A/N: Just a partly angsty, partly hopeful little oneshot.
Also, this is a repost for an anonymous reviewer who kindly explained to me that I was discourteous in that I did not specifically state the story was slash. My apologies, random citizen, for ingraining an irreversible homosexual image into your head. I respect your beliefs, whether they be in the fanfic world or in the real one as well, and do offer my condolences for the part of you that I so rudely stole. But a word of caution- if the subject is romance and the characters are men, it can probably be safely assumed that the story will be slash. At least it would have been to me.
Thanks for understanding. And to anyone else out there who I may have offended, I hope I didn't steal your soul. To all others, I hope you're more reasonable.
Disclaimer: All recognizable characters, plotlines, and snappy catch phrases belong to CBS studios. No profit is being made in the publication of this story.
It wasn't supposed to be this way. It wasn't supposed to end with blood spattered walls and a long gone body, lost to death's relentless claws.
It was supposed to end with I love you. It was supposed to end with a walk along the beach and a night of passion, followed by a hasty happily ever after.
Danny supposed death just couldn't wait this time. He was hell- bent on revenge for his charge escaping his clutches so many times. But to rip life away from someone so abruptly and violently? No descent into a deep eternal slumber. No ripe old age rocking chairs and memories of a life well lived. No, that was not the case at all. Death came with the swiftness of wind, and with unrelenting force like a plethora of mighty soldiers. Violent. Bloody.
Danny could not bring himself to cry. It seemed the love ran too deeply in his veins to produce tears, and instead opted to try and crush him with agony he couldn't express. He didn't know if he wanted to scream and curse and break things or just lie down and fade out of existence.
An arm came to rest on his shoulder. He didn't react- he didn't know how.
"I'm so sorry, Danny." The voice was thick with tears he could not produce for himself.
Danny gave a short, curt nod, but offered nothing beyond that in way of response. He knew if he opened his mouth to speak, the floodgates would open and he would not be able to move on. If he didn't speak the words, he could deny their veracity for longer.
"You shouldn't be here, Danny."
Another voice. This one calm, as it always was. "You need to go home. You need time. We all do." The voice cracked at the last sentence, and Danny's resolve shook, threatening his stability.
Still he did nothing.
"He's not going to come, Chin."
"He can't be here, cuz. We need to leave…"
The voices were fading out. They were pained, thick with emotion. They were everything that he was not, so he shut them off. They faded into blissful silence so that the only noise Danny could hear was the sound of his own deeply beating heart.
He choked, and his body threatened to shut down. How was this fair? Why should be forced to continue to live and breathe when the love of his life was lost to the eternal river? How the hell did they expect him to keep going?
Danny's whole body shook. He felt Chin bend down and ease him up off the bloody floor. He complied, letting his teammate support him as they all made their way out of the house, under the yellow tape and into a car.
Danny felt like he was drowning in grief; he felt like he was stranded on a wooden plank at sea, screaming at the top of his lungs as a boat sailed steadily away from him. He felt utterly and wholly alone.
Finally, he couldn't take the not knowing any longer.
"Did they find the body?" His voice sounded hollow, lifeless. He wanted so desperately to break down and cry, because at least it would be better than this- better than sinking into his cold, lonely sea.
Kono sniffled and wiped the tears from her eyes. Her voice shook when she spoke, and Danny envied her.
"No. All they found was the blood. But there was just too much of it. There- there was just no chance of surviving that- that…" she trailed off and continued to cry quietly.
"And the picture, Danny. I'm so, so sorry brah, but they confirmed there was no… Photoshop involved. They're real. They're… true." Chin was calm, but Danny knew it was just a mask.
Danny sunk lower. Another life- sucking sucker punch to his heart; he was given no body to bury. Nothing to hold and nothing to see. It wasn't just death; it was utterly and agonizingly sweeping away the only other person he was ever loved so uncompromisingly apart from his daughter.
