffed them all, along with Charlie, in his bag. Cole had joked about an escape exit to the rear of the house, a simple hatch with a rope dangling from it and as Cole’s Dad started forward towards the treehouse, Danny was out that hatch and down the rope.
“Hey! You! Come back here!! What are you doing in my kid’s treehouse?”
Danny ran towards the fence in the back, daring to look back over his shoulder. The man was following him, gaining ground with longer legs. Desperately, Danny launched himself over the fence and onto the sidewalk. He didn’t stop there though but kept running towards the crosswalk ahead.
“Hey!! Kid! You can run but you can’t hide!!”
Danny bit his lip snd fairly flew across the crosswalk. From there it was just getting lost in the darkness and the shelter that the buildings provided. Danny crouched in a small alley and waited.
Sure enough, a car crept by, and in the faint light, Danny could see the sharp outlines of Cole’s Dad. He was smoking, cigarette in his mouth, and looking this way and that before he gave up and headed the car for home.
Danny put his fist in his mouth to stop himself from crying. That was a close call. He wondered if he had enough money to buy a small tent and pitch it in the woods somewhere. But he wasn’t a scout and he knew nothing about living off the land. He leaned against the alley fence and looked up at the dark sky. It was still humid and he was sweaty but at least he was still free.

The room felt empty after John took the animals and Garrett home. Steve sat beside Danny whispering how much he loved him but Danny didn’t seem calm like he had before. In fact he seemed agitated, fingers twitching and brow furrowing. Steve called the nurse who told him those were signs he was heading towards consciousness and asked Steve to continue to monitor. If Danny was in distress, push the call bell.
“Ok please just relax, my darling. Just relax.” Steve traced Danny’s eyebrows and nose with one finger, loving the young man he had become. Gone was the baby fat. Danny was maturing well.
Steve remembered seeing Danny for the first time, allowing memories to wash over him, and how they’d fought in the RV. Good old Lew. Steve glanced at his tattoo on his arm, remembering how Lew was going to eat it. Ok, those were definitely NOT the memories he wanted to dredge up.
Danny moaned.
Steve sat perfectly still, wondering if he had been mistaken. Maybe that was his stomach. Maybe it was just a random noise— no! There it was again! Danny had moaned! He rang the call bell and stood up, seeing the now physical changes in Danny, the way his legs were stiffening, how his hands were clenched fists. The house doctor who had just happened to be reading over charts in the ICU bustled in with 2 nurses and Steve stepped aside as they looked Danny over.
Could it be? Was Danny awake?

It was 5 am when the call came in that a child was sleeping in the alley next to the Mighty Fine Tool Shop. Dispatch sent a woman officer because, well because the department was just antiquated that way. So when Officer Beverly Parsons pulled her squad car up to the parking lot and grabbed a blanket out of the back seat, she wondered what she would find.
“Hey kid!” She said as she approached the boy who was wrapped in a blanket sitting with his back against the fence. “What are you doing out here? Run away from home?” She squatted beside him and rubbed one of his arms, close enough in case he ran.
“I’m not going back to Cleo’s. I hate the shit they have all over the place,” Danny muttered.
“Nobody said you have to do that. Look, come with me and I’ll get you something to eat. Hmm? Come on.” She stood and held her hands out to Danny who sighed and got up.
“You might as well call OCY because that’s who I belong to.”
“Oh yeah? Did you run away?” She guided him towards the back seat and opened the door being careful to let him put his backpack in first.
“You might say that.”

Beverly took him back to the precinct when Danny said he was not hungry. She let him sit by her desk as she made the required phone calls, OCY telling her they would send a representative to come get Danny and take him back to the Shelter. She couldn’t get over how sad he looked , even when she bought him a candy bar from the snack machine. He politely refused it and instead just sat in the chair swinging his legs.
“So you don’t want to go back to your placement. Is that where you’re running from?”
“Yeah. It’s a gross house,” Danny answered.
“You know I thought all kids loved candy bars. Is there something else you want? I can get it for you!”
“Coffee?” Danny asked.
“Coffee? I don’t think you’re old enough for that!” She scolded. And Danny flashed her a shy grin.
“Double cream and sugar please.”
“You got it. Wait here, k?” She squeezed a knee and grabbed her wallet. “I will be right back.”
“Ok.” Danny looked around the room. Typical precinct. He had been to a few so this was not unfamiliar. And he liked Beverly. He liked it that she treated him like he was old enough to get it instead of talking to him like he was a baby.
A flurry of activity suddenly at the entrance caught Danny’s eye as 3 men dressed in patrol blues came into the room. They were talking about the game and how the Jets had sucked, but the third man stopped talking when he saw Danny. Danny looked down and concentrated on making himself as small as possible but he heard the man coming, shoes heavy on the wooden floor.
“Rick! Leave him alone!” And quite suddenly there was Beverly to be his knight in shining Armour. “Here, Danny. Drink your coffee.”
“Where did you find him?” The man named Rick asked.
“In an alley. We’re waiting for OCY.” She sat down and pulled Danny’s chair over so it was flush to hers. “Better go get your assignment.”
“Yeah I will but you might want to ask him how is it that he has one of my blankets.”
At that, Danny looked up, startled, and as his eyes met the ones of the man named Rick Peterson, the man winked and walked away.

Chapter Text

When Steve woke up it was not to anyone calling his name but to an increased grip on his hand. He sat up, completely awake, no signs of cobwebs chasing in his head. Maybe he was dreaming but he hoped he wasn’t and when he looked down at his hand which where he was holding loosely 3 of Danny’s fingers, he saw that Danny had bent his fingers and was holding on. Not tightly he thought but just enough to have pressure. To be noticeable.
“Danny?” He whispered, using his other hand to brush Danny’s silky strands of blonde hair back from his face. “You awake?”

“You awake Danny? Huh?”
Danny sat up and looked around. Of course he hadn’t meant to sleep for so long but he had and he did and now Cole was sitting across from him staring at him intently.
“Hey, Cole.” Danny sat up. “The friends I was going to stay with didn’t pan out,” he lied, and felt bad for doing it. “Naw. Really I made friends with a priest and had an offer to stay with him. But I didn’t like the whole religion thing.”
“Wow! You just get to choose where you go?”
“Yeah sure I mean,” Danny shrugged. “Yeah.”
“That’s so cool! And your parents don’t care?” Cole was so sincere it was difficult for Danny to keep lying.
“They don’t care hey! Want to go for a walk? Explore the neighborhood?” Danny changed the subject.
“I’m not really allowed and besides my mom and I have to go to my Gram’s house. Mom and Dad are fighting again.” Cole rolled his eyes.
“That sucks.” Danny was quiet for a moment thinking how many times he had been in foster care and witnessed the bitter divide between parents. “When are you leaving?”
“As soon as Mom gets off the computer. But you can come into the house. I’ll leave the back door open.”
“Really? Just to use the bathroom would be nice.”
“Yeah sure! Oops there’s Mom. Gotta go! Oh I brought some food out to you. It’s in the bag.” Cole pointed to a plastic grocery bag off to the side. “ see ya tomorrow!”
“See ya!” Danny waved and watched Cole go down the ladder and towards the house.

Steve felt his phone vibrate in his jeans pocket and used his free hand, the one not lovingly holding Danny’s fingers, to reach it.
“McGarrett,” he answered.
“Hey Steve it’s your Dad. Any change in Danny?”
“Yes! He uh he’s gripping my fingers! Dad! He really is!” Steve looked down at their joined hands.
“That’s wonderful news, son. Well, it’s Sunday so I was wondering if we could all come in to see him? Garrett especially has been asking to go.”
“Yeah bring everyone! The more stimulation the better I think.”
“I’ll bring you a change of clothing, Steve. I know the staff will let you use the showers there.”
“Thanks Dad. See you later.”

Steve pressed EndCall and turned his attention back to Danny. “Hear that? Everyone is coming to see you today. Maybe you’ll decide to wake up then.”
The staff nurse on the floor bustled in to check Danny’s vitals. She wrote everything down on a paper on her clipboard and smiled at Steve.
“You want some breakfast? Pancakes aren’t bad here,” she said.
“You know, I’ll take you up on that offer, thanks. Oh and hey did you see this? Danny is responding! He’s holding my fingers!”
She peered down at their hands and straightened back up.
“Yes it does appear that that’s what he is doing,” she said with a note of excitement in her tone. “I’ll let Dr. Russell know.”
“Yeah thanks.” Steve just kept gazing at Danny and their joined hands. Was this the start of recovery?

Danny slept a while and when he woke up, he realized he needed to use the bathroom. He pulled on his shoes and dug through his pack for clean undies, socks and a shirt. He supposed his jeans would have to do. Additionally he found his own shave kit as he called it because that’s what athletes called it. It was really just a bar of soap, toothbrush and paste and deodorant but Danny pretended it was in one of those cool black cases he had seen once at Target. In reality, he had found a clean zip vinyl case of some sort at Cleo’s so he had stuck all of his stuff in it so he’d have his own shave kit.
With everything stuffed in a grocery bag, Danny climbed down from the treehouse and stealthily made his way to the back door. Inside he could hear a tv and for a moment, he almost ditched the idea. However, the tv suddenly shut off and someone left the house via the front door. Danny heard a car start and drive off down the street. He was alone.

Quickly, Danny tried the door; it was open so he stepped inside and remembered where Cole’s bathroom was. There didn’t seem to be anyone in the house which worked well in Danny’s favour, and a hot shower was just what he needed. He washed in the sink the clothes he’d been wearing and balled them up in the bag intending to hang them up in the treehouse. Suddenly he stopped. Had he heard a car door? Fuck! Danny hurried out of the bathroom and towards the back door but it seemed like whoever had returned in the car was now coming in the front door so Danny wasn’t sure he’d have time to get out. Frantically he looked for a place to hide and decided on the small pantry room that Cole had showed him when they had been in the house earlier. Danny quickly walked in and closed the door, sitting on the floor with his ear pressed to the wood grain.

Steve knew eventually he would have to let go of Danny’s fingers and although he did not want to, he had things he had to do. Giving Danny a kiss on his forehead, Steve gently pulled away from Danny’s hand.
“I’ll be back I promise.”
Steve ate the breakfast from the cafeteria possibly beating his old Navy record of 3 courses in 3 minutes. Gulping the orange juice he slammed the carton on to the tray and wiped his hands on his pants and hurried back to Danny.
Danny looked the same Steve thought, and if it wasn’t for the fact he was intubated, you’d think he was asleep. He kissed Danny softly and pulled his phone out of his jeans pocket to text his dad to ask when the crew was showing up as he linked his fingers with Danny again. He wanted to tell Danny that he was back, that he hadn’t left him for long and he would give anything to see those beautiful blue eyes. “Wherever you are, Danny,” Steve whispered, “come back to me.”

Steve had another half hour of quiet with Danny before his dad showed up with child, dog and bunny. When Steve took Queenie out of her carrier, she swung her foot up to get her balance and accidentally thumped Danny’s arm.

>>oh no! I am so sorry Danny<<

“Shhh he’s fine.” Steve assured her and placed her on her mat next to Danny’s thigh. Sabrina was sniffing over by the small couch in the room but when she heard Steve talking to Queenie she came running over. Steve held Garrett so the child could be close to Danny and allowed Sabrina to sit next to his feet so her head would be within reach of Danny. Steve moved his hand linked with Danny’s and petted the top of Sabrina’s head.
“Look who is here, Danny,” Steve said quietly. “And Garrett’s here too. Say hi, kiddo.”
“Hi Mommy! Queenie is here too! She got her toenails cut. Cecil did it! Oh yeah and Cecil says he will wait til you’re better before he comes to see you!” Garrett was practically shouting as he bent towards Danny’s head.
“I think he can hear you just fine, GMan.” Steve chuckled and gave the boy a hug. “Let’s tell Mim all the stuff you are doing at school!”

The telephone rang. Danny counted the rings—4– until the man, Cole’s father, picked up. Danny could not make out the words but the man’s voice rose and fell until at the end he was yelling. Danny tried to make himself smaller in that room, wishing he had a wand to render himself invisible like in Harry Potter. Footsteps now. The ugly tirade had something to do with a ‘drop off’ and ‘pay out’ but Danny just wanted it over so he could possibly escape.
After a few minutes, The call ended or maybe they got disconnected. Efrom and Cleo were always getting disconnected when they talked to the bailsbond people. Or the utility people. Or the Office Of Children And Youth.
The call was done and Cole’s Dad was on his way to the kitchen. Danny shut his eyes and crossed his fingers and it seemed that worked, for the man just rummaged around in the fridge—Danny heard the clinking of bottles—and retreated.
Whew!
Cole’s Dad turned the tv on again and all seemed calm. Carefully and as quietly as he could, Danny opened the pantry door and emerged, trying hard not to make a sound. About 10 feet of floor stood between him and freedom. Glancing around him and behind him, Danny saw the coast was clear so he walked, toe to heel toe to heel to reduce sound. His shaking hand reached for the door knob just as the phone rang which caused Danny’s fight or flight instinct to shift to definite flight. He opened the back door and tumbled out into the yard making sure there was no back drag from the door to make noise. Once his sneakers hit the lawn he streaked across the back yard, up the ladder and into the tree house.
Oh he had made it!! He lay on his stomach and watched the door for any signs that anyone followed him or heard the door but after a few minutes when there was not a response, Danny relaxed.
“Fuck….” He exhaled deeply.
Quickly he unrolled his wet clothes and laid them over the floor to dry. As soon as he was done with that, he spied the bag of food Cole
brought him so he rummaged around in that and destroyed 2 bottles of juice, 2 Turkey sandwiches and a bag of chips. Deciding to save the Tastycakes for later, Danny curled up under a light blanket. The afternoon was cool but humid and once again it looked like rain.

“It was raining pretty good when we came over,” John said.
“I really appreciate you bringing everyone here, Dad,” Steve said. “Do you want to trade places so I can go get cleaned up?”
“I think I can do that,” John said but Steve caught the wince on his dad’s face when the older man rose.
“Dad? You ok?” Steve asked. He let Garrett sit on the edge of the bed while he joined his father by the chair.
“I’m too damn old to be fighting with some crazy drunk woman,” John chuckled. “But I have to say that I kicked her ass.”
“What exactly DID happen, Dad?” Steve asked.
“Well, as you know, I had been minding my own business when all hell broke loose. I went to investigate why the squad car’s lights were turned on and suddenly, out from behind the car, I see this vision of a tall plump woman with dark hair, a hook nose and crazy eyes. She has a knife in her hands and she’s coming my way.”
“Jesus, Dad, how did I not know this?” Steve asked.
“You had enough on your plate with Danny. Besides I managed. I remembered what you said about attackers with knives, remember when we had that discussion?”
“Well yes but—“
“—I remembered too. I didn’t watch the knife. I watched the person who held it. I watched her. So she lunged at me and I ducked out of the way, grabbed the waistband of her pants and threw her against the car. She hit her head. Times up. All done.”

Steve frowned and buy his lip. “Dad are you telling the truth?”
“Steve, I swear I am. Thank God for those pants!”
“But you’re wincing,” Steve pointed out.
“I am because I’m not used to throwing heavy women against cars. Well, heavy women who have a knife in hand.”
“You’re something else,” Steve said and hugged his Dad. He didn’t really remember his dad being much of a hugger when he was growing up but this was nice.
“Let me tell you about my son!” John said. “He’s the one you have to see to believe!”

After a hot shower, Steve made a quick trip to the lobby where there were several kiosks of fast food set up along the perimeter of the hospital. He got a few snacks— cookies, a couple muffins, some plain chicken, carrots and celery, and a coffee for him and his Dad and returned to the room.
“Anyone hungry? Come here Garrett. Let me set you up on this couch. Dad can you bring Queenie over here and she can be on her mat on the floor. Sabrina you just have to wait a few minutes ok!? Alright now let’s have a quick snack and we can bother Danny again.”

Danny woke up to thunder. He retreated further into the treehouse, more under the roof so he would not get wet. Still he didn’t like storms and this was shaping up to be a doozy. At least he wasn’t just wandering in the city out in the open.
Grabbing his pack, he pulled out Charlie and held the worn stuffie tightly against him. There was a huge rumble and a sharp smell of something metallic and as the storm started, Danny closed his eyes and tried to think of something else. Something good. The house and Virginia. His Mom reading him a story.The firefighter who helped Danny make Rice Krispie Treats. Another rumble and lightning split the sky. Rain was torrential but Danny was dry, a testament to the tree house. He tried to think of himself as encased in bubble wrap so nothing bad could happen to him and as the storm raged on it helped to take his mind off the severity of it.

Just as quickly as the storm appeared, it disappeared. The rumblings moved on leaving a humid but wet night. Crickets started to chirp and somewhere a dog barked. The lights remained on in Cole’s house and Danny wondered if Cole’s Dad was asleep in front of the tv, a mortal sin in everyone’s marriage.
Suddenly the back door opened and the back light came on. Danny froze, huddled as he was holding Charlie, he couldn’t be seen by a casual observer but what if Cole’s Dad wanted to climb up? For nostalgia sake?
And sure enough there he was, smoking a cigarette, his gaze fixated on the tree.

Moving quickly but carefully, Danny gathered up his clothes, took the bag of food and stuffed them all, along with Charlie, in his bag. Cole had joked about an escape exit to the rear of the house, a simple hatch with a rope dangling from it and as Cole’s Dad started forward towards the treehouse, Danny was out that hatch and down the rope.
“Hey! You! Come back here!! What are you doing in my kid’s treehouse?”
Danny ran towards the fence in the back, daring to look back over his shoulder. The man was following him, gaining ground with longer legs. Desperately, Danny launched himself over the fence and onto the sidewalk. He didn’t stop there though but kept running towards the crosswalk ahead.
“Hey!! Kid! You can run but you can’t hide!!”
Danny bit his lip snd fairly flew across the crosswalk. From there it was just getting lost in the darkness and the shelter that the buildings provided. Danny crouched in a small alley and waited.
Sure enough, a car crept by, and in the faint light, Danny could see the sharp outlines of Cole’s Dad. He was smoking, cigarette in his mouth, and looking this way and that before he gave up and headed the car for home.
Danny put his fist in his mouth to stop himself from crying. That was a close call. He wondered if he had enough money to buy a small tent and pitch it in the woods somewhere. But he wasn’t a scout and he knew nothing about living off the land. He leaned against the alley fence and looked up at the dark sky. It was still humid and he was sweaty but at least he was still free.

The room felt empty after John took the animals and Garrett home. Steve sat beside Danny whispering how much he loved him but Danny didn’t seem calm like he had before. In fact he seemed agitated, fingers twitching and brow furrowing. Steve called the nurse who told him those were signs he was heading towards consciousness and asked Steve to continue to monitor. If Danny was in distress, push the call bell.
“Ok please just relax, my darling. Just relax.” Steve traced Danny’s eyebrows and nose with one finger, loving the young man he had become. Gone was the baby fat. Danny was maturing well.
Steve remembered seeing Danny for the first time, allowing memories to wash over him, and how they’d fought in the RV. Good old Lew. Steve glanced at his tattoo on his arm, remembering how Lew was going to eat it. Ok, those were definitely NOT the memories he wanted to dredge up.
Danny moaned.
Steve sat perfectly still, wondering if he had been mistaken. Maybe that was his stomach. Maybe it was just a random noise— no! There it was again! Danny had moaned! He rang the call bell and stood up, seeing the now physical changes in Danny, the way his legs were stiffening, how his hands were clenched fists. The house doctor who had just happened to be reading over charts in the ICU bustled in with 2 nurses and Steve stepped aside as they looked Danny over.
Could it be? Was Danny awake?

It was 5 am when the call came in that a child was sleeping in the alley next to the Mighty Fine Tool Shop. Dispatch sent a woman officer because, well because the department was just antiquated that way. So when Officer Beverly Parsons pulled her squad car up to the parking lot and grabbed a blanket out of the back seat, she wondered what she would find.
“Hey kid!” She said as she approached the boy who was wrapped in a blanket sitting with his back against the fence. “What are you doing out here? Run away from home?” She squatted beside him and rubbed one of his arms, close enough in case he ran.
“I’m not going back to Cleo’s. I hate the shit they have all over the place,” Danny muttered.
“Nobody said you have to do that. Look, come with me and I’ll get you something to eat. Hmm? Come on.” She stood and held her hands out to Danny who sighed and got up.
“You might as well call OCY because that’s who I belong to.”
“Oh yeah? Did you run away?” She guided him towards the back seat and opened the door being careful to let him put his backpack in first.
“You might say that.”

Beverly took him back to the precinct when Danny said he was not hungry. She let him sit by her desk as she made the required phone calls, OCY telling her they would send a representative to come get Danny and take him back to the Shelter. She couldn’t get over how sad he looked , even when she bought him a candy bar from the snack machine. He politely refused it and instead just sat in the chair swinging his legs.
“So you don’t want to go back to your placement. Is that where you’re running from?”
“Yeah. It’s a gross house,” Danny answered.
“You know I thought all kids loved candy bars. Is there something else you want? I can get it for you!”
“Coffee?” Danny asked.
“Coffee? I don’t think you’re old enough for that!” She scolded. And Danny flashed her a shy grin.
“Double cream and sugar please.”
“You got it. Wait here, k?” She squeezed a knee and grabbed her wallet. “I will be right back.”
“Ok.” Danny looked around the room. Typical precinct. He had been to a few so this was not unfamiliar. And he liked Beverly. He liked it that she treated him like he was old enough to get it instead of talking to him like he was a baby.
A flurry of activity suddenly at the entrance caught Danny’s eye as 3 men dressed in patrol blues came into the room. They were talking about the game and how the Jets had sucked, but the third man stopped talking when he saw Danny. Danny looked down and concentrated on making himself as small as possible but he heard the man coming, shoes heavy on the wooden floor.
“Rick! Leave him alone!” And quite suddenly there was Beverly to be his knight in shining Armour. “Here, Danny. Drink your coffee.”
“Where did you find him?” The man named Rick asked.
“In an alley. We’re waiting for OCY.” She sat down and pulled Danny’s chair over so it was flush to hers. “Better go get your assignment.”
“Yeah I will but you might want to ask him how is it that he has one of my blankets.”
At that, Danny looked up, startled, and as his eyes met the ones of the man named Rick Peterson, the man winked and walked away.

