andrealyn: (h50: come over the hill)
AndreaLyn ([personal profile] andrealyn) wrote2012-07-19 10:21 am

(no subject)

Title: Let's Kiss Like We Used To
Pairing: Steve/Danny
Rating: PG-13
Disclaimer: Utterly not mine, to the point that if I thought they were, I would be carted off for crazy.
Word Count: 9578
Summary: Steve never thought that he could feel so out of control, but being halfway around the world when Danny gets hurt is a surefire way to get him there.
Notes: Thanks ENDLESSLY to [personal profile] iam_space for the beta. This work is a direct sequel to Let's Dance Like We Used To, a fic in which Rachel moves the family to California, Danny goes with and Steve gets left to process life without Danny.

“Hey. What is that, babe?” Danny asks, glancing up from the case files spread out over the table. Steve’s been pacing their small kitchen with an opened letter from a crisp manila envelope for the last few minutes. Usually, Steve would make an entirely-too-serious joke about how he’d have more kitchen space to wander if they moved into a bigger house.

Instead, he stays silent, which he knows is just going to rile Danny. He can probably count their way down to a ‘who are you and what have you done with Steve?’ crack.

“It’s a request,” Steve says, flipping through the pages of the letter with his thumb.

“What? What is it, is it jury duty?” Danny asks, biting a pencil between his teeth and mumbling past it. “Don’t worry, just show up and tell them how much you like to shoot things. That’ll get you out of the selection process in a second. If that doesn’t work, just mention some of the things you like to do to perps.”

“I don’t do those things anymore, Danno.”

“Really?” Danny scoffs. “Because, Steven, hanging our community lifeguard by the strings of his life-preserver because he was flirting with a hot blonde and not watching the kids swim isn’t exactly the best argument in your favor.”

“Grace could’ve gotten hurt,” Steve says, but he’s still pacing.

Danny rolls his eyes. “No, you idiot, the only person who got hurt was the lifeguard because you’re an overprotective step-uncle-Dad -- whatever we decided she calls you.” Steve doesn’t want to delve too deep into that whole issue because it brings up another can of worms.

He and Danny have been looking at houses for the last few months and they’ve even gone so far as to put an offer on one that they’re waiting to hear back about, but that’s not the only thing out there. Steve keeps proposing (and he knows that ‘domestic partnership’ doesn’t have the same ring as ‘marriage’, but Steve’s never bogged himself down with those details before), but Danny refuses to give him an answer. Sometimes it’s off-hand and Danny doesn’t think it’s serious and then there are other moments when they’re watching football and drinking beer and everything is perfect between them; then, Steve asks.

Danny’s managed to avoid answering one way or the other and it’s starting to drive Steve crazy. He’s not sure what else he can do to get the answer he wants, but he refuses to stop trying just because Danny’s being difficult. That’s part of Danny, it’s who he is. It’s practically written in his genetic code.

“What’s the request for?” Danny asks absently, but Steve practically sees the moment that his good mood vanishes. It’s gone as soon as he sees the return address on the envelope.

It’s from the base, stamped to expedite its delivery. Danny keeps his eyes steadfastly on the latest VISA statement mixed in with the work files, but he’s Danny. He’s never been able to hide his emotions, so it’s easy for Steve to read the panic in the way he presses his lips together. They’d always known that this was a possibility. Steve had taken advantage of the fact that DADT had been repealed and signed up to teach America’s youth how to defend their fair nation, but there’s always been the risk that Steve was going to have to rejoin the ranks.

“Steve?” he prods, when Steve doesn’t say anything. “How long?”

Steve is trying to let the denial stretch out for a little while longer. He wants to pretend this isn’t happening for just a few more minutes. “I have to leave in a week.”


That’s his ‘we have to plan’ voice. He’s probably thinking about all the things they have to do in the next week to get ready for this. Out of nowhere, Steve’s caught off-guard by the memory of himself on one-knee, asking Danny again and again and again with the same question, but he shakes it off. They only have a week, he’s not about to rush something like that when he wants it to be perfect. There’ll be time to ask later.

“What do we need to do?” Danny asks.

Steve looks at him with such relief and love, grateful to have something to focus on that isn’t their impending separation or the danger that’s inherent with any mission of this caliber. The details of the upcoming mission fade away as they begin to make lists of people to call, chores to be done, and how they’re going to tell Grace.

Four hours into the process and after they’ve moved from the kitchen table to the master bed, Steve looks up from the mass of papers he has in front of him – medical documentation, insurance, and all the fine print in between. He’s exhausted. He wants to shout until someone listens, but he can’t do that. They both have to be strong otherwise this could fall apart right before their eyes.

“Hey,” Danny says, crawling on all fours and wading through the paperwork. He settles back on his haunches and lightly cups Steve’s face in his fingers. “How about we leave this and worry about it later?”

“Yeah?” Steve murmurs, practically melting forward into Danny’s touch.

“Yeah,” Danny agrees. Steve takes selfish delight in pushing the papers off of the bed and pinning Danny down, grateful for the first time in years that they didn’t have Grace for the afternoon. That’s the last thought he spares for anything but Danny before he starts doing things with his lips and his tongue that Grace isn’t allowed to learn about until she’s forty-five, at the very least.

It’s been two weeks of work in the deep jungle. The only contact that Steve’s had with the outside world is the regular supply-run into their base of operations and even that can’t be guaranteed.

Their target has been moving through Belize and while Steve’s team is good, they’re green. Every day is another learning experience, which is the most stressful situation Steve’s ever been in – and he’d know stressful situations, given that he’s been living with Danny for three years.

He’s tried to keep strict control on his thoughts. The last thing he needs is to be knee-deep in the middle of a critical situation and concerned about what’s happening thousands of miles away. As far as Steve’s concerned, he has to compartmentalize his life. He’ll go back to being Steve McGarrett: Thoughtful and Loving Boyfriend when he gets back.

