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Under the Skin

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“I can’t believe you’re making me do this!” Danny complained as he tripped over another root, the whole damn forest was trying to break his ankles, or his neck, which ever came first.

“You agreed to it.” Steve said as he stopped and turned to look at him. The bastard wasn’t even sweating in the sticky heat. “Come on, we still have a way to go before we get to the cabin.”

“Then why couldn’t we just drive to it!” Danny asked as he shouldered his pack a little to make it more comfortable.

Steve just laughed at him. “Because there isn’t a road to it anymore, the forest took it over.”

“You promised it had fresh water?” Danny gasped, if there wasn’t a road then how the hell did it have running water? “You said there would be a working shower… Oh… Oh. Don’t tell me! It’s going to be a plastic bag with holes in and hung from a tree!”

“It’s got a fresh water supply, Danny.” Steve called back. “We will have to stoke up the boiler for you to have a shower though.”

“Great… just great.” Danny sighed but kept walking. He looked at his feet trying to keep up with the wild man in front.

The imaginary trail they were following started to get a little steeper and Danny was sure he could hear running water. “Are you sure we are going the right way?”

“Yes.” Steve said and Danny didn’t like his tone.

“If you’re leading me off a cliff I am NOT going to be impressed…” he shivered a little as the temperature seemed to be plummeting. “And is it me or is the wind picking up?”

Steve paused. “You’re right. The weather report said there might be rain.” Then he started walking again, only faster.

“Hey wait!” Danny said as he tried to keep up. “What’s up, why the rush?”

“Feels like a storms coming in.” Steve called back as the trail got even steeper.

“You said you checked the forecast this morning!” Danny yelled. “I remember you saying it should be fine!”

“Should.” Steve answered. “I said it ‘should’ be fine… looks like it’s not, pick up the pace.”

Danny did his best as he all but jogged after Steve. The wind was getting a distinct chill as they started slogging along the side of a stream with a high bank to their left.

He looked up to see Steve quite a way ahead clambering up some rocks where a small waterfall fell into a pool below. “What’s that sound?” he shouted over the noise of the wind in the trees.

He watched as Steve turned, looking surprised. “Danny RUN!” he shouted gesturing for Danny to come to him. “MOVE!”

“Wha…” then he heard it, the sound of rushing water, a LOT of rushing water, and he started to run.

He didn’t make it.

He saw Steve scramble higher up the rocks as the waterfall suddenly went from a pleasant trickle to a torrent, then it all but disappeared in a fall of solied dirty water that was heading straight for him.

He saw Steve unbuckling his pack and drop it on dry land as the water started to hit Danny.

Danny tried to shove himself up the bank, but it was too high and too steep, any vegetation he tried to grab onto just came away in his hands as his legs were washed from beneath him and he was plunged into water cold enough to take his breath away as he went under.

He floundered in a blind panic as he tried getting to the surface to get some air but he was disorientated as he was being spun like a top.

Next thing he knew his back was slammed into something hard and he was pinned.

Stone at his back and the water pressure keeping him in place. His lungs were screaming for air but he couldn’t find ‘up’ as debris battered into him then spun away.

He felt himself getting light headed and weak as something suddenly clamped around his elbow and he was being pulled.

He tried to fight it because it hurt like hell but as his face broke water he took in a gasping lungful of beautiful air before he was plunged under again, the pressure around his elbow was insistent though, but he was no longer pined and he seemed to be going in a direction, across the currant.

It didn’t take long before he felt ground under his feet and he struggled to get to the blurry green mass in front of himself.

The pressure on his arm let go and he felt something solid at his side pushing him towards what he assumed was the bank.

Once again he found himself grabbing at vegetation, but this time it held firm as he dragged himself onto dry land, then collapsed. He coughed then threw up some water as he tried to breathe.

He wiped the crap from his eyes as he fell onto his back. When he blinked he could finally see the trees swaying in the wind above him. Then he saw something out of the corner of his eye that made him flinch.

“Fuck!” he cried as he reached for his gun while pushing himself back as a large tiger turned to look at him with dark hazel eyes.

It took him a moment to realize he wasn’t wearing his gun as he tried to get to his feet, but his legs shook so bad he fell back down. “Don’t eat me, don’t eat me.” He sobbed as he backed into a tree, panic getting the better of him, he had no idea Hawaii had wild tigers.

The tiger got to its feet and made a growly type sound Danny didn’t like at all, not one fucking bit. Then it made a strange puzzled type sound as it looked down at its paws, then sat down on its haunches looking stunned.

It took another moment for Danny to realise that the Tiger was wearing Steve’s t-shirt and khaki coloured cargo pants.

Danny relaxed a little before tensing again. “Oh my god!” he exclaimed in anger. “You’re a Shifter?!” he accused.

The tiger lifted its head, still looking startled.

“How the hell!” Danny said as he slumped to the ground, he was actually feeling a little hurt. “Why didn’t you tell me?”

Tiger Steve just looked at him, his head cocked a little to one side, he let out a piteous squeak before looking down at himself again. If it was possible, Danny thought the tiger looked confused and a little distressed.

“Well just change back!” Danny snapped as he got to his wobbly legs. He was soaked through and he was already regretting the loss of his stuff as he whipped the mud off his hands onto his pants.

Tiger Steve gave a yawl.

“How the hell should I know?!” Danny sighed as he looked at his arm where he now realised Steve had grabbed him in his mouth and dragged him out of the flood. “This was a new shirt.” He mourned as he looked at the holes in the cloth, but he was happy to see he wasn’t bleeding, but it hurt like hell, so there would be bruising, but he imagined he would have a lot more elsewhere soon enough, he felt like he had been though a grinder.

Tiger Steve gave another pathetic whine as Danny saw him get to his feet too and noticed how bedraggled the large cat looked.

With a sigh he took a step toward his friend, reaching out a hand, but he hesitated to touch the large animals head. “You okay?”

Dark hazel eyes looked up at him before the cat gave a huff and nodded his head.

“So… what now?” Danny asked straightening up as his back gave a twinge of pain. “Oh for Christ sake!” he growled as he felt rain start hitting his head. “Ok, let’s start heading back.” He said turning to look the way they had come.

Tiger Steve gave a snort and moved past Danny, up the mountain, not down.

“That’s the wrong way!” Danny yelled as he automatically moved to follow the tiger. “We need to go back to civilisation!”

Steve Tiger gave a snort that Danny was sure wasn’t anything polite, but he kept moving up, even if Steve’s movements were impaired by the clothes he was still wearing.

“Do I look like a Shifter whisperer?!” Danny demanded as he struggled over a tree root, now they were pushed off whatever Steve had taken for a trail, the way was even more treacherous and it didn’t help that the wind and rain were picking up.

He kept his eyes down as the rain was beaten into his face as he kept going, when he finally looked up he could see the orange tiger clearly ahead and he seemed to be pulling something with his teeth. “What the hell?” he asked as he realised it was Steve’s pack, his own had been lost as he struggled to breathe in the flood that washed him away. “You made me struggle up here so you could just get your stuff?” he asked angrily. “You could have got it yourself!” he shouted over the storm that was still picking up. “Now can we go?”