Chapter Text

Dr. Russel frowned as he looked at the EEG and EKG films. Clearly there was a lot of brain activity and usually with these cases, the patient would have woke up by now. Still, he knew that everyone was different and, he supposed, when Danny was ready he would open his eyes and be in the present. Lord knew that his mate, Steve, was struggling. The man had not left Danny’s side for a week, save for when he went home once.
“Doc? Any good news?”
Steve was next to him with a hopeful expression on his handsome, but weary, face.
“Danny’s showing some intense brain activity judging from these strips. But it really is up to him to come out of his coma. I can’t hazard a guess. Helpful huh?” He said regretfully, patting Steve’s shoulder.
“It’s ok. I’ll wait as long as I have to. But I’m hoping it is sooner rather than later.”

“How did you get that blanket?” Beverly whispered.
“I found it in a treehouse I was sleeping in.” Danny didn’t want to elaborate on the whole Cole thing. Bad enough his dad had found him here and made a big deal of it.
“Oh geez.” Beverly sighed. “How old are you?”
“11.” Danny sipped his coffee and resumed swinging his legs. “I’m a pretty old 11 though.”
“And what precisely does that mean?” Beverly asked. “I see a baby. A kid who hasn’t been entirely fucked up in life but had some hard knocks. I see a big sense of vulnerability and stubbornness too.”

Danny was silent for a moment. He guessed that was him but he didn’t really know. She was typing on her computer so Danny watched her, liking how her long fingers knew where every key was as she typed.
“I should make you do this. Are you familiar with computers?” She asked him, looking askance out of the corner of her eye.
“Nope. Never used one.”
“Your time is coming trust me. When you get older in school I’m sure everyone will be expected to use one.”
“That’s ok. They look like fun,” Danny shrugged. He sunk down further in the chair and closed his eyes to shut out the sounds of the bustling room. He shouldn’t have taken the blanket. That was the dumbest thing he ever did.
“Maybe we could—“ the ringing of her desk phone interrupted her and she reached for the receiver to answer it.
Danny took the opportunity to look around then. There were certainly a lot of desks and cubicles. He supposed even police needed their own spaces to work.
“Danny?” Beverly said done with the phone call.
He snapped to attention and leaned towards her a bit. “OCY have nobody to pick you up. Apparently they are all busy with court appointments soooooo that means you either have to remain in custody here,” she paused and saw how Danny was trying to understand what was happening to him. “Or you can come home with me just for tonight. At least you’ll have a warm bed and a good meal.”
“You’d want me to come home with you?” Danny asked, wide eyed.
“Only if you promise not to run away. You promise?”
Danny sat up straighter and made a little cross sign over his heart. “Promise.”
“Good.” She sighed and brushed her bangs off her forehead. “I just need to alter the request for custody and we can go. You need to use the bathroom? I see you drank your coffee.”
Danny nodded. “Ok follow my finger.” Danny focused and she pointed towards the corner of the room. “There’s a washroom tucked away. Go use it and come right back.”
“Yep,” Danny said as he hopped off the chair.

 

Steve texted Cecil and asked him to bring Garrett after school. He didn’t want his dad or Burke and Milly to be driving in peak traffic time but he knew Garrett needed to spend time with Danny. Steve nixed the dog and rabbit— they could stay home this time so it would be easier for Garrett to have that alone time he needed.
A sudden movement caught Steve’s eye and he hustled back over to Danny to check it out. “What are you doing? Huh, Danny? You waking up?” Steve stroked Danny’s cheek. An answer came when Danny’s leg, the uninjured one, suddenly flexed and straightened. “Hey that’s good! I saw that! You’re going to surprise all of us aren’t you? Huh? But wherever you are I hope you come home. Just… come home.”

“So this is home.” Beverly allowed Danny to go first into the apartment and she followed, shutting and locking the door. It was, Danny thought, really nice with plants and colorful paintings on the walls. “Bring your stuff back to the bathroom. I have a stackable so we can get your clothes laundered.”
Danny followed, torn with a desire to want to throw his arms around her and to ask her if he could stay forever.
“I’ll get you some clothes. My nephew, he’s about your age so I have some of his stuff. Although he’s a little taller than you are.” Beverly tweaked Danny’s nose as she walked by.
“Everyone is taller than me,” Danny muttered.

He showered and waited for her to shower and then she made spaghetti. It was from a box and the sauce was a store brand but Danny finished everything on his plate and asked for more.
“I like it that you’re a good eater,” Beverly said as she placed the dishes in the sink. “Wanna give me a hand with these? You wash and I’ll dry.”
Danny nodded and quite shortly they were finished with the task. She put Danny’s clothes in the dryer and returned to indicate they could go into her small living room and sit on the couch.
“You want tv?”
“Doesn’t matter,” Danny shrugged.
“There’s only one thing I watch and it isn’t on tonight.” She tucked her feet up underneath herself and started playing with her long dark hair. “Tell me about you, Danny. Why is an 11 year old out and about without a family who loves him? You’re such a sweet kid. I don’t get it.”
Danny shrugged. He never liked to be put on the spot and yet he felt he owed Beverly something.
“My parents.. I used to have a Mom and Dad. We used to live in Cherry Hill. I remember we could walk to the ice cream store and we always did that on Sundays.” Danny remembered holding his Mom’s hand and his his Dad would tease Danny saying he would leave Danny at the ice cream place and he could work off their tab.
“That sounds lovely,” Beverly said, rubbing Danny’s back. The youngster literally leaned into her touch and yawned.
“Then … my parents… they died and the house caught fire and someone rescued me. He was a firefighter so I stayed with him for a while.” Danny looked down at his hands that were clenched in his lap. “HE died in a fire and then I went to Foster Care and that’s where I’ve been since. But I DID almost get adopted by a nice lady named Virginia. She lived in a really big house.”
“Did you run away from your foster family and is that how you got here?”
Danny shrugged. “Yeah but I’m not going back. They kept saving junk. It was pretty gross with the roaches.”
“Oh God! Roaches? Don’t worry. I’ll make sure you won’t go there.”
“Anyways it really doesn’t matter.” Danny shrugged. “I’m pretty independent.”
“Your file is all asterisks which means you, my dear, are a problem child.”
“Good!” Danny grinned and she shook her head but she was smiling.
“How in the world did you ever end up at the Peterson house? He’s the last guy in the world I’d want to meet. Sadly I have to work with him.”
“He’s got a great treehouse though! And his son is nice. Too bad he’s stuck with a dad like that!” Danny said. He yawned again but wanted to stay up as late as he could because going to bed would mean that he would be that much closer to getting up and leaving.

Garrett stared at Danny and tried to remember what the blonde looked like without all of the stuff on his face. He had an air of sadness around him, not knowing when his Mom would wake up, not knowing when his Dad would come home, missing the regular rhythms of their lives.
“He’s sleeping a long time!” Garrett said softly.
“He’s getting better and I don’t think it will be long before he wakes up!” Steve added. He was perched beside Danny’s bed, Garrett on his lap. Cecil was playing with his phone as he sat on the couch.
“I have lots to tell him,” Garrett said. “Lots and lots!”
“Can you remember it all or should I write down what you want to tell him? I have some paper over there. We could write a little book.” Steve gave his son a squeeze and set him down on the floor so he could find the packet of paper Cecil brought in case Garrett wanted to make Danny a card.
“We could write it in a card!” Garrett said happily. “And I can decorate it!”
“Yes you could,” Steve said. Steve returned with Danny’s tray table and lowered it so Garrett could easily work on the table as Steve held him on his lap. They were sitting right beside Danny and while he helped Garrett, Steve also made sure to caress Danny a bit in between writing. Steve wanted Danny to know he was oh so loved and looked after.

“Did you sleep well?” Beverly asked as she cooked breakfast. She wasn’t a cook nor did she ever eat breakfast but she felt Danny deserved a hot meal before she had to send him away.
“Yes thank you,” Danny answered. He’d packed his clean clothes and taken a shower that morning. He dreaded what was to come but he didn’t want to show any weakness.
“My eggs might be a bit off but .. they’re cooked. So here ya go.” She set a plate of scrambled eggs and toast in front of the boy who nodded. “Do you want peanut butter? I have it if you use it on your toast.”
“Yes please and ketchup because it’s going to be the only way I can eat these eggs. Sorry.” Danny looked up at her with his aqua blue eyes and she was taken aback with how adorable he looked.
“O-Kay. In all fairness I did warn you.”

When they got to the Precinct building, she saw the OCY van parked in the lot so Beverly tightened her grip on Danny’s hand as they climbed the steps to the back entrance. She knew he must have seen it because she saw the subtle changes on his face, the way he now looked closed off and guarded, his little body getting stiff. She wanted to keep him, God knows, but she had neither the resources nor the time to take care of an 11 year old with abandonment issues. No, he had to go and she would not cry when he left.
Danny saw the white telltale van from the agency and felt like bolting but he needed to just be tough and go back to see where he’d end up next. He had enjoyed being with Beverly but she was now acting like just someone with a job to do so he stopped holding her hand and waited patiently as she greeted the OCY official.
Paperwork was exchanged and for the first time since they had arrived, the official noticed Danny.
“Hello there. Is your name Danny?” She said in a patronizing voice.
“Yes ma’am. “
“Time to go back to where you belong,” she continued. “I’m Mrs. Quinn. Now don’t try any funny stuff like running away because it won’t help you in the grand scheme of things. You might as well just accept the fact that you’re hard to place and we will get on with it.”

Danny looked up at Beverly who was looking at her desk, sorting things out. She never once looked at him or acknowledged him. His heart sank. So it was all an act after all, her kindness and understanding. She was just like all the others; when she didn’t have to take care of Danny she was all out of good cheer and smiles. Angrily, Danny grabbed his backpack, offered a terse ‘thank you’ and followed Mrs. Quinn to the exit. He didn’t see Beverly wipe the tears from her face or her following them to the windows to watch as Danny and the woman drove out of sight.

 

“There! I put a star on it!” Garrett proudly showed Steve the front of his card. Also on the cover was a rabbit and a dog. Steve thought the artwork was pretty good for a boy of his age. At least the dog and the rabbit didn’t look alike.
“That’s a most beautiful card, GMan! Mom is going to love it!”
“Hope so. Will you fold my list of stuff to tell him and put it in my card?”
He asked this so sincerely that Steve had to swallow hard to resist the urge to cry a little. “Will do. Let’s just fold it up like this. There. See?”
“Perfect!” Garrett said. He then wiggled around to look at Danny. “Wake up please Mom wake up! Everyone misses you!”
“That’s for sure isn’t it?” Steve added.

Suddenly, Danny’s arm twitched. Not just twitched but moved. Steve waited wondering if it was a reflex since it only moved side to side. But then his hands started to twitch and his fingers started to grasp!!!
Steve set Garrett on the couch and raced to the doors “Doc! Hey uh someone! I think he is waking up!”
2 nurses immediately appeared and brushed Steve out of the way to attend to Danny, who was half sitting up, both hands scrabbling at his throat and making choking noises.
“Steve, take your son out of here please!” One of them said.
“Nooo I want to say hi to Mom!” Garrett protested as he, Steve and Cecil beat a hasty exit to the lounge area.
“They have to help
Mom get the mask off his face,” Steve explained. He was unsure whether or not to
Send Garrett home or wait until he knew what was going on.
“It’s so good that he was waking up,” Cecil said.
“Yeah.” Steve exhaled and tried to fight the weariness in his body. He didn’t think he’d had a real meal in days and his showering was also iffy. At least his work understood thank God! They had been more than generous allowing him to take Family Leave.
More nurses ran into the room followed by Dr. Russel and Steve had to fight back the urge to follow. His Danny. The love of his life. Would he be conscious enough to talk to Steve? Would he be coherent? Would he be happy to see Steve?

The minutes ticked by. Cecil took Garrett to the restroom and got him a small milkshake from the vendors downstairs. He brought one for Steve too but Steve shook his head no. He was too wound up to eat anything. While they had been gone, Steve had sent a mass text to everyone that Danny was waking up and to come to the hospital if they wanted to show support. He wasn’t sure how many would actually show up but he was thankful that he had a solid family to count on when he needed it.

Dr. Russel popped out and motioned for Steve to come over so they could talk.
“Good news? Is he conscious?”
“He IS conscious but right now my team is working with clearing all the mucous out so we can pull the tube too. It will take a little while but I told him you were here and…. Well… I think he should see you.”
“I’d love that,” Steve said. He looked back at where Cecil and Garrett were standing. “Give me a bit of time and then I’m sure you can come see him.”

Danny was on the bed with his leg still suspended and wrapped. His arms were raised above his head and secured loosely so he wouldn’t hurt himself if he struggled. The nurses were bent over him suctioning his mouth with a small instrument and he was making gurgling sounds. Steve took a deep breath and stepped closer.
“Hey Danno. Just let the nurses do their thing.”
Danny’s eyes opened and fluttered. He tried to turn his head but could not because the nurses were holding him. “They’re helping you breathe, sweetheart.”
Danny still watched Steve from the corners of his eyes but allowed the nurses to remove the secretions. Finally after what could have been 10 minutes or 10 seconds they straightened and another nurse came in and bent over Danny, telling him something in a low voice. She reached around his mouth and pulled something out of his throat and with her hand on his chest holding him down she talked to him very quietly. He nodded and relaxed and she straightened up, still with one hand on his chest. Her expression was one of concentration as she looked at his telemetry board. Satisfied she stepped away with a nod and undid Danny’s hands to gently bring down his arms.
“You can talk to him but I don’t want him to talk. I told him if he talks he will rupture his throat. Not entirely true,” her voice dropped to a whisper, “but for the time being let him believe that.”
“Ok.” Steve nodded like his head was on a string. He bit his lip to stop the tears and moved the chair over beside Danny. “Hey sweetheart. You’re gonna be ok. Doc said they repaired your leg and that the aortic arch had a contained rupture and they were able to successfully repair it. You checked out for a while, though. God I love you.” Steve brushed Danny’s hair out of his eyes and watched as a lone tear slid down the side of Danny’s face. “Oh no .. no tears. It’s going to be ok. Going to be ok.” Steve pressed both of Danny’s hands to his lips and kissed them. “I’m so happy you’re conscious. I missed you. We all missed you.”

Steve sat for a while just like that, elbows on Danny’s bed and holding Danny’s hands with his own. Danny fluctuated between swallowing hard and just resting keeping his eyes closed.
“I texted everyone that you woke up. And I figured I’d keep Garrett out of school tomorrow.” At the mention of their son’s name, Danny’s eyes flew open and he tried to speak but Steve gently crossed Danny’s lips with a finger and shook his head. “Yes Garrett is here and you can see him but the Doc just wants you to rest for a few minutes. They are going to do a re- eval on you and see where you’re at. Nod if you understand.”
Danny nodded. Blinked. Smiled.
“There’s my boy. There’s my beautiful boy,” Steve whispered.
“Steve?” A hand on his shoulder mAde him jump, and if he had been out in the rice paddies on assignment he would have been dead from lack of attention to his surroundings. “I’d like to check Danny over for an assessment. If you just want to move over by the couch so we can get to him?”
“I’m going to go out and tell our son he’s awake. Come get me out there when you’re done.”

Steve grinned at Cecil and Garrett. “He’s awake and we can see him in just a little bit. I promised—“
“Hey man! How is he? Is it true he’s awake?” Chin and Kono burst through the waiting room doors. Steve wasn’t sure who wore the biggest grin.
“He’s ok. Doc is with him now but he’s awake and understands.”
“Oh Steve that’s so wonderful!” Kono embraced Steve in a whopper of a hug and Steve bit his lip to prevent the tears. What was it about hugging this fierce lady that made him just want to collapse like jello and blubber in her arms?
“And you, little man, what are you up to?” Chin asked.
“See my card! Daddy wrote down all the stuff I want to tell Mom snd I drew Sabrina snd Queenie on the front under a star because it’s a miracle.” Garrett held up the card he and Steve had created.
“Now that is quite the card! Wow! You should work for Hallmark!” Chin teased.
“Hallmark?” Garrett scrunched up his nose and shook his head. “I hate those mushy movies!”

Just as Steve was going to explain the difference between cards and the tv channel, he heard a dog barking. Ok things were going to get fun tonight. He hoped he had enough energy to cope with it!

Danny looked around the hospital room trying to catch his bearings. He had been caught between two worlds, reliving his memory of meeting Rick Peterson for the first time and trying to wake up for Steve. It was a delicate balance and he was exhausted. At least he had the dreaded tube taken out of his throat and while every time he swallowed was a bit of agony it was getting easier.
The doctor had asked if he was in pain but he didn’t feel really anything. Nothing hurt or throbbed or bothered him; he supposed he was on pain killers which is why he was so fuzzy. He wondered what day it was and how long he’d been out of it. He also wondered about Peterson. Had he been caught? Shot? Killed?
The doctor appeared suddenly, hovering in Danny’s line of vision.
“Danny? Just nod yes or shake your head no when I ask you this. Are you up for company? I thought I’d let your son see you.”
Danny nodded, feeling tears prick his eyes.
“Alright, I’m going to raise your bed and you can see them but no talking.” Danny nodded again and felt the bed go up. He was in a semi sitting position.
The doctor patted his shoulder and hustled off and out the door.

When Steve brought Garrett in, Danny held out his arms and suddenly winced because he had forgotten about his bicep. It was do-able however in that he relax the arm and reach with the other. Garrett snuggled against him, holding on to him and babbling about everything from school to the rabbit to the dog to his card he had made. Steve sat in the bedside chair, grinning and making sure Garrett wasn’t too rambunctious.
“So here’s your card see? I guess I talked all about my stuff and I draw… I MADE Queenie and Sabrina here see?”
Danny looked at the card that Steve was helping to hold and broke out into a grin. He did the thumbs up sign and held the card against his chest so Garrett would understand it meant a lot to him.
“Are you up to seeing the dog and the bunny?” Steve asked. “Oh yeah plus Milly, Burke, John, Kono, Chin…”. Danny nodded but still held on to Garrett. “I get it. GMan can stay.”

Danny was so happy to see all of his friends and certainly enjoyed the visit from the animals. Queenie dug her nails down on the bed sheet to prevent Steve from picking her up but Danny pet her and tried to nonverbally assure her that she could come back. Sabrina was quiet and didn’t bark but her big brown eyes just adored Danny as she snuggled her snout against his leg.
When Chin and Kono came in, Danny desperately wanted to ask about Peterson but wasn’t sure how. He was getting tired to the point where his eyelids were heavy and while he could follow the conversations around him he really just wanted to curl up and sleep. But he also had a burning need to find out about Peterson’s fate. Just how was he supposed to convey his question?

Steve was standing talking to the cousins so Danny patted Garrett’s leg and once he had the child’s attention, shakily pointed at His mate. Garrett frowned but pulled on Steve’s shirt tail and pointed to Danny who mouthed ‘Peterson’ when Steve focused on him.
“Peterson? Oh.” Steve rolled his eyes and looked away towards Chin and Kono. Chin stepped forward, meeting Danny’s level gaze and cleared his throat.
“He was arrested and charged with Attempted Kidnapping, Breaking and Entering, Assault With A Deadly Weapon, Attempted Homicide, and a slew of other charges including Stalking. However… “ Chin looked unsure whether or not to continue but Steve nodded giving him the go ahead. “He’s copping a plea of Mental Illness, in other words, Insanity. He says that you have tormented him since…uh…” Chin stopped because Steve was glaring and giving him a subtle ‘cool it’ gesture. “Uh he says he’s crazy.”

Danny turned his head away from Garrett. He felt angry, frustrated, like everything he was experiencing was all for naught. Peterson had been a fringe character in his life up until Delano reared his ugly head and look at how that mess had worked out!
“Hey, hey Danny,” Steve said gently, a finger under Danny’s chin to bring his head up. “It’s ok. He will be put away for a long time no matter what he pleads.”
And because Garrett was there and because Danny wanted to believe Steve, he nodded to indicate he understood. It would do Danny no good to let this get under his skin. It would mean Peterson won and that definitely wasn’t something Danny believed or wanted to think about.
“But the good news is Steve said your leg is going to be ok with some PT,” Kono said good naturedly. “Pretty soon you’ll be skateboarding again.”
Danny nodded but he was suddenly tired. No not just tired… incredibly weary. He tried to keep his eyes open, feeling the presence of the animals close by, and his son next to him. Steve was holding his hand saying something but Danny was checking out of the present. The last thing he remembered was Steve’s big gentle hand holding his own as he drifted off into a peaceful slumber.

Steve was dreaming.
He had been adamant about staying with Danny and John and Burke finally talked him into using the recliner the hospital provided instead of sleeping doubled over in the chair by the bed. It was a relief, actually, to stretch his limbs and have a real kind of bed on which to sleep, and his body overruled his brain in a quick exit from the present as he closed his eyes.

Peterson was a skeleton. Not like a bony skeleton that you could see through the areas between the bones but a solid skeleton like he was wearing a suit with the bones emblazoned on it. His face though looked the same— sneering and with that thin feral look he had about him.
Steve was on a bridge looking down but couldn’t see the bottom because of the clouds that swirled beneath his feet into the chasm. Although his hands were twisted firmly around the girders hanging on, Steve felt vulnerable the way he was perched and when Peterson and his skeleton overlay came creeping up towards him, Steve thought he should probably stand up and be prepared.
Peterson’s mouth opened and started to move in conversation but Steve couldn’t hear him. It was just soft and silent until Peterson shoved Steve off the bridge.
Steve fell through the air, cool mist from the high clouds wetting his face as he felt the unmeasurable sense of loss. He had lost Danny.
Danny was gone.
Peterson took Danny.

Steve woke up with a start, a metallic taste in his mouth wondering what it was until he figured out he had bitten his lip and was bleeding. He sat up in the chair and scrubbed his hands across his face trying to dissolve the images from his head. He looked over at Danny, who was asleep, eyes closed and looking so peaceful. Steve gently brushed a strand of blonde hair away from Danny’s face and rubbed a cheekbone with his finger.

So the dream.
Steve decided to get up and hit the washroom and try to eat something that Milly had brought him. He had been too busy with Danny before to even look at what she had made him but he was insanely hungry now so he did his business and upon returning to the room grabbed the cooler bag Milly left.
Reaching inside, Steve pulled out sandwiches on homemade bread, stuffed with what looked like meat loaf between the slabs. Steve made short work of one and was debating on the other but saved it in favour of two filled molasses cookies she’d made and included. He followed that up with a banana, feeling much better than he had when he first woke up.