There’s work to do here.

He’s volunteered for another patrol with some of the younger kids. They’ll be good, but their confidence levels lack something that Steve’s not sure he knows how to provide. Staying out here on patrol is better than sitting around camp, remembering what he’s missing. Volunteering is no hardship, as a result. In fact, it’s practically a blessing.

“Sir?” McCoy whispers, running in a crouch to get past the open space between thick trees. “Nothing from that last perimeter check. Should we head back to base?”

Steve leans lower into the cover he’s established for himself under a tree that’s probably been there five times as long as he’s been alive. He checks in with his guys on the radio and when there’s nothing moving out there, he debates making McCoy and the rest of his team stay. They’re tracking a dangerous son of a bitch, but he’s forcing their hands and making them wait; making them be patient.

Steve is really, really bad with patient.

“Yeah, let’s head back,” Steve agrees quietly, issuing the order over the walkie-talkies. It’s no more than a twenty-minute walk back to camp if he goes at a brisk pace, but Steve’s not eager to get back. If it weren’t for the fact that he’d be keeping his men out there with him, he’d set up camp all day and all night until he had enough evidence to haul the bastard in and get on the next flight home.

It’s only when he gets back to base that he realizes how little he belongs here. Once, a long time ago, this had been all he knew how to do. He’d been the same as any of the young men on his team. He had been hungry for victory and eager to do a good job. If he couldn’t be a police officer like his father, he wanted to serve some kind of higher purpose. Even with Five-0, he had always put justice first and foremost in his life.

It was the move to San Diego that changed everything.

He’d tried after Danny left. He’d tried so goddamn hard. He’d wanted to go back to the way that things were before Danny Williams, but it’d turned out that Steve didn’t really understand how to do that. Not anymore. So he’d moved to California and gained a boyfriend and a family in one fell swoop.

Now, they’re his first priority.

He tries to stop thinking about it as the camp comes into view. The only thing that prolonged thinking about home does is put him in a maudlin mood and then he makes his team miserable the whole night through. Steve hauls his pack off his back when he gets to his tent, frowning when he sees evidence that someone’s been inside.

The letter is waiting for him on top of the makeshift table next to the spartan cot. “Hey!” Steve calls to one of the guys, but they’re all busy unpacking supplies and opening their own mail. Steve doesn’t recognize the hand-writing on the envelope. It’s not Grace’s and it’s not Danny’s and it’s deceptively thin. “Does anyone know who brought this?” he asks Shanks when he passes with rations, tossing Steve a meal pack.

“I don’t know, bro. Mail call. All I know is that it was priority rushed to you. Must be something important,” he replies, saluting as he jogs off. “Hey, dinner’s on, boys!”

Steve stares at the envelope, frowning as he tears into it. He’s not expecting anything, not since he spoke to Danny a couple days ago. He knows that Steve will keep in touch, but that daily phone calls aren’t possible. ‘Hey, but,’ Danny had murmured sleepily, ‘you know I love you, yeah? So don’t get yourself killed out there’.

Steve’s dread only increases when he gets the letter out. It’s a single piece of paper, sloppy handwriting over the white of the page. It takes him twenty seconds to read, but it feels like he’s lived a whole lifetime by the time he gets to the end. He folds the letter carefully in eighths, tucks it into his pocket, and grabs the nearest radio.

“This is Commander McGarrett to HQ, over.”

“This is HQ, Commander. What’s your situation, over?”

“I need a replacement for my unit. There’s been an incident at home and I need an immediate evac, over.”

They run him around several loops until Steve reaches his breaking point. He’s talking to the third higher-up and it’s been two hours. It’s two hours that he could have been using to get back home, but instead he’s trying to negotiate his way through replacements and damage mitigation and he doesn’t give a shit.

“It’s an emergency and I’m going home,” Steve finally snaps, when they transfer another party onto the line. “Discharge me dishonorably if you want,” is the last thing he says before he hangs up the line and starts walking into town to hitch the next truck to the nearest airstrip that he can find.

It’s not Steve’s fault that his neatly compartmentalized worlds have crashed forcibly into each other.

And he’s always going to choose home.



She’s the first person he sees when he gets off the flight. In order to get back to San Diego as quickly as possible, he’d flown straight through to Chicago and then across the country. He’s not there as quickly as he’d like, but he’s here now. Mary is going to take him to the hospital and then he’s going to get to Danny’s room and everything will be fine.

It’s going to be fine.

Maybe if he keeps telling himself that, he’ll start believing it. “Steve,” Mary calls him over, dropping her purse to the ground so that when she hugs him, there’s nothing in her way. “Steve,” she echoes, speaking against his shoulder. “They won’t let me in to see him. He’s still in the ICU and they’re only admitting immediate family right now.”

“But, he’s okay?” Steve asks, feeling strangled by the thought that Danny might not be. For the last five years of his life, Danny’s been the one constant who always makes it through. No matter how chaotic the universe is, no matter what tries to weigh them down, Danny always comes out on the other side.

Steve doesn’t know what to make of the possibility that Danny’s not okay – and Steve wasn’t here to stop it because he’s in another country.

When he finally pulls himself away from Mary, he brushes his knuckle over his cheek to wipe away tears that aren’t even there, the dryness a disconcerting feeling against his fingers. His attention lands on the exit doors where he sees a familiar face. “Garcia,” he says, not liking the way his voice sounds. It’s roughshod and emotional and he hates to force control on himself, but these are actions unbefitting a Lieutenant Commander of the United States Navy. “How’s Danny?”

“He’s stable,” Garcia replies. “He’ll be glad to see you, I bet. I brought the squad car, so you’ve got a ride to the hospital in style.”

They drive through red lights thanks to the siren on the squad car and Steve has never been so grateful for Garcia’s malleable respect for the laws of the road as he is at this very moment. They spend the ride in silence because Steve isn’t sure whether he can manage to start a conversation that won’t end in, ‘what if I’d been there, what if I’d never stopped being his partner, what if, what if, what if’ and Garcia doesn’t try and engage him in small talk.

