I can't express to you all how much your kind words, and the fact you take the time to read this little fic, all mean to me. You guys seriously rock. You're the best peaple ever, every single one of you. Love you all!
Once again i have to give a huge debt of thanks to Zhalenn for an absolutely incredible idea, the little nuances and airport leaving scene wouldn't have been even half as emotional had it not been for her ideas. Thank you so much x
We're here at the end, so i'll shut up and let ya'll find out what really happened...
Sitting out on the deck chairs on the beach at the McGarrett home, feet in the sand and a breeze in their hair. The sun had long since disappeared to the other side of the ocean, bathing some foreign land in light. It had taken a bottle of whiskey and an obscene amount of beer before the cracks showed signs of splintering. Danny had a feeling that Steve McGarrett didn't get drunk for just this reason, so he used it as his leverage to open the doors and have a peak inside. For every drink Danny had, he made sure Steve had two.
At first the Lt Commander was suspicious, he knew the Detective was trying to get him to open up through alcohol, he'd tried to drink slower but his heart needed to share his horror, so in the end he acquiesced to the unspoken plea and downed the whiskey without a second thought.
They talked for hours. At first they discussed old cases, interesting stories, their 5-0 family and eventually, somewhere around 4am, Danny steered the conversation toward that night, so many weeks ago, when Steve was ordered away.
"I stood for ages on that runway."
Steve looked up, shocked. "Why?"
"I guess I thought it was all a big joke, and that the plane would turn back around and you'd hop out with a shit-eating-grin on your face like you're the funniest guy on the planet."
"How long until you realised that wasn't gonna happen?"
Steve almost choked on his beer. "You stood there an hour? Danno, man that's not normal, that's chick flick."
"Excuse me? Chick flick? Let me tell you something my friend, Danny Williams is NO chick flick guy. Ok!"
"I'm just saying, an hour is a long time. Bet if you told Rachel or Grace , even Kono for that matter, they'd all sigh and say Ahh."
"I'm not even going to rise to your bait."
"You are, you always will and you always do."
"Whatever, man. You drunk enough to tell me what happened yet?" Leave it to Danny to be subtle until he was blunt.
"I can't." Steve dropped his head and averted his eyes. He so wanted to tell someone. He needed to know it wasn't his fault, or have confirmation that he had every reason to feel the way he did. That it was him that sentenced so many to death.
But rules were rules.
Even if they were becoming fuzzy through whiskey and beer and his need to share. Even if the lack of sleep was causing his mind to relive that nightmare day over and over. He wanted, no, he needed to tell someone. Scratch that, it wasn't anyone he needed to tell. It was Danny.
"I was sent in with a Ranger Unit. Me and two other SEALS. We were to lead the way to a village and keep it safe. One of the villagers had given the location of an arms cache and my CO was worried that would mean retaliation by the rebels. We got there, it went bad. I only just made it out."
Danny stayed quiet, reading McGarrett like a book. He didn't have to wait long before the Lt Commander took a breath, the struggle to continue his story obvious.
Steve looked over at Danny, his eyes blurred by alcohol and the emotion that had found a way to the surface . Danny held his gaze. His eyes held no judgement, no fear. Only compassion and concern for a friend in need. They were Steve's undoing.
His mind shouted NO while his heart poured forth the words through his lips.
"I had to call a fire mission. We were trapped, the only thing standing between the enemy and the village. They were gonna get through us, make it to the village and kill everyone there. Everyone. Danny, there was an orphanage in that village."
Danny held his breath, barely daring to blink for fear that he'd break the spell and Steve would stop talking, cease to unburden his load and sink further away into the dark abyss.
After a few minutes Steve continued, his voice barely a whisper.