It disturbed him in the dream that he just let Peterson push him without a fight back. He analyzed that as feeling helpless against the conniving crazy, allowing him to get near Danny twice without any resistance. The bridge puzzled him for he had never had a fear of heights but the fear of losing Danny was the one constant propelling him in this life and in the dream life.

Steve sighed and got back into his recliner, pulling the blanket over himself but leaving one arm exposed. He settled his hand on Danny’s chest, feeling the rise and fall of Danny’s deep breathing as he slept. This was his reassurance that he and Danny were alive and still joined together. Peterson would never rip them apart.

“Mr. McGarrett? Steve? Are you awake?”
Steve heard the voice from far away but instantly his instincts kicked in and he jerked fully awake, sitting bolt upright in his recliner bed. He tried to remember where he was and suddenly it hit him and he automatically looked to find Danny, who was propped up in his own bed, staring at a tray set in front of him. When Danny saw Steve was looking at him, he smiled and reached over to pet Steve’s arm, mouthing ‘morning.’
“Morning, Danny,” Steve said and looked up at the nurse who had woke him. “My guess is you want to do something here so I’ll move and uh I’ll be right back.”

“How are you today, Danny? We are going to take you down to check your throat and change your dressings on your leg. You have a drain there and the doctor may decide to pull it out or leave it there. So we will put your tray over here and you can have it when you return.”
As she wheeled Danny out of the room bed and all, he waved at Steve who had stepped out while the nurse got Danny prepared. In passing, she told Steve that they would be back soon if he wanted to wait.
“As if,” Steve muttered. And even though he’d eaten at whatever hour of the morning it was when he’d had his dream, he was hungry. His stomach was rumbling and his mouth felt like the Sahara. He decided while Danny was gone he would get cleaned up and score something from the cafeteria.

Chin shook his head as he emerged from the courtroom. He was so angry and yet he knew that the level of his anger would be nothing compared to Steve’s after he found out the results of the arraignment. Peterson’s lawyer had spun a fanciful story of how Danny had tormented Rick Peterson for years , since 10 years ago. The court appointed psychiatrist, looking for a sensational story under his belt, had spun a web of lies instigated by Peterson himself, including the claim that Danny had told Peterson he would leave Steve while he was at the rental cottage while he was in Delano’s custody. Peterson also cited Danny’s ‘talent’ of bewitching men and how that psychiatrist had dug up all of the crazy adventures Steve and Danny had been involved in was beyond Chin.
So instead of a jury trial, Peterson had pled guilty to all charges but with Insanity caused by Danny Williams.
Chin had no idea of how he was going to break the news to either one of his friends but it was going to be tough and he knew it. Peterson would be sentenced in 2 weeks and Chin hoped Danny would be well enough that he could testify in his own behalf. That could put Peterson away for a good long while.
He took his phone out as he walked and decided instead this was news he had to deliver in person.

Danny was checked out and the doctor had removed the drain for his knee. The area was still supported and the packed but aside from that, the medical team was pleased with his progress. As far as his conversation skills, the ENT doc had given the ok for Danny to whisper and to eat semi solid foods. So it was with a smile on his face that Danny was wheeled back to his room and hooked back up to his monitors. Steve was not in the room which disappointed Danny, thinking Steve had left, but it was only right since the poor guy had been there the whole time.
The nurse set him up to eat and took the cloche off the big plate in the middle. There were some different flavors of yogurt in cups as well as a poached egg and soggy toast. Danny pushed the toast and egg away but started to eat his yogurts when Steve
came back.
“Hi,” Danny whispered and it felt weird and at the same time good to use his voice.
“Hey Sweetheart.” Steve pulled the chair up close to Danny’s bedside and grinned. “Ready to dance or will you have to wait a bit for that?”
“No dancing but things look good,” Danny answered. He took a spoonful of the strawberry yogurt and swallowed. “I have to whisper. And be judicious, Doc said.”
“That’s ok . You look so good awake. Man, I can’t tell you how scared I was. When they brought you here… I didn’t know…”
“Shhhhhh.” Danny cupped the side of Steve’s face with his hand. “I’m ok. I’m ok.”
Steve ducked his head down and kissed Danny’s hand, and reached for that hand to hold .
“You feel up to company? I kept Garrett home from school and I’m sure the folks won’t mind bringing him and the animals in.”
“I’d love that,” Danny answered with a lopsided grin.
“Ok I’ll just text—“ Steve’s phone rang before he could start typing. “McGarrett. Oh hey Chin.” He looked over at Danny who smiled and nodded. “Yeah sure we were just eating. See you soon.” Steve ended the call and started to text his dad. “Chin is on his way with some news.”
“Was he arraigned today!?” Danny asked.
“I’m pretty sure he was. So we will have to see what happened.”
“He should get Life. He’s messed up our lives twice now.” Danny finished his yogurts and covered up the plate again with the cover. “He invaded our home and almost shot Sabrina.”
“Ok, don’t get yourself all worked up,” Steve said as he watched the monitors go crazy. “They will give you something to make you sleep and I don’t want that.”
“Me either,” Danny sighed and leaned back. “Is the family coming in?”
“Yep. They will be here soon.”

Danny lay there completely still. His colour had changed from a healthy pale to almost a white and his fists at his sides were clenched.
“But with your testimony, they should put him away for a long sentence,” Chin said trying to reassure both Steve and Danny. “You’re an asset to the community while he’s a disgraced former cop.”
“What I don’t get is his fairy tale about Danny as a kid,” Steve muttered.
“Fuck me it’s true though Steve.” Danny said miserably. “I was… 11 years old and ran away from these foster parents who I now know as hoarders. Ended up in a tree house Peterson had built for his son Cole. When I got caught, I remember him coming to the precinct and… winking at me.” Danny exhaled noisily and ran a hand through his hair. “And I have not thought of that in a very long time.”
“I’m sorry, Danny,” Steve said. He saw Danny’s disgust and fear and uncertainty and hate, all the emotions flickering across his face.
“I knew he’d wiggle out of it someway.” Danny looked at Chin. “I want to be there to testify at his Sentencing. I want to tell the court just what a twisted piece of shit he is.”
“You got it. I’ll tell the DA,” Chin agreed.
There was a knock on the door and Steve answered it, finding the family complete with animals outside in the hallway.
“Hey everyone! Let’s get settled in the waiting room because I’m not sure they want Danny to be surrounded as of yet.”

>>I can go in. I’m small and won’t take up much space.<<

Steve peered into the carrier Burke held and chuckled. “Let me get Garrett settled first and I’ll come back for you and Sabrina.”

Danny sat up in the bed and tried to look around the curtain to see who Steve would bring in first. Of course it was Garrett, the little boy holding on to Charlie.
“Heyyyyy did you bring me my buddy?”danny asked. Garrett nodded and Steve put the child up on the bed beside Danny. They hugged and Danny tried hard not to cry, squeezing his eyes shut. “Thank you for bringing Charlie.”
“I thought of it!” Garrett said proudly. “ I know you miss us and I thought you’d want him to sleep with you.”
“Since I’m sending your Dad home with you tonight,” Danny said, a remark that had Steve straighten up and raise his eyebrows at Danny, “I will definitely need this guy to keep me company.”
‘We need to talk’ Steve mouthed but Danny was asking a Garrett about his day off and laughing when he told his mom that his Gandpa had tried Fruit Loops for the very first time and liked them!

Sabrina and Queenie took up their usual spaces on and near the bed and as Danny’s visitors came and went, he found himself anxious to get home. Dr. Russel had said if Danny’s numbers were good enough he could go to a regular room and from there with some solid PT he could go home. It was plenty of incentive for him and he missed being home with a deep longing.
About halfway through the visit, Garrett tugged on Steve’s arm and in a stage whisper announced he wanted to go to the bathroom. Steve took his hand and helped him jump off the bed and with an ‘I’ll be right back’ walked down the hall. Seeing her opportunity to speak to Danny without Garrett being present, Milly sat on the edge of the bed and held Danny’s hand.
“Did you remember what you needed to remember?” She asked softly.
With a sigh Danny nodded. “I do. I dreamed it. Somewhere inside of me I had it buried.”
“You should know that you are entering a time of great indecision and upheaval,” Milly continued quietly. “You need to always remember that your family is end game because if you lose track of that you will lose your way and won’t be able to get back again.”
“Why are you telling me this?” Danny asked, suddenly feeling very scared.
“Because I need to warn you. In the next few months, life is going to get very hard for you. But hold on. Hold on to Steve and Garrett and the animals. You’re a brave boy but this will be your biggest test.”
Hearing Steve and Garrett returning, Milly gave Danny a quick kiss on the forehead and patted his cheek.

For the next half hour of the visit, Danny felt like he was going through the motions. Every word Milly told him was reverberating in his head. He was worried and terrified for what lay ahead and he didn’t think he should share it with Steve because Steve had enough on his plate with running the house and worrying about Danny. He’d do what he had done all his life since he was 5; he would handle whatever came next. Maybe he’d fuck it up or maybe he’d overcome it. But he would be ready. Of that he was definitely certain.

Chapter Text

With the complete remodeling of the city’s Publix, a regular shopper like Cecil was left confused and squinting at a store map. While he and doubtless many other loyal shoppers appreciated the do over with the addition of a snazzy Ready To Eat Meals section, finding his way around was becoming annoying and time consuming. Still, he hung in there, knowing that Danny, with his leg still bothering him and on crutches, could not shop yet and the fact that he wanted to please his friends/employers propelled him down the aisles.
All he had to get yet were the pet supplies. Queenie HAD to have a certain type of preferred litter and she loved the ready made bunny snacks from Your Farmer’s Dog. Apparently, that company had branched out to make food and snacks for other animals and not just dogs. Sabrina loved Your Farmer’s Dog too, getting her food supplemented with lean meats and an occasional snack of pasta and fruit.
“Ah! There we go!” Cecil wheeled down the pets’ aisle and began to look for the big cooler that housed the food he wanted to buy. As he opened the glass doors of the cooler case, he saw a young lady ambling down the aisle towards him. She had a Yorkie in her cart and the little dog stood up and wagged its’ tail when it saw Cecil looking at them. She looked up from her presumed list and rewarded him with a smile.
Cecil immediately looked around him for somebody else who she could be smiling at but he and she were alone in the aisle. And still she was approaching, still smiling, looking good in a Bohemian kind of way.
“If you’d hold that open for me, I can get Charles his food too.,” she said sweetly.
“Yeah yeah no worries I got it!” Cecil stammered. Ok, seriously, even though he HAD dropped 40 pounds since November and even though he DID have his contacts in and even though he had NOT dyed his hair any weird colour did not mean a girl like this one would look twice at him.
“Thank you,” she said her hand on his arm. Another smile. Cecil was truly smitten. He just couldn’t believe a girl this pretty was being nice to him.
“I uh I we uh I have a rabbit.” Cecil felt his face flame red. This was going badly. He was stuttering and being stupid.
“I like bunnies though Charles here isn’t a fan.” She pet the dog who started to lick her hand happily.
“Oh we have a dog too!” Cecil blurted.
“‘We’? You mean you and your girlfriend.” She pouted, bottom lip protruding.
“No!” Cecil said with enough emphasis that Charles whirled around and looked at him. “No no no I don’t have a girlfriend! Or a wife! Or uh anything! And my name is Cecil. Hi.” He stuck his hand out, hoping it was not too sweaty.
“Amber,” she said as she batted her eyes. “I love your name.”
“Oh it’s uh … I’m from Newfoundland so it’s kind of a Newfy thing.”
“You know,” she said voice dropping low, “I’d really like to just sit down and have a conversation with you. Outside of,” she waved her hand to indicate the store, “here you know?”
Cecil nodded. He was going 125 mph down the mental highway but he was driving a Scoda.
“Should we uh you can uh you can come over to my place! I have a really nice living arrangement. I’m kind of responsible for running the whole house.”
“Sounds verrrry responsible,” Amber said.
“Ok uh shall we I can let’s exchange numbers and would you like to come over for dinner tonight? I’m sure my bosses won’t mind. Actually there will be just one because oh well anyways not that you care.” Cecil finished, feeling himself turn red.
“Give me your phone,” she purred, holding her hand out.
“Ok yeah here we go,” Cecil handed her his mobile and watched as she punched in a number.
“I’ll bring the wine and you make me something Italian. Text me your address. See ya at 3.” She pulled her cart back and started to turn it around but not before she stopped and blew him a kiss. “See you later.”
Cecil could only wave as she sauntered off.

It was so damn frustrating to move around the house on crutches. Danny would have loved to be more mobile but he had to be ‘patient’, his therapist said. Patience was never his strong suit and oftentimes he found himself just getting so mad when he got tired or stumbled or when he couldn’t stand up long enough to finish a task. Sabrina was always by his side wherever he went. She refused to leave the bedroom Steve and he shared and put up a huge fuss if Steve tried to physically move her. Same with Queenie although she was, obviously, a lot easier to move but Steve had been the brunt of her bites and kicks so he was reluctant to pick her up. Danny tried to reason with them both but they weren’t listening and uncharacteristically refused to answer. It was only adding to Danny’s sense of growing frustration.

And then there was the warning from Milly. Before she and Burke headed back to Albany, Danny tried to ask her more about what she had told him. She refused to go into it more just waving her hand and telling him he could handle it. So now he was alone in the big gorgeous house while Steve and Garrett were at work and school respectively, hopping around trying to get things done. Of course, Cecil was a huge help and good company but Danny hated to just keep throwing all the chores on him.
And speaking of Cecil, Danny heard him unloading groceries so he carefully descended the stairs and walked out to the kitchen, Sabrina right at his back calf and Queenie hopping in their wake.

“Hey Cee! Did you find everything? How is the store looking?”
“Oh yeah well the store is confusing as hell and I got lost a couple times but Danny!” Cecil grinned like a lunatic and Danny couldn’t help but grin back. “I met someone! As a matter of fact she’s coming over for dinner! Tonight!! So I’m I’ll make your food and if I could have the evening off? We will just dine in my house.”
“You met someone? Wow dude I’m happy for you!” Danny smacked Cecil on the shoulder. “Of course you can have the night off! And don’t worry about our dinner. I can just order out.”
“You sure?” Cecil said worriedly.
“Dude, I’m not standing in the way of romance!” Danny started to find places for the items in the fridge. “We can just put these away and you can go get your handsome self ready. I hope you have a good time!”
“Me too,” Cecil said with a broad smile.

“Apparently, girls, Cecil met someone. That’s pretty cool.” Danny said as he sat down on the couch. Before he had left, Cecil
Made sure Danny’s leg was propped up and Queenie was beside Danny. Sabrina lounged on the other side of Danny, head on Danny’s lap. “You guys know what it is don’t you, the thing Milly talked about. Or at least you can feel it.” Danny exhaled softly and rubbed his hands over his eyes. “I wish I knew too. I hate being all worried wondering when the shoe will finally drop. It’s not a good way to feel.”

>>we don’t know. Not really. We just want to be with you and protect you<<

Bark Bark Bark Bark Bark!
WE ARE TO WATCH OVER YOU CAREFULLY AND MAKE SURE YOU ARE SAFE! MILLY TOLD US!

“I wish Milly had told me what it is I should be scared of.” Danny picked up the remote and aimlessly shifted through the channels. He had talked to Steve about taking online classes but he had missed the registration deadline by a week. There were always puzzles and word games and painting on the iPad to keep him occupied and though they kept him entertained for a while, Danny always got restless after a while.
He was happy for Cecil though. The dude was a good guy and deserved someone to make him happy. How cute that they met in a grocery store. If they worked out, they would have a sweet story to tell their kids.

Kids… oh Garrett would be home shortly. Thank goodness that Ms. Jolson walked Garrett into the house so Danny didn’t have to try to maneuver to get to the van and walk him down the long sidewalk. Checking the time, Danny saw it was only 2:30 so he had an hour. The couch looked inviting so maybe he should just curl up for a bit, setting his phone alarm to alert him when the van would be there.
“Let’s take a nap,” Danny said.

Bark Bark Bark
I AM NOT SURE I WANT TO SLEEP. THINGS FEEL FUNNY

“What do you mean? There’s no threat of Peterson is there?” He asked quickly, heart starting to pound.

>>I second that feeling. I don’t like it<<
Queenie’s ears twitched. She sniffed the air.

“Guys please..tell me what’s going on.” Danny was just about to reach for his crutches when Sabrina got down off the couch and ran towards the entry way. She was growling and her hackles were up. Queenie, uncharacteristically, slid down off her mat to the floor and hopped out towards where Sabrina was.
“Fuck,” Danny said. He gathered his crutches around him and suddenly stopped at the sound of the intense rain beating against the windows. Far off in the distance, he heard a fire siren wailing. What the hell was happening? Danny used his crutches to walk over to the window and was shocked at how black the skies were. He had not watched any tv that day, or local news; he usually didn’t because it was all depressing.

The lights flickered and buzzed. Sabrina began to howl and the whole room started to shake. Danny hesitated then decided to try to pick up the rabbit out in the hallway. That would be his undoing.

 

The F4 tornado had come barreling along the Maryland shore. It was a rare combination, as most weather phenom were these days, of a combined low pressure with a cold front. The rain was the precursor but the tornado itself skipped downtown Annapolis only to land in the outskirts, right where Steve and Danny lived.
The sirens blasted but Danny had never been in a tornado and hadn’t ever thought that much about them unless he was watching the news and felt sorry for the victims and the catastrophic losses. He had no idea that was a warning to get somewhere safe and hunker down. If he had made it to the hallway, he would have ridden it out with the dog and bunny but he didn’t.

Danny felt like he was in a vacuum; his hair was on end and he heard a loud sucking like sound, as if the world’s biggest vacuum had descended from the heavens and was sucking up everything in sight. The floor beneath his feet started to shake and far away he heard Sabrina bark and the rabbit wail, but he was stuck, his feet unable to move forward or diagonally.
Danny was pushed down onto the floor by a tremendous pressure. He couldn’t move at all and it felt for a few seconds that he was going to be squished as if an unseen thumb was pressing his head. A frightening rumble was all around him as the house collapsed on him with a rain of wood and plaster.
The tornado lasted a very few seconds and didn’t linger but was sucked up into the clouds and spirited away to hit cities further south.

Silence.
And suddenly a siren started to wail, splitting the uncharacteristically muggy February afternoon.

“I can’t get a hold of Danny,” Steve said adjusting his messenger bag on his shoulder as he and Joe walked down the hall. It had been a long day and all Steve wanted was to go home and take it easy with his mate and the animals. There was no getting around having Sabrina and Queenie near to them. Steve hadn’t been laid since Danny came home and their odd moments in the shower were never long enough to actually do anything. “In fact my call dies befire anything goes through. See? It says ‘call cannot be completed.’ “ he showed Joe who shrugged.
“You know how often I use my cell, Steve. And you know how iffy the reception is.”
“Still I—“ Steve stopped as they walked outside. Fire trucks, police cars and ambulances were racing down the main thoroughfares, sirens on, lights flashing.
“Not another school shooting I hope,” Joe muttered.
“Who knows?” Steve said and was just about ready to try Danny again when he received a call from an unknown number though the exchange belonged to Annapolis. “Hello?” He answered.

There were very few times that Joe White had ever seen Steve turn completely devoid of natural colour and fall to his knees. Steve was always so tough and outwardly so cool under pressure to the point where they had dubbed him ‘Smooth Dog’ during his operative SEAL years. But Steve did exactly that. And he looked like he was having trouble breathing as he held the phone to his ear. All Joe could do was kneel next to Steve who was gasping for air going into full blown panic attack.
Joe grabbed the phone, now silent, from Steve’s hand and edged behind him, arms encircling Steve’s chest. His mouth was close to Steve’s ear and he hugged the younger man to him fiercely. “I got you. I got you. Breathe, Steve, breathe.”
With a shuddering breath, Steve did just that his inhale shaky but at the very least he was getting some air into those lungs. “Now exhale long and slow. That’s it. I’m right here. I got you. Ok another breath, in through your nose that’s it now exhale through your mouth, good good. You’re going to be ok, son. Just listen to my voice. In that’s it good now out excellent… you ok?” Joe asked but didn’t remove his arms from where they held on to Steve’s lean body.
“Yeah… yeah. I’m ok. I’m ok.” Steve bent forward as far as Joe would let him. “ really I’m ok but we… we have to go… we have to go find Danny… and Garrett oh my God…” Steve wiped at his eyes with his hands.
“Steve, what happened?”
“There’s been a tornado. The house is gone, Joe.” Steve turned towards his mentor, eyes wide and tortured. “Our house is gone. It’s just g-g-gone.”

Sabrina woke up slowly, almost as if she had been sound asleep next to Danny and Steve, enjoying the softness of their fluffy green quilt and the warmth of their human bodies. She loved to roll on that quilt when she could but lately, Danny had been keeping the door to their room shut when they were not in it so that limited those precious times.
She lifted her head and blinked. Debris was all around her but she had room to stand up. Carefully she did just that, wincing a bit from a pain in her hind leg. All around her she heard hissing like a snake and the smell of something acrid and she knew she had to get out of where she was.
But where was Danny? And where was Queenie!?

Bark Bark Bark Bark Bark
DANNY QUEENIE WHERE ARE YOU?

Suddenly her sharp ears heard the plaintive wail of the rabbit. It was coming from behind her so Sabrina lifted herself out of the debris using her front paws across a piece of wood and wiggling her legs and backside up to the ground. Once she was on the grass, she skirted the perimeter of the immediate tangle of wood, plaster and furniture to where she heard the bunny.

Bark
QUEENIE?

>>I can’t get out! I think my paw is broke!<<

Bark Bark
WAIT I SEE YOU I AM COMING

Sabrina lowered herself down to her belly, her paws underneath her and scooted along the debris laden ground.until she reached where Queenie lay. By now, there were some people running over to where the house stood and although Sabrina did not understand what a tornado was, she knew it had been an awful twisty thing that had wrecked their home and made Danny disappear. First thing was first though and as Cecil ran over to where she was, picking his way through wood that had been reduced to matchsticks and bricks that were scattered everywhere, she started to bark.