When they reach the hospital, Steve unbuckles in a superhuman effort to be out of the car and into Danny’s room, but he’s stopped by the fact that Garcia isn’t doing the same. He’s just sitting there with an ashen look on his face.

Something is going on, Steve realizes. There’s something they’re not telling him.

“What?” Steve asks, dread creeping in through every defense.

“I didn’t know the details when I wrote you that letter,” Garcia says, clasping the steering wheel tightly. Steve watches the way his knuckles flex and turn white before he loosens his grip and starts the process over again. It’s easier to watch than to look at the frightened look on Garcia’s face. “I just knew Danny would kick my ass if I didn’t get you home.”

Steve hasn’t felt like this in years. He hasn’t felt like he’s lost the ability to breathe since…since the sarin attack, since the letter on his desk requesting a transfer out of Five-0. Danny’s not dead, he’s not dead because they’re at the hospital and someone would have told him if Danny were dead, but…

“We thought, maybe,” Garcia says, each word more strangled than the last, “that when you got back, you could talk him into waking up. He never let you get a word in edgewise. We were kind of hoping, all of us, that he wouldn’t start now.” Garcia’s eyes are red and Steve sinks back down into the seat.


He can’t say it.

He can’t say it.

“Yeah, bro,” Garcia says quietly. “It’s been almost a week, now. The doctors say he’s lucky to be alive, but he…” With a heavy sigh, Garcia reaches over and clasps Steve by the shoulder, giving it a gentle squeeze. “He’s not waking up.”

That’s all it takes. Steve’s out of the car, rushing to get past the front desk and security. He nearly makes it to Danny’s room before two orderlies pull him away, shouting about protocol and disinfection. The only reason that Steve doesn’t do something drastic is because he can hear Danny’s voice in his head telling him not to behave like a Neanderthal in front of all the nice people.

“Sir!” the nurse is shouting at him. “Sir, you can’t be here. This is the intensive care unit, you can’t just go charging in here!”

“I need to be in there. Danny’s in there, I need to see him,” Steve says, a panic gripping his limbs as he thinks about how close he is. Another twenty steps would get him into Danny’s room and he’ll see with his own two eyes that Danny’s okay. “Daniel Williams. His name is Daniel Williams, I’m his partner, you need to let me in.”

“Sir, you’re not family, I…I can’t,” the nurse says, a desperately sympathetic look on her face. “I’m sorry.”

The instinct to take out the orderlies and rush to Danny’s room flares up again.

“Are you kidding me?”

She stares back at him, papers being lifted and slid across the table. “Fill these out and we’ll make sure to call you as soon as there’s a change. When he wakes up, you two can discuss filing domestic partnership paperwork to allow for more rights, if you want to be able to see him when he’s in the hospital.”

“This is the only time Danny’s going to be in the hospital like this,” Steve says. The minute that Danny wakes up, Steve’s going to put a plan in action. He’s not taking any missions, he’s going to make sure that Garcia covers his goddamn six, and he’s going to keep Danny from… from…

He’s still not awake.

What if there isn’t even a next time? What if Steve missed out on his chance because he was a continent away trying to do his job and failed to fulfill the most important role he’d taken on in the last five years? He’s supposed to take care of Grace and Danny.

He hasn’t exactly done a good job of that.

“Sir?” the nurse prompts, sliding the clipboard a little closer to him.

“I’ll take a look at it,” he says neutrally, as close as he’ll come to actually saying ‘I’ll behave’.

He grabs the clipboard and makes a point of sitting down noisily, glaring at every single staff member who crosses his path. His thigh holster is empty. This isn’t Hawaii and he doesn’t have means and immunity; carrying a gun into a hospital is a bad idea. The last thing he needs is more bad ideas. He feels like one more is going to get him kicked out of the hospital and he doesn’t want to leave before he talks to Danny’s doctor.

Steve should call Grace.

Then, he supposes that Grace has already been called. He’s the one who’s late. Steve’s the one who’s late and hasn’t been here to take care of Danny. Steve’s civilian cell phone is locked away in a drawer and as soon as he finishes filling out the form to apply to see his goddamn boyfriend, he practically throws it over the desk to the nurse.

His first stop is the apartment. He wants to be at the hospital with Danny, but he needs to change his clothes, get his cell phone, call… well, who’s left to call? He pages through days of messages from a dozen callers – Garcia, Grace, Mary, Rachel, Chin, Grace again, Kono, Stan. They go on and on. He’s missed a week’s worth of messages and he already knows what each and every one of them will say.

Danny’s hurt. Danny’s in trouble. You need to come home.

It’s pointless to listen to them because Steve already knows what he should have done. He never should have left.

Steve changes into Danny’s favorite pair of cargo pants – which is to say that when Steve wears them, Danny only bitches for five minutes instead of fifteen – and a blue polo shirt, grabs his phone and his piece and heads to the hospital.

They still don’t let him in.

They tell Steve that they’ll call if there’s a change.

Still, he doesn’t leave and when Garcia joins him in the waiting room, Steve feels assured that even though he was gone, Danny was never really alone.

“Hey,” Garcia murmurs, clapping Steve by the knee. “So, Danny tells me that you dangled a guy off a roof once, all because of a tattoo. That true?”

Even asleep (comatose, he’s comatose, and he might not wake up), Danny’s managed to find a way to ease Steve into distraction with a few well-placed stories that keep him from barging into Danny’s hospital room, throwing him over his shoulder, and kidnapping him back to Honolulu where they let him do things like that.

“He’s exaggerating,” Steve says evenly.

“So, what, it’s not true?”

“…It’s not entirely untrue.”

They spend three hours talking about Steve and Danny’s partnership at Five-0. It’s the easiest that Steve’s felt since Garcia showed up to pick him up at the airport with bad news, though it doesn’t get him anywhere near feeling better. He’s going to wait for Danny to wake up and then, he’ll start working on accomplishing all the things he’s put off for too long.

