Disclaimer: In no way do I claim ownership or rights to use the names, characters or ideas of Hawaii Five-0, which belong to their respective owners/creators. This is for pure fun only, no profit being made.
A/N: I'm finally coming out of lurker/reviewer mode to toss my hat into the H50 ring. I have a couple other fics in the works, but this coda cut in line and came out a lot faster. I think the end of "Loa Aloha" was purposefully left open for interpretation, and I have no doubt that there will be a ton of fics that "fix" it. I will say that I haven't read any post-ep fics, because I KNOW we are all going to be hovering around the same ideas for Steve and Danny, and I wanted to get my idea out as soon as possible.
HUGE and unending gratitude to Caliecat for the Beta, and hilarious wine-induced meta emails. Also, thanks to FayeDartmouth for her general awesome inspiring me to write for this fandom. Let me know how I did with the boys!
Spoilers for "Loa Aloha"
All the Time in the World
His cell phone is ringing again. It's been ringing a lot, he figures, although he has no idea how many times since he arrived at Rachel's palatial estate. He's got it on vibrate, but he's hardly noticed the incessant buzzing in his pocket.
He'd held a gun on his brother. His baby brother. He pointed a gun at his baby brother and considered, for half a second, about shooting him. Just for being an idiot of course, but he'd thought about it.
He feels her thin, delicate arms slip from around his neck.
Rachel's eyes are full of sympathy when she invites him in, but Danny refuses. He's never felt comfortable in that house. He came to her because she knew him, probably better than anyone on the island. And she knew Matt. He needed someone who knew the Williams family, who understood just how hard this has been.
Giving Rachel a peck on the cheek and a "Thanks," Danny turns on his heal, heading back to the Camaro.
His pocket starts vibrating again. Looks at the screen and sees the name of the person who's been calling all evening.
"Hey." He doesn't have the strength to give a proper greeting as he maneuvers the Camaro out into the evening traffic.
Steve's voice is tinged with urgency, exasperation and if Danny isn't mistaken, worry. "Where are you?"
"Driving." One word answers are going to freak out his partner but his mind is too full right now for anything else. Too many scenarios, what ifs and what do I do now?
"Driving where?" Frustration seeping in now.
Danny breaths out, harshly. "Around. I need to think…just… I can't deal with all of this right now. My brain is exploding over here."
"Danny." Steve says, something between a sigh and a curse. "What happened?"
Danny's throat closes in on itself and for the second time that night, he strangles on his emotions. Feels the prickle of tears in his eyes, and it's all he can do to swallow everything down.
"He's gone." It's all Danny really needs to say, and yet those two words encompass much more than the fact that he might not see his brother again. Matty was gone is so many other ways, and they all were like tiny knives in Danny's soul.
A beat, and Danny can hear his partner take a deep breath in and let it out. "Danny… just. Where are you gonna go?" It's almost alien to hear such uncertainty in Steve "Bad Ass is my Middle Name" McGarrett's voice.
It makes Danny's head swim even more. "I don't know. I'm exhausted, but I don't think I'll sleep. May never sleep after this…" He changes lanes, edging the car faster, but nowhere near Steve's Mario Andretti-like driving. "And I don't want to go back to my shit-hole apartment, so—"
"So, come over here."
The request comes across so quietly, it's almost lost in Danny's rambling. He has to pause and replay what he's just heard. "Wait, what?"
He can hear Steve shifting around. Is he nervous? "You heard me, Danny."
"It's past midnight. C'mon, look, I appreciate the offer, but you've been running your ass off all over this island chasing that psycho Roan, and even Rambo needs his sleep."
There's a breathy chuckle, and a smile comes across the line. "Since when are you worried about my beauty sleep?" Steve asks.
Danny feels the start of a smile pulling at his mouth. A little of the normal is attempting to be injected into his life, which seems to be fucked up beyond all repair. "Since I seem to be getting chauffeured by you on a daily basis. All I need is you falling asleep at the wheel. Although you already drive like a psycho, so I guess, what's the difference with a psychotic narcoleptic?"
Danny imagines Steve rolling his eyes, but there is a pregnant pause in the conversation. The Camaro steers itself toward the coastline, while he cradles the phone to his ear, listening to Steve's silence.
There it is again. That soft supplication, as if his name were a weight, holding down Steve's emotions.
But Danny has been everyone's touchstone today: Steve, Matt, Rachel even Grace. He's tired of being the one having to bend down and pick up the pieces. Danny's drowning in responsibility to his family, and his job, and he's not sure he can make it to the surface this time. His parents are still going to have to be notified that their youngest son is now a fugitive from justice.