Grace. Oh god. How the hell was he going to explain to his nine- year- old daughter that she could no longer play hop scotch and have tea parties with her quasi- parent? How was he going to explain her father's sudden descent into deep, agonizing despair?
The car came to a halt. He was home. Except he wasn't; home wasn't bricks and a bed. Home was family. Home would never be the same. There may not even be a home any more.
Chin made like he was going to come inside, but Danny shook his head. He walked in alone, leaving the two cousins in his wake- staring after him with equal expressions of sympathy mixed with their own grief.
Danny closed the door to the big, empty- very, very empty- house. He though of nothing, really. He continued to swim in feeble denial until his feet found the bedroom without thought.
The door swung open and Danny's heart almost stopped. The bedroom was the same as it had been that morning. Clothes were thrown, pell-mell, over the chair in the corner and empty bed sat, as it always did, with one side made neatly and precisely and the other with heaped and crinkled linens and the pillows thrown onto the floor.
Danny could take it no longer. He physically felt pain in his chest and he curled up on the neat side of the bed and let his complete grief take over. Tears welled up and spilled over his eyes, snaking down to plummet off his chin and splatter on the navy colored bedspread like drops of blood.
Alone in this empty house, Danny could do nothing by be consumed by the hopeless agony.
Finally, mercifully, sleep found its way into his exhausted soul, and he drifted into restless oblivion.
Water was running over his face and down his body like rivers. The shower was heaven after such a long night. The dull ache was well worth it, though, so he still managed to smile blissfully, allowing a few drops of boiling water into his mouth.
"You are unbelievably slow, you know." The voice sounded amusedly irritated.
"Forgive me for enjoying my shower," Danny replied curtly, without bothering to open the curtain. He closed his eyes again, but yelped and jumped back as his hot water suddenly turned ice cold. He opened his eyes just in time to see a hand sneak back out behind the curtain.
"What the hell!"
"I hate you."
"That's rude, Danny."
"You're the one who gave me an ice bath! I should run the hot water and make you take a cold shower."
"Don't think so, baby. I showered an hour before you even got up."
"I hate you."
"You love me. Now hurry up, it takes you forever to get dressed."
Danny, still muttering angrily, wrapped a towel around his frame and stepped on the cold tile to face his adversary who was, annoyingly, smirking like a cat that ate a canary.
"You are such a hardass."
"You appreciate it."
Danny contemplated it. "Only in a literal sense."
"Obviously. Now hurry your ass up, Williams."
After the ten minutes it took for him to get dressed and fill a cup with coffee, he made his way to the car, already running- as though it and its driver were impatiently awaiting his arrival.
"What's the plan?"
"I'm dropping you off at HQ to head up with Kono and Chin and I'm going to see a CI with a lead on the Acoba case."
"Try not to shoot anyone."
"I'll do my best."
"Of course you will."
The car stopped. A look, a slightly lingering kiss that left him craving more, and a few words were all that we're offered as they parted ways.
"Hui hou, Danny." Danny, though not well versed in the Hawaiian language, knew what those particular words meant, because they had been spoken to him almost every day for months… until we meet again.
Danny nodded, smiled, and shut the car door. It peeled away, and Danny watched it round a corner and disappear.
Danny gasped and sat up. Tears leaked out of his eyes as he struggled to regain his breathing. That was it- the last conversation. The last kiss. The last goodbye.
There would be no more promises of "until next time." There would be no more petty morning arguments. No more sleeping next to a warm, comfortable body. No more sleeping with a warm, comfortable body. No more… anything.
The thought made him want to sink into the bed and never resurface.
He had to be strong, to move on and pick up the pieces. He had to be strong for his team, and for his daughter. But how was he just supposed to pick up the pieces from the wreckage of this life and simply carry on as though he was not barely patched together with bad glue? How was he supposed to keep on existing as half of a whole?
Four days passed. For four days, Danny stayed in that big, empty house and cried, raged, broke things, cried a little more, and sat starting at the wall for hours.
Four days was exactly enough time to sort through all his emotional shit and try to start actually living again.