On the second day of his return, Steve stays at the apartment and does the cleaning that Danny has refused to do in all the time they’ve lived there -- everything has a place, Steve. It’s organized! It’s just my kind of organized! The drapes are washed, the carpets steam-cleaned, and he takes every plate out of the cupboards, washes them, and then puts them back. Chin and Kono fly in that night and keep him company while they drink light beers and watch old home videos of Grace and Danny.

Steve tries not to think about the way Danny smiles so broadly and so easily and how he might never…

On the third day, he tries to go to the hospital again. They won’t let him in. He sends flowers in with Grace and waits outside for news. When they still won’t let him in, he drives the Mustang ten miles over the speed limit to get to the courthouse and begins filling out paperwork that he should have started months ago regardless of what answer Danny gave him.

On the fourth day, Steve lurks at the counter of a jewelry shop until the attendants ask if he needs any help. He’s overwhelmed with the guilt of being here without Danny and leaves with a curt ‘no, thanks’. He drives to the base and attends several meetings with his commanding officers, acting as a liaison to the lieutenant that took over the mission when he left and kissing as much ass as possible to get out of the trouble he’d put himself in when he’d abandoned his post. Chin and Kono are still at the apartment when he gets back and he trades in the light beer for scotch that night.

“I don’t know how much longer I can do this,” Steve admits, hating the way his voice sounds as ragged as it does. Danny would mock him for it, given that rough and tough Navy SEALs should never sound this broken down, but Steve feels like he’s run a marathon.

He’s exhausted. He’s mentally and physically exhausted and while he knows he has to stay strong for Grace’s sake, he’s not sure how much more of this he can take.

“Steve,” Kono says gently. “It’s Danny. He’s the stubbornest man I’ve ever known. Do you really think this’ll slow him down?”

“Four days, Kono,” Steve says. He’s angry, but he doesn’t know where to direct it and so he lashes out at whatever he can. “The doctors said they’d start to worry after two.” Danny’s vitals are weak, but consistent.

He just won’t wake up.

Talk about stubborn.

“Danny got shot. I wasn’t here to stop it,” Steve says, fighting to keep that last sliver of control that he’s barely holding onto. “He’s in this mess because I wasn’t here.”

Chin and Kono exchange a look, like they’re debating whether or not to break the news that Steve already knows (deep down). It wouldn’t have mattered if Steve were overseas or not. He’s not Danny’s partner anymore, not when it comes to the job. Garcia watches his back and even he couldn’t stop this.

Steve’s got Danny’s back at home, but even then, he’s not sure how good a job he’s doing. After all, they’re in a situation where Danny’s comatose in the ICU ward and Steve can’t go and see him because they’re not official. There’s no paper that says that Steve has full possession of those rights.

Maybe it’s Danny he should be angriest with and maybe it’s himself.

In the end, Steve’s not in control of his emotions to truly direct that anger where it ought to go and he feels like tearing his life down around him. “I should’ve listened to him, I should’ve done something to make him safer, I should have…” Should have, should have. He can keep doing this all day.

It’s Kono who leans forward, squeezing Steve’s shoulder lightly. “Boss,” she says. “You did everything you were supposed to. You didn’t pull the trigger. You didn’t orchestrate Danny’s constant denials of your less-than-romantic proposals, which he’s felt compelled to call Hawaii and bitch and bitch and bitch about…”

“Hey, I--!”

“So, what can you do? Other than be patient, not much at all.”

Steve sags forward, head in his hands. “I’m terrible with patient.”

“At least you’ll always know that Danny’s worse,” Chin says, holding out another bottle of beer. “Drink, Steve. Tomorrow, we’ll go back to the hospital and see if the paperwork’s gone through yet.”

Tomorrow. Steve can wait until tomorrow.

Except that when midnight rolls around, Steve still can’t sleep.

One AM passes, then two, three, four. Steve lies awake in their bed and he’s alone for the first time in years, so long that he’s forgotten how it rips through him and leaves him feeling empty. The sheets are cold and the bed is too still. Danny, on any given day, talks quickly, moves endlessly, and it carries over into bed where he cycles like it’s the Tour de France and if he manages to cripple Steve, he’ll somehow win.

It’s quiet and the bed is still and it’s driving Steve out of his mind.

It’s day five, now, and his phone hasn’t rung. He’s impressed the importance of him being the first call if Danny wakes up – with what Danny would call ‘McGarrett-esque torture methods, the likes of which even the US government think go too far’ – but the phone stays as silent as the rest of the apartment.

Steve’s on the edge of a panic that he hasn’t experienced in so very long. The last time he felt like this, his father was on the other end of the line and Hesse held all the power in his hands. This time, the blame is on some nameless crook that the San Diego PD is still looking for. At the end of the third day, he’d stormed the precinct and demanded to speak to the Captain and offer his help.

He’d been sent home, told that he was too close to the case.

There’s no immunity, no means. The Governor here won’t let Steve do whatever he likes in the name of justice. Instead, Steve’s like any other cop’s wife, left to worry without any control to fix it. Five in the morning, Steve loses the little left of his sanity and does something he never thought he’d do. Phone in hand, he dials numbers from memory and waits.

He’s gotten good at waiting. Steve sort of hates that fact.

“What?” murmurs the drowsy voice at the other end of the line when they pick up. Steve ought to feel worse, calling her so early in the morning, but if he waits any longer, he’ll do something that he’ll regret – that Danny would be furious with him for.

“Rachel,” Steve says.


“Yes,” he replies. Now that he’s called her, he’s not sure why he did. Except he does know, of course he knows. He wants her to tell him how to do this. Steve needs to know how to cope with this monster inside his chest that makes it feel like it’s going to burst loose and wreak havoc in his heart and his mind and all the other parts of him that Danny’s got a hold of.