Bark Bark Bark Bark
HELP
ME GET QUEENIE WHERE IS DANNY

“Oh hey Queenie,” came Cecil’s soothing voice. Behind Cecil was a young lady with bib overalls on and a t shirt that read ‘Kiss The Cow I’m Vegan’ on it. Sabrina sniffed her and she smelled like brown sugar and mints.
“Oh Cecil is the little bunny ok?” Amber asked worriedly. She started petting Sabrina and Sabrina closed her eyes to lean into the touch. She knew she needed to find Danny but where was he? She couldn’t smell anything because of the hissing thing!
“Yeah here we go come on I know you’re scared but you’re ok.” Cecil lifted Queenie and let her nuzzle his neck. “Come on Sabrina let’s get you two checked out.”

Bark Bark
WHAT ABOUT DANNY

“We’ll find Danny but they have to turn off the gas lines before they go looking. Come on that’s it. Follow us. Good girl.”
Amber stroked Sabrina’s fur as they walked over to the line of ambulances that waited in a line.
A fireman wearing a big yellow coat came running over to them, hands out to take the rabbit.
“I got her. I don’t want her to bite you,” Cecil said apologetically.
“Ok, Bus 12 is the Vet Bus so take them over there.” He pointed. “And you say there was only one other occupant home at the time?”
“Yeah, Danny.. he was in the family room,” Cecil said pointing vaguely towards the rubble.
“Gotcha!”
Cecil blotted out most of what was happening around him. He did not think, by the looks of the remains of the house, that anybody had survived that direct hit. The only reason he was fine was because the tornado had slipped up to the clouds before it got to
the guest house, where he was entertaining Amber.
What was Steve going to do? Cecil thought as he laid Queenie down gently on the exam table. Sabrina jumped up with her paws on the table and started to lick the rabbit.
“Down, girl. Let the vet check her out and then it’s your turn.”
“They listen to you! That’s great!” Said Amber.
“Yeah we uh we have good communication skills.”

The van from the school had turned around at the first signs of the tornado warnings and returned to the school. Garrett was upset and frustrated because nobody would tell him what was happening and he resented that. Other parents, too, had come to pick up their children, whispering stuff and looking askance at Garrett who was just sitting there at his desk.
“Garrett?” Finally, his teacher, patient and loving Mrs. Lord, reached out her arm. “Take my hand honey. I’m going to take you home.”
“But but but how come we are here? Instead of home?” Garrett protested.
“There’s been a tornado . Do you know what that is?” She asked, helping Garrett gather his backpack.
“Yea I saw it on tv on a movie called Twistrr and there was a cow in it. She went for a ride.”
“The cow did?” Mrs. Lord asked.
“Yes ma’am. Up through the windy thing.” Garrett thought for a second as they walked out to the van. “Why did you ask? We don’t have no cows.”
“I know, honey.” Mrs. Lord opened the van door and secured Garrett into a seat in the next row. He was too small to ride up front and she wasn’t sure she could keep it together enough if he was up here watching her with those big dark blue eyes that looked so much like Steve’s. “Ok. Let’s go.” She took a deep breath and started the van. The emergency phone call she had received explained that the area where Garrett and another boy, Neil, lived had been totally destroyed when the tornado touched down. She wasn’t sure if Garrett even had another parent at this point.

When Steve and Joe arrived, they saw the platoon of emergency vehicles surrounding the area. Where the house should have been was just a pile of smoking rubble.
“No no oh my God!” Steve ran now, breaking away from Joe and heading to where the emergency management officials huddled. He burst into their little circle causing their makeshift portable table with schematics to tip dangerously.
“Here now! Who are you?” One of the men asked gruffly.
“I’m Steve McGarrett and that,” he panted as he tried again to breathe,”was my house.”
The men all looked at each other and a few of them looked at the map again.
“Is this where your house would have been?” This man, apparently, was in charge since his coveralls were emblazoned with the word CAPTAIN.
“Yeah and my mate. My mate is in there. He was hurt so I know he didn’t go anywhere and our dog and rabbit and our friend Cecil. So please find them? Please?” Steve asked looking at each one of their faces. “Please?”

“Steve.”
Joe put his hand on Steve’s shoulder. “Good news. Cecil was in his house in back so he wasn’t hurt at all. And he found Sabrina and Queenie.”
“But not Danny?” Steve asked his voice tremulous.
“No. Not Danny.”

Chapter Text

Hissssssssssssssss
Crrreeeaaak
Sirens

Danny opened one eye and looked around. All he saw was dirt and grass and pink. He lifted his head up and immediately decided that that was a bad idea. Something hurt from his neck down.
Back on the dirt again but this time his mind was clear and more focused. Danny lifted his head up and arched his back. Pieces of debris fell off him as he slowly moved to his knees. It was torturous and painful but at least he could move.
Danny shifted his weight so he was sitting on his butt and tried to stretch his legs out but something stopped him and when he saw the piece of stick poking out from his thigh he froze altogether. That didn’t look good. He wiggled the stick but stopped immediately as a sharp pain radiated from the point of entry to his jaw.
It was dark and still and cold and Danny wondered where he was and what had happened to the house. Tornado? He thought maybe yes. Tornado. It had to be.
Looking around, he determined he was in a kind of cocoon with all of the wood etc on top
of him. The hiss he heard must be gas lines; he wasn’t sure that was a good thing! And the sirens ywere still going but sounded far away.
Danny wiggled the stick in his thigh once more experimentally wondering if he should pull it out. That seemed to be the only place he was injured so maybe if he could shift some stuff he could crawl through and out of where he was. He was thirsty too and the thought hit him that a person could only live for 3 days without water. So he had 3 days. 3 days to get out of this trapezoid of rubble.

“We have the dogs coming,” Kevin Mays said in a commanding voice. He was in charge of Emergency Management and wore the Captain’s title with pride. But in all his years he had never seen this much damage. What a horrific storm!
“With all due respect,” Steve said, “I have a dog who could find Danny. Can she help?”
Kevin looked at Steve and recognized a man in great emotional pain.
“Sure. Why not? The more the merrier!” Kevin agreed.
“Thank you,” Steve said gratefully. He wanted to believe Danny had survived the tornado; they only had to find him.
“This is my second in command, Beverly Parsons,” he introduced Steve to an attractive woman with reddish hair tied back in a ponytail. Steve shook her hand and she smiled back as if wanting to assure Steve that everything was going to be ok.
“We will find him. There’s a lot of debris field, some of it your house some of it other houses but we will find him.” She nodded her head in emphasis.
“I know. I have to believe that too.” Steve looked back at where Garrett was waiting with his dad, who had driven over as soon as he had heard the area had been hit, and Cecil and the new girlfriend. Steve couldn’t remember her name. “Ok I’ll go get our dog and be right back.”

Danny flipped on his stomach wincing as he put pressure on the stick in his thigh and started to crawl through the myriad of building materials around him. It was tough and a slow go but he knew he had to do something to improve his plight and not just sit there doing nothing. He thought about Milly’s words, about keeping focus on his family, on Steve, on the animals. He desperately hoped and prayed they were ok.
“Help! He screamed. “Help!!” Pausing he tried to listen to anything around him, anything to indicate people were searching for him. “Hey!! I’m here!!!! “ from far away he heard the sirens stop. He hoped they had not given up on him. Crawling forward another few inches, he put his head down in the dirt and started to cry.

“Sabrina! Go for Danny! Please find Danny!” Steve pleaded with the dog, now decked out in full rescue gear with her reflective jacket and booties.

Bark Bark Bark
I WILL FIND HIM I WILL RESCUE DANNY

“Thatta girl,” Steve said burying his face in her mane. “We have to find him.”
Sabrina wagged her tail, earlier ouchies forgotten as she embraced her role. When the other dogs came sniffing around with their handlers, Sabrina simply skirted the debris carefully, smelling and walking amidst the wreckage.

Danny tried to stand up but the materials all around him were a real deterrent. He could not even get on his behind stretched out horizontally like he was. It wasn’t pleasant and it wasn’t nice and he was starting to get light headed. He stopped crawling to rest again. He thought he had heard a bark from a dog but that might have been a trick in itself. He couldn’t trust what he heard but he knew he could trust what was in his heart. He had to get out of here and be back with his Steve and Garrett and the animals. They were the only ones who mattered plus his friends who he thought of as family. Those thoughts would sustain him until someone pulled him out!

Steve watched as the dogs sniffed all around the rubble. It was certainly crazy to think that his home, their home, had been reduced to these mounds of materials. He wasn’t sure they could salvage anything but he hoped and prayed the one thing they could salvage was Danny. He felt someone touch his arm and he turned to see Beverly standing beside him.
“The dogs will find him. They can smell people and we have been very successful with their efforts in the past.”
“Danny has been through the wringer lately,” Steve muttered. “We only just got back to a sense of normal act after Peterson. And now this.”
Beverly froze. “Did you say Peterson?”
“Rick Peterson. He kidnapped Danny and when Danny escaped, Peterson came after him again, and shot Danny in the leg when Danny tried to save our dog.”
“Oh my God.” Beverly turned towards Steve and grabbed his hand. “You’re going to think I’m crazy so please indulge me.”
“Ok,” Steve agreed, curious.
“I was a police officer up til 5 years ago when I had a chance to do this. But I was at the same precinct as Rick Peterson! He went to
Jail for 3 years on Bribery and Drug charges but got out on good behavior not too long ago.”
“He’s a definite lunatic. Had a thing for Danny,” Steve muttered. “I didn’t know he used to be a cop.”
“Steve, tell me one more thing. How old is Danny?”
“He’s 21. We have been together 3 years now.” Steve dug his mobile out of his pocket. “Look. That’s him.” Steve showed Beverly the photo on his phone. It was one of him and Danny shortly after their wedding, arms around each other, grins on their faces
“Here’s another unbelievable connection,” Beverly said. “I met Danny when he was a runaway. In New Jersey. He was… 11 I think. And Steve? He had spent the night in Peterson’s son’s treehouse because he had nowhere else to go. I will never ever forget the look that scumbag Peterson gave him when he saw Danny sitting by my desk. It was.. chilling.”

Steve felt his jaw tighten. He wanted to go rip Rick Peterson apart limb from limb and bury the pieces in the ground! He wanted to pump his service revolver into his twitching body and shove his boot into his bloody flesh.
“That son of a bitch,” Steve said. “I want to kill him for what he did and said to Danny.”
“I don’t blame you if he’s hurt Danny. He was the sweetest kid. I took him home for the night and we had the best time. In another world I would have loved to have adopted him.”
“He hasn’t changed a whole lot. He’s still the sweetest kid.” Steve grinned and the smile faded a bit. “I hope he’s ok. I gotta believe that.”
“We’ll find him, Steve.” Beverly squeezed Steve’s hand. “I promise.”

Dragging his legs along the cluttered path ahead, Danny saw a bit of light shining through the mess. It was narrow and dull—according to his still working watch it was nearly 6 pm and the sun should have gone down but maybe there were spotlights or searchlights. It felt like forever since the tornado had hit but in reality it had only been a few hours.
“Help!! Help!!!!”
He listened. And just when he was ready to scream again he heard a familiar bark.
“Sabrina?? Sabrina is that you, girl? Sabrina!!!”
There it was again, faint but it was definitely her bark. Danny put his head down and started to cry. He was not sure he should but he did anyways , letting his tears flow as he waited for rescue.

Bark Bark Bark Bark Bark Bark Bark
I FOUND DANNY I FOUND DANNY I FOUND DANNY I HEARD HIM

Steve tried to race over to where Sabrina stood, proudly holding her head up, tail plumed, eyes bright. It was along the biggest mound of debris in the field. Beverly put her arm up In front of him and shook her head.
“Let the experts deal, Steve. We don’t want to have to rescue you too.”
She and the rest of her crew started to set up ropes and platforms, and started to dig through the mounds of debris as Sabrina stood by wagging her tail.
“Did they find him?” John asked. He stood by Steve watching what was happening.
“I think so. Sabrina said they did. God, Dad, I hope he’s ok!”
“Me too, Son.”
Joe snd Cecil joined them then, watching as the crew dug and moved brick and lumber from the mound. Steve was intent on the action in front of him, not taking his eyes off for a moment.

Dirt and bricks rained down on Danny as he lay there. He shielded his head as best he could knowing they had to dig him out of the mess he was in, trying hard not to panic when it was hard to breathe, thinking only of his family and the love he had for them.
Suddenly, he felt a hand touch his back! Danny jerked up, trying to turn around as he lay, finding it easier now so he could see who it was.
“Are you Danny? My name is Sam. Are you hurt anywhere?”
“I have a piece of wood. It’s in my leg but other than that I’m ok. Are Sabrina and Queenie ok?”
“Were there other people with you?” Sam asked.
“My dog my rabbit… I thought I heard Sabrina..”
“They are fine. Let’s get you out of here now.” Sam lowered himself gently so he was crouching beside Danny and then called for a stretcher to be sent down. “You just wait here. We’ll get you out, son.” As the stretcher was lowered, Sam continued to talk to Danny, reassuring him that he’d be ok, that he would be fine and that they were going topside.

Steve ran to the edge of the pile of debris and tried to see what they were doing. He called Sabrina to come to him, which she did, and she was so proud of herself. Steve hugged her and they waited for what seemed a lifetime for the stretcher to be hoisted up.
Sabrina nuzzled Steve and nibbled on his shirt tail. She was nervous too and they both felt the adrenaline coursing. “He’ll be just fine. They’ll get him out of there.”
And within the next minute, there he was. Dusty and dirty and laying on the stretcher but alive and breathing in the air.
“Danny!” Steve yelled, running over, Sabrina close behind. Steve pushed through the rescuers lining the site and walked beside Danny’s stretcher. All that was really discernible on his face were his eyes as he blinked and tried to gather his bearings. He was covered in dirt and mud, More grey than brown in colour.
“Steve! Steve!! Steve!” Danny cried, holding Steve’s hand. “I’m ok. I’m so happy you’re ok and I’m ok and is Queenie ok? How about Cecil?”
“They’re all good. Dad’s bringing Garrett over to see you before you go on the bus.”
“I don’t have to go back to the hospital, Steve,” Danny muttered.
“You do to get checked out,” Steve said. Suddenly, Garrett was there and he was wiggling and holding on to Danny and crying and laughing all at the same time. Danny held him close and whispered that it was ok he was fine he just had to get a shower. And then Garrett stood back and looked around nervously.
“Don’t get mad but I took Charlie this morning cuz I had those tests and I was scared and so I snuck him in my backpack. You want him?”
At that moment, Danny knew things had worked out. He was alive and would be fine; he had a loving family to surround him and his childhood companion was safe and sound.
“You keep him for now. I’m all dirty. I’ll see you soon honey.” Danny kissed Garrett and the rescue crews took him on his way to the ambulance.

John took Garrett by the hand and rounded up Sabrina and Queenie. Joe was going to take them to John’s condo to spend the night and Cecil said he would stop at Target to get some clothes and pet supplies. Steve gave Cecil
his Target card and told him and his new friend, Steve couldn’t remember her name, to get whatever they thought they needed. He rode in the ambulance with Danny, amused when Danny asked where his shoes were, and accompanied Danny into the trauma unit, where he was assessed and determined to be fine save for some cuts and bruises and the stick protruding from his leg. The doctor, not Dr. Russel this time but Dr. Patel, determined that the stick could be removed without major surgery. They prepped Danny’s leg, numbing the area and cleaning it well, and removed the stick from his thigh, the piece pulling out easily and with a little pop sound. Dr. Patel stitched him up with some fancy little instrument and the nurse cleaned it again and bandaged it up.
Danny was semi awake while they did all of that, and after a CAT Scan was completed and Danny was again assessed, he was given the green light to go home and rest.

“Too bad they didn’t give you a shower. You’re getting my truck all dirty,” Steve teased. Joe had driven Steve’s Silverado over to the hospital and dropped it off while Danny was getting examined.
“Kinda fortuitous that Cecil parked your Camaro behind his little house otherwise we would have to buy you a new one.” Steve chanced a glance at Danny who was very still in the seat.
“Yeah,” Danny answered. God he was tired and achy. All he wanted was to go home and sleep in a big bed, forgetting everything but closing his eyes and drifting off.
“We are going to stay with Dad. He’s got a guest bedroom and I can sleep on the floor so you and Garrett have the bed.”
“We will all fit,” Danny said. “I’m just grateful they gave me new crutches. And my leg just needed stitches.”
Steve glanced over at his mate. Danny hadn’t seen too affected by being buried under the rubble at least not yet, but Steve thought it would come. Danny would probably be affected somehow. And Steve hadn’t really had the time to digest everything Beverly told him about Peterson and Danny as a runaway. He’d take that out to examine it later on.

Steve pulled into the driveway of his father’s condo around 11 pm. News media ringed the street and Steve instinctively pushed Danny’s head down so they could not photograph him in the truck. Parking as closely as he could by the garage, Steve got out and held up his arms as he walked towards the media.
“Listen! I know you all want a good story but my mate is tired and sore and needs a hot shower and something to eat! If you want to return tomorrow we can have a sit down in an
Orderly way. But I’m begging you to please leave us alone tonight!”
It seemed to work. Steve managed to get Danny into the house carrying him via bride style while John took the crutches and followed.
“Hungry?” John asked. “I made some Turkey and cheese sandwiches and there’s this homemade soup from my neighbour.”
“I could eat,” Steve said happily. “Shall we?” He looked over at Danny who was sitting on the stool, head down and eyes closing. “Danny, come on, sweetheart. You have to eat something.”
“Yeah yeah I’m here.” Danny yawned. He accepted the food and downed it quickly, enjoying the soup and sandwich combo.
When he was done, he looked over at John. “Could I take a shower?”
“No no I’m helping you,” Steve gulped the last of his milk and scooped Danny up again. “Let’s go and get that crud washed off you.”
“M’ok,” Danny said.

15 minutes later, Danny was being gently laid in bed beside a sleeping Garrett and Queenie and Sabrina. The dog woke up long enough to snout Danny and wag her tail at Steve but went back to sleep
Immediately. Steve crawled into bed then, arm around Danny thanking God they were all safe and sound and alive. Houses could be replaced. Things could be replaced. They’d work on that but for right now, sleep was the best remedy.

Amber waved good night to Cecil as she pulled her Honda out of the driveway. They’d ended up getting McDonald’s after their Target run and finally she thought she should leave so he could get some sleep. She would have a busy day tomorrow going to the city jail where her Uncle Rick was held until his sentencing and passing on all the information she had gathered from the fat jerk who she had to pretend to like all day. It was gag inducing. She was pleased to be released from her obligation but she adored her Uncle Rick and would do anything for him. As she gunned down the street past where the crews were still cleaning up the tornado debris she shook her long hair out of her ponytail and smiled.

“You awake?” Steve lay beside Danny running a finger down Danny’s nose and tweaking the tip of it. “Hi beautiful.”
“Mmmmm,” Danny moaned and snuggled under the blankets. “Tired. Sore. Thirsty.”
Danny reached out beside him finding no animals or no Garrett. “Where is everyone?”
“Dad has them out in the kitchen feeding them. He wanted to give us a little time together. Are you ok?”
“Yeah surprisingly. I don’t ever want to do that again. Tornadoes aren’t fun.”
“The house is gone,” Steve said solemnly. “The insurance company is going to meet with us today. Lou really did well as far as getting us the best. Looks like everything is covered and more.”
“Oh no. All of our stuff…” Danny shook his head. “We can replace it.”
“You want to rebuild or you know move? My first instinct is to move. Rebuilding? That would take a while.”Steve said stroking Danny’s chest. “You hurt anywhere? I have pain pills.”
“Dunno. Haven’t moved yet. But I am starving.”
“And I uh promised the uh media we would talk to them.” Steve waggled his eyebrows.
John knocked on the bedroom door and opened it just a bit.
“Come on in Dad!” Steve said.
“You made the papers. Even the USA TODAY.” John walked in followed by Sabrina who jumped up on the bed and wagged her tail.

Bark Bark
HI DANNY HI HUMAN STEVE

“Hi sweet baby,” Danny said, reaching down to pet the dog.
“Sabrina is famous. There’s a little blurb about her finding Danny.”
“Pretty soon you’ll have your own tv show,” Steve joked.
“I’m serving lunch if you’re interested. It’s just Panera delivery but if you’re hungry….”
“We’re there. How is GMan?”
“Colouring at the table with Queenie. I didn’t get her nest ready in time so she was thumping this morning.” John chuckled.
“She’s spoiled,” Danny muttered.
“Ok Dad we will get a shower and be out.”

Danny was very stiff and sore. Steve was careful to help him shower, washing Danny’s hair while Danny sat in the shower chair letting the hot water pour over himself. It felt so good to be clean and warm and for a long moment, Danny leaned his head against Steve’s side.
“I love you Steve. Sorry I’m a trouble magnet.”
“Why would you say that?” Steve laughed. “You make life exciting.” He grabbed a towel and started to dry Danny off. “I wouldn’t have it any other way.”
“That’s good. I wouldn’t want to have to break
In a new model.”