First thing he did was shower, and even that brought back a wave of agony. Next he called Chin and Kono because he had, quite rudely, been ignoring them for the past few days.
"Danny?" Kono's voice was full of intense relief.
"Yeah," Danny replied, his voice was hoarse from his emotional rampage, but at least it lacked the horrible deadened sound it had four days ago.
"I'm so glad you called brah. How are you?"
"I've… been better."
"I understand, Danny. All of us have been given a week of ordered vacation time. Chin and I are headed over to see you now."
Surprisingly, Danny did not mind the idea of company. In fact, he thought it may even help a little to ease the gaping hole in his chest.
It was a little after nine when the cousins arrived, and the moon had already risen over the black ocean. Danny stared out at the sea, and was lost for a moment in the beauty of it before the door opened, and he turned to meet the unsmiling faces of his teammates.
"Hey." It was a lame thing to say, but it was all he had.
Kono walked up and firmly embraced him. He melted into her petite form and let his head rest in the crook of her neck. He felt a semblance of comfort at the small gesture, and felt himself warm just a little.
He nodded his thanks when she released him, and he caught her wiping a tear from her cheek.
Chin held up a bottle of amber liquid that glinted off the dim light of the living room.
"I though we should honor him properly."
Danny whole heartedly agreed.
The rest of the evening, the three teammates sat on the couch and sank deeper and deeper into intoxication. Danny couldn't help but think it was the most appropriate way of commemorating the fallen commander. He could hear Steve's voice so clearly in his head that it was almost painful; no flowers, Danno. No silly casket or wildly expensive, useless stone. Just get drunk, roaring drunk, and make a toast to a time when I could have been there too to drink you under the table.
One week since Danny lost his other half saw him and his nine- year- old daughter together for the first time since before Steve's life was ripped from him, leaving Danny with nothing but blood and a fucking picture.
Danny tried really hard to explain why Gracie couldn't see Uncle Steve anymore. It felt like he was ripping his heart out of his chest, because he had to be simple, and saying the words so blatantly made them entirely too real.
"Uncle Steve is gone, Monkey. He's gone to be with Papa Williams and Nana."
"But- but Danno," she said, hiccupping and sniffling with a child's crocodile tears running down her face, "what about hop scotch? And- and swinging at the park? And what about when we watch movies on the couch in our jammies? Where is Uncle Steve going to be then?"
"He's going to be watching you Monkey," Danny told his daughter, and his voice hitched a little in his throat. "He's going to make sure you don't get an Ouchy, and make sure you make friends and grow up and be happy and safe. Just like Papa and Nana do."
She cried harder, and hugged her father tight. He hugged back, clinging to his daughter like he never wanted to let go.
Two weeks. It had been two weeks, and Danny found his paralyzing grief slowly replacing itself with anger. Anger at the bastards who tore Steve away from him. Who stole from Grace her second true father. Who ripped the team to shreds and made the island infinitely less safe.
And they had gloated about it.
Steve had gone to see a CI, and they didn't hear from him again. Nothing. No contact. No word. Danny's worry grew by each passing hour, until he became frantic enough to ask Chin to trace Steve's cell. It turned up in a neighborhood, at a particular address that made Danny's heart stop; it was the house of the suspect they were currently investigating.
The scene they arrived to was not a pretty one. The house was torn apart. Several men lay dead on the ground in the main room. An empty room off to the side held something much more sinister; a photograph. And blood. It splattered on the walls and soaked into the floor, staining the pristinely white carpet with dirty, oozing liquid. Taped to the back wall was a picture. It depicted the same room in much the same was as it was currently, except that the room in the photograph housed a man.
The man was Steve McGarrett. He lay, spread eagled, on the ground in a pool of his own blood with two holes in his abdomen. His face was at peace; closed eyes and an almost serene expression made him appear asleep.
His deathly pale body and bluish lips did not.
And so began Danny's slow descent into hell. And, after emerging, limping and carrying the weight of the world back from the abyss, he was ready to rip the bastards who killed Steve to shreds.
