Disclaimer: As usual, I don't own Hawaii Five-0.
Author's Note: Sorry this took so long. I had trouble writing this last chapter. I didn't know where to go and how to finish, but I sat down and fought through it to finish this chapter. I hope it's a great ending! Sorry for the delay and thanks for the patience. :)
5. For the Love of Grace
"Danny." Steve said sharply, fear pulsing through his chest. Whoever was behind that wall, it just couldn't be Danny.
But it was.
Steve crept halfway through the hole in the wall, trying to get a better look at the pale, ghostly body in the brick enclosure. Frankly, Danny looked dead. He was completely still with colorless skin and dark smudges under his eyes. He was littered with bruises and blood, exhibiting all the signs of someone violently hit by a car.
"Danny?" Steve whispered, getting more afraid as his fingers inched closer to his partner's neck. What if he was dead? No, no, he couldn't think like that. But what if he was dead? What would he do? He couldn't tell Grace Danny was gone. How the hell could he explain that to a little girl? It wasn't like it was a great aunt who had "gone on a trip." This was her father. How could explain that to her? It had to be right. She had to understand—she had to grow up with the knowledge that her father was a protector. She had to know that Danny died because he was trying to protect all sorts of people, including little girls like her. Is that what he would tell her?
His fingers were getting closer to Danny's neck, hovering over the pale skin. Steve was scared to move them closer. He didn't want to know. He didn't want to know that Danny was gone.
"Boss…" Chin urged quietly. Steve continued to stare at his partner, still reluctant to press his fingers against Danny's neck.
"McGarrett…" Chin mumbled. He stared at his leader for a moment, pursing his lips together anxiously. "Steve! Check for a pulse!"
Steve jumped in surprise, immediately obeying his subordinate. He flinched as his fingers touched skin.
It was warm.
It wasn't as warm as it should've been, but it wasn't cold. A soft pulse pumped beneath his fingers, slow and faint.
"He's alive." Steve huffed, taking a deep breath. He carefully maneuvered his arms beneath Danny, preparing to pull his partner out of the damp, little space.
"Careful, boss. He could have internal bleeding." Chin mumbled, watching with a cautious eye. Steve allowed a small nod as he slowly pulled his partner from behind the wall. Chin quickly moved to help as they carried Danny between them to the flatter floor.
"Hey, paramedics are fifteen minutes out!" Kono announced as she quickly came down the stairs. She jogged up to Chin and Steve, breathing heavily. "That was about two minutes ago. How is he?"
"Alive." Steve sighed, checking Danny over a little more thoroughly. There wasn't much he could do if his partner was bleeding internally. It was killing Steve. Of all the things that Danny's "Super SEAL" couldn't do, it had to be this. Right now, it was the only thing Steve wanted to do. He sat cross-legged next to his partner, rubbing his hands over his face tiredly.
"Ten more minutes, Danno." he mumbled.
Grace was just staring at him. Those big, brown eyes hadn't moved for the past minute or so. He didn't know what to say to her; he had no clue what she expected of him. Was he supposed to say he was sorry? Was he supposed to give her a smile? He just couldn't understand it. She was just staring. It intimidated him. Of course, she never had that look that her mother held; the look that incited fear in the strongest of men. Grace was gazing at him with large, innocent eyes. He had no idea what she was thinking about. He was pretty sure he knew her well enough to be able to react appropriately to her facial expressions, but this was the one that he couldn't understand.
She sighed and opened her mouth.
"Danno, you scared Uncle Steve." she stated. Danny didn't know what to say first. One, how would she even know what that freakin' super SEAL was feeling; and two, was she not scared for his well-being? He squinted in confusion, trying to figure out how he was supposed to respond to that. She helped him along.
"I told him you were strong and that you were going to be okay, but Uncle Steve kept rubbing at his face and pacing and stuff. Mommy told me he was scared." Grace explained. She smiled her sweet smile. "I knew you'd be okay." Danny raised his eyebrows, unsure of whether or not he should be worried about Grace's unshakeable faith in him. He decided that was a decision for another near-death experience.
"Well, don't get a big head, Monkey." he laughed, weakly ruffling her hair. Grace giggled as she gently swatted his hand away. The sound nearly made him want to cry. In the brick box, he would've done anything to hear her laugh again. He thought he was going to die; he didn't have the same faith as Grace. He was still trying to grapple onto the idea that he was still alive. That he would keep living until the next horrendous event.
He knew it couldn't be that far ahead.
Five-O wasn't exactly friendly in terms of keeping its team safe. He understood the risks of his career when he took his badge. Five-O just put that risk on steroids, the steroids being the one and only Steve McGarrett.
But no matter how many times Danny ranted and yelled at Steve, he could never blame the man. Steve always had his heart in the right place. Danny respected him.
"Gracie, let's go get Uncle Steve."
Rachel stood at the door, smiling at her daughter. She was trying to look casual and unworried, but she could never fool Danny. The purple brushed under her eyes confessed that she hadn't been sleeping well and stressed. Still, he wasn't about to call her out on it. It would only cause problems. He didn't need that right now.
Grace skipped out of the room with her mother, joyfully taking the mission to collect the super SEAL. The door closed, locking away the noises of people; of life. An uneasy feeling pumped through Danny's heart, running through his veins and pooling in his stomach. He didn't want to be alone. He was scared to be alone. The brick box haunted him; taunted him from his memory. He watched the door anxiously, waiting for someone to come through that door.
In the box, he wasn't sure if anyone would come. The feeling had enveloped him like cement, weighing him down, trapping him with his own fears. He breathed deeply, trying to fight away the same feeling; trying to swat away the terror and the loneliness.
