Well, here I am again, being sucked into the wonderful world of the Hawaii 5-0 fandom. This is a oneshot that has been sitting in my notebook for a while, and I finally got around to typing it all up.
I've got another story in the works, a series of one shots that all revolve around Danny and Steve. That should be starting by the beginning of next week, if all goes well.
And, of course, standard disclaimers apply. None of the characters are mine; they are just borrowed for the shameless Steve-bashing below.
They are water-boarding a SEAL. If it weren't for the fact that Danny is being forced to watch this – the torture of his best friend, proxy-brother, and partner – he might find the situation a little comical. Because Steve, he's pretty sure, has been water-boarded before. And he knows it was part of his training, so that means he knows how to handle everything that's being thrown at him.
Danny is almost convinced the man could grow gills, anyway, from the amount of time he spends in water. By choice. (Which is the strangest part, if you ask Danny.)
Still, while it could be comical that their captors are water-boarding a SEAL, it's not really because that is just a small sampling of what they've done to Steve. See, this all started a few hours ago – though to Danny it feels like a longer. Steve and he were walking down the street, discussing a case, when suddenly a van pulled up. Men in balaclavas jumped out, grabbed Steve (who put up a hell of a fight until a cattle-prod stopped him long enough for the men to haul him into the van), realized that Danny was there too, and decided to bring him along for the ride as well. As it turned out, he was collateral damage because after the van stopped and both Steve and he were dragged inside an abandoned warehouse, Danny had been promptly tied up and left alone.
Steve wasn't so lucky.
Their captors, it seemed, wanted knowledge about one of 5-0's witnesses in a high profile murder. Specifically, they wanted the location of her safe house. This was information that only Steve and he knew, but Steve had made it clear to their captors that he – and he alone, as the head of 5-0 – knew the information, in what was obviously an effort to protect Danny. For whatever reason the men seemed to believe Steve, or at least thought they could get the right information from him first, and proceeded to try to extract the address from the SEAL.
That was two hours ago, and Danny had been forced to see Steve tortured mercilessly. He had been electrocuted, beaten, had a white-hot screwdriver applied to his skin, electrocuted again, stabbed…the list went on and on. He'd witnessed him being strung up and beat with a bamboo pole, and seen sticks shoved under his friend's fingernails. He had been forced to observe as the torturer had gotten a little too happy with the electricity and Steve's heart stop, only to have it be restarted so the torture could resume. Everything got worse the longer Steve refused to talk. Throughout it all, Steve hadn't made a noise (a fact that highly irritated one of the more sadistic balaclava-covered men). Danny came to three conclusions from watching this: first: Steve's training in how to deal with torture must have been damn good; secondly, this was obviously not the first time his partner had been tortured like this; and thirdly, Steve was a fricking bad-ass super-human.
Finally in desperation, the men started water-boarding Steve. Aside from breathing a little heavier and spitting up some pinkish water by the fifth time, Steve's manner had not changed.
This is the same scene confronting Danny now. He's been trying to not watch what's been happening, but he starts when of the men suddenly grabs him. His heart drops – there's no way he can withstand torture like Steve – but it turns out they don't want to hurt him. At least, not physically.
"This one has to know the location of the girl too. They're partner's, for Christ's sake. They are going to go everything together, which means he's seen the safe house too. It's worth a shot. We're not getting anywhere with this one," he says, with a nod towards Steve.
The man in charge seems to listen to the underling, because he promptly shoves Steve's head in the bucket of water again, and says to Danny, "If you want your partner's pain to stop, you tell us the address. If not…" He trails off and shrugs, his message clear. Danny closes his eyes, torn so completely it is physically painful. He wants so badly to help Steve, but knows that he can't give up the address and Steve would kill him if he did. Finally, after forever it feels, Steve's head is brought out of the water, just a moment before he drowned; dead leverage isn't leverage at all. "I guess you don't care about your partner very much. But you should know, his life is in your hands. Give me the address, and you both go free."
Steve is barely alert, but he is alert enough to choke out, "Don't, Danny," before his head is shoved back under the water. Danny is left to watch helplessly as Steve chokes on the water and struggles, and he fails to stop the tears leaking from his eyes.
"Perhaps," the same man states calmly moments later when Steve is dragged up again, "more persuasion is required." The man pulls out the gun from his waistband and very coolly shoots Steve in the shoulder. "While not life-threatening or debilitating, it will still hurt like hell. Especially if something happens to touch the wound, like this…." Slowly, he brings the tip of the gun up and presses it to the newly torn flesh. Steve scrunches his eyes in pain, but still doesn't utter a sound. Danny doesn't say anything even though every fiber of his being is calling at him to say something – anything – to make it end for Steve.