Lucky for him, it wasn't too hard to find the suspect. It wasn't even that hard to get him to talk. All it took was Danny's fist to his gut repeatedly until the bastard threw up and Danny's hand split open and he bled from the knuckles.
He confessed to shooting Steve, after the SEAL killed four of his men in the fight at the house. He also confessed that they took a photograph of the fallen man and dumped the body just off of a dirt road in the jungle.
It took Chin's arms gripping Danny tightly to keep the enraged man from killing the suspect. Even then, Danny managed to break two ribs and the nose before Chin intervened.
Danny shook off Chin and stormed out. He couldn't take it any longer. He was tired of being completely miserable and angry all the time. He walked past Kono, who looked up concerned but did not try to stop him.
He found himself just outside HQ, standing in the pouring rain as the moonlight shone down and illuminated the tops of the tropical trees that buckled under a relentless pounding of water.
How appropriate, he thought bitterly. Rain. I hate the fucking rain. I hate this whole goddamn thing. Damn you, Steve, for leaving me here.
Danny turned towards the sky, letting the clouds cry the tears he could no longer muster.
"YOU HEAR THAT, STEVE?" He shouted to the sky, "YOU HEAR ME, YOU BASTARD? HOW THE HELL COULD YOU LEAVE ME HERE?"
Danny felt exhausted. Completely, thoroughly exhausted. Spent. He felt like he was spread too thin to be anything more than flimsy.
He sighed, and went inside to find Chin and Kono. They needed to find the… body. He needed this. He really, really needed this.
The body was not there. There were the telltale signs of a dump, sure- what with the tire tracks and the obvious signs of a human being that had lain in the dirt. But no body. Danny couldn't help but feel a smidgen of relief; after two weeks it would not have been Steve anymore. This way, memory could keep him as handsome, caring, and heroic as he had been in life. This way, Steve McGarrett could be immortalized.
Danny began to move forward. Slowly, but surely, he was trudging on. At this point, a month had passed since he lost the man that he loved.
They held a memorial service for the decorated Commander, and it was a jarring sight to see; huge numbers of people came out to pay their respects. Naval officers, HPD, and civilians alike- who had all been personally touched by the man Danny had come to know and love- came to say good bye.
The skies were paradoxically sunny. Danny hated that it could not rain on the one day rain would have been the welcome weather. Still, sunlight shone down as the people filtered through to shake Five-0's hands and offer condolences.
Danny hated every minute of it. He knew that Steve would have abhorred being honored in this way; he was a man of simple tastes and philosophies, and Danny loved him for it.
Finally, he was released from the agony of the event and was allowed to return to the house with Grace in tow.
"Yeah monkey?" Danny looked down to find his daughter looking back at him with an odd expression. It was somewhere between contemplation and sadness.
"Papa Stan doesn't like to play hopscotch with me. I can't play hop scotch without Uncle Steve."
Danny bent down and embraced his daughter tightly, a few tears squeezed out of his eyes.
"I'm so sorry baby," he told her, "I wish Uncle Steve could play hopscotch with you. But he went to be with Papa and Nana, remember? He's playing hopscotch with them."
"But Danno," she countered, frowning, "When Papa and Nana went to heaven, we got them a great big stone that they could read it from way up, and we got them a bed so that they would be comfy, and we went outside and let father Frank make sure they could get to heaven. But Uncle Steve didn't get a great big stone, or a bed, and Father Frank didn't help send him to heaven with Papa and Nana. I don't think Uncle Steve can get there alone. I want to help him, Danno."
Danny couldn't find the words to express what he felt. His nine- year- old daughter was so full of simple, childish logic that it was almost profound.
Before he could stutter out a response, the phone rang.
"Detective, I'm so glad I finally found you…"
Shock. Paralyzing, profound shock. He could hardly move. Hardly breathe. In fact, he could hardly form coherent thoughts.
The room was sterile, crisp and white, like most in the building were. Except that he didn't care about any other room in the building.