“Steve,” Rachel says, softening her tone. “You are aware that it’s five in the morning.”

“Yeah. I know, I’m sorry, but I couldn’t sleep.”

There’s a long pause from the other end of the line. “You know,” Rachel murmurs, sounding fond and bitter all at once, “neither could I. Funny how they don’t mention that divorce papers do nothing to erase the worry that comes of once having been a policeman’s wife.”

Steve spares the briefest of moments to think that at least she would’ve been able to see Danny.

“What do I do?” he asks, wondering if he’s woken up Stan (not caring at all if he has). “Rachel, he’s not waking up. What the hell do I do?”

There’s the sound of bed sheets rustling on the other end, faintly. Steve wonders if she’s settling in for a long talk or whether she’s trying to give Stan the privacy to sleep. Either way, it causes another mild flood of guilt to rush through Steve at interrupting them at such an early hour of the morning. The rustling shifts to the sound of water and all the while, Rachel doesn’t say anything. Steve’s nerves, already half-shot, begin to tense again and he’s half ready to beg for Rachel to say something, say anything to help him out. “Firstly,” Rachel finally says, as the soft whistle of boiling water gives soundtrack to her words, “you don’t take it out on Garcia.” It’s crossed Steve’s mind, but he hasn’t let it out – yet. “He’s likely feeling as guilty as you are. It’s only going to make the both of you feel worse in the long run. Secondly, you need to remember that nothing that you do will change any of this. Steve, I know this is hard, but you are completely powerless right now and the sooner you realize that it will make you crazy, the better chance you have of getting through it.”

Steve takes in a deep breath, a question on his lips that he doesn’t want to ask, but is going to come out, regardless: “Rachel, what if he never wakes up?”

The silence on the line is achingly terrifying.

“Honestly, Steve? I don’t know.”

He mumbles a brief ‘thanks’ before hanging up. The cell phone is tossed across the bed, ensnared in a mess of blankets. Steve reclines back against Danny’s pillow – which hasn’t smelled like Danny for days now -- and stares ceiling-wards as he searches for some kind of answer to the question that’s so crushing that he doesn’t even want to think that thought.

Steve stopped believing in any actual God the day that his father died. It’d been hard to believe that anyone could sit up there and let that kind of injustice occur – his faith had only wavered harder when Hesse was found still alive and allowed to wreck the kind of havoc he did. And yet, Steve lies in bed and stares at the ceiling and thinks to himself, I’d start to believe again if Danny woke up, if you just gave me this.

Rachel’s advice rings in his head. He hates to abandon control, hates to give up anything, but Danny’s in a hospital bed and machines are breathing for him – even if Steve would do it for him, twenty-four hours a day, if they would only let him.

“Let him get through this,” Steve says, the softest begging that he’s ever done, but it means the most to him. He keeps his voice down so Chin and Kono don’t hear this desperate plea bargain, but he means it, he’d give anything just to see Danny pull through this. “Please,” he exhales, turning the panic and pushing it outwards until he’s scared and he’s panicked and he’s distressed and he’s half-crazy, but he gives in to the fact that he isn’t in control of any of this.

“Please,” he begs one more time and gives in – though never gives up.

It’s day five. It’s day five and Danny wakes up.

To say that he’s pissed when he does is an understatement.

“What the hell do you mean they won’t let Steve in to see me?” Danny’s always been loud. Steve can hear him bellowing at the attending doctor from where he’s sitting in the waiting room. “He’s Steve!”

Steve’s sitting outside the room. He wants nothing more than to get in there, but there are tests to run, medicine to take, and Steve’s not sure he can stand in Danny’s hospital room without breaking down from the marathon of emotions he’s had cycling through him for the past five days.

“Yes, Danny, and while we’re all aware of who Steve is, he’s nothing to you.” Steve winces on Rachel’s behalf. He can actually envision how apoplectic with rage Danny is right now. “Officially, Danny. You two have never taken the next step. There’s no paperwork to give him that kind of permission and you weren’t exactly conscious to yell at them otherwise.”

Their voices quiet after that and Steve loses track of the conversation.

Rachel’s words bring Steve back to the thought that they haven’t made the next move, not through lack of will. Steve wants everything. He wants to move into a bigger house and he wants Danny to say yes to a question they already know is inevitably going to be agreed to. He wants to have what they already do, with a piece of paper to make it official, and Steve doesn’t see what the big deal is in taking this next step.

This, in retrospect, might be why Danny keeps saying no.

Steve is such an idiot.

“Garcia,” Steve says, barely aware of his surroundings as he gets to his feet. “Garcia, listen, if Danny asks for me, tell him to call my cell. I figured something out.” He’s been treating this like it’s going to happen, no matter what. He’s been assuming that Danny’s going to say yes. He’s been taking that fact for granted.

He nearly lost Danny. The doctors say that if the bullet had gone two inches to the right, Danny wouldn’t have lasted long. As it is, Steve owes a mountain of debt to Garcia for administering CPR when Danny stopped breathing on the scene.

His next stop is finding Grace. Rachel had broken the initial good news to her daughter and she’s been at the hospital ever since. She’s sprawled in one of the visitor’s chairs in a position that looks like it’d wreak havoc on her spine, but apparently, that’s what kids do these days.

Steve laments the fact that he’s old enough that he’s legitimately just had a thought that ended with ‘kids these days’.

“Hey, kiddo,” he says, even though she hates being called ‘kiddo’ these days. She’s too old, is what she says. She’s too mature for that – she’s been too mature for that for years, but Danny still calls her his Monkey and Steve calls her kiddo and she lets them. “You busy?”

“I have homework,” she says, lifting up her math book as if that’ll make the point.

“Okay. Okay,” Steve says, frowning as he prioritizes his afternoon, “You can finish your homework after we run a quick errand. I need your help.”