Then the gun is placed against McGarrett's temple, the man holding it apparently impatient with Danny's lack of compliance. "I will blow his brains out if you don't tell me. Now."
Danny doesn't doubt the man – after all, it's reached the point where if they kill Steve, they just move onto torturing him, and he knows that he will crack. But he can't say no again and sign his partner's death warrant. Looking at Steve, who is staring at him intently and minutely shaking his head no, Danny says quietly, "Enough! Fine, I'll tell you."
Instantly the gun is removed from Steve's temple and all the men step toward Danny, dropping McGarrett to the ground, completely neglected. The look on his partner's face – sheer disappointment – kills Danny, but he won't let his partner be killed essentially by his hand.
"Everything is going to become much more civilized now," the man says calmly, as if he hadn't just tortured Danny's best friend to the brink of death – and past, at points. "I'm going to make a call to my associate, and you will tell him the address. If you do anything – such as renege on the deal – or try to provide false information I will kill your partner quite painfully and without mercy right in front of you, before I start to extract the information from you. Clear?"
Hatred burns inside Danny but he just nods. "Crystal."
"Good." The Man pulls out a cell phone and starts dialing. Danny has already decided that whatever happens, he won't give them the actual location of the safe house, but his mind is drawing a terrible blank of where to send them instead to buy some time. The phone is just being placed against his ear when suddenly there is a commotion in front of him. He looks up just at the tail end of the action and feels his mouth open in surprise, because there is Steve McGarrett, standing with a bloody knife held to the throat of the last remaining thug that had been working him over, completely and totally and calm. Danny looks around and sees the other men, presumably dead on the floor.
Steve starts to speak and his voice is horribly raspy. "I know you don't care about the life of this man here, and I can tell you, I won't give a damn about killing him right here and now. But the point of this little charade is to show you what I can do. I'm free, your other two associates are dead, and it's just you with a gun versus me. I was able to get free, take down two men, and get to this point without you noticing. I'll be able to kill him and you before you even fire a shot. So, if you don't want to die, drop the gun now."
The man in charge seems too shocked to say anything, but he finally regains his composure. "There's no way you could hit me with that knife before I shoot him in the head." The gun is suddenly being pointed at Danny, a turn of events which does not please the Jersey native at all. Part of him expects Steve to stand down – hopes selfishly he will – but Steve just shakes his battered head, smirks, and says, "Try me."
What happens next is too fast for Danny to even recount accurately what actually occurred. One moment there is a Mexican-standoff of sorts, and the next, both men lay dead and his partner is standing there with a smoking gun in his hand. He's still sitting there in complete amazement and shock as Steve confirms all the captors are dead – not a surprise for the last two, because one has a slit throat and the one that was in charge has a bullet hole between his eyes.
Finally, still without saying anything, Steve cuts Danny's bonds, and he immediately flexes his fingers and grimaces as the blood comes rushing back. He turns to his partner, who is still miraculously standing, and looks him up and down. "Steve do you, you know, want to sit?"
But Steve doesn't meet his eyes or answer Danny's question. Instead he grabs the phone and tosses it to Danny. "You should call Kono and Chin. I'm going to…" Danny watches as his partner closes his eyes and grimaces.
"Steve?" Still avoiding his gaze, Steve shrugs and then almost immediately gasps and falls to his knees, pain etched into every single one of his features. Danny rushes forward to catch him, and frantically asks, "What's wrong?"
"I-I can't breathe," Steve rasps back, hands clenched and face white.
"Shit," Danny whispers, trying to ignore his panic. He quickly opens the cell phone, and punches in the number for EMS. "This is Detective Daniel Williams of 5-0. I need an ambulance to the GPS location of this phone. I have an officer down." He waits until the responder confirms he has the GPS location before hanging up and dialing Chin. He quickly explains the situation (somewhat calming the two who have been frantically searching for them), and then hangs up and turns back to Steve. Steve, who is making gasping sounds and who's lips are very quickly turning an alarming shade of blue, finally meets Danny's eyes, and it scares the shit out of him because all he reads is calm acceptance. And then Steve's eyes roll back in his head, leaving Danny alone with an unconscious and possibly dying partner.