Only this one. He only cared about this very room at this very moment in time.
Danny looked up. The doctor was tall, thin, and balding, but he had a charismatic personality that made him easy to listen to.
"I'm sorry we met under these circumstances."
Danny nodded, and could only form one word. "How…?"
"It's nothing short of a miracle, I assure you."
"It shouldn't be possible."
"I know. It took five transfusions to even recover a part of the blood loss. Its… unbelievable."
"What happened?" Danny was reeling. He did not know what to do; for the second time in a month, his world had shattered.
"We don't know the cause of the injury because he wasn't coherent enough to give us many details. Thirty two days ago, we got a call from the local medics who said a pair of hunters found a man just off the road in Paliawe forest. They needed to restart his heart three times just on the way to the E.R, so they called ahead to have blood and an O.R. ready for him when they arrived. It took six hours of surgery, but we began to transfuse blood and repair the damage done by the bullet wounds. There was no ID, so we had to wait and see if we could glean any info from the man. We got nothing; he did not regain consciousness. Until a few hours ago, that is. Tonight, he woke up for the first time in a month and all we got was the name Danny Williams before he passed out again."
The doctor finished his story, leaving Danny to stew in disbelief. Suddenly, he felt the urge to laugh. So he did. He laughed heartily and the doctor gave him an odd look.
"I learn a month ago that my partner is dead and I'm forced to move on. I finally begin to have closure, and suddenly he's alive again and, once more, I'm left to deal with the backlash. Typical McGarrett- complete disregard for other's feelings." Danny shook his head, and continued to laugh. He felt a sort of insane, giddy relief. He was completely lost again, but this time it was a good kind of lost.
The doctor nodded, and left Danny to his musings.
Grace, who had slept through the frantic drive to the hospital and subsequent disbelief and confusion of her father, blearily opened her eyes to look at him.
"See?" She asked, crawling into Danny's lap and lacing her arms around his neck. "I told you Uncle Steve didn't go to heaven."
Danny hugged her and allowed himself another round of laughter, even as he found his eyes water.
"You were right, Monkey. Looks like Uncle Steve can play hopscotch with you after all."
"Do you think we should wake him up?"
"Nah, he's had a long night."
Danny blearily opened his eyes looked up to find Chin and Kono grinning down at him like maniacs- it seemed as though they were infected by the same relieved giddiness that had affected him the night before.
"Too late. I'm already awake." He smiled at them, and then turned to look at Steve. There had been no change since the previous night- the man still looked palely handsome, with his five o'clock shadow and pointed chin- but Danny was so happy that he was even alive that the rest simply didn't matter.
Grace was still asleep on the couch, so they talked quietly.
"How did you find out?" Danny asked.
"Hospital called," was Chin's less- than- helpful reply. "We came as soon as we heard."
"I don't even know what to think. He… was dead. He was gone. I keep thinking this isn't real and that I'll wake up at home alone."
Kono took a step forward and flicked Danny in the center of the forehead.
"Real enough for you?" She grinned. Danny couldn't help but grin back.
Danny left Steve's side only once in forty- eight hours, and it turned out to be the exact wrong time to leave.
Chin and Kono had returned to tie up loose ends with the case- now that the fallen Commander was no longer fallen- and Danny had stepped out to find much needed coffee, leaving Grace- who had actually left for a day and a half and had just returned- to watch over Uncle Steve with a nurse for the few minutes it took for him to go and come back.
When he retuned, he found too many things had changed.
For one, the nurse he had asked to watch his daughter was gone. Although the reason for that became apparent a moment later.
Grace had crawled into her Uncle Steve's bed and has plopped down next to him so that her head rested on his shoulder and both of her little hands grasped one of his.
The biggest change since Danny left all of seven minutes ago was that Grace was talking. To Steve. Whose eyes were open and looking at her and whose giant hand held both of hers as only a father could.
"Danno!" Grace cried when she spotted him, standing in the doorway in shock. He shook his head clear and moved into the room, drinking in the sight of Steve's wonderfully alive- damaged and bedraggled, but alive- body.