Steve just glared at him. It was strange how it was such a Steve type glare. Then the tiger turned and kept walking up hill and into the storm, dragging the pack in his mouth.

“This is insane.” Danny muttered to himself as he carried on following.

 

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Danny wasn’t sure how long he had been walking, his legs were ready to give out, never mind the trip hazards every step, he was also walking against the wind and rain that was cold enough to make him shiver whenever the canopy broke and it was like having buckets of ice cold water poured over his head.

He just caught himself from falling on his face again when he heard a gruff yup from ahead. Looking up and wiping the rain from his eyes with little success he could see Steve up ahead, standing at the side of a cabin. “Finally.” He laughed. He had expected it to be some run down hut. Instead it looked like a very nice cabin that was well kept.

He quickened his step, sighing in relief as he staggered up to the door, the wind and rain finally let up in its shelter.

He reached for the door knob and turned. Nothing happened. With frustration he threw up his hands. “Great!” he growled. “Locked! You better have the keys!” he snapped down at the tiger that now stood at his side.

The tiger opened its mouth then nodded as it turned its head to look at its left hip.

“Oh you can’t be serious!” Danny exclaimed. “Why don’t you just Shift back and sort this out yourself!”

Steve shook his head.

With a sigh Danny moved closer and with hesitation he reached into the pocket at Steve’s waist and pushed his hand into the pocket the cat had indicated. It was hard as the material was pulled tight over a tiger’s frame, Danny was sure it couldn’t be comfortable for Steve right now.

Danny’s fingers came in contact with something very key like and he pulled them out. Without a word he moved and opened the door. “After you.” He said sarcastically to the cat.

Steve just slunk inside, dragging his pack with him.

Danny followed him and shut the door on the crappy weather. When he actually looked into the gloom he could see a largish room, with a wood burning stove at one end, with a little kitchenette off to its side, facing it were two rustic looking sofas. At the other side of the room was a table with three chairs. Past that on the back wall were two doors.

“Please tell me this place has a bathroom.” He begged as images of a bucket outside sprang to mind, which would be Steve’s version of luxury.

Steve lifted a paw and pointed it towards the nearest door, before he dropped the pack and made his way to one of the sofas and started to climb on top.

“What the hell!” Danny cried as he went over and pushed Steve away. “You’re soaking wet!” he explained as the tiger glared up at him. “If you’re going to be a stubborn SOB and not Shift back, then you have to get out of those wet clothes."

Steve sat on his haunches and whined a little.

“You’re lucky I’m such a good friend!” Danny snapped as he bent to the waist band of Steve’s shirt and t-shirt and began to tug them up towards the cats head. “Lower your head.” He said as he made sure his hands didn’t go anywhere near the tigers neck. With a lot of tugging and swearing Steve’s head popped out of his clothes. Then Danny pulled and pushed Steve’s wet fury body so he could get the clothes off his front paws, throwing them towards the stove and he guessed the only source of heat. He just had to get it going first.

“Get on your back.” Danny sighed knowing what was about to come and it wasn’t something he ever thought he would be doing for the most stubborn man he had ever met.

Reluctantly Steve got down then rolled awkwardly onto his back, Danny couldn’t help but grin as Steve’s four legs waved in the air. Then he grimaced as he reached out and started to undo the button on Steve’s cargo pants. With a deep breath he looked up as he pulled the zip down then stuck his thumbs into the waistband, also snagging Steve’s boxers and pushed as quickly as he could. It was difficult trying to get the pants off a strange anatomy without looking, but what he wasn’t expecting was something long and wet smacking him in the face.

Spluttering and fell back in horror at the moment the pants came off to fall on his ass. He finally looked to see a long orange tail swishing about in the air. With annoyance Danny reached out, grabbed the tail and pulled. “Watch where you stick this thing!”

Steve let out a roar of surprise then growled as he pushed Danny away with his front paws and moved back onto his front.

“Stupid cat.” Danny growled back as he threw the rest of Steve’s clothes into the pile as he got up. “And for god sake will you Shift back, I have no idea how to get this stupid thing going.” He said looking at the stove and the pile of dry wood by the side of it. “You better have a lighter.” He complained, he’d lost everything to the flood and he was damn sure he wasn’t going to be rubbing sticks together to get a fire going.

He turned when he was aware that Steve was being rather quiet.

Steve had moved his ass onto the sofa and was now curled up with his head turned into the back of the cushions.

Danny just shook his head as he went to Steve’s pack and began pulling everything out of it.

There was a change of clothes and an extra t-shirt, some dry goods, MRE’s and, thank heavens, coffee. There were some other stuff but he finally found a lighter. So at least they weren’t going to freeze to death.

 

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Steve moved his head to watch Danny fussing with trying to get a fire going. And at any other time he would be laughing at his friends efforts. But right now he just wanted to crawl into a corner and disappear.

When he had seen Danny being hit by a wall of water he hadn’t though as he let his SEAL training kick in, he just threw off his pack and jumped in after his friend. Before he had hit the ice water he had experienced a moment of searing pain all over his body before he hit.

He had braced for the usual cold that would take his breath away for a moment, but it never happened as he began to swim to the surface. He could see Danny’s progress being halted by one of the boulder’s near the bank and made a frantic effort to get to him. Again it was easier than he expected.

He had grabbed Danny by the arm then dragged him towards what was left of the bank.

It had confused him as Danny started to panic when he looked at him, but that was before he looked down at himself.

His blood ran cold when he saw large paws instead of his hands. He tried to say something and it came out as a guttural growl. Then Danny had said something that struck him to the core.

‘You’re a Shifter’

But that was impossible… he would have known before this, he would have been tested as a child, there was no way they would have let him in the military if he was a Shifter.

For god sake, someone would have figured it out by now!

But there was no denying he now had fur covered paws instead of hands.

And it was freaking him out.

It also didn’t help that he had no fucking idea how to change back and be normal.

He turned away form Danny’s antics as he curled up on the sofa and thought.

There was no way he could go back to humanity like this. He would be thrown into a Shifter Dormitory the moment anyone saw him, and there was very little chance he would ever be let out as an un-bonded Shifter.

Then there was the fact he would be stripped of his rank and taken away from the job he loved and the life he had build for himself here.

He couldn’t give the danger and excitement up. It’s what he lived for, the next adrenalin rush, that feeling of euphoria as they took down the bad guys, the thrill of the chase.

He would be taken away from it all and locked away.

“Oh for… This is ridiculous!” Danny suddenly exclaimed and Steve turned his head enough to look at Danny through the corner of his eye. “How hard can it be to light a damn fire?!” he carried on muttering but as always, Steve turned out the words and just listened to his friend rant.

For some stupid reason it was soothing… even in their short two years together, Danny was one of Steve’s best friends.

Danny didn’t have a personality that Steve ever thought he could get along with.