Steve is barely breathing and almost all-over pale and blue by the time the ambulance – along with Kono, Chin, and HPD – arrive. Kono immediately tears up at the sight of McGarrett on the floor, all bruised and bloody and Danny registers her trying to regain her composure before coming over; something he greatly appreciates because he knows he'll fall apart if he reads the fear and worry in her eyes. Chin simply guides Danny out of the way so that the EMTs can swoop in and save the day. And Steve.
Because right now, it's not looking too likely that his partner is going to be walking out of this ordeal alive, and Danny will forever be haunted by the fact that Steve was so utterly disappointed at him; by the fact that he'll never get to explain the decision he made; by the awful calm acceptance in his friend's eyes.
The EMTs are rolling the stretcher towards the waiting ambulance and Danny is torn between the need to go with his partner, and the need to give his statement and finish this. As if sensing his inner turmoil, Chin once again lays a hand on his shoulder. "Go, Danny. HPD will get your statement later."
He nods his thanks and chases down the ambulance, jumping in just before the door closes. He watches the paramedics strive to keep his partner alive long enough to get the hospital, and silently asks the universe to spare Steve, to let him live.
Danny stops counting the time he has spent waiting after hour three. HPD has come and gone, forcing Danny to relive all those awful moments, though a few officers still litter the halls, waiting for news on the their colleague. Chin and Kono sit silently beside him and Danny is grateful not to be waiting alone.
Finally after it's grown dark outside, a doctor approaches them. "I assume you're here for Steve McGarrett?" All three of the remaining 5-0 members nod, and then the doctor continues. "Well, your friend is a lucky man. One of his seven broken ribs punctured his lung, requiring immediate surgery. While he was on the table we discovered bleeding from multiple sources, including his spleen, and of course the gun shot wound. Though partially ruptured, we were able to save the organ as well as stop all the other internal bleeding eventually. After the surgery, we did a few other tests. He has a moderate concussion, a through-and-through gunshot wound to the left shoulder, the previously mentioned seven broken ribs along with three cracked ones, and he's currently battling an infection from the dirty water in his lungs. Speaking of which, his lungs are in very good shape given the circumstances, and an electrocardiogram shows no ill effects from the electrocution. All in all, like I said, he's lucky. He's young and healthy and that saved him. I expect no permanent damage. And because I know what your next question is going to be, yes you can see him. I'd prepare yourself when you walk in through; he isn't pretty."
It takes a moment before any of them cal collect themselves enough to speak. Finally, Chin steps forward to shake the doctor's hand. "Mahalo."
The doctor nods. "I'll send a nurse in to take you to his room."
Danny closes his eyes and runs a hand through his hair. "Damn."
This time it's Kono lending the strength he so desperately needs. "It's okay, brah. You heard him – no permanent damage. I'll admit, the guy could have been a little less blunt – he kind of reminds me of my old physician, Dr. Cottle – but he brought good news. The boss will be okay."
He nods, but doesn't speak. He doesn't speak at all when the nurse brings them to Steve's room, and he's at a loss for words when he sees McGarrett in the hospital bed. There doesn't seem to be a part of his partner that isn't black and blue or bandaged. There are wrappings over his chest and shoulder; individual bandages on his fingers where the sticks were shoved under the nail; his whole torso is a mottled purple colour and that matches his face, cheekbones awash in a violet hue.
Danny sucks in a breath and closes his eyes, wishing the picture would change when he opens them again.
But it doesn't.
The nurse tells them that it might be some time before Steve wakes up, because apparently he has some difficulties with anesthesia, and so the three of them settle in and wait to see those baby blues open up. By the time that Steve finally does decide to grace the world with his presence again, Chin and Kono are asleep. Danny is so relieved that Steve is awake that it takes him a second to realize that Steve is pointedly not looking at him. In fact, his partner is looking everywhere but him.
Danny's brain finally connects with his mouth and he asks the first two questions that pop into his mind. "Are you okay? Should I get the doctor?"
Steve just sets his jaw and Danny can see almost see his partner's wall go up – something that hasn't been between them in such a long time. They sit in silence for a minute, Danny trying to find some way to mend what has somehow become broken between them, when Steve finally says, "You know," he says in his raspy voice, "I've been tortured a lot worse for a lot less, but none of it would have been invalidated like that. Please tell me you were not actually going to give up that address for my life, Danny." Steve is obviously in huge amounts of pain but refuses to take anything until this conversation is over. He's only being kept away by righteous anger. "Please tell me you did not let me go through all of that if you were planning all along to give it up."