They dressed and walked out to the dining room. When Garrett saw them, he jumped off the stool and ran over to hug them both.
“Hi! Gandpa showed me that you were on tv!”
“We were huh? Wow. Ok. Guess I should sell my autographs eh?” Steve laughed.
“Dad! You weren’t the one they talked about! It was MOM!” Garrett said with an eye roll.
“Oh excuse me!” Steve scooped up the little boy and kissed him soundly on his forehead. “You hungry? I hear we have some Panera to eat!”
“Yay! I hope it’s pizza!” Said Garrett.
“There’s pizza and Mac and cheese and even some soup,” John said.
They sat at the table and enjoyed a nice pseudo buffet of selections from Panera. Steve had taken a peek before sitting down to see if the media were still there and sure enough, they were, talking heads with microphones and cameras, bringing the news. He wanted to shield Danny if he could but he supposed as a survivor of the F4 tornado outbreak and someone rescued from the rubble it made Danny a unique human interest story.
“You feel like answering a few of their questions, Danny?” Steve asked.
“I could as long as you are with me.”
Steve was just ready to say of course when the doorbell rang and Sabrina went into full protect mode.
“Easy, girl, easy.” Steve looked at the Ring alert and smiled. He opened the door, using his leg to keep Sabrina back. “Hi Beverly!”
“Hey Steve. I apologize if this was brash of me—“
“No not at all. Come on.” Steve stepped aside. To Sabrina he said “do you remember Beverly? The nice lady at the rescue site?”
Sabrina wagged her tail. “You hungry? We were just having a late lunch.”
Beverly followed Steve out to the dining room and peeked around him to where Danny was sitting.
“I’m good Steve, thanks. Hey. Hi Danny. Remember me?” She said. Danny was staring outright his eyes wide, his mouth open.
“Beverly?”
“Hi.” She grinned and stepped forward, extending her hand. “Long time no see. How are you?”
“I’m ok.” He grinned and ignored her hand but reached out to draw her into a hug. “I’d stand but it’s kinda difficult.”
“I bet.” She hugged him tightly and felt tears prick her eyes. “You’re doing ok for yourself though.”
“I sure am.” She stared at him and ruffled up his hair. “You’re so darn cute. You were always cute but you are something else. You’ve grown up!”
“Hope so. I’m 21.”
“21. Wow.”
“Are you still a cop?”
“No I’m not a cop. I left there and had the opportunity to join the Emergency Management in the county and city. I love it. Soooo much better than being a cop.”
“You were so nice to me,” Danny said quietly letting the memories wash over him.
“You were so serious. A 90 year old trapped in an 11 year old’s body.”
“This is our son,” Danny said suddenly remembering his manners.
“He’s so cute! Hi. What’s your name?”
“Garrett. Hi!” Garrett waved and returned to hold his big piece of pizza that he was eating.
“Adopted,” Steve said quickly, “lest you think Danny had some other special Powers.”
She laughed and the rabbit thumped the table.
“Stop it. Just eat your fruit.” Danny soothed, stroking Queenie’s back. “Apologies. I think we are all affected by the tornado. Queenie especially, huh girl.”

>>I hurt my paw. And we lost you. I didn’t see you. And it was loud.<<

“I know. I know.” Danny soothed. He glanced at Beverly and saw the way she was looking at him with such fondness. His heart did a flip
Flop. “It’s so good to see you. Are you sure you don’t want something to eat?”
“We have plenty!” John said. “Steve, pull out a chair for Beverly and I’ll get a plate. There’s always room at our table.”
“Thank you.” She blushed and patted Sabrina who was nuzzling her leg. “It’s nice to meet everyone.”

The media was satisfied with asking Danny questions. He tried to answer as best he could, remembering everything that had happened. Steve and Beverly stood behind him and helped fill in the timeline and of course, Danny mentioned Sabrina who assumed a proud hero position with her head resting on Danny’s knee as she leaned against him.
When they walked back inside, Joe pulled up with Lou beside him.
“Oh great. Here comes the life of the party,” Steve muttered. But he was happy to see both men, Lou especially because the insurance concierge was supposed to show up soon. Already they decided they wanted to buy a house already built and with the settlement money and a nice little tuck away that Danny had without telling Steve Danny knew they’d be just fine.

Beverly helped John with Garrett, offering to go to the grocery store which John accepted readily. She was also going to stop and pick up some dry cleaning for Steve so he’d have his nice shirts for work. Garrett went readily along, chatting to John and to Beverly, excited to be on this mission.

“As I see it, Steve, the house is a total
Loss. The good thing is, the land is worth a lot. Someone would love to build on that and they’d have an amazing view.” Lou nodded to the insurance agent, whose name, not surprisingly, was Jake.
“What about Cecil?” Steve asked. “We need a house to accommodate him too.”
“The house he is in now,” Jake asked. “He will
Have to move if you sell.”
“No worries. Like I said we just need a big enough house.”
“And next to the water please,” Danny said. “That’s a high priority.”
“You like swimming pools, Danny?” Lou asked. “If you do I have a great deal for you.”

“Hit us with it, Lou,” Steve said. “All we can do is see the place. I’m not anxious to keep bugging my Dad and disrupting his life. Besides, Garrett needs to go back to school
and have a nice home as a base.”
“Alrighty. I hope you love it oh and it comes furnished.”
“No way,” Steve said. “Seriously?”
“It belonged to 2 architects from DC. They used it as a weekend house but… they got tired of the commute and found a nice row house in Arlington. So you might not like the stuff but you can replace it as you go.”

Lou pulled out a small booklet. He waggled his eyebrows and handed it to Steve who placed it half on Danny’s lap.

 

https://www.homes.com/property/3333-harness-creek-rd-annapolis-md-21403/id-400012412156/

Steve opened the booklet and immediately his eye was drawn to the price tag.
“Six million DOLLARS!? Lou! I’m not a .. a rich man!”
“Hey we can probably talk him down a bit. Just take a look!”
“I love it,” Danny whispered. “Steve. I love it.” He ran a finger along the photos of the warm wood and brick, of the windows that ran the lengths of the rooms and of the deep water dock that extended out from the shore. It was everything he’d ever wanted, and it promised privacy as well.
“We can’t possibly afford it,” Steve said.
“Don’t worry about it,” Danny said.
“Six million dollars, Danny!” Steve reiterated.
“You’re going to get a 2. 5 million dollar settlement,” Jake added helpfully.
“I got this, Steve.” Danny looked up at Lou. “When can we see the house?”

Later, when everyone was gone and Steve and Danny were putting groceries away, Steve stopped what he was doing and walked over to where Danny was sitting.
“How are we—you and I— going to afford a house like that? Hmmm? Is this just a pipe dream?”
“Not a pipe dream,” Danny said. “Steve. I have money. I have money saved up.” Danny grabbed Steve’s hand. “I have a special fund I never told you about, money that Virginia left me. And it’s not that I didn’t want to tell you. I just forgot to tell you. We can definitely afford the house. Let’s treat ourselves. I saw the way you looked at that pool.”
“Plus there’s the ocean right at the end of that dock,” Steve muttered.
“Now you’re talking,” Danny whispered. “And it’s at the end of a gated private road. That’s even better.”
“It has a basement.”
“Says it is in a Hurricane free zone,” Danny mentioned.
“You SURE you have the money just in case we like it?” Steve asked.
“More than sure.”

Queenie thumped and started to hop towards the end of the table. Danny caught her and she immediately stood up and put her paws around his neck; her little heart was beating so fast.
“I got you, Bun,” Danny said. “I got you. What’s the matter? Oh Steve she’s crying!” Danny said.

>>Danny I’m scared of the big wind and rain. I’m scared.<<

“Shhhh, it’s ok. Not raining now. It’s not raining now. Here, we will put you on the couch by John and Garrett. You can sleep there before dinner.”
When Danny went to give the rabbit to Steve to carry, Queenie clung to him even more. “Ok we can just sit out here and relax.” Danny sat down, his legs hurting, the place where the stitches was aching with every beat of his heart while his knee felt like it was on fire. “Poor little Bun. Scared little Bun. I got you. I got you.” Danny rocked back and forth the rabbit in his arms. “I love you. You’re safe. You’re safe.”

Steve turned away, a lump in his throat. Danny had so much love to give. He was a giver, a nurturer, and someone who gave without expecting anything back. Times like these, Steve thought, showed what a good mother Danny would have been if Danny could indeed bear children. Consumed with love and feeling all mushy inside, Steve put the rest of the groceries away, thinking of him and his family in that gorgeous house, doing family things.

Chapter Text

“Steve….” Danny gasped.
“It’s absolutely gorgeous,” Steve answered. He stared at the windows all around the living/family room areas. The view was unparalleled.
“There’s 2 ovens out here and look at this stove top! I should be an octopus to use all of these burners!” Danny adjusted his crutches and hopped forward. “I love the granite and the huge island! Sunday brunch with friends! Saturday night taco parties!”
“This furniture isn’t bad,” Steve said checking out the couch in the one room. “I still think we might want a sectional.”
“Definitely a new sectional,” Danny said as he came out of the kitchen. “That’s just so pretty! Look at that, Steve!”

Steve watched as Danny carefully maneuvered into the big room that ran the length of the house. The floors, wooden plank floor that were shined to a high gloss, had proved to be a bit of a challenge for the blonde but he would not accept any assistance, waving Steve off if Steve was hovering. So now Steve was visually keeping an eye on Danny.

That morning, Steve had called Lou and told him they had decided to check out the house and was it at all possible? Lou gave them the keys and John said he’d keep an eye on the animals and Garrett. In the past 2 weeks, they had been living with John in his condo. And although he said he loved the company, Steve missed being in a home of their own, as did the animals and Garrett. Queenie had settled down a bit but still liked to cling to Danny for reassurance especially when it rained. Garrett loved having his Gandpa around but longed for a yard and somewhere he could blow off a 5 year old’s steam. Sabrina barked too much for a condo as John had neighbour’s that shared a wall with him. But they were making it work for now.
As for the money they needed to buy such an expansive house, the insurance settlement had come through and Danny had moved some of the money he had from Virginia into a more readily accessible account.
Steve didn’t ask Danny about the money or how much he had. Knowing how Danny had suffered growing up, Steve thought it only fair that the young man would walk away with something.

“The dock.. we need to buy a boat.”
“We talked about that before,” Danny said. “I’d love a pontoon boat. It’s so much fun to pilot them just along the shore.”
“Yeah and a power runner and a Sea Doo or two!” Steve’s eyes lit up. “Danny?”
“Yeah?” Danny sat heavily down on one of the couches.
“ I never got to take you on a honeymoon.”
“No. No you did not,” Danny agreed. “However. This place is so cool that maybe before we uh move in completely we could have 4 or 5 days just to ourselves to have a mini moon here .”
“Wait what?” Steve said. “ you don’t want to go somewhere romantic?”
“This place is romantic. We could just curl up in our own little nest and cook and eat and go for walks and enjoy each other. No animals. No child.”
“No spooky stuff,” Steve added, waving his hands around.
“No Steve. No spooky stuff,” Danny sighed.
“I can take you somewhere if you want,” Steve urged.
“No I like the idea of just us. Being together here in our new house. We can properly indoctrinate the bedroom!”
“There’s an idea I can get around,” Steve said happily. He sat beside Danny and suddenly looked around.
“What? What are you doing?” Danny said tension rising in his voice.
“Listen,” Steve whispered, cocking his head and a hand by his ear.
“What? I don’t hear anything!” Danny said frantically.
“Isn’t it great? So quiet and silent.” Steve grinned and kissed Danny on the cheek.
“Oh you….” Danny giggled and play slapped Steve. “Shall we investigate that bedroom and bathroom? It’s an en suite which is just perfect.”
“Lead on, babe.”
The bedroom was simply stunning. Steve loved the bed and the other furniture there though Danny wasn’t keen on the bedspread and furnishings. They were too asture for his liking. The view, however, was breathtaking and they had their own private patio outside their bedroom. It felt like they were tucked away far from the rest of the house. Steve lounged on the bed and patted the side next to him.
“Come here.”
“Steven, there are probably cameras here. No.”
“Dannnnnyyyy come on. Please? Don’t you want to rest?”
“No Steven I do not wish to rest. Not in that meaning of the word anyways. Resting with you implies taking our clothes off and messing up the sheets. We are guests here and have not bought this house.” Danny moved closer and sighed. “However, since my knee hurts I will sit down and rest using MY definition.”
Danny sat down with a groan.
“You ok?” Immediately Steve was sitting up and trying to touch Danny’s knee.
“No! Ow listen Grabby Hands McGarrett! Stop! I’m fine!” Danny pushed Steve’s hand away and leaned back on the bed.

They were quiet for a moment, both lost in thoughts as they rested. Finally Steve could stand it no more and sat up, turning his body towards Danny and with one hand on Danny’s chest and the other on Danny’s thighs, ducked his head down and started to mouth Danny’s jeans material on his crotch.
Danny inhaled so sharply that the sound was halfway a moan and halfway a cry. Seeing as how Danny didn’t stop him, Steve pulled Danny’s zipper down and undid the snap, his mouth watering from what he was going to do.

Danny lay back but watched with intent interest as Steve pulled jeans and undies down just so Danny’s cock was exposed. It was decadent to do this in a house they didn’t even own yet on someone else’s bed but maybe that’s what made it so exciting! Steve looked up at Danny, his blue eyes so very dark and half lidded and all Danny could do was push gently on the back of Steve’s head.
Steve opened his mouth and gently engulfed Danny’s hard member until the tip was right at his throat. Danny started to make the most appealing sounds, groaning and gasping, Danny’s fingers loosely on Steve’s head urging him on as his hips raised up to meet him.

“Steve Steve Steve oh my God…” Danny thrust up as Steve started to lick Danny’s cock like it was some sort of ice cream cone., starting at the base and traveling to the wet swollen tip only to pop off and look up at Danny with.a grin. “Why did you stop? Please….” Danny tried to move Steve’s head towards his cock but Steve had other ideas.

Crawling up on the bed beside Danny, Steve at the same time and with one hand was undoing his own jeans snap and lowering his zipper. That same hand brought out his own heavy cock, swollen with need and dripping pre cum. Steve got on top of Danny and settled between the smaller man’s spread legs. Danny thrust up and felt the glide of his cock against Steve’s and oh God wasn’t that heavenly? Even better was when Steve, supporting himself on one arm above Danny, reached between their bodies and grasped both their cocks in his one big hand, and started to move in a primal rhythm.
Danny gasped and clutched Steve’s shirt, grabbing handfuls of material as he felt the familiar dance between him and Steve. He closed his eyes, riding the pleasure wave, nothing mattering except the throb of his cock and the divine feel of Steve’s big member against his.
“Steve I’m gonna…I’m gonna…”
“Tell me what you’re gonna do, Danny,” Steve hissed as Danny hooked his legs around Steve and started to arch, coming and coming riding his orgasm as Steve rode his until they both lay panting on the bed.

“Neanderthal. Animal.” Danny whispered but there was no bite to his words. He was happy to be settled under Steve as their sticky combined juices pooled in his crotch.
“Mmmmm I love your pet names for me,” Steve laughed and rolled off Danny.
“Hey! You were nice and warm!” Danny said indignantly, looking around for something to clean up with. Steve was smiling like a Cheshire Cat. “What? Why are you looking like that?” Danny asked. He poked Steve in the rib with a bony finger, making Steve scrunch up and take an answering swipe at Danny.
“Give me a minute”, he said. He rustled around in his jacket pocket and pulled out a sample pack of moisturized wet wipes. He dangled these in front of Danny holding the package with his thumb and finger.
“Steve… you planned this!” Danny grumbled but he took the package, opened it and pulled out a wet wipe. He went about the business of cleaning himself up and cleaning up around him, on the bedspread. Steve did the same.
“I didn’t actually PLAN it. I just you know like to be prepared.”

Danny was quiet for a few seconds which made Steve a bit flighty. Suddenly Danny held his arms open asking for a hug and Steve happily snuggled next to him.
“You like this house?” Steve whispered, planting little kisses on Danny’s neck.
“I do. I think the pool and the water access seal the deal but I also love how open and airy the house itself is. It’s beautiful. And Garrett can have his own room near ours’ and he has his own bathroom! “
“Sabrina is going to go nuts watching the wildlife.”
“Yeah there’s that,” Danny chuckled. He wrapped his arms around Steve and hugged him fiercely. “We are so bad to be doing this here.”
“Wait I thought you thought it was so good,” Steve teased. Danny didn’t answer but just lay there in the safety and warmth of Steve’s arms. “I’ve been thinking,” Steve finally said, planting little kisses on Danny’s neck, loving the smell of Danny’s shower gel and the scent that was inherently Danny.
“Wha’ about,” Danny mumbled. He was almost asleep, part of his brain knowing that they needed to get up and walk around the rest of the house and part of his brain being perfectly happy to just lie there with Steve.
“How these past few months have been so rough. I think we both deserve a break.”
Danny didn’t say anything for a few minutes but Steve could tell he was tuned in from just the way he held his body.
“It’s me, my nature, my calling whatever you want to label it.” Danny sat up and immediately Steve felt the absence of the blond’s warmth.
“It’s not that!” Steve protested. “It’s just life. You can’t help it if your job is to defeat sea monsters and Bigfoot!”
“You’re not … sorry you’re with me are you?” Danny said, old issues rearing their ugly heads. His eyes were big and round, scared at what Steve might say.
“Danny, I love you and I’m in this for the long haul.” Steve pulled Danny down on the bed again and tied to reassure him with light touches and hair pets. “I married you! If I didn’t love you.. if I was going to leave you I never ever would have come this far. I’m just saying we haven’t had it easy and yet here we are. A new house, a new start, slightly wet pants.”
Danny snorted. “That last example is why I should never trust being alone with you.”
“As if!” Steve protested, laughing.
“Come on,Dirk Diggler,” Danny said poking Steve in the ribs. “We have to look at the rest of the house.”

“The next step is to sign the papers,” Steve said as they locked the house and put the keys from Lou into the lock box.
“I should have told you about that money from Virginia but I didn’t really think about it until all of this stuff happened. The tornado, man, that was the last thing I ever thought would happen.”
“You read about that stuff happening to other people but never think it will happen to you. I’m just happy we were able to salvage a few things out of it.” Steve slid into the driver’s seat of the Camaro and waited while Danny got situated.
“When I think about being under all of that timber and everything, it makes me scared,” Danny admitted quietly. “But I just kept on thinking about you and the animals and family and it was that focus that kept me alive.”
They rode in silence for a bit, both lost in their own thoughts until Steve turned on the radio and pressed one of the pre sets.
“Really, babe? 80’s music? Since when did you figure out Sirius in my car?”
“It’s the same as my truck, Danny,” Steve laughed.
“Ugh Billy Idol,” Danny muttered.
“White Wedding! Good tune!”

Lou was delighted that they loved the house. Of course he was, Steve said later. His commission would be a nice hefty sum and maybe he would quit bitching on how much his kids were costing him! They arranged a time when they could all meet with the lawyers and finalize the closing and afterwards, Danny wanted to stop at Publix and do some shopping, warning Steve he couldn’t be an acrobat with the cart.
“You know, Danny, in some ways you remind me of an old stick in the mud.”
“I think one of us has to be the adult here, Steven,” Danny scolded with a smile.
“Did you write a list?” Steve asked as they entered the store.
“No, it’s pretty much in my head.”
Steve started down the produce section when he stopped, senses tingling. He’d had that feeling before so many times especially when he was on active duty and his sixth sense never failed him. They were being watched or followed.
Surreptitiously he looked around while Danny was looking over the avocados. Nothing seemed out of the ordinary and yet… and yet. He stood close to Danny, bodies almost touching as Danny chose the ripe fruit.
“What are you doing?” Danny huffed. He handed Steve the bag. “Go weigh it and print the label. I have to get the apples.”
“Let’s just make this a family affair,” Steve whispered. “I have a feeling we are being watched.”
Danny went to react but Steve grabbed his arm on the guise of pulling him close and kissing his cheek.
“Just act naturally. I’m not sure who it is but I’ll figure it out. Meantime I’m not letting you from my sight or grasp.” Danny nodded and purposefully took his time choosing the fruits and veggies he wanted, all the while just playing around with Steve who as promised did not leave his side.
They did this the whole time they were in the store, their easy banter and face time on display, until they paid and were strolling through the parking lot.

“Oh hey! Fancy running into you guys here!”
Steve stopped putting the bags inside the truck of the Camaro and looked up to see the girl who Cecil had been seeing. Steve hadn’t an opinion about her either way but Danny for sure didn’t like her.
“Hi there!” Steve answered amiably but still his eyes scanned the parking lot. “How’s Cecil?” Since they had been staying with John, they had not seen much of him.
“Good! So I heard Cecil is moving when you guys get your house.” She smiled sweetly.
“Steve! Come on! The ice cream is gonna melt!” Danny yelled from inside the car.
“Oh I’d better let you go then. See ya!” She waved and walked away.
“What’s your problem?” Steve asked Danny as he eased into the seat. “She’s a nice girl.”
“Whatever.” Danny stared out the window.
“Ok why don’t you like her?” Steve asked.
“There’s just something about her that’s phony. Really really phony. And poor Cecil, man, he’s gone on her. I don’t trust her.”
“You just think a guy like Cecil can’t score a chick like that,” Steve said.
“No no it’s not that. I’m not shallow, Steve, and I think Cee looks great the way he is losing weight and taking better care of himself! He’s a nice looking really nice guy but she’s.. she isn’t as she seems.”
Steve was silent for a minute. “Want me to have Chin do some checking up on her?”
“You know what? Yes I do. I do want that.” Danny nodded. “And I’d love to give him a print he can run.”
“As a matter of fact, we do have a print from the car. She was leaning on the trunk and I’m pretty sure we can lift it off there.”
“Good.” Danny stared out the window, worrying his bottom lip with his teeth. “We just can’t be too careful.”

When they arrived at John’s, Steve called Chin and explained the situation. Unfortunately, Chin was knee deep into busting a fentanyl ring operating from the Capitol but he promised to send someone over as soon as he could. Danny had stayed in the house putting the groceries away while Steve waited by the car.
“So mind telling me what bee is in Danny’s bonnet? He just raised his voice to Sabrina and immediately apologized of course but something is bothering him. And here you are guarding his car. What’s up?” John asked.
“Dad… it’s nothing just….” Steve exhaled softly knowing that look on his father’s face meant he was not buying any of this. “Ok we went to Publix.”
“Yes. And?”
“And I just had this sensation of being … followed. Or… watched. It didn’t leave me the whole time we were there. So when I was putting the groceries in the trunk, Amber stopped to say hello.”
“Cecil’s new girlfriend?” John asked.
“Yes.” Suddenly Steve felt very foolish. “So Danny wants Chin to run her prints which as you can see are on the dusty part of the trunk. I’m waiting here for whoever Chin sends.” He looked at his Dad thinking that his father would consider the whole notion as silly.
“Good thinking, son.” His father stroked his chin. “I don’t know if I buy into her enthusiasm but poor Cecil. He’s a goner.”
“Yeah and I’d love to think it’s a happy ending or beginning but I just don’t know. I want to say that we will find nothing on her.”
“Keep our fingers crossed she’s genuine.”

Suddenly the garage door opened and a white and black blur came running towards them and out into the yard. Danny followed, holding Queenie in his arms.
“Thought we would join the party.” Danny said.

Bark Bark Bark
WHAT IS GOING ON I CAN HELP

“Unless you have a fingerprint dusting kit in that fur, you have to wait like the rest of us.” Steve pet the dog’s head and Sabrina lay on Steve’s feet.