And that thought alone makes the bile rise in his throat. No air, little options. His grip on the steering wheel tightens, and he battles with his own voice, trying to steady it.
"I can't," Danny rasps. "Just. No. I gotta deal with this right now, Steve."
"I understand, Danny, but…"
"I appreciate the offer, but no. I need to clear my head. Be alone for a while." Danny runs his tongue over his lips, and clears his throat pointedly. "But thank you, partner. Really."
Steve voice is low, and Danny can hear the disappointment. "Okay. Okay, you call me, you understand….just, anything. You hear?"
Steve likes to harp on Danny for his worry-warting, but when push comes to shove, Steve McGarrett can be the biggest mother hen of them all. A big, deadly, more than slightly crazy mother hen.
Danny smiles a little more, his face aching with the effort. "Thanks, man."
After hanging up, Danny keeps driving into the night. But it's an island – he's going to run out of road eventually – and he finds himself at Onelua Beach Park, pulling to a stop near the sand, looking out into the endless blackness. There is no deciphering where the sky begins and the sea ends, and that's pretty damn appropriate.
Danny can't see the horizon in this new shit-storm cluttering up his life, either.
About five minutes after hanging up with his partner, Steve has a new mission. And like the trained SEAL that he is, he goes about preparing for this new mission like he is preparing for any other tactical op.
He needs supplies. In this case: Beer. The 7-11 down the street will have six packs already chilled.
Steve moves through his living room, snatching up his keys as he opens the door. His cell is out and he's dialing, while his long strides eat up the distance between his door and his truck.
Steve knows Danny's not at his apartment, and he doubts that his partner is sitting at the bar downtown that they usually frequent for after-case drinks. But other than those two places, and work, he's not sure where the Jersey boy could be.
And that troubles him. Steve likes to think he knows Danny well. Likes to believe that he can predict the short, feisty detective's moods and actions fairly consistently. After all, they've become close this year working together. A lot closer than Steve could have imagined during their first tumultuous days together.
But now he's at a loss. And Steve's never felt good not being able to see all the angles. After picking up the beer, he thanks the woman on the other end of the line and hangs up. In the truck, he studies the GPS dot blinking on his cell, and smiles.
Those GPS trackers in the cell phones were a good idea. He turns his truck onto the highway, and nudges the gas pedal down, the engine humming as he speeds up.
He doesn't like the idea of Danny being alone any longer than necessary.
Soon, Steve's pulling in beside the silver Camaro, the rushing of the waves and the sea air moving light and breezy around him. He grabs the cases of beer, the glasses tinkling as he makes his way out into the sand.
It's almost absurd, since Danny seems to be allergic to all things beach related, when Steve sees him sitting in one of the few beach chairs left out by the park for the tourists.
The white, rumpled shirt Danny is wearing is stark in the inky darkness. The lone light from the parking area casts a ghostly glow. Danny's head is in his hands, and for a moment, Steve freezes.
Something twists in Steve's chest at the sight. He's seen this kind of loneliness before. Felt it smothering his own soul, stuck in that empty house, surrounded by memories.
He doesn't want that for Danny.
Danny senses his approach and lifts his head. "How'd you find me?" he's eyeing Steve, while Steve drags another chair up next to his and sits.
A small shrug while he sets the beer between them. "Tracking is part of my training."
A long sigh, and Danny turns his gaze back to his own hands. "Freaking ninja."
Steve can't help the small grin, but it fades when he looks back at his despondent partner. The snark doesn't have the bite he's used to.
"What if I didn't want to be found?" There's an edge in Danny's voice now, one that Steve knows all too well. He's pulled this many a time himself when he wants to go lick his wounds in private.
But Danny needs him. Steve knows it.
"Tough," he answers simply.
They sit in silence for while, staring out into that pitch black ocean. Usually Steve doesn't have to wait long for Danny to pick up the conversation and take it on one of his verbal jaunts, but Danny is just sitting there. Staring off into nothingness, fretting his bottom lip and it's making Steve antsy.
He's never been good at taking the gentle approach to getting information out of a person. But he's also not used to caring this much either. Danny would tell him when he was ready, but Steve is worried. He could be a patient man when he had to be, but the overwhelming urge to lift the blanket of gloom off his partner is overriding his training.
Reaching down, Steve pops the top off a beer and nudges Danny's arm with the bottle. Something clenches in the region of his heart when Danny startles, as though he forgot Steve was even there.
Maybe he really doesn't want me here. Steve pushes that thought out of his head. "Here," he says. Beer is the universal Man Band-Aid for the soul.
Danny looks at the beer for a moment, as though trying to decide if it's real, then flicks his eyes up to Steve's. "Thanks."