Danny is a little bit hurt by the accusation, but he can understand why Steve came to think that. He places a hand on Steve's arm, and gives it a squeeze. "I'm going to blame the hours or torture, beatings, and resultant concussion on why you're asking me this, but no. I was never going to give them the address, Steve. I just couldn't let you get killed because of me."
Steve eyes him almost wearily. "Then what exactly were you planning on doing?"
Danny gives a small laugh. "Truth be told, I wasn't entirely sure, but I thought about giving them your address. I mean, it's already been shot to hell – what's another few bullet holes?" Finally Steve meets his eyes, uncertainty still lurking beneath the surface. "I swear, Steve. I wasn't going to give it to them. I just needed to buy time so they didn't kill you. I wasn't going to let that happen. Granted, had I known you were going to go all super SEAL on me, I wouldn't have bothered."
"I wasn't being 'Super SEAL.' I just saw an opportunity to…" He stops with a small smile when he sees Danny look at him, one eyebrow quirked; and just as Danny could see the walls coming up a moment ago, he can see them crumbling back down.
Danny looks at his partner again, and this time he really looks at him. He sees the physical wounds that the day inflicted upon the man, sees the scars and wounds from missions past, and then looks past that; he sees the weariness in Steve's gaze, the way he haphazardly holds himself together, not just now but when everything piles up to be too much for him. Danny wishes that he could just lighten his friend's load, but he knows some of the horrors that Steve's seen are things that can't just be taken away by kind words. "Seriously though, Steve, I wasn't going to do that, and I would never do that to you. I just couldn't let him shoot you again, or kill you. I wouldn't have been able to live with myself if that happened."
Steve nods tiredly. "I know, Danny, and I'm sorry I doubted you. I just…from where I sat…"
"Steve, I get it. Don't apologize and let's just move on, yeah?"
His partner nods again, tiredly. "Yeah, sure."
The room is silent again, except for the sounds of Chin light snoring and Kono's sleep-filled breaths, but there is still an air of tension. Danny watches as his friend's eyes slowly drift shut, and he wants nothing more than to let him sleep but he needs to know why Steve looked so damn calm in that warehouse. And then it suddenly hits him. "Steve, you've had that happen to you before, haven't you?"
Steve turns his head to look at him, eyebrow raised. "You mean have I had the shit beat out of me before? A few times, yeah."
"No, I mean, at the end. You didn't seem very worried."
"I've had another incident where a broken rib punctured my lung – I knew what was happening. Either I was going to make it or not; there wasn't much that I could do."
"Did this happen during one of your missions?"
Steve laughs a little, a sound that is even raspier than his voice. "Yeah, it was a mission a few years ago that was FUBAR. I was used as a bargaining chip – I was held captive just for a day, but they worked me over pretty good before a trade was made. It's all a bit hazy towards the end, but I remember feeling like the air had been sucked out of my lungs. Turns out my right lung had actually been punctured in two places – of course, I didn't learn any of this until I woke up in an army hospital a while later."
"That sounds like hell."
"Let's put it this way: it wasn't the most fun I've ever had."
Danny watches as his partner stifles a yawn, and he immediately feels a wave of guilt wash over him; he should have gotten the doctor, and he shouldn't be keeping his partner awake by dredging up the horrors of the past. He immediately stands up, and turns to Steve. "I'm going to go grab the doctor. And then you can get some more sleep, 'kay?"
His partner nods his assent wearily and Danny starts to leave when his partner's voice stops him. The raspy quality is not softening with use and it is still a visceral reminder of all that has happened this day. "I'm sorry that I didn't have more faith in you and what you were trying to do. I should have known what your plan was – I know you well enough – but my brain was a little fuzzy and all I could focus on were the words coming out of your mouth, not the intention behind them. I –"
Danny cuts him off, and any lingering hurt he had felt a minute ago now washes away. "Steve, I understand. Hell, if I was in your position I wouldn't have even been conscious, let alone listening to what someone else was saying. I'm not mad at you, I swear. You saved both of us in that warehouse today, and I'm not going to forget that any time soon." Steve nods, and doesn't speak so as to let Danny continue. "Now, I'm actually going to get the doctor now and then you're actually going to fall back asleep and get all rested, okay?"
"Okay," Steve responds, sleep filling his voice. Danny can tell his partner has drawn on all the energy reserves he has to make sure that the their trust is still there, that this didn't destroy anything between them. He knows that their friendship means more to Steve than his own life most times, and he hates the fact that he's doubting that now. Doubting that what he has said will be enough to fix what he perceives as being broken.
"Okay." Because right now, it is enough.
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