He jumped when the door swung open.
Steve stopped abruptly, examining Danny carefully.
"You okay, Danny?" Steve probed, studying his partner. "I thought I saw you jump."
"It's nothing, don't worry about it." Danny replied hastily.
"Don't do that. Tell me what's up." Steve demanded, closing the door and taking a seat beside Danny.
"I'm telling you: it's nothing." Danny persisted. Of course, it wasn't nothing. He knew that and Steve knew that. Danny just convinced himself that he had an image to preserve. Some sort of image of manliness and nonchalance.
"Don't be ridiculous, Danny. You were hit by a car and cemented into a wall. You went through hours of surgery and you were out for days. You are in the hospital. None of this situation can result in 'nothing.' You can tell me anything. Tell me what's up." Steve ordered.
"It's nice to see you too." Danny grumbled.
"I'm glad you're awake, I really am. I'm just concerned." Steve explained. He was tired. So, so tired. Danny was first priority. Sleep was second. Steve couldn't get proper rest until he knew that Danny was okay. It wasn't that he wouldn't; it was that he couldn't. When he heard that Danny was awake, he felt relieved. But he'd forgotten that Danny would have psychological demons; emotional demons. When he saw his partner jump just as he opened the door, his heart sunk back into its sorrowful hiding place. He should've known it wasn't quite over.
Danny sighed. It was a sound mixed between sorrow and irritation. Trust Danny to find something to annoy him, even in such a situation.
"It's just that…I guess I get a little uneasy when I'm alone. When it's too quiet." he admitted, looking a little frustrated with himself. "I guess it's because I was alone in that…in that brick box. I thought a lot while I was in there." He huffed, trying hard to keep back his fidgeting. He opened his mouth to say more, but closed it again promptly. Steve waited for his partner to continue, but after a few minutes of silence figured that Danny wasn't going to say much more.
"What did you think about?" he prodded. Danny sat still for awhile, then shook his head.
"Okay, so any other day you'll shout your thoughts to me. Now that I actually want to know what's going on in that blonde head of yours, you clam up. Tell me." Steve commanded, staring at Danny with that awful super SEAL glare of determination. Danny didn't appreciate it.
"What if no one found me?" Danny mumbled, his voice barely audible.
"Speak up, Danny. You know I can't understand you when you mumble."
Danny would've glared at him, but he didn't really feel like it. Those horrid thoughts were spinning in his head, grasping onto his emotions and pulling them down into suffocating darkness.
He sighed heavily and looked up at Steve with a face of shame.
"What if no one found me?" he repeated, looking down again quickly. "I couldn't help but wonder if anyone would find me; if I would ever see Grace again. After awhile I started to believe that I wouldn't be found. Then I started to think about what I would miss."
Steve felt nauseas. Steve hadn't thought much about what it would be like to be trapped that way. To wonder if anyone would find you; to lose hope; to start counting the people you would never see again. Steve didn't think like Danny. Despite how Danny seemed to argue with people and passionately hate certain members of the human race, he was just as passionate about who he cared for. Of course Danny would think of who he loved first. He would miss them right away. Steve would think about how to escape. Everyone else came second. Steve would come out of this experience victorious: he had escaped, even though it wasn't by his own hand. Danny would come from the experience scared, tainted. He wouldn't be able to look at people the same way. He would look at Grace and wonder if he'll be there for her eighteenth birthday.
Steve was sick at the thought of Danny in the brick box.
The thought of him trapped with his own mind and passions.
"I wouldn't be there for Grace." Danny whispered. "I wouldn't be there when she needed me." He looked at his partner with broken eyes. "I was scared I'd never see her again."
Steve's guts squirmed inside him. He never wanted to see that look in Danny's eyes. It wasn't right.
He grabbed Danny by the shoulder and squeezed gently.
"Look, Danny. You're alive." Steve said, staring straight into his partner's eyes. "Right now, you're alive. Someday you may not be so lucky, I won't lie to you. But today, you're alive. Make the most of today. Make the most of every day you're alive. Then, someday, when you're taking your last breath you'll look back and know you've done all you can. There's nothing to fear, Danny. If you treat Grace like you've always have, you have nothing to worry about. Trust me: when she's going through hard times, just knowing how much you loved her and cared for her will comfort her. You'll be there when she needs you because she'll think about you and what you would say. Someday you'll be gone. It's a fact. But, today, you're alive for another day."
Danny smiled as tears collected in his eyes. He sniffled, wiping away the moisture in his eyes.
"You better not forget that." Steve said proudly, watching his partner as he hastily wiped his face.
"Way to go, Steve. You made me cry." Danny laughed weakly. "You happy now?"
"Very. Are you going to be okay?"
Danny paused for a moment, sniffling as he recollected his thoughts. He smiled as Steve's words echoed around his head. His heart still ached, but his mind had found some peace. He had gotten answers that he didn't know he needed and comfort in the thought that his partner was right beside him. Danny realized that Steve was always beside him, no matter what. He was never alone.
"I think I will be." he replied quietly. Steve looked relieved, yet partially unconvinced.
"Now, get out of here and get some sleep. You look worse than I do." Danny joked, softly punching Steve in the shoulder. His partner chuckled as he rose from his chair.
"It's good to see you awake." Steve mumbled, smiling. He turned and headed for the door, grabbing the handle firmly.
He turned to look at Danny one last time.
He smiled and left without a word.
Author's Note: I didn't really want to do the usual hospital scene with the waiting and the pacing...so if you were really looking forward to it, I'm sorry! I hope the ending was adequate! Please review and tell me what you think. Thanks for reading my story and reviewing so far. :) I really appreciate it.