While she’s suspicious, she apparently doesn’t need an excuse to abandon math. The book is shut, her bag is zipped, and she’s instantly on her feet at Steve’s side as they leave the hospital. An hour later, Grace is staring at him in the Mustang with shiny eyes and an incredulous look on her face. She’s made Steve repeat himself four times and he has the feeling that a fifth is on the way.


“Grace, really,” Steve sighs. “Now, can we please go? I do want to get back to the hospital to see Danny at some point today before he thinks I’m still in some foreign country.”

She gives him a sidelong look from the passenger seat. Steve’s been with Danny Williams long enough to see a jibe coming and for a second, it’s like they’re back in Hawaii and this is the Governor sending them out for a task. Steve’s driving because he likes to drive and there’s a Williams in the passenger seat.

With Danny awake, it’s a possibility once more and Steve releases tension in his shoulders that’s been building up ever since he got that letter.

“Say it,” Steve finally coaxes.

“I’m just saying that Danno thinks you’re always in a foreign country, at least up in your head. I’m pretty sure he’s insistent they don’t have laws there. Especially not road ones.”

Steve’s grin is easy and huge.

“You’re your father’s daughter.”

And that’s all Grace needs to hear to light up, too.

“Your bags,” Steve says for the tenth time. They’re standing beside the Mustang outside the hospital and Danny’s finally been discharged. As far as Steve’s concerned, it’s two weeks too late, but the doctors kept finding new concerns and the last thing Steve was going to do was let Danny get into more trouble. “Danny, do we have all the bags?”

Danny doesn’t answer.

Steve turns with his mouth open to snap the question one more time when he sees the look that Danny is giving him from the mandated wheelchair that the nurse had brought him out in. Danny looks like he’s about to laugh himself sick. “I’m happy that you think this is so hilarious,” Steve mutters evenly, shoving his duffel bag into the trunk with a heavy amount of force.

“Sorry,” Danny says wearily. “You just reminded me of one of those little wind-up dolls. Honestly, Steve, if you said ‘your bags’ one more time, I was going to start checking for batteries.”

Steve isn’t done glaring, but he’s grateful that Danny’s awake to talk back to him. There were days (dark moments in the middle of the night) when Steve had almost resigned himself to the idea that Danny wasn’t going to pull out of it.

He hadn’t managed to get Danny to say yes.

He’d left his home and his family.

Steve had almost lost everything.

There’s nothing funny about this. He hates that Danny is laughing about this, even if they’re trying to get back to normal. “It’s not funny, Daniel,” he says as he braces his arms under Danny’s body to haul him out of the wheelchair, settling him on his feet and indulging in this private moment where their bodies are so close that Steve basks in the warmth that comes from Danny in front of him, from Steve’s hand on Danny’s back, from the relief that comes from feeling every breath.

“It’s a little bit funny,” Danny admits, but there’s that same weariness in his voice, like he hasn’t been able to shake the sleep from him, even though he’s been awake for days now. Steve tries to turn off the voice in his head that says how gorgeous and perfect Danny sounds because he’s awake and alive and there’s a little bit of a sultry hint in his tone.

Steve feels like he’s going to snap and throw some of the bags in Danny’s direction, but he manages to push them into the trunk instead of at his partner’s head. He takes in a deep breath and reminds himself how grateful he is that Danny’s alive and that he has a ring tucked away in a velvet pouch in his pocket so this never happens again – as if he can inform fate of that. “Danny…”

“Steve,” he counters.

Steve balls up his fists and finds that he’s so angry. Danny always makes him so angry and this time is worse because doesn’t Danny know how much they almost lost? Steve waits until Danny’s in the car, relishing the way he gets to slam the passenger door and the driver’s, for good measure. The drive back to the apartment is quiet for the first few minutes, all that anger seeping away and infecting Steve like a sickness until he can’t take it anymore.

“Danny, you piss me off sometimes, you know that? How can you be so fucking cavalier about this? How can you make jokes?” he snaps. “You nearly died.” Every time he thinks about Danny sleeping in a room that Steve couldn’t even get into, he finds himself back in that perilous and panicked place.

“Steve, it’s not like I asked to get shot,” Danny says tersely.

Steve parks the car in front of the apartment. For a moment, he needs the time to think of what he wants to say. It’s too tempting to snap and let loose, rant at Danny the way he’d appreciate. Instead, Steve takes the time to get out of the Mustang, help Danny out, and keep him stable with one hand wrapped securely and possessively around Danny’s wrist.

He knows, then, what he needs to say. He knows what he needs Danny to hear.

“It’s not…I don’t…it’s not that, Danny, it’s not that you asked to get shot. It’s the fact that you got shot and I got pushed out of your room because we didn’t have paperwork! It’s that no matter how much I love you and I do, Danny, I fucking love you,” Steve lobs the words like they’re meant to be insults when really he’s just tired of assuming Danny knows, “I love you and it still didn’t matter and I’m tired of being ready when you’re not. Danny, it was so close.” Steve exhales, sagging back against the Mustang.

“Hey,” Danny murmurs, sliding into Steve’s personal bubble and pushing both hands into Steve’s front pockets, splaying his fingers until the warmth is a welcome presence against Steve’s upper thighs.

Steve swallows, but he can’t manage to displace the lump in his throat.

He knows the second Danny feels it, the second that Danny’s fingers brush upwards and catch a firm object rather than the inner lining of his jeans pocket.

“Take it out,” Steve instructs, because he knows that Danny’s not about to let it go.

Danny raises a brow, but fishes out the small pouch from Steve’s pocket. This isn’t how he wanted it to be, but the truth is that Steve hadn’t put much thought into this besides knowing that he wants it to happen. Pure and simple, he doesn’t need for this to be fancy and he’s kind of hoping that Danny’s on the same page.

“This again, huh,” Danny murmurs, and though Steve could read into those words that Danny’s tired of his asking, there’s a fondness that’s never been there before and it’s the first time that Steve can tell that the past few weeks have taken their toll on Danny. Steve can finally see that Danny’s scared too.