Steve looked up, and formed the goofy half smile that Danny loved so much.
"Danno, guess what?" Grace plowed on, unconcerned with her father's shock. "I was telling Uncle Steve that everybody though he went to heaven to see Papa and Nana, but I knew better and now he can play hopscotch and have tea parties with me."
"Hey, Hiwalani, why don't you run and find Nurse Jackie real quick and ask her for a lollipop." Steve's voice was weak, and hoarse from disuse. But damnit if it wasn't the most beautiful sound Danny had ever heard. Grace forgot all about her previous rant, and nodded. Briefly hugged Steve, and skipped past her father to the nurse's station just outside the room.
Danny cautiously approached Steve, wary that he might disappear if he moved too quickly. Steve watched him intensely. Finally, Danny sat down at Steve's side and grasped a hand. It was warm, and wonderfully full of life.
Danny didn't look Steve in the eye.
"I thought you were gone. I though you were dead."
"I've spent the last month trying to move on."
"I literally had half my heart ripped out."
"Danny, look at me."
Danny looked up and met Steve's intense, deep blue eyes.
"I'm right here, and I'm not going anywhere."
He leaned as far forward as he could without the bandages stopping him, and placed a firm, very real, kiss on Danny's lips.
Danny melted. He was finally home. He returned the kiss with passion. It was so perfect, and so tangible that Danny wanted nothing more than to stay in that place forever.
And then Steve groaned. Danny pulled back sharply, and found his partner was grimacing in pain and clutching his bandaged stomach.
Steve managed to look up at Danny and attempt a smile- that really turned out more like a grimace.
"I'm fine," the Commander assured him, "It's just a little tender is all."
"You are not fine," Danny replied, and he gently pushed Steve back onto the bed.
Danny returned to his seat, and grasped his partner's hand in his own, hanging on just so that Steve wouldn't disappear again.
"And by the way," Danny said, issuing a glare at Steve, "you're an ass."
"That's rude." Steve's reply was laced with exhaustion. It was clear he was about to go to sleep again.
"It's true. You're dead for an entire month, and then you just waltz back into our life like it's no big deal? You, my friend, are a complete ass."
Steve managed a small smile, before Danny was sure he fell asleep.
Danny awoke with a yelp and shot up in bed, gasping for air. He was shaking all over and sweat clung to his back like an unwelcome leech.
Even after six months, he was still forced awake entirely too frequently by the horrible nightmare.
He must have been louder than he thought, because Steve stirred, and then opened his eyes and turned over onto his back so he could sit up too.
"Danno?" He asked, slightly groggy from sleep. "Hey, you okay?"
Danny found Steve's hand and grasped it tightly in his own, just to make sure the other man was still there. He found Steve's chest, and firmly put his second hand there to keep his partner from going anywhere.
"Was it the dream?"
"Hey, Danny, it's okay," Steve soothed him, his voice well practiced after six months of the same assurance. "I'm still here, and I'm not going to leave you, or Gracie. Ever."
Steve squeezed Danny's hand, but Danny was still so caught up in his personal hell that he hardly noticed. He felt himself begin to shake.
Steve wrapped two strong arms around him and held him close. Danny tucked his head into Steve's chest and breathed in his partner's wonderful scent.
"I keep seeing it, Steve. I keep seeing the blood, and the fucking picture. I keep seeing you die in my arms and I can't do a damn thing about it."
Steve, still holding him close, kissed the top of his head.
"I love you, Danno. You're annoying as hell and an irritatingly mainland- dressing haole, but I still love you. Why would I leave this behind? What could be better than this, right here, at this moment?"
Danny didn't say anything. He didn't have to.
Slowly, he drifted back to sleep in Steve's arms. It was sound this time, because he knew Steve would still be there, holding him tight, when he awoke.
A/N: I know it's slash and cheesy, but it's been nagging at me, and I needed a quickie while I worked on the sequel to TOS.