He was loud and had a bad temper that was like a force of nature when he got going, which in Steve’s case was most of the time. He always seemed to do something the smaller stocky man would disapprove of, then complain about for hours, loudly.

But as much as Danny pissed him off and argued with him, he always made Steve smile. If he was honest, he laughed more with Danny than he fought with him.

He moved on the sofa so he could watch his friend a little better.

From the first time he had clapped eyes on the detective in his father’s garage, Steve had been inexplicitly drawn to the other man.

At first, Danny was a means to an end. To be the cop on his team, to help find his fathers killer. But as Steve formed the task force, he hadn’t even asked Danny to join, he had just taken him.

Just like Steve seemed to have claimed everything that was Danny’s.

His career, his car, his free time, his anger, his smiles, his family, his personal life and most of all, his friendship.

There was very little about Danny’s life that Steve didn’t have a part in. Danny even shared his daughter with him whenever he could. Though Steve was sure Danny didn’t realize how much that meant to him.

Steve had taken it all without a thought, just instinctively knew that Danny would follow wherever he led.

There was something about Danny that always drew Steve.

He had always just thought it was the strange friendship they had. Steve had never really questioned the trust he had with the shorter man, he gave it and expected it from Danny like it was just a given.

Steve had always had an instinct about people, like he trusted Chin without a thought, never believing he was a criminal. He trusted Kono too with very little effort, even if she was young. But that trust only went so far. But with Danny it was different and never questioned and it went very deep.

And that was another thing that was confusing him.

After Danny’s first shock at seeing him as a tiger, he had got over his shock very quickly and didn’t seem bothered about being in the presence of a large predatorial animal. He had just accepted it was Steve and wasn’t really acting any different towards him.

Steve was sure if their roles had been reversed, he wouldn’t have been so understanding or accepting.

Slowly Steve pushed himself up as curiosity started to over shadow his crushing shock. He needed to know why Danny was being the way he was.

“At last!” Danny laughed as the fire finally started to get going in the stove, then he was getting to his feet. “Ok, now how to get our clothes dry…” he said to himself as he picked up Steve’s wet clothes and went over to the dinning chairs. Steve watched as he brought one over to the stove and put it in front of the fire and began draping Steve’s stuff over it. “You know this would go faster if you had hands.” Danny glanced at him as he snarked.

Steve tried to talk again, but it just came out as grunty little roars and snorts, he slapped a paw down in frustration. He still had no idea how this worked.

Danny sighed as he sat perched on the other sofa. “Ok… so we are going to do this none verbally… and I never thought I would see the day you couldn’t argue back.” He grinned and Steve wanted to slap him. “So, just nod or shake your head.”

Steve frowned but nodded his head; he could at least do that.

“Are you registered?” Danny asked.

Steve shook his head. If he was, he was sure someone would have said something before now, and this wouldn’t be quite so distressing.

“Ok, so your unregistered… but with your background that’s understandable, or you wouldn’t be a SEAL. And the Shifter Registry would never have let you keep that death wish you seem to have.”

Steve shook his head again emphatically.

“So you’re not unregistered or you don’t have a death wish?” Danny grinned.

Steve shrugged his shoulders as best he could. He also intensified his glare, it was unfair to ask two questions at once, but Danny seemed to ignore that fact.

Danny sat back on the sofa, folding his arms across his chest as he stared at Steve like he was thinking. “Fine… so you’re having trouble Shifting?”

Steven nodded.

“When was the last time you Shifted?”

Steve growled again, he had never Shifted in his life as far as he knew, he was human and normal for gods sake.

“Ok, ok, calm down… Yes and no questions only… So, I’m guessing you haven’t Shifted since you were a kid?” Danny asked with a frown.

Shrugging Steve slumped a bit, this was impossible.

“You can’t remember Shifting before?”

Steve nodded a few times, it was almost right.

Danny sat forwards, putting his elbows on his knees as he whistled. “Are you telling me you didn’t know you were a Shifter?”

Reluctantly Steve nodded once, surprised Danny actually got it so quickly, but that’s was what made him a good cop.

“Wow, right, ok.” Danny let out a long breath as he rubbed his hands together. “Are you sure I haven’t slipped into one of Grace’s Disney stories?” he gave Steve a raised brow.

Steve shrugged as he shook his head.

“Fine.” Danny gave him a grin. “So you’re now stuck as a tiger?... a very handsome tiger I might add.” Danny teased.

Steve gave a snort of surprise and was glad he couldn’t blush right now, even if it did send some warmth through his chest. He nodded answering Danny’s question.

Danny scratched the back of his neck like he was thinking again. “I remember Sally telling me that it was like Prince Adam turning into He-Man…”

Steve frowned at the childish analogy; he also didn’t know who Sally was, so he gave a questioning grunt, thankful it actually came out right.

“Oh… Sally was my next door neighbour. We were friends till she was shipped off to the New Jersey Shifter Dormitory when we were eleven… I never saw her again after that. I heard she bonded with some banker somewhere in Canada.”

Steve couldn’t help but react to the sad regret in Danny’s voice, so he stepped down off the sofa and went to his friend putting his hand… paw on Danny’s knee consolingly.

Danny smiled at him and patted his paw, then left his hand there. “She was a lioness and we used to play together all the time… I always promised her that when I was old enough I would marry her, but she was already Bonded before we got a chance… I doubt she even remembered me.”

Steve whined as he placed his head on top of Danny’s hand.

“Sap.” Danny teased with a smile as he patted Steve on the head with his other hand. “It was years ago and doesn’t help your dilemma now.” He sighed. “It also doesn’t help mine.”

Steve lifted his head and gave another questioning snort.

“Stuck here with you, like this, in a storm.” Danny answered. “And it sounds like its only getting worse.”

Steve had ignored the relentless pounding of rain on the roof, or the whooshing of the wind as it ripped around the building and through the trees. As he listened he realised that it had in fact intensified since they had got to the cabin, it seemed more severe than just a normal storm.

“So… Why don’t you try doing the ‘by the power of grey skull’ thing and see if you can turn back into Prince Adam…” Danny grinned down at him. “Unless you want too stay as Cringer for the rest of your life?”

Steve snapped his teeth together angrily making Danny laugh. But he really didn’t want to be a cat anymore… he never wanted to be one in the first place.

 

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Steve sighed as he relaxed on the sofa.

He had tried for hours to Shift back to being a human. All to no success. He was stuck.

Danny had tried helping him, getting him to relax and do some breathing exercises, Steve was sure Danny was using Lamaze on him. Steve rolled his eyes, but had tried, it hadn’t worked. He had also thought ‘By the power of Grey skull’ till he had gotten a headache, still nothing.

Danny had finally left him to it as he found some canned food in the cupboard and with the MRE’s had made a passable meal for them both.

But eating it out of an old tin bowl after Danny had cut everything up was a little embarrassing, especially when he also had to awkwardly lap at a bowl of water.

When it had finally gone dark, Danny had lit a few old oil lamps and they both settled down to watch the fire in the stove as they listened to the storm carry on outside as it rattled around the walls making soothing whooshing sounds.