One word. That's something, at least. "Sure." Steve subtly shifts his chair closer to his partner as he opens his own beer. Taking a long swig, Steve wipes his mouth, glances at Danny and says, "So… the Feds weren't a happy bunch."
Danny's head makes a minute turn; at least he's got his attention.
So he continues, "That lead agent called after they got to the marina. You'd think he got paid by the word, the amount of time as he kept me on the phone, bitching. Could give you a run for your money in that department."
Steve smiles then, hoping the detective will rise to the bait, but is disappointed. Danny's expression barely registers the dig, and now Steve is on a slippery slope. The beer didn't open the conversation, and now a dig hasn't done the trick either. This is bad.
"Really? You're going to let that one slide?" Steve tries, leaning toward Danny.
Danny sniffs a little, scratches at his nose and looks away.
Steve can't stand the silent treatment any longer, and reaches out, placing a hand on Danny's shoulder, much like he did at the hotel.
"Danny. Talk to me," he beseeches softly. 'What happened?"
"I would have thought that my obvious silence and attempt at finding a secluded place, even if it has to be a fucking beach, was an indication that talking about this is the last thing I want to do." Danny says, darkly.
Steve swallows against the unmistakable feeling of being shut out. Feels like Danny has verbally put his hand on Steve's chest and shoved him away. And he knows that feeling well, has been dealing with it since he landed back on this island. At least, until he met Danny.
"C'mon man. You know talking about this is the only way to get through it."
"Thank you Doctor Phil. And might I add, pot-kettle-black, Steven."
Steve's hand falls limply away, and he looks into his beer, searching for answers. "I know what it's like, y'know. I know what it's like to have a sibling that thinks you're perfect when they couldn't be more wrong. It puts a rift there, you know? I wish… I wish I'd been a better influence in Mary's life, the way you were a good influence in Matt's."
Danny suddenly comes to life, turning fiercely in his chair. "And what good did it do, huh? What the hell good did it do? Matt was laundering money for drug dealers trying to dig himself out!" The hands that had been hanging lifeless in his lap were now slicing through the air, "And then, what, he runs? After I told him… after I promised him I'd help him? That I'd get him through this!"
There is agony in the lines etched around Danny's eyes, the likes of which Steve has only seen once, and that was when Grace had been in danger. His voice is desperate and painful, like the time Steve tried to talk him down from the ledge while in the middle of the jungle with a tree suspended in the air.
Family is everything to Danny Williams, and Steve whole heartedly agrees with that philosophy. Envies it, actually.
"But what does he do, Steve? What does he do? He stands there and looks straight into my eyes…" Danny takes a ragged breath, pinching the bridge of his nose. "He looks into my eyes and rips my heart out."
That statement tears at Steve's heart a little, and he hides it by looking down. Danny's on a roll now, and he doesn't want to derail the train by jumping in.
"I had a choice, Steve. Shoot my brother or say goodbye." Danny shakes his head and takes a long hit of his beer. "I guess this whole trip for him was some kind of long goodbye. I just didn't know it until it was too late. I couldn't do a damn thing."
The hopelessness in Danny's voice worms its way under Steve's defenses, and he finds himself reaching out to his partner again. This time, he latches onto Danny's forearm, squeezing slightly, and dipping his head to catch Danny's eyes.
"Hey," he says. "Hey, Danny, look at me. You didn't know. This is not your fault. For all the times you've told me that very thing, I can't express it enough; this was not your fault. Matt made his own decisions and he chose to run. You did everything you could."
"Short of shooting him." Danny interjects.
Steve shrugs a little, still holding onto Danny's arm. "Well yeah. Short of shooting him."
When Danny looks up, Steve feels a grin pulling up one side of his mouth. He's gratified to see Danny trying to return it.
"You would've shot him, wouldn't you." There's no malice, only sublet ribbing in Danny's voice.
Steve thinks for a moment, frowning. "I could have winged him for you. Just a flesh wound."
Danny shakes his head and actually chuckles. "You are such a freak."
Steve joins in the laughter, not as carefree as at the Hilton the day before, where he learned that Danny has been a cop practically since birth (not surprising, really) but it was laughter none the less.
And he still hasn't let go of Danny's arm.
Four beers later, Danny feels a hellova lot lighter. Or maybe he's just this side of being drunk. He really doesn't care. But Steve is still beside him, laughing at his stories of plastic handcuffs, snow ball wars where he and Matty sided against their sisters, about his firefighter father. Steve talks about his sister and their antics, since he was left to care for her while his mother struggled to keep things simple and his father was always working.