>>it’s cold out here. Danny put your coat around me<<

“You’re such a diva,” Danny laughed. He did, though, taking his coat off and wrapping it around the rabbit so she was covered up. He stood there, bunny in his arms but not hiding her face so she could see and he was struck with how much he loved his family. Lest he start to cry, Danny walked around the front yard, looking to see what the winter had done to the various flowers and plants in the yard, all the time addressing the rabbit and Sabrina who had joined him. “Oh look, guys. Chin sent a guy over to help us out. No barking, Sabrina. He’s a friend.”
A marked squad car pulled down the quiet cul-de-sac where John lived and parked out front in the street.
“Looks like he sent Lincoln ,” Steve said as the officer got out of the car.
Sabrina waited until Steve moved to greet the officer and ran behind Steve as he walked, leaving Danny and Queenie behind.
“Hey Steve! I heard you needed me to run a print?” He held up his kit.
“Much appreciated if you would. I will text you with what we know about her too.” Steve showed him where her prints were and Lincoln used the kit to get a good image. “We just want to know if she’s on the up and up.”
“After all the crap you guys have been through I don’t blame you at all,” Lincoln said. “I’ll let you know what I find out.”
“Thanks. I appreciate it.” Steve shook his hand and both John and Danny thanked him. With a jaunty wave, Lincoln drove away with a possible clue to their questions about Amber.

Danny was working through one of his headaches. He didn’t get them often but when they hit he was uncomfortable and consumed by the steady thud of his aching head. Steve noticed his flagging energy right away and insisted that he go lay down. That was some time ago and as Danny lay there he thought about Amber and why he didn’t like her.
She just reminded him of someone but he could not figure out who and the very fact that she had latched on to Cecil made Danny very wary.
Steve slid behind the door carrying Queenie in his arms. Not knowing that Danny was awake, Steve was doing his best to be as quiet as he could be, gently setting the rabbit down on the bed beside Danny and pulling some of the blanket Danny had over him towards her so she could also snuggle and get warm.
“Steve.”
Steve jumped and put a hand over his mouth. “Sorry. I was trying to be quiet so you could sleep. Queenie insisted on coming in here.”
“What time is it?” Danny asked.
“Almost 4. Garrett is home. He is all excited about a career day they are having at school and he wants Dad to come in to speak.”
Danny moved over being careful to slide the rabbit over with him. He patted the space he’d opened and Steve lay down carefully.
“I think that’s awesome. Your Dad deserves the adoration of all of those kids!” Danny stroked Steve’s cheek and smiled.
“How’s your head?”
“Better. I was just thinking about Amber and the reasons why I don’t like her.”
“We’ll know as soon as Lincoln calls.” Steve wrapped his arms around Danny and pulled him close. “Mmmm I love you.”
“I love you too.” Danny kissed Steve gently and then with a bit more heat.

>>don’t lose your minds. I’m still here behind you.<<

Danny laughed and half turned to pet her. “Yes your highness.”

>>what is for dinner? I could eat some celery if anyone cared<<

“Yes you can have a little veggie bowl,” Danny said. “We got some kale and broccoli.”
“I could cook some chicken and rice and throw that broccoli in too,” Steve said.
“Yeah let’s do that. Actually I’m feeling better.”
As they got up, Steve’s phone rang and he saw it was from Lincoln. He answered and placed the phone on the bed, speaker on.
“This is Steve and Danny on speaker. What did you find out?”
“The girl had a Juvie record but it was sealed. Current offenses include a snatch and run on 2 occasions, petty larceny involving skimming from a neighbourhood collection against cancer, and a minor assault at a nightclub here in Annapolis. She currently lives with her mother, she’s 24 and she’s … interestingly enough… Rick Peterson’s nice.”

Danny froze. Peterson’s fucking niece??? His niece???? No wonder she wanted to get to know Cecil! Not because of Cecil but because she was a fucking spy.
“Thanks Lincoln!” Steve said noticing how agitated Danny was.
“And another thing. Amber isn’t her real name. It’s Melissa. Melissa Peterson. Her dad was Rick’s brother.”
“Was?” Steve asked.
“Was. The man died a few years ago. Plane accident.”
“Thank you Lincoln. I’m grateful for your help,” Steve said, watching as Danny left the room and went down the hall to the bathroom.

>>don’t leave me, human Steve!<<

“I got ya.” Steve picked Queenie up and walked out the door. He paused for a minute and then continued on his way downstairs, rabbit in his arms. Steve knew Danny needed a few minutes and quite honestly so did he. As to what they were going to do with their newfound knowledge, Steve wasn’t sure but he thought they needed to inform Cecil that Amber/Melissa was not who she pretended to be.

Chapter Text

Cecil had a feeling that today was not going to be a good day, despite his plans for the day. He had been so happy when Steve had called to ask him over for dinner, and Cecil thought he’d let Danny and Steve know what was happening over some good food. It had been a couple of days since he had spoken with Danny and he knew his young friend was not going to Like the direction Cecil’s life was going to take. But it was his future dammit and he had someone else in his life to think about now. Danny couldn’t expect him to just be that guy who stayed stagnant when he had his whole future ahead of him. He wanted to branch out, experience things, enjoy what he could. And just when Cecil thought he was going to be with the blended Williams-McGarrett family forever, Jerry had offered him a share in the shop he was planning to open, and it sounded so good that Cecil was re-thinking his future.
The trouble was, he DID feel guilty. He felt guilty about leaving Steve and Danny alone when they were both busy and had Garrett to worry about. He truly loved them like family which was why this split was so painful. Oh he would give anything to not have all of these decisions to make!
The one bright constant in his life, however, was Amber. She truly was a friend and when she allowed him to kiss her last night, he thought that they had taken the relationship up a notch. When he’d called Jerry, his friend told him that it was true romance and he was happy for them.
And so, armed with all of these thoughts in his head, he parked his car in John’s driveway and got out, his heart beating way faster than it should have been.

Bark Bark
HE’S HERE!

Steve opened the door and immediately noticed that Cecil was nervous. He was hunched, shoulders up slightly and he wouldn’t look at Steve when Steve invited him in. Oh this was not going to be a pleasant talk, Steve thought.
“Hey Sabrina,” Cecil said petting the dog. He cleared his throat nervously.
“Heeeey Cee!” Danny yelled from the kitchen. “Hope you’re hungry because it’s my turn to feed you. I got homemade nachos simmering in the pot!”
“Sounds good, Danny.” Cecil nodded at John who was sitting on the couch reading to Garrett but when the little boy saw Cecil, he jumped down from the couch and ran over to Cecil, throwing his arms around his legs. “Hi sweetheart,” Cecil said resting his hand on the boy’s head.
“Ok come on. Dinner isn’t eating itself and there’s a rabbit out here who is pitching a fit because you haven’t seen her yet.” Danny leaned against the door jamb and waved his spatula. He was wearing his chef’s hat, the personalized one that Steve had gifted him.
Cecil walked into the kitchen and immediately started to pet Queenie.

>>I miss you. When are you going to come back?<<

Cecil laughed nervously and didn’t answer, something Danny found odd. John and Steve came out and Steve swung Garrett up to sit on his booster chair so he could reach the table. Cecil sat down but he looked like he was going to hurl at any moment. Steve helped Danny set the bowls of rice, beans and cheese on the table and carried over the meat mixture in the slow cooker. He set this down on a trivet in the middle of the other dishes and stepped back, inhaling the spicy aroma.
“Daniel, I think you have outdone yourself,” Steve said.
“I might be going into business with Jerry so I can’t work for you any longer,” Cecil blurted out abruptly. He looked around at their faces. “I’m sorry. It’s just always something we have talked about.”

John was the first to recover. “What kind of store, Cecil?” He asked.
“Uh it’s like a movie and memorabilia store. We’re going to have all kinds of cool models and paint sets, books, stuff on all things spooky and unexplained!” Cecil looked down at his hands. “I’m sorry.”
“No, that’s cool! I like it!” Danny squeezed Cecil’s shoulder.
“But you guys depend on me!” He said finally looking up at all of them.
“It’s time our little bird fled the nest,” Steve said. “So while we eat, tell us about this cool store!”

Things got easier after that. Cecil told them Jerry had found a quasi Victorian house just off the main drag in Annapolis and the rent would be reduced if they agreed to fix it up. The 2 of them had begun painting and fixing the odd out of whack floorboard with help from some of Jerry’s friends who called themselves The Lone Gunmen.
“Oh yeah I remember meeting those dudes once,” Steve said. “I thought they were. Interesting.”
“Do you need me to hire some real carpenters for you?” Danny asked. “I’m more than willing.”

And didn’t they make Cecil feel even more guilty?
“Well maybe… I don’t know just yet…” he dug into his plate of nachos.
“Let’s face it,” Danny said gently. “We can’t keep you with us forever. But you’d best promise to come visit. Are you staying in the guest house?”
“Yeah yeah the couple who bought the property? They said I could pay rent and the husband was drawing up a lease.”
“Hey that’s awesome! You’re going to be living in a house on your own!” Danny winked and went back to cutting up Garrett’s nacho.
“Well I’m not exactly going to be alone.” Cecil cleared his throat. Steve kicked Danny under the table and their eyes met. “Yeah I’m asking my girlfriend Amber to move in with me.” Cecil sAt back in his chair and looked at everyone around the table.

>>can I have some more Timothy please? I’m done with my fruit.<<

Danny got up and broke some hay up in a long low pan. This he put in front of Queenie and sat down again after washing his hands.
“Well here’s the thing,” Steve said slowly. “Amber’s real name is Melissa and she’s.. Rick Peterson’s niece.”
“What?” Cecil stopped eating, He dropped his fork and it clattered on to his plate.
“We checked her out and she’s Peterson’s niece sooooo we don’t really want her around,” Danny said. He met Cecil’s look, not backing down on this one.
Cecil sat for a few seconds not saying anything, just looking at Danny. “So you’re saying that you did like a police check on her?” He finally asked.
“Yeah we did,” Danny said. “We had to.”
“You’re thinking she just likes me because she wants to… somehow.. get even with you or something?” Cecil asked slowly.
“We don’t know. We don’t know but we… I need to be careful,” Danny said.
“Yeah. Yeah. Because it’s obvious a gorgeous girl like her would never be attracted to someone like me.” Cecil’s tone was hard. “I guess then that if I have to make a choice I’ll choose my girlfriend.”
“We don’t want you to choose for God’s sake!” Steve said. “She’s just not .. welcome around us. But you always are.”
Cecil was red faced now and whether it was anger or embarrassment it was hard to tell. His next move however checked the box for anger because he set his napkin down and rose from his chair as he pushed it back.
“Amber is a wonderful girl and she likes me. ME!” He pointed at his chest. “I can’t help it that your paranoia makes you so crazy that you have to check out everybody you meet or kill everybody you meet because you’re some kind of weirdo!” Cecil started towards the door, angrily ignoring Sabrina who was trying to walk beside him.
“You’re fired, Cecil!” Danny called out after him.
“You can’t fire me because I QUIT!” He slammed the door as he left.

Garrett started to cry snd John quickly gathered him up and took him into the living room. Danny was sitting still, staring at his plate of food. Steve got up and pulled a chair up next to Danny, reaching for his hands.
“Hey. He didn’t mean it. He was angry. When people are mad they say horrible hurtful things.” Steve rubbed small circles on Danny’s hand.
“He’s right, Steve. Everyone I love, everyone I touch … things happen. I never should have said anything about Amber. Poor Cecil, he was so excited. And I fucked things up, Steve.” Danny looked up at Steve. Tears were escaping from Danny’s eyes and rolling down his cheeks. “I fucked them up!”
“It’s my fault too. I was the one who called Chin. But better safe than sorry. He will get over it when she dumps him because she can’t use him to get close to us.”
“I would have loved to think she really liked him you know? That they could go the route of happy girlfriend and boyfriend but not when she’s related to him. I just feel she’s not on the up and up.”
“Danny, honestly, he will think it over and he will be back. Please don’t be so upset. We did the right thing.” Steve rubbed his back as Danny wiped his tears. Queenie had left her mat at the far end of the table and was in front of Danny, avoiding the plates of food but her tail was dusting the small bowl of cheese.

>>please don’t be sad Danny. Cecil will come back when the girl dumps him<<

Chuckling, Steve flicked Queenie’s tail and made her jump right into Danny’s lap. He held the rabbit close and pet her ears and head. Sabrina was right there too, sticking her snout in Steve’s hand and wiggling close to them.

“You see, even these girls think you did what you had to do,” Steve said. There was a hint of a smile on Danny’s face and he nodded.
“Ok. Let’s get your Dad and Garrett back out here and finish our dinner.”
“I’ll go get them.” Steve kissed Danny on the top of the head and hurried out to where a now placated Garrett was sitting.

Amber was pacing in front of the cottage Cecil now occupied. When she saw him pull into the driveway, she checked her look in her small cosmetic mirror that she kept in her pocket for just that and fluffed up her hair. Her lips looked perfect adorned with her new lipstick and her lash extensions were on point. Cecil, she thought, better know that he had himself a beautiful woman!
Except, judging from the expression on Cecil’s face, he wasn’t happy.
“Hi Plum Dumpling,” Amber said batting her eyes and using one of her nicknames on him. “Why so glum, chum?”
“Danny and Steve pissed me off so…” he took a deep breath as he stood by his car door, “I quit. I told them I quit.”
Amber’s false cheerfulness fell away. “What? You quit? Why??”
“They did a police check on you. Not sure how but they did and they found out you’re Rick Peterson’s niece.”

Amber was still for just a second as her thoughts whirled in her head. The only reason she was with Cecil was to keep an eye on Danny and Steve most particularly Danny. Her Uncle Rick was paying for her to do this and if she lost this gig she’d be back to working at the restaurant and she hated that.
“What else did they tell you?” Amber asked, taking Cecil’s hand. Her heart was beating fast. She was hoping she could still manipulate him into doing what she wanted.
“Uh they said that your real name is Melissa,” Cecil said.
“Well,” she scoffed, “my first name IS Melissa, but I don’t like it so that’s why I feel good using my middle name.” She watched his face. He was falling for it. “What rubbish. I suppose they said something about my shoplifting charges. I was set up by my friend Toni. She put the stuff in my bag and I was the one who got busted!”
“That’s terrible!” Cecil said. “I feel really bad that your supposed friend did that.”
“It was awful,” she said and squeezed out the tears. She’d always been a pretty good actress. Maybe after she got her final installment from Uncle Rick she would head to the west coast and be a Playboy bunny. That would be amazing to be in a centerfold!
“Aw here let me hug you.” Cecil opened his arms and she fell against him.
“So you know what? You need to apologize to Steve and Danny and get your job back.”

Cecil suddenly stiffened. He wasn’t sure why she wanted him to be with Danny and Steve but it was worrisome. “I have a chance to work with Jerry,” he explained.
“But that’s not going to pay you any money and besides you earn more money with Danny and Steve!”
“Maybe I do but I’m not compromising myself and dealing with them not liking you.”
“I could show you how much I like you,” Amber said, running her hand up Cecil’s leg. Cecil blushed and took a step back. “Look, Cecil. You need something to get money while you and Jerry work on that old house. Do yourself a favour and work for your friends so you can pay the rent and,” she kissed him softly on the lips, “take me out somewhere nice.”
“I suppose… you’re right,” Cecil said.
“Good. And don’t worry about me. In fact, please tell Steve and Danny we broke up. They’ll be happy and we can still see each other.”
“I can’t lie to them! Danny is like a truth magnet! He will know!!” Cecil said. He sighed and looked at Amber who was looking so pretty that day. “I suppose I can try. But I will feel funny.”
“Cecil,” she purred. “You’re my man. This will blow over and then we can be together!”
Cecil nodded. He hugged her but his little voice was telling him something was wrong. And he wasn’t sure he could carry out what she wanted him to do. Danny would see right through him and then what. And why was it so important for her to have him working for Danny and Steve? Did it have anything to do with her uncle? He wasn’t sure but he knew one thing— he couldn’t trust her.

“Last box of stuff that we bought for the house!” Steve hollered. He dodged the moving man who had brought in a new chair Danny had purchased. It was soft looking, comfy and its’ colour was blue which fit into Danny’s decorating schemes. They had sold the leather furniture, Danny citing his dislike for the way it felt under his skin. The real reason was more complex but he had never shared his reasons with Steve and Steve surprisingly had never asked. With Steve in tow, they had visited a locally owned furniture shop and purchased a big sectional, 3 stand alone chairs, 2 recliners, a couple of gorgeous floor rugs, some tables, an ottoman and a very simple dining room table with chairs. Nothing fancy nothing frilly just sturdy and perfect for their family.
Queenie had to do a hop through of the rooms, which seemed to take forever, and finally pronounced the house as ‘suitable.’ Sabrina was gleefully happy romping through the big area and looking out the windows, sharp eyes finding the squirrels in the trees. And still 2 weeks after the blow out with Cecil neither Steve nor Danny had heard from the gentle man which was sad and worrisome at the same time.

Garrett gleefully climbed up on the couch and patted the seat beside him as an invitation for Queenie. Danny had told him that he could watch Disney Plus and he wanted to find Encanto.

Bark Bark Bark
I LIKE THE MUSIC IT MAKES ME DANCE

Garrett loved the house and especially the prospect of the pool out back. He loved to swim and participated in the YMCA’s Little Ducklings Swimming Program. The coach had told Danny and Steve that Garrett was a very strong swimmer but even at that, he knew that he was never to go near the pool alone. Daddy had talked about putting a fence up around it and the men were coming to measure the patio next week.
As the child started to watch the lively musical, tapping his feet to the music, he thought about seeing Cecil’s girlfriend outside his school 2 days ago. She tried to convince Garrett to come over to her but he just ran to his van, still holding on to his van buddy’s hand.
“You want to sing with me, Sabrina?” Garrett asked. He pretended to hold a microphone.

“We don't talk about Bruno, no, no, no
We don't talk about Bruno, but

It was my wedding day
It was our wedding day
We were getting ready
And there wasn't a cloud in the sky
No clouds allowed in the sky
Bruno walks in with a mischievous grin
Thunder”

Danny pulled Steve over to the doorway and pointed into the big room as Garrett started to sing. Steve grinned and shook his head. Garrett was so darn cute pretending to sing and dance. Sabrina stood on her hind feet with her front paws in a begging position and hopped around Garrett who was now standing on the floor. Queenie stopped playing with her toy and was watching with interest as she looked on from the couch.

“We have a singer in our future,” Danny whispered.
“He’s adorable.” Steve held his phone up to record it as Garrett kept singing.

“. Thunder
You telling this story or am I?
I'm sorry, mi vida, go on
Bruno says, "It looks like rain"
Why did he tell us?
In doing so, he floods my brain
Abuela, get the umbrellas
Married in a hurricane
What a joyous day but anyway

We don't talk about Bruno, no, no, no
We don't talk about Bruno”

Steve’s phone rang which interrupted the mini concert. “Damn,” Steve said and arched an eyebrow. “It’s Cecil.” He held the phone up so Danny could read the caller ID.
“Answer it.” Danny shrugged and walked out to join their son and the animals, giving Steve his space.
“That was well done,” Danny said. “You know your birthday is coming up. Would you like a karaoke machine as one of your presents?”
“Really?” Garrett’s eyes were huge and round. “Like the one in the school music room?”
“Maybe not quite as big,” Danny explained.
“Yes ok and I’d like to give some things to the animal shelter. I don’t need lots of stuff.”
Danny grinned and hugged Garrett. “You’re a very special little boy.”
Out of the corner of his eye he saw Steve approaching.
“S’up?” Danny asked nonchalantly.
“Cecil wants to talk with us. I told him he could come over later today.” Steve saw the look on Danny’s face. “He said he broke up with Amber.”
“Do you really think he did?” Danny asked.
“I like to think Cecil wouldn’t lie to us.”
Danny was quiet for a moment and nodded. “It will be good to see him. But Steve? You didn’t give him the number code to the gate did you?”
“Nope. He’s going to have to buzz in like everyone else.”

Cecil sat at the kitchen table, Sabrina at his feet and the rabbit on the table on her mat. They had both insisted on seeing him, missing him a lot and not knowing really why he had not been around. Garrett had hugged him and after he said hello, Steve had set him up on his small desk with his paper and markers. He was within sight but not within hearing.
“I broke up with her a couple days ago,” Cecil said. “She was pushing me to go back to work for you, always bringing it up. It’s not like I don’t want to. I was kind of hoping I could because Jerry isn’t ready to get the shop set up. He’s doing it online and finds it much easier than a brick and mortar. So he went back on the lease for the house and got most of his money back.”
“Are you going to stay in your house?” Danny asked.
“Well if it’s ok with you.. I kinda want to. I mean I’ll be here in the morning to help like always and stay the day but then if I could go I’d appreciate it.”
“Cecil,” Danny said, placing his hand on one of Cecil’s hands. “I’m sorry about Amber. You’re a good man and a handsome one and we love you. Please come back. It hasn’t been the same without you.”
“Oh Danny!” Cecil threw his arms around the startled blonde and hugged him tightly. “I just want to say I’m sorry!”
“No worries,” Danny squeaked. “Can you start tomorrow? I need some help organizing things.”
“I’ll be here at 6 am sharp!” Cecil beamed.
“6 am? It’s Sunday. Make it 11 and you have a deal.”
“11 it is. Or do you need some help now? I can help if you want.”
“Well… “ Danny looked at the few boxes he had on the kitchen floor. “If you want to, we can tackle the kitchen.”
“I’m all for that!”
And it was like Cecil had never left.

“You messed it up, Melissa!” Rick Peterson was angry. He slammed a hand against the telephone plexiglass screen in front of him, startling her. “You couldn’t just lie and stay with him?”
“It was getting hard. He was suspicious and nothing I could do was convincing him that I still liked him. Please don’t get mad, Uncle Rick.” She shuffled her feet nervously.
“Well shit. Now I need another plan.”
“I know where their kid goes and I can probably convince him to come with me.”
Peterson looked up with renewed interest. “If I do that then Danny is going to have to come around ya know? In the meantime, how are your plans for you know uh…” she trailed off.
“Splendidly,” Peterson grinned evilly. “Couldn’t be better.”