It hadn’t let up at all and Steve suspected it would last for a while, he was almost happy he couldn’t tell Danny this as he mourned the loss of both their phones, Danny’s literally and Steve’s to water damage. His friend would only bitch about not going back to the car.

Finally he let out a yawn.

He was tired, despite the stress he was feeling, all he wanted to do was curl up warm and go to sleep.

“You’re right.” Danny suddenly broke the silence as he stretched. “Bed time. Sooner we go to sleep, the sooner we can get up and get out of this backwards cabin and find civilisation.”

Steve stretched too as he slowly slunk off his sofa and made his way to the bedroom. The door was still closed and he couldn’t open it.

“Move.” Danny said and Steve found a leg pushing him to the side as Danny opened the door. “What the hell!”

Steve looked into the room to see a double bed, wardrobe and a chest of drawers. It smelled a little damp, but the bed was made and it looked fine.

“Where’s the other bed?” Danny asked as he walked inside.

Steve snorted a laugh, he hadn’t really thought about it. After all he was military and bunking with other guys had never been a problem, even if he did have to share. He guessed Danny was going to put up a stink now.

“There isn’t another bed is there?” Danny sighed with resignation. “It’s a good job you’re a bloody cat right now or I would be so yelling at you!”

Steve grinned at his friend then frowned as Danny went to sit on the side of the bed by the door. For some reason he didn’t like it. So he pushed his way between Danny and the bed, then began forcing him towards the other side.

“What the hell?” Danny snapped. “I can’t even sleep on my side of the bed? I always sleep on the right side! What is your problem?”

Steve just growled as with one shove of his shoulder he forced Danny to sit down on the left side of the bed with an oof.

“I’m not even going to argue with a stupid cat!” Danny growled back. “And so help me if you shed on me I’m going to shave your ass bald in the morning!”

Steve laughed as he jumped onto the bed and with a paw he pulled down the slightly musty smelling sheets, then wriggled into them as best he could, making sure he was facing the door as he lay on his side.

He listened as Danny fussed about, probably taking his pants and shoes off, then the bed dipped and he felt Danny get in.

“Stupid cat.” Danny muttered but Steve felt the sheets being pulled up over his shoulder. “You better not snore.”

Steve felt Danny fussing about some more before he felt Danny’s back up against his own.

“Shut up.” Danny snapped. “This bed is small and your fat ass is taking up most of it… So help me if I end up on the floor in the morning, when I get a gun, I’m going to shoot you.”

Steve gave a growl of protest, even if he was smiling.

“Goodnight.” Danny said, then Steve felt him settle down.

For a while he just listened to Danny breathing before his friend became a quiet lump at his back. Steve though it would take him ages to get to sleep. But the sound of the storm outside was lulling him and along with the comforting sound of Danny’s shallow breathing, he drifted off to sleep.

 

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Steve woke to the sound of something very large and very wooden, breaking. He lifted his head and waited to see if there was any other sound. But all he could hear was the wind and rain. It sounded worse than when he had gone to sleep. If he didn’t know better, it almost seemed like a hurricane, but there had been nothing on the forecast that would suggest that.

He was still sure he hard a tree falling over. From what he could see through the shutters on the window, it was very grey outside, so he wasn’t sure what time it was.

But he was awake now and as he laid his head back down with a sigh, he realised he was still a damn tiger. A tiger with a full bladder. With a snort, he started to get up, or tried too.

“To early…” Danny said behind him and Steve felt his partner’s fingers fist into the fur on his back and shoulder. It was the strangest feeling.

He froze though when he felt Danny nuzzling into the back of his neck. Every now and again as Danny moved his face, Steve experienced a shock of electricity through his whole body. And with a sickening realization, he was lowering his head to his chest as his dick began to get hard.

With a start, and when Danny’s face moved away from the place that was turning Steve on, he kicked out and managed to fall out of bed onto all fours.

“Wha…” Danny asked in surprise. “What you do that for?”

Steve looked up at his friend in a mix of emotions he really didn’t want to think about right now.

He was straight for god sake. He’d had girlfriends, though he’d never done anything with them, but he had them and he had never looked at guy, not in ‘that’ way… yet Danny had just given him an erection?

“Don’t look at me like that!” Danny protested as he half sat up and glared down at Steve. “I’m a snuggler!” he protested. “And you’re fluffy and soft; it’s like sleeping with a hot fluffy teddy bear.” He grinned teasingly. “And I don’t know if you noticed. But it’s fucking cold!”

Steve relaxed as he shook his head, letting Danny switch from mood to mood as he talked and started to get out of bed too.

“Now I need the can, and I’m wide awake thanks to you and this damn storm… move your tail before I step on it.”

Steve did it without even thinking as he followed Danny out into the main room and to the door where the bathroom was. “What? You want to watch me piss now? Is that it?” Danny asked as he opened the door.

Steve let out a grumble as he pushed his way inside, stared at the loo, then up at his friend.

“Don’t look at me…” Danny was grinning at him. “Here.” He said as he leaned over Steve’s back and lifted the seat and lid. “I’m going to make coffee… you can figure this one out for yourself… just… don’t piss on the floor.” Then he was gone, pulling the door closed behind him.

Steve first tried climbing up with his front paws, but couldn’t quite maneuver the rest of himself to get a good aim. Clumsily he got back down.

He tried closing his eyes, thinking of himself with real hands and a proper human body. But it didn’t work and his bladder was protesting a bit more. With a sigh he turned and backed up towards the toilet, then standing on tippy toes, that wasn’t easy, he managed to get his appropriate parts over the rim.

With a purr he began to relive himself. When it was over he pulled himself off and looked to flush it, but it was an old type chain pull that he had no way to use, and there was no way in hell he was going to use his mouth. Even for him, there were some limits.

He was also stuck in the room.

He went to the door that opening into the room and tried to use the handle and failed. Then he scratched at the old painted wood, trying to get his friends attention. Still nothing, he could hear Danny moving about, but not coming to his aid.

He took a deep lung full of air then let it out in a deep rumbaing roar. It echoed around the small space and even drowned out the sound of the storm.

“Fine, fine!” Danny said as the door opened and Steve huffed in relief. “I guess I have to flush? Did you wipe? Want me to do that too?” Danny snarked as he pulled the chain. “Wow, this place does actually have running water! You know for a moment there I thought you had lied to me… so, is it safe to wash in too?”

Steve sighed and nodded. He really should have told Danny that only a few hundred feet up the mountain and a bit to the left, there was a road to the village just over the other side. And the reason he had come to the cabin was because it was closer to civilization than turning back.

But right now, civilization was the last place Steve wanted to be. Especially not like this.

“Are you going to watch me?” Danny asked and Steve beat a hasty retreat.

Danny had been true to his word, and he could smell the coffee, but the fire in the stove wasn’t lit. With a whine he sat down on his ass and looked at the pot mournfully.

He jumped when he heard another tree start to fall over in the howling gale outside. It was close, too close.