"We had no choice, had too many wounded to leave them behind and too few to put up any sort of defence. All I could do was call for an air strike. I gave them our co-ordinates. There was a kid, no more than twenty, he tried to grab for the radio. He kept screaming 'That's where we are, man!'. I couldn't explain it to him but you could tell the unit was divided between those who knew what had to be done, and those who were too rookie to realise. We waited, hunkered down and let the enemy get close. When they got too close we fired a couple of rounds, nothing too heavy, but enough to keep them advancing slowly without forcing them to pull back. That was the longest ten minutes of my life. It wasn't me I was worried about. It was the rest of the unit. They were so young, you know?"
Danny didn't, he couldn't even bring himself to imagine. But he nodded anyway.
"When we heard the planes approaching I called everyone together and told them as soon as they heard them overhead to make a break and run for it. Everyone go in different directions and hopefully some of them would survive. The looks in their eyes, especially that one kid, pure fear. I could see he hated me for calling the fire mission, but there was nothing else I could do. At that point we were dead either way." Steve swiped angrily at a rebel tear that broke free and ran down his face. "I've been in some bad situations, but that, that was something else."
Steve fell silent, lost to his memories. Danny leaned forward, a hand on his friend's knee.
"How many survived?"
"Three of us made it to the base in Texas. Two of us walked out." Steve took a breath before he continued. "I managed to drag one of the wounded guys, Jamie Sheppard, with me. We made it about ten foot before we were knocked off our feet by an explosion. The enemy were practically on top of us when the first bomb hit. I don't know how many they dropped. I just know it was chaos. You couldn't tell up from down. Next thing I knew I was in a hospital. Jamie was in the bed next to me, barely recognisable. He made it back to the Army hospital in Texas before he died. Made it back all that way and then his body just gave up."
"You saved the village."
"Yeah." Steve refused to look up, to look into Danny's eyes.
"Steve. Look at me."
The former SEAL shook his head, Danny persisted, eventually reaching over and grasping Steve's shoulder with such intensity that the man had no choice but to look into his eyes.
"You saved the village."
Steve nodded. Swallowed. Tried to look down and away but found Danny's hold unwavering.
He looked deep into the Detective's eyes as the tears finally found their release.
"It was my fault they died, Danny."
"No Steve, it wasn't. It was a shit situation in the middle of a no win fight in a country you were sent to on orders. You did what you had to do. You did it well. You saved all those people. I'm sorry about your friends, but I'm not gonna say I'm not happy and relieved that you made it out. You made it home, Steve. You did what I asked."
"You said you'd hunt me down and kill me if I didn't." Smiled Steve through his silent tears. "You know, that kid, Jamie, his parents came to see me. I didn't want to see them but they came walking right up to the hospital bed."
"What did they say?"
"They wanted to thank me."
"For what?" Asked Danny, already knowing the answer.
"For saving their son. I didn't save him though."
"You did, Steve. You saved him and brought him back stateside. He died on his own soil. Not in some hell hole in the middle of a desert. That means something. Especially to a parent."
Danny watched as the tears fell onto Steve's shirt. He realised this was as close as his friend had ever come to sharing emotion. There was so much more to let go, a cascade of water behind a levee of strength. Danny knew that the levee wouldn't break. Steve wouldn't allow it. But if he needed to get the SEAL blind, stinking, emotionally compromised, drunk every now and then to help keep the water at a safe level, then so be it.
Steve took a deep breath and wiped the tears away. Danny watched as the walls went back up and Steve levelled a smile his way.
"Don't mention it."
"I mean it though. I don't think...I couldn't tell..."
"I know. It's ok. And don't worry, I won't tell a soul."
"Better not." Steve said through a genuine smile, the first Danny had seen since his friend had been pulled away from him. "If you do I'll have to..."
"Yeah , yeah, yeah." Danny dismissed him with a wave of his hand. "You'll kill me, blah blah blah."
"Well, actually no. That wasn't what I was gonna say."
"What I was gonna say, before I was rudely interrupted, was that if you breathe a word of this to anyone, I'll tell the world how you stood on the tarmac , for an hour, watching me go."
"Oh super SEAL, I highly doubt you will."
"Oh yeah Deputy Dawg? What makes you so sure?"