He found the more beers he downed, the easier he could say Matt's name without his heart sinking into his shoes. And Steve seemed to be constantly seeking some sort of physical contact: bumping fists, touching his arm, his shoulder. As though he's afraid Danny might disappear.
And it's grounding Danny as well, so he doesn't mind. Steve's presence always adds an air of security even when he is at his craziest. Maybe it's his ability to be confident that no matter what, he can accomplish the mission.
His mission tonight is obviously to buoy Danny's psyche.
He tosses his fifth beer bottle into one of the six-pack boxes, and leans back. The joking has given way to a more somber mood.
"He should have trusted me," he says, leaning one elbow on the arm of the chair, toward Steve, a finger rubbing the stubble on his jaw. "Matt should have trusted that I could have seen him through this. How the hell am I gonna tell our parents?"
He doesn't really expect an answer, but that's what's killing him most right now. This was going to kill their mom.
Steve's head lolled back on the chair, the beer relaxing him as he slouched in the lounge chair, his long legs propped out in front of him. He turned his head to Danny, that serious, "I want to save the world" look on his face.
"I'm sorry," He says earnestly.
"What are you sorry for? Not like it's your fault."
Steve's eyes are boring into him, and Danny actually has to shift a little to divert the gaze. "Still, I'm sorry this happened. I wish I could have done more to help."
Danny leans back, a wide grin now. "Oh my God, Superman. You really can't save everyone. You know that, right?" He reaches out and pats Steve's broad shoulder.
Steve pulls in on himself a little, brows furrowed, chagrined. " 'm not Superman, Danny. Besides, you're my partner." The Boy Scout look is back in full force.
And that makes Danny smirk, because Steve really is the world's biggest, scariest boy scout. Saving the world without a shirt, one explosion at a time.
"Yeah, I know," Danny replies. He yawns and looks at his watch, finally, shocked that it's nearly morning.
"Jesus. It's late. You better get home. Get some rest."
"You going home?" Steve asks, and when Danny shrugs, he nods and says, "Then neither am I."
Danny jokes, "You really need to get a life, man. Hanging out on a freaking beach all night with me? That's sad."
Danny hopes Steve can hear the thank you under the bluster.
Steve's still staring at him, serenely. "Doesn't matter. I've got all the time in the world, Danno."
At that, Danny settles back, and really looks at his partner. His friend. The unspoken promise is there, along with that big, goofy grin.
The force of Steve's devotion hits Danny in the gut and he covers by settling back in the chair and closes his eyes. Doesn't even say anything about the nickname, because he really doesn't mind anymore. Not that he'll let Steve know that. Ever.
"Well, we're out of beer. Just so you know." Danny folds his hands on his stomach, and feels the tension in his muscles start to ebb with the warmth of the alcohol.
He can feel Steve shifting in his chair, because by now, Steve's chair is nearly touching his.
"You want more, go get it yourself. I'm comfortable." Steve mutters.
After a moment, Danny reaches out – not bothering to open his eyes – and holds his hand, palm up, over Steve's chest.
Steve's hand finds his immediately, and there is a brief squeeze. It's not quite a handshake, but it's more macho than actually holding hands. But for some reason, Danny needed to convey something through touch, and that's all he could think of. After releasing Steve's hand, Danny settled, stretching his legs out next to his partner.
He'd never realized how soothing the sounds of the ocean could be.
Steve is almost dozing when he hears something: the soft snoring of his partner slumped beside him, arms loosely crossed over his chest
Looking over, he see's Danny's face, dimly lit by the parking lot lights, and he's amaze how young his face is all sleep-smoothed and relaxed. Seeing the sorrow and the tension gone – at least temporarily – eases the pinch Steve's had around his heart most of the day.
A shudder crosses Danny's shoulders, as the sea wind carries a chill at night. Even Steve's short sleeves aren't going to cut it anymore.
Carefully, he eases out of his chair and heads to his truck. Reaching in the back seat, he grabs a couple of old blankets he keeps there for emergencies, and trudges back through the sand to his sleeping partner.
Quietly, Steve shakes out the blanket and drapes it over Danny's torso. Making sure the detective is comfortable, Steve waits to see if he'll awaken, before wrapping the other blanket around himself and settling back in his chair.
It wasn't the most comfortable place in the world, but Steve has endured sleeping in trees, standing up in ditches, and back to back with his comrades in the SEALs. This was a cake walk.
Besides, at least he isn't sitting back at that lonely house by himself. He had Danny next to him, close enough he could feel his presence, and that alone was a powerful sedative.
Drowsily, Steve casts one last fond glance at the man next to him, before nodding off to the sounds of the waves on the sand.
Please READ and REVIEW! Concrit welcome!