He went to the door, but again, there was no way he could open the round handle.

“What the hell is that?” Danny asked loudly.

Steve pawed at the door. Then stepped back as Danny opened it and they were both hit in the face by cold wet air as the wind blew rain into the cabin.

Outside was grey and misty, the trees were all moving violently in the force of the storm and everything was drenched.

Danny slammed the door shut. “Are we in a hurricane?” he asked in alarm.

Steve shrugged, but he guessed it was something close.

“How long do you think it’s going to go on for?” Danny was asking as Steve shrugged again. “I have Grace tomorrow…” Danny began pacing. “I can’t give Rachel any excuse to try and take her away again!”

Steve couldn’t really say anything to that, so he just rubbed his face against the side of Danny’s leg, then Danny was patting his head absently.

“Yeah, I know… It’s not your fault. Come on, I need to get coffee and YOU need to Shift back so I can yell at you properly.”

 

+ + [ # ] + +

 

For the rest of the day they just sat and listened to the storm while Danny played solitaire with a pack of cards he had found in the food cupboard. All the time chatting away to himself.

Well, Steve did put in some grunt and growls from time to time, but he couldn’t really do much else, other than lean against Danny’s side while pointing out moves with a claw every now and again.

And that was another thing Steve found a little disturbing.

He liked being close to Danny, he smelled of spice and musk that stopped Steve from thinking to deeply about his current predicament. Danny sometimes reached out and touched him from time to time, it wasn’t anything unusual in their friendship, but now it felt better, like it was more intimate. Though Steve was sure it meant nothing special to Danny, he was just patting a cat. But for Steve it was… he didn’t want to think about what it meant now.

So as night drew in and the storm eased up, Steve was sat on the sofa with his head laid on Danny’s lap as they both watched the little fire in the stove. Danny’s fingers combing through the fur on Steve’s head. In return Steve couldn’t help but purr at the simple pleasure.

“We should be able to get out of here tomorrow.” Danny broke the silence.

Steve closed his eyes, there was no way he was going anywhere like this.

“Soon as I get to a phone, I’ll phone Grace, and then I guess we get you to the Shifter Registry and see what’s what.”

Steve growled as he pushed himself up to sit and glair at Danny, he shook his head.

“We have to do something.” Danny protested. “You can’t stay as a tiger the rest of your life; they might have something that can help you Shift back.”

Steve shook his head emphatically.

“No!” Danny demanded and Steve could smell that he was getting angry. “There’s not talking to you right now.” He said without a hint of irony as he moved to pull the kettle off the stove. “I’ll drag you down this damn mountain hogtied if I have to. Crap!”

Steve watched as Danny picked up the kettle then instantly dropped it. He had burned his hand on the handle and was now holding his wrist and cursing loudly as he went to the bathroom.

Steve followed in a hurry, the smell of pain and scorched flesh was thick in the air and he needed to help his friend.

“Shit, shit!” Danny growled loudly as he held his hand under the tap. “I hate this!” he grimaced as he grabbed a towel and shoved it under the tap too.

Steve whined as he put his paws on the toilet to try and get a better look at the damage, he nudged Danny with his shoulder till his friend moved his hand from the water, and held it so he could see.

“See… better now?” Danny huffed. “Just a little red, no blisters… just stings a bit.” He said as he wrapped his hand up in the wet towel. “Come on, I need more coffee.”

Steve padded after his friend. Then watched as Danny put a towel around the kettles handle and gingerly lifted it from the stove and start making the coffee. He really wished he could help. The urge to make sure Danny was okay had been overwhelming, but he still couldn’t Shift back.

What if Danny actually had a more serious accident? Steve would be totally useless. Sure he had saved him the other day the only way he could, which left him as a fucking cat.

“Here.” Danny said, breaking Steve out of his thought.

He looked up as Danny placed a bowl of coffee at his feet.

“And stop thinking like that!” Danny said huffily as he went to sit down on the sofa with his own mug. “I am NOT putting myself into some other life or death situation for you to save me!” he sipped his coffee. “It probably wouldn’t work anyway, and I would just end up dead in the middle of nowhere with snakes using my skull as a playpen!”

Steve shivered at the thought as he tentatively sniffed the coffee, still too hot to start lapping at.

“But in the morning, we ‘are’ going home.” Danny started talking again. “We just need to smuggle you into your house, then I can go get Grace.”

Steve glared at his partner.

“No.” Danny pointed a finger at him. “You are ‘not’ staying here! I can hit the net when we get back. There should be something online that has information on how to help your stupid furry ass.” He grinned, then the accusing finger moved closer and began to scratch behind his ear.

Steve found himself purring at the pleasure of the simple action. He guessed that Danny was right. Though the urge to stay in the cabin was strong. He couldn’t spend the rest of his life here.

“Don’t you worry.” Danny said softly. “I’ll find a way to help you… I promise.”

Steve didn’t doubt that as he closed his eyes and leaned against his partners legs.

--

That night, Steve faced his friend in the bed. Hoping not to have a repeat of the night before. But in the morning, he was spooned up with Danny’s chest against his chest, his forelegs encasing the smaller man as he slept on.

Steve had just pushed his head against the back of his friends, and gone back to sleep easily with his partners sent in his nostrils.

 

+ + [ # ] + +

 

“Get in…” Danny said as he opened the back door to Steve house. “And stop grumbling, I’m sure no one saw us.”

The tiger still grumbled at him as he darted into the house.

Danny followed, shaking his head.

On the way back in the car, that luckily still worked. The news on the radio was still reporting about the tale end of a typhoon that hit the islands. Which would explain all the damage they had seen on the way back. Most of it was superficial, which was a good thing, because most scumbags weren’t stupid enough to need 5O’s attention while the storm hit.

He also wasn’t sure how Steve had stuffed himself down into the footwell in the back of his car.

As he entered the kitchen, to actually get some proper food. He guessed it was time to start trying again to convince his stupid partner that going to the Shifter Registry was a better idea that him hiding in his own home.

“You know, if I was a proper friend, I should be dragging you to the Registry right now.” He said as he opened the fridge, beer right now was better then food. “I’m sure it’s against the law not to take you.”

Suddenly the fridge door was slammed shut in his face as Steve glared at him, his paws still on the fridge where he had put all his weight against it.

“I’m serious…” Danny snapped as he twisted the cap off his bottle. “You think you can just stay like this for the rest of your life?” he asked as he took a swig.

Steve just grumbled something, then stalked away.

“Don’t think just cause you can be all moody and silent now, don’t think I don’t know what you’re thinking!” Danny said as he followed Steve into the living room. “Shit!” he jumped as Steve’s house phone suddenly went off. “Williams.” He answered.

/”Danny? Finally.”/ Chin said on the other end. /”Where are you guys, and I can’t get hold of Steve. Both your cell phones are down.”/

Steve hung his head low as Danny gave him a look.

“We were off in that damn cabin when the storm it.” Danny said hurriedly. “We’re both gonna need new phones… So, what’s going on? Are we needed?”