"Because, my friend, it'll make you sound just as gay as you're trying to make me sound."
Steve frowned, played the sketch out in his mind, concluded that Danny was right, and threw his leftover pineapple pizza at the Detective.
Danny threw the offending dough back. Both men laughing with ease, without any encumbering weight keeping them from feeling the levity. They fell into a comfortable silence, each with a beer in hand, watching the waves as they lapped up against the sand. Just beyond the horizon the sun began to show through the mist, tipping its hat to the impending new day.
Danny felt the first hint of sun on his face and realised it was well past his bedtime. He glanced over at Steve, who's eyes were fighting a losing battle against sleep.
"Come on Superman. Time we caught some sleep."
"Nah, too far." Slurred Steve.
Danny laughed as he stood, offering his hand to the injured man. Steve sighed and took the hand, finding the world spinning as he stood,
"Whoa, when did the beach start to slope?" He looked around, genuinely baffled as the alcohol rushed to his head along with the blood in a gravity crushing head rush.
Danny threw Steve's arm over his shoulder and looped his fingers through the drunk man's belt.
"Why don't you seem as drunk as me?"
"I don't know what you mean, Steven."
"Good come back, Steven."
"Thanks, Danno. I mean, for everything."
Danny manoeuvred the drunk SEAL into the house and onto the couch. Steve mumbled another thank you as he rested his head against the back of the couch. The lines of tension around his eyes had eased, the set of his jaw relaxed. The impending hangover he'd suffer with was worth the pain as far as Danny was concerned.
Steve lifted his head off the couch, ignoring the drunk voice inside that noted the headache that was beginning would only build into an epic migraine he'd blame Danno for. His eyes found his friend, standing protectively by. They locked and held on, both men silent, their communication telepathic. With almost synchronised precision both relaxed their postures. Without words they allowed the silence to speak for them. For all the unburdening that had occurred over the past few hours Steve knew that Danny had heard more than he'd spoken, had seen more than the former SEAL had wished to share. It was this reason that there had been no choice as to who he had to share his horrors with. He knew, for every one word he'd speak out loud, Danny would hear the sentence kept silent behind it.
Danny nodded and smiled. Steve returned the nod, his eyes finally winning the battle as his head slowly fell back against the couch again. Danny watched and waited, as Steve's breathing evened out he walked forward and lifted the injured man's legs up onto the couch, repositioning his sleeping friend. He took a moment, relieved that the lines of pain seemed less pronounced than they had a few hours ago. Danny watched the gentle rise and fall of Steve's chest. Each inhale reassuring the detective that his friend was still here. He had made it back, relatively, in one piece.
No matter the horrors and the trauma hidden within his heart, regardless of the turmoil and confusion that sometimes bled through his gaze, There was a bond borne through the trust and honour of both men, Danny knew his friend would be fine. The time they'd shared on the beach only reaffirmed the truth in the trust they placed in each other.
The house fell quiet, even the gentle lapping of the ocean hushed as Steve slept on. Healing through his slumber, relieved of his burden and safe in the company of the man he considered a brother. Steve allowed himself the escape of sleep, knowing that while Danny was here he could let his guard completely down .
Danny settled himself into the arm chair, which proved to be more comfortable a place to sleep than its appearance suggested, he settled himself down, very aware that watching a plane leave for an hour was no where near as ahh as watching a friend sleep peacefully for the first time in god knew how long. But he didn't care. His eyes felt heavy but no longer weighed down by the worry of waiting for the unknown . He had his answers. Even the unspoken questions now felt complete.
Talking is sometimes just not enough. The pauses. The quiet. The time that allows our hearts and minds to realise the truth and acknowledge its power. The silence between the spaces can speak clearer and louder than any words ever can if we allow them a voice, give them a stage and sit back to let them sing.
Trusting in the silence helps fill the spaces in the void. The piece to the puzzle that makes the whole picture complete.
Well that's it folks, i'd love to hear what you thought. And once again, thank you all so much.
See you at the next fic...