Steve feels brittle.

He can see how it’ll happen.

Danny will say no again because he’s that kind of stubborn asshole and Steve’s never going to feel comfortable because there will always be some kind of lack of control if he can’t be in Danny’s life the way he wants to be – all in. He’s going to say no and no matter how much he insists that they’re a family, it’s not going to be official.

So when Danny looks up at him and slides the ring onto his left hand ring finger, Steve feels like he’s officially tumbled into a twilight zone where his partner is somehow rational, calm, and willing to compromise with Steve.

The shock must show, because Danny’s looking at him incredulously. “Seriously?” Danny demands. “Seriously? You’ve been hounding me about this for months and as soon as I give in, you look at me like that? That’s like the lovechild look of your constipated ‘I’ve drank too much’ face and the ‘did I remember to turn the oven off’ panic.”

Steve shakes his head and he finds that he can’t actually summon words to defend himself.

“Did I just break you? Was it really as easy as this?” Danny marvels, holding his splayed palm out in front of his face to study the marked difference. Steve’s caught staring, too, watching sunlight glinting off the ring and for a second, Steve is overwhelmed with the fact that he has genuinely just received everything he ever wanted out of life and no matter what happens, as least he knows he’s done all he could.

“Danny,” Steve murmurs, abandoning the idea that he’s going to find real words to express his feelings.

Instead, he grabs hold of Danny by the hips, spinning him on his heel so he can slam Danny’s ass against the door of the car, closing the distance between them to claim Danny’s lips in a possessive kiss, the kind that implies that if Danny even thinks about taking back his answer, Steve’s going to have to do a whole hell of a lot of persuading and he’s more than willing to.

Danny pushes forward, trying to take control, but Steve’s not willing to abandon that. His grip on Danny’s hips tighten and he takes a frisson of guilty delight in the thunk of Danny’s ass against the body of the car.

“Steve,” Danny gasps.

“Am I hurting you?” Steve asks, which is about the only thing he’s willing to stop for, at this point.

Danny stares up at him, his cheeks flushed and the freckles he’s gained from beach days with Grace stand out in stark contrast. It’s enough to make Steve think that Danny’s the most beautiful thing he’s ever seen, enough to spur him into kissing him again, lighter this time in case he is hurting Danny, somehow.

“Danny,” Steve reiterates, terse. “Am I hurting you?”

“Not so much hurting,” Danny mumbles, pointing a finger over Steve’s shoulder in the direction of their apartment window, several stories up. “And more to do with the fact that we have an audience.”

Steve glances up to where Danny’s pointing, rolling his eyes when he sees Chin, Kono, Grace, Mary, and Garcia peering at them from the glass of the window. Garcia’s practically plastered against the glass and Mary’s definitely holding Grace up like she’s trying to get her a better view of the lions at the zoo.

“You okay to head inside?” Steve mumbles, drifting forward until he’s leaning heavily against Danny and the car.

Danny gives a soft laugh. “As much as I love you and find your hulking SEAL form ridiculously attractive, I somehow don’t have a hard-on at the thought of our nearest and dearest watching us go at it against a car door,” he says. “You?”

“Yeah, think I’m good,” Steve deadpans, adjusting his shirt nonetheless. “You ready for this?”

“Not in the least,” Danny scoffs. “Which is why you’re walking in first.”

Steve leads the way, grinning like an idiot with every step. Their small family might be odd, might be too nosy for their own good, and might be ready to inundate them with a thousand personal questions, but they’re theirs and for better or worse, he knows he’s willing to cope with them as long as they’ll have him.

Besides, Danny said yes.

Steve’s going to be grinning like an idiot for days on end, at this rate.

Chin and Kono are waiting with Grace in the front hall of the apartment when they make it inside. Steve’s first through the door, as promised, which gives him a prime view of the banner. “I’m pretty sure ohana doesn’t do this,” he says with some degree of petulance, reaching up to tug down the ‘CONGRATULATIONS ON WAKING UP, SLEEPING BEAUTY’ banner from the front hall.

“Steve,” Grace whines. “I spent a lot of time on that!”

Steve rips it all off to reveal a second banner that announces the same thing.

“We planned for all eventualities,” Chin responds easily. “And we know you.”

Steve shakes his head, tightening his grip on Danny’s bag as he totes it into the bedroom. Not for the first time, he notices how small the apartment looks when it’s flooded with people. Mary and Garcia are chattering away in the kitchen, talking about some old family recipe, some inane small talk that fills Steve with relief because today, there is no pressing crisis to worry about; only family recipes and homemade banners. He lingers for a while, letting the soothing lull of conversation set him at ease, reminding him that Danny’s alive and well enough to argue about the merits of New York pizza with his daughter and their former coworkers.

He’s so involved in listening that he doesn’t realize he’s not alone in the bedroom until Mary forcibly leans over and pokes him in the shoulder. “Hey, big brother,” she greets, a wry smile on her face. “How’re you holding up?”

“I’m…” Steve opens his mouth to reply, but doesn’t even make it to ‘fine’.

“McGarrett!” Garcia’s voice booms from the main hall. “Did you do it while he was unconscious?”

Mary arches her eyebrow at Steve. “I thought Mom and Dad taught you better than that,” she deadpans.

“It’s not – I didn’t…” Steve spares a moment to shoot Mary a stern look before he wanders into the hall, completely confused as to why Garcia’s shouting at him like that. He doesn’t make it more than five steps before he sees the cause of the commotion.

Garcia’s holding Danny’s hand up by the wrist, that gold ring looming brightly on Danny’s ring finger. Seeing it now is as invigorating as it was ten minutes ago and Steve’s grinning like a lunatic at the sight of it. He rearranges his features into passive ignorance, feigning a complete lack of care as he looks at Danny.

“What did I tell you about getting engaged to strangers?” he says evenly.