/”Luckily no. We just needed to know if you were okay.”/

Danny could tell Chin was laughing at him. “Well, we are back now… err… think Steve came down with something...”

/”Will he be okay?!”/ Kono yelled in the background.

“Yeah… think it’s just a tummy bug…” He answered as Steve actually rolled his eyes. “I’ll get him some medicine later. But if everything’s okay I’ll be in tomorrow.”

/”That’s fine; we can hold the fort here. Later.”/

Danny frowned at the phone. Chin sounded like he was amused about something. “Why do I get the feeling they were laughing at me?” He asked the handset.

Steve just snorted as he carried on looking around the living room, then made his way into the dinning room. Danny was just about to follow when the phone went off again. “Who…” then he realised who it was and a cold dread filled his gut. “Hey Monkey!” He said cheerily into the phone as he looked at his non existent watch, then ran into the kitchen to see that he was already late to pick his daughter up for the weekend.

/”Danno.”/ She replied. /”You’re late?”/

“I know Monkey.” He said as he began to run upstairs. “Uncle Steve ran into a little problem, so I’ll be over to pick you up in about ten minutes. Okay?”

/”Is he okay?”/ Grace asked worriedly.

Danny shoved Steve’s bedroom door open, then picked up a book left on the table next to the wall and threw it down to act as a doorstop. “He should be. Look, you just sit tight, and I’ll be with you soon.” He did the same with the on suite bathroom, using the bin. “Love you.”

/”Love you too Danno!”/ She said as she hung up.

Danny couldn’t help but smile as he also propped the master bathroom door open and lifted the lid on the toilet just in case. When he came out, Steve was looking at him from the stairs. “I have to go get Grace. Is there anything else you need me to open?”

Steve just shook his head.

“Great.” He said patting the large orange head as he walked down the stairs. “I won’t be long! Don’t answer the door to anyone.” He chuckled as he left the house, locking the door behind him.

 

+ + [ # ] + +

 

Steve wandered about his home restlessly. He was glad and a little surprised that Danny had left doors open for him. He hadn’t even thought about it. But as he padded around, he couldn’t seem to get away from all the smells around the place. He had never really noticed before. Certain places he could still smell his dad, so he avoided going near the garage or his dads old desk. He could also smell his sister, but over laying it all, was the smell of Danny.

He never thought his partner could have spent so much time in his home to leave his scent almost everywhere. Sure Danny had lived here for a week or so when he was looking for another place to live. But that was months ago. So why his smell should still be infesting everything was a little odd.

It didn’t help that he found himself on the sofa, his nose pushed into the cushions as he kept taking slow deep breaths in through his mouth and over his pallet, it seemed to intensify the smell, Danny’s comforting scent.

With a snort he got up and began pacing the room again. He had ‘not’ just been purring like some contented pet cat.

He flopped down on the floor in annoyance. But he still couldn’t get away from Danny. With a snort he just laid his chin on his paws.

He shouldn’t be so annoyed with himself. If it wasn’t for Danny, he didn’t think he would have got through these last few day’s. Sure, he wouldn’t be in this situation if he hadn’t tried to rescue his annoying friend. But in the long run, Danny’s instant acceptance of him suddenly being a Shifter had soothed Steve’s panic immeasurably.

So, of course he would find the man’s smell comforting. And he shouldn’t think to hard about that, or what happened back at the cabin. He just had to make himself human again, and forget this was actually happening.

He was just about to get up and see if he could somehow open the fridge and get a beer when he heard a car pulling up to the house.

He tensed then slunk into the kitchen doorway. He was less visible here from the windows. Then he caught the sound of voices, instantly recognising Danny’s. But he couldn’t make out the person with him.

Then the front door was being opened and Steve slunk back into the kitchen as he listened.

“Now… Remember what I said. You can’t tell anyone about this. Not your mother or anyone at school.” Danny was saying as the front door closed.

“I remember, and I won’t. Not if Uncle Steve doesn’t want me too.” He heard Grace answer.

Steve sighed, just before he got angry. What the hell was Danny thinking, bringing his daughter here!

“Oh, I’m sure he will want this to be your little secret.” Danny was saying, then, “Steve?”

Steve just slunk backwards into the kitchen as silently as he could. He heard Danny sighing.

“Why don’t you go put your new dvd’s by the TV, while I go find our host.” Danny said as Steve heard him walking his way.

He pulled his lip up over his teeth as Danny came around the corner. But his snarl had no effect on the man. In fact Danny just rolled his eyes.

“Will you stop being stupid.” Danny sighed. “It’s only Grace. Or maybe you should Shift and come and greet her properly?”

Steve snorted as he moved his head away stubbornly.

“Will you stop acting like a little child and just get out here.” Danny said as he came forward, then Steve felt knuckles hit the top of his head and he growled up at his partner. “Shut up!” Danny said, doing it again. “Now move… We’re up for a day of Disney movies and take out later.” He said walking away.

With a huge huff, Steve got to his feet and slowly went into his own living room. He still had no fucking idea how to actually Shift back. And he liked Grace enough to know she was a bright kid.

“Here he is.” Danny said as Steve saw him sit down on the sofa. Then he looked over to the TV where Grace was stood. Her eyes wide as she stared at him.

Steve felt his heart miss a beat, she looked scared. And so she should, after all she was laying eyes on a tiger not ten feet away from her. So he lowered his head and sat down. The next thing he knew, little arms were around his neck and hugging him so tight he thought he might chock.

“Ah.” Danny said hurriedly. “Remember what I said?... not about his neck, just lower your arms a little.”

Steve took in a breath as Grace moved her arms to either side of his shoulders.

“Uncle Steve?” Grace said softly into his ear.

He glanced at Danny, who was grinning at him, then he turned his attention to the little girl and on impulse he licked his tongue up the side of her face. She squealed with delight as she pulled away.

“Great, now she’s covered in all sorts of germs.” Danny sighed.

Steve just gave his partner a grin as he nudged Grace with his nose, making her giggle some more.

 

+ + [ # ] + +

 

Danny yawned as he sat on the sofa. He had one arm around Grace as she cuddled up against his side, fast asleep. His other hand was on Steve’s head as he stroked the soft warm fur.

The action brought back fond memories of Sally and his childhood. Even if it was a little disjoined as Sally had only been a cub at the time and a lot smaller.

He looked down at his friend as he played with a fluffy ear absently, sure Steve was asleep too. It was nice having a friend who was a Shifter again, even if it was annoying that Steve was still stuck in cat form. It had been three day’s now Steve had been a cat and still he hadn’t Shifted. And Danny could do nothing but worry. He didn’t know much on Shifter lore, but he was sure it wasn’t healthy to be in cat form for so long.

He knew he would keep Steve’s secret for as long as he could. But the longer Steve didn’t Shift, the more Danny knew he would have to find some advise and soon.

 

+ + [ # ] + +

 

[Three days later]

 

Danny sat in his car, staring at the building across the street.