“So we’re going to put a fence around the pool, you know, a nice one with a gate and stuff. They are going to measure next week.” Danny showed Cecil the schematics as they ate brunch. Things were good, settled. He and Steve had made love into the wee hours of the night feeling safe and sound against the world and the evil men who did things to innocent people. The house was fully alarmed and tricked out to direct contact with the police if an alarm was triggered. The gate was high enough and sturdy enough that it would take a semi ramming it to bring it down and a fence ran the perimeter of the property with a security firm that watched it 24/7.
Steve was pleased with Danny relaxing and enjoying their new home. It meant a lot to be comfortable and not afraid of someone coming for them. He had every faith in Cecil that he was telling the truth about Amber and he was happy about that. Perhaps Cecil would meet another lovely girl in his travels out and about the community.
Yes, Danny and him were so very happy and he hoped this was going to last. Steve ambled out into the kitchen and smiled to himself as he thought about his plans for their mini moon coming up next week. There would be much indoctrination of every surface of the house, if he had his way. He didn’t think Danny would put up too much of an argument.

Chapter Text

Garrett clutched his backpack and stood in line with the rest of his friends and classmates. He was excited because he was going to see his Gandpa this weekend and stay at his house! Mom had packed his little suitcase and his Dad told him that he would be home early enough to take Garrett over to the condo! And Sabrina and Queenie were going too!
Gandpa had promised on the phone that they could go to a movie and get some popcorn and juice and afterwards eat at the pizza place that served big huge round pizzas! Mom liked it there because of the thin crusts. Dad liked it there because he could get ham and pineapple on his pizza.
Grownups, Garrett thought, were funny. They always made a big deal out of things that weren’t a big deal. He loved it when his dad teased his mom and they laughed and kissed a lot. When his mom was sad, his dad tried to cheer him up. There were a lot of times when Sabrina and Queenie tried to explain to him what was going on and Garrett appreciated that. And of course, the rabbit knew secrets because she was always listening.
The line moved forward pretty quickly and Garrett let go of his classmate’s hand because Rory went on the bus while Garrett rode the van. His friend waved goodbye and Garrett did the same and stepped forward to the curb.

“Garrett! Yoo hoo!! Remember me?”
Garrett turned and looked. There was that girl Amber again, teetering on high heel shoes and holding on to the back of the van as she peeked around at him. She put her finger to her lips in a kind of ‘shhh’ pantomime and pointed to her watch.
“I’m supposed to pick you up so you can go fly the drone with Cee. Come on! Come with me!”
Garrett hesitated. He loved the drone and Cecil had even let him fly it a bit but he also knew that Cecil was with Jerry today doing something called ‘filling orders’ and Queenie had told Garrett that neither his Mom or Dad liked Amber. She was t-r-o-u-b-l-e according to the rabbit.
“Come ON! Cecil is waiting!” She hissed.

“Garrett? Are you getting on the van today? Come on honey. You’re daydreaming!” Mrs. Davis took Garrett’s backpack and slid it in the van and reached down to help Garrett get in. He took one last look at where Amber had been and sighed. He was sure Cecil wasn’t flying the drone and he believed Queenie. T-r-o-u-b-l-e. Garrett slid over on the seat and put his safety belt on. He’d tell his parents about her that’s for sure!

Danny loved listening to the Bose stereo system in their new home. That was one of the perks, he thought, that 5 million dollars would buy you but it was money well spent. He and Steve were slowly turning the house into a home, adding some more furniture and changing up the things they didn’t like. For example, Garrett’s room had been a pale grey in colour with a white carpet. Out went the carpet letting the hardwood floors shine! Garrett had chosen a light blue for his walls and Danny and Steve had painted it one rainy afternoon. They had added some cool car and animal decor to the walls and his bed was a real twin size not a baby bed! The rug was soft and fluffy and pale blue.
Danny loved the kitchen as it was and the only thing he had added was a long area rug on the floor and some art on the walls. It was so easy to lose himself cooking as the appliances were state of the art and he had plenty of room to spread out.
So it was on this afternoon that he was listening to vintage Pearl Jam on the stereo and making a cheesecake for dessert. It would only be Steve and him for 4 glorious days! It was the mini moon they had spoken of the first time they’d looked at the house and Danny could hardly wait.
Unbeknownst to Steve, Danny had had a body wax the day before and although he still stung in places he regretted the wax strips going, he could hardly wait for Steve to discover his smooth nakedness.

Bark Bark Bark
GARRETT IS HOME

“Thanks, Sabrina.” Danny patted her head and she fell into step beside the blonde as they walked out to meet the van. Danny had given the van driver the code to the gate so she could just pull in without waiting and she liked to pull up next to the big garage.
“Hi GMan! Hi Mrs. Davis! Enjoy your long weekend!”
“Oh thank you Danny,” she said and a frown crossed her face. “Some drivers these days!”
“Oh no. Was it a rough ride over?” Danny asked.
“This car tailgated me the whole time I drive and then followed me down the drive. Whoever it was though turned around after I opened the gate! Honestly! This isn’t exactly a through road! Anyways, enjoy your weekend too! Garrett was as always a good little guy on the van.”

Danny waved goodbye but couldn’t make himself move his feet to follow the dog and his little boy inside. Was it just a random act or was there something else to the driver following the school van? Danny suddenly felt sick. His senses were on high alert.
Moving fast now, he ran into the house, locking the door behind him. He took out his phone and pressed Steve’s number waiting with trembling hands and the adrenaline coursing through his body.
“Hey lover!”
“Steve… Steve…”
“Danny? What’s wrong? Are you ok? What happened?” Steve asked anxiously.
Danny entered the kitchen and sat down on one of the stools. Garrett was sitting on the floor playing ball with Queenie, the rabbit having waited for her turn at the boy’s attention.
“Mrs. Davis the van driver said a car followed her down our lane! She said after she punched in the code the car turned and left.”
“Did she close the gate behind her when she entered our driveway?” Steve asked.
“Uh I don’t know I’m not.. I don’t know. And worst of all I’m getting one of those feelings.” As he said that, the rabbit quit playing with the ball and looked up deciding to hop closer.
“Stay in the house. Make sure the doors are locked. Contact the fence security to see if they have any suspected activity. I’m calling—“
Suddenly Danny lost the connection with Steve.
“Hello? Hello?”
He got nothing but static.
“Fuck.” Danny bent down next to Garrett and petted his hair, trying to remain calm. “Hey baby. I want you to do something for me. I want you to promise that no matter what you hear that you won’t come out! I need you to promise me, Garrett!”
“Yes Mommy.” Garrett nodded, blue eyes so big and round.
“I’m going to put you up here and,” Danny swung the little boy into the vacant upper cabinet over the sink. “You ok up there? Not too bad right? Do you have room?”
“Yes Mom.”
“Ok and you can’t say anything. No talking. We are playing Silent Sam like your Daddy likes to play when he’s driving in traffic.” Danny picked up Queenie and shoved her into the cupboard beside Danny.

>>I hardly think this is warranted<<

“Listen Queenie,” Danny said seriously. “You’re in charge of Garrett. No talking. No noise. I’m serious. Please!”

>>we will be quiet Danny.<<

“Thank you!” Danny turned next to Sabrina who was already adopting a stubborn stance. “You can’t be out here, my darling. You have to go downstairs to the basement to the storeroom. Come on! Please! There’s no time!”
Sabrina hesitated and then got up and followed Danny down the stairs, the whole time watching as Danny tried to use his non working mobile. They reached the bottom of the stairs and Danny quickly made his way over to a nondescript door near the back entrance. “Ok I’m here. And no barking! No barking no matter what you hear! Please!

Bark
OK

Danny nodded and shut the door. He ran upstairs checking the locks again but they were still secure. He hoped to God Steve was on his way home!

Steve ran out to his truck, still trying to get Danny to answer on his phone. When he poked the number nothing happened. It was like his phone and their system had crashed!
He fumbled for his keys and paused by the door when suddenly he felt a bee sting on his ankle.
“What the… “ Steve suddenly felt woozy and disoriented. He would have dropped on the asphalt were it not for two big guys who appeared from the SUV next door and grabbed him under his arms. One of them opened the door and the other shoved Steve’s limp body into the front so he was laying down on the seat. That done one of them threw Steve’s phone and keys into the nearest trash can while the other bent down to help Amber out from under the truck. She threw the syringe she’d used to stab Steve in the ankle and fill him with propofol on to the parking lot and secured her hair with a ponytail.
As she climbed into the SUV, she made a call to her uncle who had received the green light to make bail by a Trump supporting district judge who was overseeing the case. The judge took a nice bribe and as soon as the gavel sounded in the emergency courtroom hearing, Peterson was making his fiendish plans come to fruition.
“It’s done. See ya soon.”
Amber sighed and looked out the window. She was halfway to that Playboy mansion. After today she’d be on her way out west.

Danny armed himself with the pistol that Steve had bought for him. He knew how to use it and after a few times at the firing range, his skill had improved exponentially. He was not about to be a victim any longer snd he was sick of being so terrified all the time. If Rick Peterson was out there somewhere he was ready.
Danny crouched down next to the kitchen island, trying to listen to anything out of the ordinary. Someone had hacked into their alarm system and wiped out their ability to use the phones.
It had to be Peterson, Danny thought. Him and his whacked out niece, the woman who had taken advantage of poor Cecil. It was rather amusing that Cecil had found redemption in Emily, a grad student whom he met through the online orders of his and Jerry’s side business. Emily was sweet and cute and Danny had only good feelings about her. She was way into the whole Crypto jive that Jerry and Cecil loved so much.

Danny heard someone rattling the doorknob of the door off the deck. There was more rattling and silence and suddenly the sound of breaking glass. And damned if he didn’t hear Sabrina barking downstairs! Danny chanced a look at the cupboard and saw with relief that the door was shut and Garrett and the rabbit were quiet.
“Danny? Oh Danny?”
Peterson.
Danny crouched even lower and gripped the gun. He wasn’t afraid to use it and this time he’d make it count!
“Danny? I brought along a friend of ours to say hello. Come out come out wherever you are!”

A friend? What the fuck?! Danny wasn’t expecting anyone!
“Danny? It’s me Beverly!”
Dammit!!! Danny bit his lip, gripping the gun and cursing silently.
“Daniel you get your fine ass out here or I’ll put a bullet in her brain! One more isn’t going to make any difference to me! I’m already going to jail for a long time well unless you come to your senses and come with me to Mexico!”
Danny was trying to decide if he wanted to come out guns blazing or would he catch Beverly in the cross fire when he heard other voices.
“And that would be my beautiful niece. And my 2 friends. Come on Danny Boy I’m losing patience with you!!”
“He’ll shoot her unless you come out!” Amber yelled.

Danny sighed and stood up, holding his pistol with one hand. Peterson was in the dining room with Beverly in front of him, a gun at her head. She had the makings of a black eye and Danny could feel his blood boiling. Amber stood behind her uncle, with 2 big guys who looked like they had the collective IQ of a hat size.
“Oh my God there he is.” Peterson said with a maniacal look. He motioned with his gun hand. “Drop the pistol and kick it over to me.” When Danny hesitated, Peterson got louder. “Do it, D or I promise her brains are going to decorate the wall!”
Danny laid the pistol on the floor and kicked it over to Peterson. Amber picked it up.
“I didn’t know he was going to be armed, Uncle Rick,” she whined.
“He’s full of surprises our Danny is.”
“Let her go now. I’m unarmed obviously.” Danny said.
“Here,” Peterson shoved Beverly towards one of the goons. “Take her to the car and keep an eye on her.” When the man hesitated, Peterson got louder. “Am I speaking a foreign language? Go! Both of you!!”
The men grabbed Beverly by the arms and ushered her out the gaping broken glass entry that Peterson had created.
“You’re going to pay to fix that,” Danny said cooly.
“Am I? Oh D.” He came closer and It was all Danny could do to stand there like he wasn’t scared. “Christ you’re so beautiful. Look at you.” Peterson reached out his hand and grabbed Danny’s hair at the back of his neck and pulled him close. “Now where is your brat? Hmmm? I know he’s here because I followed the van!”
“Fuck you!” Danny spit out.
“Melissa! Go look for him!” Peterson still maintained a hold on Danny’s hair. “I’m going to do a little defiling with this one.”
As Melissa/Amber wandered around, looking behind the couch and under things, Peterson pulled Danny to him and started to lick Danny’s face, tongue oozing a wet strip up his cheek and down the other side.
Danny tried hard not to vomit but his stomach was coiled tightly.

“I can’t find him Uncle Rick!” Amber whined.
“I hear the dog. D, I’ll kill that fucking cur this time you bet I will! I’ll find it and put a bullet in its’ head! Unless you start talking! Where’s the brat, D?” Peterson twisted Danny’s arm behind his back. “Where is he because I’m not playing!”
“Fuck you!” Danny spit in Peterson’s face and earned a slap across his face for his actions.
“Uncle Rick nobody said nothing about killing the dog!”
“Jesus H Christ Melissa! Would you please stop thinking? Shut. Up!”
Amber flounced down on one of the stools while Danny rubbed his face.
“We don’t have to get rough, D. As soon as you tell me where the kid is you and me are going to step into that bedroom and I’m going to lay you out. So I’m asking you one more time, D… where is he?”
Danny was silent.

“Ok. I hate to do this but… I’m going to go downstairs and I’m going to find that dog and kill it! Hear me, D? I’m going to kill that dog!”
Danny thought fast. Sabrina or Garrett? Oh my God he had never ever felt so helpless.
“Melissa! Get me my handcuffs!”
“Here ya go.”
Peterson twisted Danny’s arms behind him, hard, and hooked the handcuffs around the decorative steel roll bar that framed the kitchen island.
“I’m gonna kill that damn dog!” Peterson started for the stairs leading down to the basement.
Danny closed his eyes and made a decision.
“Noooooo wait!”
Peterson paused on the first step leading down.
“I’ll tell you where he is but you have to promise you won’t hurt him! Please. Please, Rick.”
“I like it when you’re begging, D. You’re so pretty.”
“ ok. Please. Just don’t hurt anyone. I’ll do whatever you want me to.” Danny sighed. He held the tears back. He was NOT going to cry.
“Really? Oh I can’t wait! And when I’m done laying you out you and me are hitting the road to Mexico!” Peterson pulled Danny’s shirt open. “Ohhh look at that chest. So smooth and hairless! D! How old are you again?”
“21,” Danny said through gritted teeth.
“Just. Legal. Where’s the kid?”

“Uncuff me so I can get him. He won’t come to you.”
Peterson considered this for a moment.
“Ok D. Any funny shit and the dog is dead.”
“I get it!” Danny said.
“You have a pool!” Melissa said as she stared out the back patio.
“Yeah and you could have used it had you not been a dipshit and chose to help your uncle!” Danny sniped.
“There you go, D. All set. Now go get the kid so you and me can get down to business.”

Danny walked over to the cupboard and opened the doors. Garrett was sucking his thumb, cowering in the corner. Danny’s heart was breaking.
“Come to me, sweetheart. It’s ok.”
‘No!” Garrett shook his head.
“GMan,” Danny said patiently. “Come on. It’s ok. Amber is going to take you for a walk, ok? Maybe Queenie can go too. Come on sweet boy.”
Danny waited as Garrett wiped his eyes and crawled to Danny’s arms. He left the rabbit up there, not wanting to call attention to her. Carefully, he closed the doors and shifted Garrett in his arms. Garrett was hiding his face against Danny’s shoulder.
“Give me a minute,” he told Peterson. “I need to calm him down.”
“Want me to try?” Peterson asked. “I raised a good boy. He’s a doctor now.”
“I wonder how proud Cole would be knowing you have a freaking gun aimed at me,” Danny growled.
“You got another minute to calm him down, D. And then you and me are going to disappear for a while.”
Danny hugged Garrett to him fiercely. He was in a predicament but he’d be damned if he let Peterson hurt anyone he loved. He desperately hoped Steve was ok. He should have been home an hour ago.
“ I love you Garrett,” Danny whispered and dropped his voice. “As soon as you can you run.” Louder, Danny said “do you love me? Did you hear what I told you?”
“Y-y-yes,” the little boy stammered.
“Ok times up, D. Give him to Melissa. And then come with me.”

Danny felt his heart sink. He was sad, and oh so angry. In fact, the more sad he was the angrier he became. They had broken into his home, threatened his family, hurt his friend. He was pretty sure they did something to Steve too but he didn’t know what. He clenched his fists until his nails left indents in his skin. He felt the heat rising from the soles of his feet.
“Come on little boy. Let’s go for a walk,” Amber extended her hand to Garrett who was slapping Peterson’s legs.
“Ohhh you’re a spitfire!” Peterson grabbed Garrett’s arm and yanked causing the boy to cry out. Danny was right there in the length of a heartbeat, pushing Peterson away and hugging Garrett again. Peterson recovered and noticed that Danny was angry. Remembering what had happened with Delano, Peterson quickly slugged Danny over the head and the blonde fell, unconscious.
“Mommy! Mommy!!” Garret screamed.
“Melissa get this brat out of here before I lose my patience!” Peterson looked at around. “And later on he’s gonna go for a swim. In the deep end.”
“Uncle Rick! You didn’t say we were going to hurt the kid!” Amber protested.
“You aren’t but I will.” Peterson shrugged. “Now get him out of here. I’m going to be in that big old bedroom back there.” He gathered Danny up and started towards the back of the house.

Amber wavered. She looked at Garrett’s innocent tear stained face. She had agreed to help her uncle for money, true, but killing a child? That went way beyond her comfort zone. She indicated the broken glass where they had broken in. “Listen. Garrett. Get out of here. Run! Go hide in the woods! And do NOT come back, ok? Go!!” She hissed giving him a push. Garrett wavered and suddenly took off, running out to the deck and veering off to hide in the woods. He didn’t understand what was going on but he just knew he had to escape and he was grateful to Amber. He disappeared into the woods, trying to make himself as small as he could.

Joe pulled the truck’s door open and almost was knocked backwards by a limp unconscious Steve falling against him. Oh this was bad. This was so bad! Joe whipped out his phone and cradling Steve’s head against his chest called for an ambulance and then called Chin. Quickly explaining the situation, Chin dispatched not only 3 units to Danny’s house but he and Kono jumped into a Suburban to check things out too. Joe had a terrible feeling that Danny was in danger. The only thing he could do, as he monitored Steve’s slow rate of respiration, was hope and pray that Chin get there before something bad happened.

Peterson stood over Danny. He had coveted Danny since he had seen him in that chair beside that bitch’s desk. Those aqua coloured eyes, the blonde hair, that sweet but thoughtful face— how many nights had he fantasized being right there, right here and now ready to claim
what was his. Peterson started to undress. He might as well get started.

Amber sat down in a chair in the dining room
and started to bite her nails . She was in way over her head and thought that this savagery was not what she signed up for. Quickly she checked outside in the driveway. The 2 goons were leaning against the SUV. Amber debated and finally stood up, walking towards the vehicle.

Garrett crouched beside the tree , hugging the bark. It was damp and cold and he thought that he should be getting ready to go with his Daddy to Gandpa’s by now. His Mommy was in the house with the bad man and Amber told him to run but he was too scared to go deep in the woods himself. He sat, then, by the big gnarled tree close to the path from the house and waited for someone to come.

Steve sat up as they were taking him to the ambulance and started to get off the stretcher.
“Whoa son where are you going?” Joe tried to pull Steve back to laying down.
“No no I have to go .. I have to go get Danny” Steve stood up On shaky legs. “Take me home, Joe. Take me to Danny.”
Joe shrugged at the EMS team and helped. Steve stumble over to Joe’s Mustang.
“I’ll drive.” Steve would have collapsed entirely if Joe hadn’t grabbed him under his arms.
“Like hell you will,” Joe growled. He stuffed Steve into the passenger side, clicked on his belt and jumped into the driver’s seat. He was going to use the lights and siren. He had a very bad feeling about Danny and just prayed they would get there in time.

Chapter Text

Steve strolled into the bedroom eating an apple.
“I thought you hated packing,” he said watching Danny fold a tee shirt and place it nicely in the big blue Navy duffel.
“I want a bite,” Danny held his hand out, the other hand on his hip in a saucy pose. Steve laughed and handed Danny the apple because after all his could he resist his mate? “Gotta be done. We have Garrett and his stuff, our stuff and the animals’ stuff.”
“Do you think we need to take toys for GMan?” Steve mused sitting on the other side of their bed. “Hey that’s where my flannel went!”
“Yes I found it on the floor of our closet so I washed it and it’s ready to go. I don’t think it will snow but you never know. Gonna be cold that much we DO know but so much fun! About the toys… I don’t know. Maybe his Matchbox cars and track so he doesn’t drive John and Beverly nuts.”
“Danny,” Steve said in a semi serious tone of voice. Danny looked up as he finished the apple. “Are you POSITIVE you want to take my Dad and Beverly and Garrett and the animals along? We could get away just us two. I mean, are you absolutely positively CERTAIN?”

Danny sighed and crawled on the bed to lay against Steve. The taller man immediately wrapped his arm around Danny and pulled him up so he was sitting in Steve’s lap, his butt on Steve’s thighs.
“This is my family. I want to take them and have them enjoy the days with us. However, that does not extend into the nights as we, you and I,” he said pointing to Steve and then himself. “ get the cabin by the lake while they stay in the main lodge. Night times are ours Babe!”
“You have a point.” Steve waggled his eyebrows.
“Of course I do. I can’t wait to just luxuriate in that 2 person jacuzzi in our cabin!”
“Oh it’s always more fun in the water,” Steve laughed. Then he switched moods to a more somber one. “ are you sure you’re doing ok?”
“Will you stop with the worrying already!” Danny pushed himself off Steve and eluded the grabby hands of his mate as Steve reached for him. “We have to pack, Babe. Now be a love and go check on our son to make sure he hasn’t let the rabbit rule the world in total domination.”
Steve laughed and stood up to leave and squinted at Danny. “You ate my apple.”
“There’s lots more. Cut some up for Sabrina, Queenie and Garrett. I’m not planning dinner for another hour or so.” Danny opened the dresser drawer where they kept their undies.
“An HOUR?” Steve sighed. “Alrighty. I’ll give them all a snack to keep body and soul together.”
“You’re a drama Queen, McGarrett!” Danny called to Steve’s retreating figure. “AF!”

Steve padded to the kitchen past the dining room table where Garrett was busily colouring in his sketch book. Queenie was on her mat busily sniffing at her food bowl and Sabrina got up and followed Steve to the kitchen. Steve glanced at the door and window where they had paid to repair the damage Peterson had done to their house. It was a custom job and instead of going through insurance, they had just paid for it out of pocket. It was easier and faster and Steve wanted every single thing that smacked of Peterson eradicated from their home.
“Ok be patient, pal,” Steve said to Sabrina who was nosing Steve’s leg. “I have to cut your bunny friend’s apple up in tiny bites so she can eat it. I won’t be so judicious with yours.”