“Only if they’re tall, dark, and possibly insane?” Danny replies as sweetly as Danny’s ever been able to manage – which is to say that he’s not convincing at all. “I don’t know, I figure after a certain point, I gotta give him what he wants, right?”

“Thanks, Danno,” Steve deadpans. “Real vote of confidence, there.”

“What, so you don’t want me to marry you? Because I can take it back.”

“No. Nope, not allowed,” Steve informs him. “No takebacks.”

“See?” Danny says, gesturing to Steve. “I’m marrying a child. I’m hoping the honeymoon gets to be during the part of recess where you’re not standing in the corner for pushing a kid too hard.”

For all that Danny’s bitching, he’s still smiling the way that Steve gets him to do when they’ve gone for three rounds and Steve looks at him and smiles that lopsided and charismatic smile he prides himself in, asking ‘one more for the road?’ Thinking about it makes Steve want to kick everyone out of the apartment so he can take Danny to the bedroom and give him that specific smile.

God, he can’t wait until they move into their new place.

Steve watches Danny talking to Chin and Kono, radiating genuine delight. For all that Danny talks a big game, there have always been tells when it comes to his real feelings. Steve prides himself on being an expert when it comes to those kinds of things. He knows Danny. He knows him inside and out, as much as he did that first time that he considered that what he felt for his partner could be more than just a fine appreciation of his physical form.

I know you, he’d said.

Now, looking at the relaxed set of Danny’s shoulders and the way he’s smiling so widely that the laugh lines around his eyes are crinkled, Steve knows that he’s never been more in love. He’s making the right choice, not that he ever doubted it, but watching Danny gesture around the room with both hands, the light catching the gold of the ring.

Steve grins.

And really, it must be that grin, because Danny mouths ‘later, you animal’ at him.

Yeah, Steve thinks. He could do this forever, as long as they both shall live.

It’s nearly five in the morning and Steve can’t sleep. He’s awake, poised over Danny’s bare-chested sleeping form, two fingers tracing soft circles around the space on Danny’s chest where the bullet pierced. It’s like a strange oasis because the hair’s stopped growing on this one particular patch.

It’s still red and ugly, reminding Steve of how close he came to losing everything. That thought coaxes Steve to bend over, pressing his lips to the puckered scar. The kiss draws out longer, cautious and careful.

It also manages to rouse Danny, who’s become a lighter sleeper with the passing years.

“Are you molesting my scar again?” Danny asks sleepily.

Steve doesn’t have an answer. There’s a lot to think about when waking hours are surrounding them. They’ve got a wedding to plan (however small it’s going to be) and a house to move their things into (a house that’s been waiting for them since Steve left for his mission, since Danny got hurt, since they decided they were going to do this, permanently this). They’ve got friends and family to call and Steve’s probably due for another hour-long conversation with Mrs. Williams about treating her boy right.

There’s a whole life to be lived, but in the dark of the twilight hours, all that Steve cares about is the fact that he’s able to kiss that scar on Danny’s chest before watching the rise and fall that proves that he hasn’t lost him.

“I’ve been thinking about how I was halfway around the world when this happened to you,” Steve says softly, hushed as if he needs it to be this way in the quiet of the night. “I know I’m not your partner anymore, but there’s some part of me that was convinced that if I were here, I could have stopped it, somehow.”

Danny’s scoff is heavy. “Don’t be an idiot, McGarrett.”


“All I hear is further idiocy about to come out and I’m way too tired for this,” Danny complains sharply, wrapping an arm around Steve’s waist and forcibly hauling him closer, earning a disgruntled sound from Steve. “Steven. Steve McGarrett-Soon-To-Be-Williamsed. I got shot. You get shot. Everyone gets shot…”

“Okay, Danny, that’s just ridiculous. This isn’t some children’s book,” Steve argues sharply. “Not everyone gets shot.”

“My point, which it’s too early in the morning to discuss, is that things happen and in our line of work, it happens. I mean, you, look at you. Need I mention North Korea? Need I mention the variety of ways in which Victor Hesse bruised and beat your body over the years?” Danny sleepily rambles. “It was bad luck that got me shot and put me in a coma. It was good luck that got me out of it. I mean, it’s just like you and your fashion sense. Bad luck, it is what it is. Good luck, you’re hot enough to pull it off.”

“Why are you always such a bitch in the morning?” Steve wonders.

“Why do you keep initiating conversation at this hour of the morning when you know I can be a bitch?” Danny retorts, mimicking Steve’s tone. “Go the fuck back to sleep. It is…” Danny fumbles, grabbing at the clock on the nightstand, groaning when he sees the time. “It is five o’clock in the morning and you have to be up at seven to teach impressionable young minds about how to defend their country while I lounge on paid leave and learn about why these are the Days of our Lives.”

Steve stares blearily at Danny, trying to figure out if he can protest Danny’s vehemence with a well-placed kiss or the right look. “Danny…”

“Steve, we’re going to have the rest of our lives for this. I’m not dead. I’m not planning on getting dead. You can touch my scar as much as you’d like at a decent hour of the day. Deal?” Danny mumbles.

Steve knows it’s a lost cause to keep Danny awake. His consonants and vowels are slurred, his limbs sprawled out over the bed. He’s half on the way back to dreamland and there are only a few things that Steve can do to stop that from happening. Since they number ‘intense assault of Danny’s stomach with his fingers’ or ‘pulling Danny’s hair until strands come out’ or ‘insulting New Jersey’, he opts away from all above options.

Instead, he curls a little closer to Danny, holding tight.

“Deal,” he murmurs, several beats too late.

Better late than never.
mcparrot: (Default)

[personal profile] mcparrot 2012-07-20 07:19 am (UTC)(link)
And another lovely one.

Yeah, seen that, not family, not allowed in the ICU thing happen IRL. It's not pretty.

Not very likely to happen in this part of the world now thank goodness, but it used to.

Nice story