He had been sitting here like a stalker for ten minutes. All his training and instincts were telling him to go over to ‘that’ building. But his loyalty to his partner was keeping him in the damn car.

He took a deep breath as he tightened his fists on the steering wheel.

Steve was still stuck as a tiger. And for three days Danny had been fencing off Kono and Chin along with anyone else who wanted the commander of 5O.

Every night, Danny had stayed over at Steve’s house, searching the net for anything that might help. But apparently the only thing people said was to go to the Registry where they had mysterious people that could help. They had tried all the home made ideas that were littered about. But nothing had worked and Steve was still stuck.

With a growl, he angrily got out the car and walked across the road, stomped up the steps and under the sign that read ‘Hawaii Shifter Registration, Main Branch’.

The inside of the Registry looked like any well appointed government building and at least had air conditioning. The man at the reception desk looked up and smiled at him when he approached.

“Can I help you?” The man asked.

Danny looked at the man’s name tag. “I hope so… err, Troy.” He said as he picked up a leaflet about Shifter lore and started fiddling with it. Desperately trying to tell himself he wasn’t nervous about what he was about to do. “I have a friend of a friend…” he started lamely with the worse excuse in the world of excuses. “… and they got themselves stuck in cat form.”

Troy nodded understandingly, looking concerned, though Danny could tell it was a little forced. “Well, if you can bring this ‘friend’ in, we can see about helping them.”

“Err… no I can’t do that…” Danny fidgeted some more with the leaflet in his hands. “They are a bit of a stubborn recluse… Look, I just need some advice so I can help them. And everyone can get along with their lives.”

Troy was quickly losing his smile as he turned to his PC behind the counter. “If you would just give me the Shifters name. I can check to see if they have had trouble like this before, and what they did then.”

Danny sighed in frustration. “I can’t do that.”

“Unregistered?” Troy said his tone even.

Danny watched as Troy’s hand moved over to a switch board, one finger hovering over a red button, which was ominous enough to send a chill down Danny’s spine. “Yeah know what.” He said backing away, giving the man his best smile. “I think they will sort it out themselves. I’ll just go…” he winced as he heard the door automatically lock behind his back.

“I’m sorry sir.” Troy said as he stood up. “But it’s illegal to not register a Shifter. Especially one who needs help.”

“Fine.” Danny said as he reached for his badge. “I’m a member of 5O,” he held the badge up. “So I think I know the lore, and right now I have cases I need to get back too. So if you would open the door, and I can be on my way. Keeping the streets safe.”

Troy just frowned at him and he was about to say something when a tall Hawaiian woman walked through another door at the back of the reception desk. Troy turned to her. “This man knows about an unregistered Shifter… Who’s apparently in distress.”

“Oh?” the woman said softly as she looked over to Danny with surprise. “Are they hurt?” she asked Danny directly.

“No, they aren’t hurt… they just can’t Shift back to normal, and all I want to know is how to help!” He bit out in frustration. “Now, if you will just let me out of here.”

The woman came around the desk towards him; “Why don’t you just come to my office, and we can see how to help?” she smiled at him. “Will that be okay?” she held out her arm and turned a little.

Danny looked back at the locked doors. He knew he should have listened to his heart.

--

Danny moved in his chair as the woman who had met him in reception smiled at him across from her desk in a small office she had led him too.

She had told him her name was Aolani Keawe and she was the Hawaiian Registries officer in charge of health care. Thought Danny suspected that it was more than just signing off on bills. And with all the surveillance cameras he saw in the halls. He knew they were even being watched now. Which was disturbing.

“So… Your friends stuck as a cat?” she asked softly.

“I never said he was my friend.” He said as he eyed the camera in the corner of the room.

“So, I’m guessing ‘he’s’ not registered?” She smiled.

Danny winced, but didn’t show it. He hadn’t even meant to let that much slip. But it was pointless denying it now. “Yeah…” he leaned forwards and lowered his voice. “Look, I just need to help him turn back to normal. Then I’ll be able to convince him to come in and register.”

Keawe nodded as she sat back in her own chair. “How long did you know he was a Shifter?”

Danny took a deep breath to try and calm himself. “I didn’t know… and as far as I can communicate with a large cat… nether did he.”

That made Mrs Keawe frown and lose the supercilious smirk. “Really?”

“Yes, really.” He answered.

“So are you his Bond Mate?” She asked coolly, though her eyes were intense.

Danny blinked at her. “What?... no!” he protested.

Keawe smiled. “Does he have a Bond Mate.”

Danny sighed. “No… I’m the only person who knows he’s a Shifter.” He wasn’t going to mention his daughter, this bitch didn’t need to know that.

“How old is your friend?” She asked, at least her concern seemed real.

Danny shrugged. “About as old as me.” He answered vaguely.

“Late thirties then.” She said matter of fact.

“Whooo!” He stated to protest, but one look at her and he knew it was useless. “Fine.”

“Then you need to tell me where he is. If he has never Shifted before then he could be in a lot of trouble.” She said as she got to her feet and went to the door behind him. He turned to watch her as she leaned out into the hall.

“Mike!” She shouted. “Mike!”

A few moments later and Danny heard a door open. “Yeah?”

“Can you get a team together?” Keawe was saying. “We have a stuck Shifter in need of help.”

“Sure… where?” Danny heard the man call.

Danny got to his feet as Keawe looked at him. “Look, if this is serious and my friend ‘is’ in trouble. Then I’ll talk to him and bring him in!”

Keawe’s face darkened as she glared at him. “I can already tell your friend has been stuck for a while, or you wouldn’t be here. We need to get to him as soon as possible!” she snapped. “So if he is your friend, I suggest you tell us where he is.”

Danny felt his blood pressure rising as he reacted to her growing concern. She wasn’t faking it. “Okay, okay. I can bring him in today. I have to talk to him first.”

“No.” She snapped as she took a step toward him. Danny didn’t back down, even if she was taller than him. After all, most people were. “Your friend needs our help and he needs it now…”

Danny sighed as he looked into her eyes. Knowing he had no choice. He had run out of options and despite what Steve thought, he needed help. He just cursed he wasn’t the one who could give it.

 

+ + [ # ] + +

 

Steve sat looking out the window, watching the world go by through the blinds as he rested his chin on the back of the sofa.

Danny should be back by now with lunch and Steve’s stomach was already protesting at him for food. It was annoying that he had to depend on Danny for everything right now. And he knew, once all this was over, he would owe the man big time. But he grinned at that. It just meant he would have to stick close to the other man and make sure his debt was never paid off, it would drive Danny insane.

He let out a huff of air then flinched as something twinged on his thigh. He turned to nibble at it, hoping to all hell he wasn’t getting flees. The thought of Danny dusting him down with flee powder was amusing, but at the same time terribly embarrassing.

He also hadn’t had a shower in five days, so he stated planning on how to get Danny to help him out with the shower. The thought actually made him happy, he needed to get clean, he was starting to smell funny.

The itch finally went away, so he moved back to looking out the window for Danny. Then he smiled and sat up as he heard the familiar sound of Danny’s car pulling up out front.