Bark Bark
THANK YOU HUMAN STEVE
Bark Bark Bark
QUEENIE SAYS WE ARE GOING AWAY ON VACATION

“Rabbits have big ears,” Steve muttered. He grabbed the bunny bowl, Sabrina’s dish and the plate for Garrett and walked back to the dining room, balancing them all. “Yes we are all going away. It’s going to be a lot of fun… hopefully… and the place we are staying at is really nice. We will talk about it at dinner.”

>>We will stay in the main lodge with John and Beverly<<

“Ya know,” Steve said patting Queenie’s head., “there can be no surprises around you.” He sat down in the chair opposite Garrett. “I’m curious. What did Danny’s mom… your Grandma look like?” He asked Garrett.
The boy put his marker down and frowned. “She was pretty! Like Mom only a girl. And she smelled good.” He sighed. “I wish she wasn’t a ghost.”
“A.. a ghost?” Steve asked taken momentarily aback.
“Well Mom said she died when he was little like me so it had to be a ghost right!?”
Steve hesitated. “I guess so. Does that.. bother you?”
Garrett shook his head no. “I love her. She helped me when I needed her. So she’s always with us.”
That’s one way to look at it, yes,” said Steve.
“Ok break it up! Is this the Knights of the Roundtable plotting their next move?” Danny sashayed out and sat in the chair next to Steve. Queenie stopped eating her apple and hopped over to him, nudging him to pick her up. “Spoiled bun bun,” Danny whispered but obliged her whim.
“So shall we explain where we are going tomorrow?” Steve asked.
“I think that might be a good idea.” Danny nodded at Steve.
“We are going to a place that’s about an hour and a half to 2 hour drive away from here. It’s a resort by a lake and Grandpa and Beverly are going too!” Steve saw Garrett light up with delight.
“Are Sabrina and Queenie going too?”

>>yes<<

Steve snorted. “I should just let the rabbit tell everything next time. But anyways the place is called The Inn at Vaucluse Spring. Garrett, you and the animals will be staying right in the big manor house with my dad and Bev and Danny and I will have our own little cabin. This is our honeymoon but we wanted to take you with us!”
“Yay!” Garrett said, clapping his hands. “Going on a road trip!”
“Now where did you hear that phrase?” Danny asked.
“From you.” Garrett grinned at Danny and then giggled.
“You know, that’s possible.” Danny rose and walked out to the kitchen. “I’m making spaghetti for dinner. Something easy to make and clean up.”

Bark Bark
I LOVE SGETTI

>>I don’t care for it<<
Queenie, bereft of a lap, hopped back to her mat and started to eat her apple again.
“I love it!” Said Garrett. He finished his picture and held it up for Steve to see. It was, Steve thought, a rendition of Danny’s Mom. The figure was blonde and pretty and was wearing a locket.
“That’s terrific!” Steve examined it, showing it to Sabrina, who wagged her tail in agreement and to the rabbit who twitched an ear. “Let’s show Mom!”
“Will he be sad?” Garrett asked, waiting as Steve came around the other side of the table to lift him out of his booster chair.
“I don’t think so. Your Mom took the necklace to the jeweler to get it cut into 2 pieces. One for him and one for you so you both can keep a piece of her close.” They shuffled to the kitchen and Danny stopped chopping tomatoes to wipe his hands and accept the artwork.

“Oh hey this is a masterpiece!” He said. “There’s my Mom. And she looks so pretty!”
“Did I make you sad?” Garrett asked.
“Oh no, Baby, you didn’t make me sad. I’m happy you drew her and remember her. Let’s put it right up here on the fridge until we come back and then we will get a frame and I’ll hang it in the kitchen on the wall.”
“Seriously?” Garrett asked.
“For real.” Danny fist bumped with him, Garrett’s new form of being cool. “Steve, please set the table and dinner will be ten minutes away.”

When dishes were loaded in the dishwasher after dinner and Danny was giving Garrett a bath, John stopped over to pick Steve up so he could bring home the rental SUV. The truck or Camaro was not big enough for everyone so they decided that renting a vehicle was a practical solution.
“How are things?” John asked, the glib question not even scratching the surface of exactly what he wanted to ask.
“Danny’s good. He doesn’t talk about it. I don’t know how much he remembers about … conjuring the creature but so far so good. Last night he had a bad dream but I rubbed his back and he went to sleep. I’m hoping we can just move past this and the trip will be a happy time for him and for us all.”
“I’m just grateful you want me to come along. And with Beverly.” His dad cleared his throat.
“I know you’re kind of crushing on her, Dad,” Steve teased and for the first time in a long time he saw his Dad blush.
“I’m not crushing on anyone, Steve, and might I remind you that you’re my son and I—“
“Yeah yeah yeah. Dad, it’s about time. Go for it.” Steve patted his Dad’s leg and shook his head. “She’s lovely. And there’s a spark on her part, too.”
“I hope I’m not an old fool,” John muttered.
“You aren’t a fool, Dad.” Steve shook his head. “You deserve to be happy and so does she. But I’m warning you that the rabbit lives to eavesdrop so if you guys have anything private to talk about make sure the damn thing is in the next room!”
“Point taken,” John answered.

Danny got a drink and examined his face in the mirror. The bruises from Peterson’s manhandling were fading to a yellowish green and the only swelling still around his right eye was rapidly going away. He had pushed the incident deep down inside him, not wanting to deal with the terror or the frustration of the threat any longer. He could not remember how it ended nor did he ask but from the looks Steve gave him at times and the gentle kid glove way Steve treated him told him it must have been bad.
“You ok?”
Danny jumped, startled at Steve’s voice since Steve had been asleep when Danny had slipped out of bed.
“Yeah I’m coming back to bed, Babe.” Danny turned off the bathroom light and made his way back to the big bed he and Steve shared. As he got in, Steve pulled Danny over towards him, his body warm and welcome.
“You’re so cold.” Steve wrapped the blankets around Danny and held him tightly. “I’ll warm you up.”
“You’re a good husband,” Danny said and suddenly he felt very sleepy.
“I aim to please.” Steve whispered.
“Did you set the alarm?”
“I did.”
“Another day another adventure,” Danny whispered as he felt sleep overtake him.
Steve chuckled. “Never a dull moment around you.”

Chapter Text

“Wake up, Danny. Wake up. You need to wake up, my sweet Danny.”
Danny stirred. His Mom! His Mom was talking to him! He heard her voice by his ear and felt her soft hands touching his face. Slowly, he opened his eyes, ignoring the throbbing in the back of his head. And suddenly, he sat up and rolled off the bed! Fucking Peterson! Fucking Peterson was in their guest room and it was all coming back to him!
“Where did you go, D?” Peterson, fully naked and looking ridiculous standing by the bed, cocked his head. Sirens! Swearing to himself and vowing to kick Melissa’s ass for not giving Steve enough drugs, he reached for his pants. He didn’t know where Danny went— no doubt he was under the bed— so Peterson grabbed his gun and started to walk towards the door.

Danny reached out and grabbed Peterson’s ankle, giving a mighty pull, knocking Peterson off his feet, causing him to hit the floor hard, splitting his lip. Danny used the surprise attack to push himself away from under the bed and skirt Peterson who was on his knees now, reaching for his gun that fell out of his hand when he hit the floor. Danny scooped up the gun and turned towards Peterson, chest puffed up, face hard.
“Get up you piece of shit.” When Peterson hesitated, Danny gripped the gun and cocked the trigger. “No court in the land would convict me for shooting you except I don’t particularly want your guts all over my house. As it is you wrecked my windows. GET UP!”
“Okay, D—“
“And quit calling me that! In fact you don’t deserve to say my name so just shut your mouth!” Danny yelled.
“As you wish.” Peterson started towards the door and Danny moved to the side, eyes never leaving Peterson. In the distance he heard the sirens too getting closer and he hoped it was Steve and nothing had happened to him.

About the same time that Danny got the jump on Peterson, Amber was weighing her options. She didn’t expect her uncle to actually hurt anyone. She didn’t know why he wanted Danny so bad but even she could see there was something very wrong with his obsession and not just a little revenge as her uncle had told her earlier. She saw the 2 men by the SUV, Beverly sitting on the ground between them.
She took a deep breath and made up her mind.

Garrett stood next to the tree. He was terrified, more scared than he had ever been in his life. Even at his age, he knew that the creepy man was going to do something to his Mom, something that was awful and bad. He desperately wanted to help but he remembered his Mom telling him he needed to run. But now there were sirens and he knew that might mean Uncle Chin or better yet, his Daddy!
“Garrett?”
He turned, knees trembling and it was probably a good thing he had peed before riding in the van on the way home or his pants would be wet. It was a female voice— soft, kind, sweet, but he kept his eyes closed after he had turned around.
“Open your eyes my Angel.” A gentle hand on his head, smoothing his hair. “Come take my hand and I will lead you to safety and your Daddy.”
Garrett opened first one eye and then the other only to see a pretty lady standing in front of him. She was wearing jeans and a sweater and around her neck she had a necklace. Her hair was a golden shade of brown and she had blue eyes the same colour as his Mom’s!
“Who… who are you. My parents told me I can’t go with strangers,” Garrett said shyly.
“Darling boy, I’m your Grandma. I’m your Mom’s Mommy. I’ve come to help you.”

Garrett grinned and ran to her, throwing his arms around her. He was certain she was good and in an afternoon of evil, she was an oasis. “Hi Grandma! You look like Mom!”
“He’s beautiful my Danny and so are you.” She petted his hair and Garrett leaned into it. “Come, Garrett. I’ll take you to safety.” She held out her arms and scooped Garrett up. He buried his face in the warmth of her neck and she walked back into the woods, cutting across the copse of trees behind the house.

“You know, Danny, if you came with me to Mexico I have enough money we could have a clean start.” Peterson looked back over his shoulder at Danny.
“Shut up you fucking moron! You used to scare me but you don’t any longer! Just keep walking!” They were in the living room, Danny trying to keep Peterson away from any objects he could handle or throw. They just needed to make it to the door and out.

“Just gimmes 10 seconds with him,” Steve said, falling down as he climbed out of the car. Joe shook his head and helped Steve up.
“Son, I hope by the time we get to the house you can walk a straight line.” He paused, hearing the sirens and seeing the police cars roaring up the lane led by a dark blue Suburban. “Here’s Chin now.”
Steve turned to look and almost fell if he hadn’t had a hold of the door handle. Fuck that drug! It wasn’t out of his system yet!

“You know, you guys are hot as hell,” Amber purred. “Me and Beverly might want to you know get to know you better, right Bev?” Amber winked at Beverly who at first looked at Amber like she had lost her mind but caught on quickly.
“I was just noticing how muscular their legs are,” Beverly said, shaking her reddish hair. She had been told she was attractive so she hoped these men would see it that way.
“We would have time for a quickie, you know,” Amber said in her most convincing voice. “I could do this guy in the front,” Amber said as she slipped her arms around him. She nodded at Beverly who also stood up and started to press her body against goon number 2.
“Aha!” Amber said, brandishing the gun she had nicked from goon number 1. “Hands up! Beverly get his gun!”
“With pleasure!” Beverly kneed the man in the groin causing him to kneel over and cry out. She grabbed his pistol from his holster and aimed it at him. “It might have been a while since I was a Cop but at this close I won’t miss.”
“If you test us, we will shoot you!” Amber said.

“There is your Daddy, little one. And this is as far as I go.” She knelt and hugged Garrett fiercely. “Goodbye Darling. I will always love you.” She kissed his cheek and took off the necklace. “You keep this. Your Mommy will know what it is. I love you Garrett. Run to your Daddy.”
“Goodbye Grandma. I love you too.” Garrett waved and then took off at a dead run towards where the cars were parked and Chin and Steve and Joe stood. “Daddy!! Daddy!!!”

Steve turned and his heart did a flip as he saw the little boy, still in his school clothes, running out of the woods, something long and metallic dangling in his fist. “Garrett!” Steve yelled. On shaking legs, he walked towards the boy until suddenly he had an armful of crying babbling Garrett.
“You ok? Are you hurt?” Steve crouched and did a cursory exam with his eyes and gentle hands. “Oh you’re so cold. Here kiddo.” Steve took off his jacket and wrapped it around the child.
“I saw Gramma! She carried me here!” Garrett said happily, hugging Steve again but suddenly he became serious. “Mommy is with that bad man and Queenie is in the cupboard! Amber let me go!”
“Lt. Devlin,” Chin said to one of his squad. “Will you take Garrett and keep him safe in the cruiser?”
“I sure will,” she said. “Hey let’s go get warmed up. I think I have some granola bars and some water. Let’s let your Daddy help your Mommy.”
Garrett looked up at Steve who nodded.
“Ok. I hope you catch him.”

As they walked away, Steve frowned. “Gramma? He doesn’t have a Gramma!”
“Are you coming, Steve? Should we trust you with a gun!?” Joe asked. They were gathering for a raid on the house.
“Yeah you can trust me,” Steve said, head clear. He felt more and more like himself and was ready to rescue Danny from that piece of trash Peterson.
“Here’s a gun,” Joe have Steve a pistol and Steve nodded.
“Don’t shoot if Danny is a target also. Let’s be judicious.” Chin ordered.
With that, they moved as one unit towards the house, guns drawn.

“Too bad we don’t have handcuffs,” Beverly said.
“Look… I’m sorry. I never thought… Uncle Rick … I fucked things up.” Amber took a deep
breath and shrugged. “I’m just a Royal fuck up.”
“True confessions time,” one of the goons said.
“Shut up! We weren’t talking to you!” Beverly snapped. To Amber she said “you know I can talk to the judge. What happened to Garrett?” She asked.
“I let him loose. Told him to run to the woods and hide.”
“That’s another point in your favour. Oh look! Here comes the good guys!” Bev pointed with the gun to the men who were on the move towards the house.
“I told you we shouldn’t have listened to Rick. Didn’t I tell you that, Jake?” One of the men said.
“Can it, Tweedledeedum,” Beverly snapped. “You’re both stupid.”

Peterson stopped by the dining room table and turned slightly towards Danny.
“Last chance, Danny. Come with me and we can have the life we have always dreamed about.”
“Are you stupid or just obtuse?” Danny said. “Get going. You’re going back to jail for a good long time.”
Peterson laughed. It was an irritating laugh and Danny had to bite his lip hard not to react. He didn’t know what trick Peterson had up his sleeve but he was totally wary, eyes never leaving the man.

Unfortunately at that time, Queenie decided to try to push the cupboard door open with her back legs, giving it a kick. The sudden movement startled Danny enough so Peterson could whirl and grab the gun out of Danny’s hand. He cackled triumphantly and took hold of Danny’s shirt, pulling him forward.
“Well now D, it looks like I have the upper hand.” His other hand palmed Danny’s crotch.
“Stop it!” Danny tried to move away but Peterson wrapped his arm around Danny’s waist.
“Give it up. You and me are going to walk out of here together and you’re going to spend the rest of your life loving me. It was meant to be don’t you see? Your little body in that tree house. I watched you while you slept. And weren’t you in the pantry while I was in the house? I could feel you, D. I could fucking feel you.”
Danny tried to squirm away, sick to his stomach at how this madman had watched him when he was 11, but Peterson was wiry strong and held on.
“I’m going to fuck that perfect ass of yours. You’re going to forget all about Steve and your life here. “
“You’re a fucking maniac and I will NEVER love you!” Danny yelled.

“Rick Peterson! Let him go! You’re surrounded!” Chin commanded. Behind and around him was a contingent of officers, all heavily armed with Steve standing in the front, gun aimed at Peterson.
Peterson whirled around, Danny in front of him like a shield.
“You shoot and I’ll shoot him first! I’ll die with him!” Peterson yelled.
“Let him go!” Steve screamed about to go Rambo on his ass.
“I swear I will put a bullet in him! You want to try me?” Peterson tightened his grip on Danny.
“Steve! Let us pass! Let us pass and give him a car!” Danny said.
“No! No, Danny! I don’t want anything to happen to you!” He said, frustrated with the Catch 22.
“Just tell me. Is Garrett ok?” Danny asked.
“He’s good.”
“Damn Melissa. See if she gets any money.” Peterson started down the deck hauling Danny.

Danny thought about his situation. Not only had Peterson defiled his and Steve’s living quarters but Peterson had threatened their son and the animals! He had obviously done something to Steve too. And there it was again.
Danny had to protect his family.

Silently he fumed, growing angrier by the second as Peterson dragged him through the officers who had parted to let them through. Their home. Their child. Their animals. It was all too much.
A red rage consumed Danny. It rose from the soles of his feet to his head, a slow fissure to let the steam out. He grew warm in Peterson’s arms and as they finally walked past the last cop, Peterson yanked his arm away from Danny.
“Christ, you about burnt my arm off, D.”
Danny’s eyes rolled back until Only the whites were showing. “D? Danny?” Peterson poked Danny’s arm with the pistol handle.
“As above so below,” Danny chanted. He raised an arm and pointed towards the water. “As above so below.”

The scar on the side of Danny’s neck opened up. Blood trickled down his neck to his shoulders. Still he stood pointing towards the waterfront. Peterson backed up and started to babble.
“D, look, come on, what’s the matter huh kid? If it’s any consolation I wasn’t going to hurt you.” He looked nervously around him, not really knowing what was happening. Danny was floating, his body off the ground, his arm raised pointing, pointing. His blood spilled on the sand of the beach and still he stood, feet away from Peterson, looking out with those sightless eyes.
“Come come come all you ancient horrors all you creatures who grind the bones! Come and feed!”

Looking back, the police said it looked like an octopus or some deranged squid. Chin had a hard time writing a valid report and none of his friends who were there that day talked about it after Peterson’s body, or rather parts of it, were found.
But Steve knew what it was.
He knew who Danny had called to pull Peterson into the shallows and gnaw and grind and suck and slash.
He never talked about it with Danny though.

The shallows turned red and frothy.

“Danny? Sweetheart? You with me?”
Danny started walking towards that voice he knew and loved. Steve. It was Steve.
He opened his eyes.
Looked around at the concerned faces.
And grinned.
“I feel like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz,” he joked. “There’s Steve. And John. And Chin. And Joe. And Kono. Damn, girl, what are you doing with these bunch of roughs?”
“Hi Danny. Welcome back.” Steve kissed Danny’s forehead. “Do you want to see our son? He’s been chomping at the bit.”
“Please. Yes.” John disappeared from the little face circle and returned with a squirming child.

“Mommy!!” Garrett cried, wrapping his little arms around Danny. Danny held him close, rubbing Garrett’s back, letting the boy have a good cry.
“You were my brave boy. How did you get loose?”
“Amber told me to run! So I hid in the woods but it was scary until Gramma found me.”
“Gramma?” Danny asked. He looked over at John. “Something you want to tell us!?”
“I have nothing to do with it.,” John assured him.
“She gave me this!” Garrett said proudly. He held up the necklace which was a locket on a long gold chain. “She said you would know about it!”

Danny swallowed hard and felt all the breath leave his body. With shaking hands, he reached for the locket and let the silky feel of the chain caress his hands. It was his Mom’s. She always wore it.
“Can you open that? It opens right?” Garrett asked.
“I already know what is inside but you deserve to see it.” Danny opened the clasp, knowing he had a room full of interested friends. “See?” He asked Garrett. “Look. It’s a picture of me, my Mom and my Dad.” Danny let Garrett and Steve see it.
“You look like her,” Steve said as he eyed the blue eyed beauty.
“She always told me that. And over here she kept a lock of my hair. Said it was my first baby curl.”
“Ew. Keeping hair?” Garrett asked his reaction bringing a chuckle from the room.
“Yes keeping hair.” Danny hugged Garrett, still not believing that his Mom had manifested to their son. But he was grateful oh so grateful.

“And what about Beverly? Is she ok?” Danny asked.
“Oh she’s good,” John said quickly. “In fact I’m going to pick her up from the station after she gives her deposition and bring her back here. Oh I thought I’d pick up pizzas on the way.”
“And Amber?” Danny asked.
“In jail but… I think there’s some redeeming qualities there,” Chin said. “She just took the wrong path and got lost.”
“Oh my God, did someone get the rabbit out of the cupboard?” Danny asked, sitting up, Garrett in his lap. “And Sabrina?”

Bark Bark
I AM HERE

>>I am here too and it looks like I missed lunch and dinner. And trust me a hungry bunny is a bunny to be reckoned with<<

Steve held up the squirming rabbit.
“Oh get over here,” Danny said taking the rabbit and placing her in his lap. She settled but started to suckle on the edge of Danny’s sleeve.
“There’s a crew that’s coming over to fix the window.” Steve nodded towards where a tarp was flapping with the wind.
“What time is it anyways?” Danny frowned.
“Going on 9.”
“Nine? Nine at night?” Danny looked around frantically. “I must have blacked out.”
Steve and Joe exchanged looks but Danny saw them. “What? What aren’t you telling me? Where’s Peterson? Is he gone?”
“He’s gone. Danny,” Steve reassured him, “Now . How about if you get a shower and get dressed in something warm so we can sit around and eat pizza?”
“There’s cheesecake too,” Danny said and it seemed like that afternoon had been years earlier.

Danny let Steve help him up and as they walked past the guest room where Peterson had initially taken him, Danny pointed at the shut door.
“What’s up with that?”
“We have a medium here and she’s cleansing the room. And I pulled all the sheets and blankets and put them in the laundry. “
“A medium? Oh I want to talk to her!” Danny caught sight of himself in the mirror. “Holy shit what happened to me? Where did that blood come from?” His shirt was soaked in the front.
“You uh … you … your cut or scar on your neck … he hit you there and it bled.” Steve said.
“Oh. Christ, I hope someone shot him. Did he get shot, and who did it?”Danny asked.

Steve sighed. “He’s dead. Let’s just keep it at that.” Steve stroked Danny’s hair. “I’m beginning to think that God does not want us to have a honeymoon. Are you getting that idea?”
“Ha, yeah maybe.” Danny laughed. “Steven.”
“Daniel.”
“I love you.”
“I love you. And Danny?” Steve said.
“What?”
“You’re still holding the rabbit.”
Danny looked down at Queenie who was quite content to be carried. “So I am.”