What he did not expect was the screech of tyres and Danny running up to the front door.

Steve got up and climbed off the sofa as Danny threw himself inside, then locked the door behind him, which sent alarm bells ringing in Steve’s head.

Steve could smell the stench of sweat on his friend and something sharp, like fear. He let out a grumble of concern.

Danny finally looked down at him. “Ok… we have to get out of here.” He said hurriedly as he began to walk through the house to the back door. “Maybe we can lay low at my place… crap, ok, I can ask Kamekona to find us somewhere.”

Steve followed, picking up on his friends panic, making him even more jumpy.

“I’m sorry.” Danny finally said as he opened the back door.

Steve gave a grumble of confusion as he went to go outside. He hadn’t been out in days and it felt good to have the sun on his fur.

“Shit!” Danny snapped, then Steve found Danny pushing him back inside.

Steve caught the sight of someone coming around the side of the house with a rifle. He let Danny lock the door then he was pushing his friend back toward the front room. If there was someone out back, then there would be more out front. So he started forcing Danny towards the stairs. They could get out of the bathroom window and make it out from there.

He had no idea who was after Danny, but it wasn’t good. Maybe it was a case they had been working without him.

“How can they be here so fast!” Danny was cursing as he moved where Steve was pushing him without protest. But they weren’t quick enough as the front door came flying open and a man with another funny looking rifle came bursting in, two more behind him.

“Stay where you are!” One of the men shouted at them.

Steve crouched, ready to pounce when Danny stepped in front of him, his hand up with no gun in them.

“WAIT!” Danny shouted. “Just wait!”

“Please move aside… unless the Shifter will come willingly.” The man said as Steve realised he was holding a tranquiliser rifle and his blood ran cold.

“I said I would handle this!” Danny protested, then he was turning to Steve, ignoring the men by the door, or the two that were now coming in from the back door. “I’m sorry.” Danny said again. “I didn’t know what else to do!”

Steve gave him a frown. If there was ever a ‘what the fuck’ moment, it was now.

Danny sighed deeply. “I had to go to the Shifter Registry…”

Steve took a step back, Danny had said he wouldn’t. The sudden shock of betrayal gave him a bitter taste in his mouth.

“I had to find someway to help you!” Danny protested, angry now. “This was the last resort… they know how to help you! Apparently it’s bad for you to be Shifted this long!”

Steve cocked his head to one side, backing away as Danny crouched down and tried to reach a hand out to him. He knew that with Danny’s help, he would Shift eventually. But his partner and friend had shopped him, to the last people he should have done.

“You just have to go with them and they can help you!” Danny said in frustration.

“If you don’t come we can make you.” The goon behind Danny spoke as he walked up behind him, then laid a hand on his shoulder.

Steve didn’t like that, not one bit and he started growling as he moved forward, pushing Danny aside, knocking him on his ass, as he glared up at the man, his teeth bared.

The man backed off instantly, then raised his gun and fired.

Steve felt the sting in his shoulder, which made him flinch. Then another gun went off as something slammed into his hip, and his back leg went out from under him.

Then Danny was there, crouching over him and screaming.

“What the hell!” Danny was saying as Steve snarled as Danny started pulling the tranquilizer darts out of him, they hurt more coming out.

“You need to step away!” The man who first shot him snapped.

“What’s going on here!?” A woman’s voice filled the room. “Terry?”

“The Shifter was going for me.” The man answered. “He wasn’t going to come quietly.”

“I told you to wait for me.” The woman was saying angrily. “There is no need to make this more traumatic for the man than it already is!”

Steve felt himself getting dizzy as the tranquiliser began to kick in, and he staggered, then felt Danny’s arms around him as he collapsed against his friend. Thankful that Danny was helping him slump to the ground as he started panting.

“I think it’s traumatic enough that you break into some guys home and point guns at him!” Danny was snapping at the intruders. “You agreed you would help me convince him, Keawe, not scare him to death!”

“I am sorry, Mr Williams.” The woman Danny had called Keawe said as she came closer.

Steve pushed up against Danny’s chest in a vain attempt to ward her off. She seemed to take the hint, and backed off a step.

“I know what we agreed,” she said softly as she slowly sat on the end of the coffee table.

Steve was relived she made sure he was between her and Danny. He watched her as best he could as his vision began to dim and he slouched back against Danny, whose hands fisted into his fur.

“And I’m truly sorry about how things have worked out…” Keawe said. “But Mr McGarrett really needs our help. And we need to make sure he’s safe and with his family.”

Steve growled weakly at that. He was just fine where he was.

“He’s safe right here!” Danny snapped. “Or he was!”

Steve smiled at that. Trust Danny to know what he was thinking, so with appreciation he licked the man’s arm. It was sloppy and awkward as his lips started to go numb and he felt all the strength go out of his muscles, slumping against his partner as his eyes finally closed.

The last thing he remembered as reality slowly slipped away, was Danny stroking his head, promising things he couldn’t quite catch and the sound of his own purring as he slipped away.

 

+ + [ # ] + +

 

Danny watched in distress as the bastards who had burst in and shot his partner, carrying Steve into the back of their ambulance.

He had wanted to sink his fists into Steve’s fur to stop them taking him away. But he had just let them load Steve onto a gurney and strap him down. A fact Danny was feeling guilty enough he wanted to be sick.

He flinched when he felt a hand on his arm, then looked over to see Keawe next to him.

“I thought you said you weren’t Bonded?” she frowned at him.

“We aren’t.” Danny shot back, still angry at her.

She gave him a look that was a little close to pity. “You do know what Bonding takes?” she asked.

Danny snorted at her. “I never touched the back of his neck!” he snapped indignantly. “I know how to behave around Shifters! He’s my best friend…” he trailed off as he heard the doors slam shut on the ambulance, and it sounded like a part of his life, he had come to take for granted, had just been taken away from him. “I’ll follow in my car.” He said, moving to his own car, but the hand on his arm stopped him.

“You can’t see him.” Keawe said softly.

Danny just glared at her, ready to start flashing his gun around.

She shook her head. “I’m sorry, Mr Williams. But if what you said is true and he never knew he was a Shifter and this is his first Shift… then the Registry will want to help him through the transition…”

“What the hell does that mean?!” He growled, then turned to watch the ambulance pulling away and into traffic.

“It means we will have to keep him in seclusion for a while.” Keawe answered.

“Seclusion?” Danny gasped, desperately trying to keep his temper under control, and failing fast. “He’s not a criminal! You can’t keep him locked up!”

She shook her head. “No… but he’s vulnerable at the moment… We have to keep him safe from abuse, and from himself.” Then she turned to walk away. “I’ll keep you up to date on how he is doing.” She smiled at him knowingly. Though what she knew escaped Danny at that moment. “You have my number if you need anything… until then, be assured we will help him.”

Then she was getting into her car and driving away.

Danny watched her go as he just stood on the sidewalk. Not quite understanding why this felt very similar to when Rachel had divorced him and took Grace away.

 

TBC