A/N: Hello again! I've been a long time gone and it's good to be back.
For those of you who were reading NeverMeanttoLast, I'm sorry I haven't updated. I've found that I have a rather frustrating case of writer's block that I can't seem to shake. If anyone has any suggestions, feel free to comment here of there. Or message me, that's fine too.
Anyway, this one is a bit different. Warning:Slash. Don't like it, don't read it. Flames I can take, but I refuse to tolerate any bashing of a story based on the people who are shipped. I don't care if you're the most bigoted homophobe ever, keep your opinions to yourself.
Disclaimer: I'm a character thief.
"Do you swear to tell the whole truth, nothing but the truth, so help you God?"
"... I do."
"Very well, let's begin."
The courtroom was cold. And dreary. And Danny felt entirely at home here. Snow fell in soft, lazy circles outside the clear glass window, and already a coating dusted the streets, leaving everything blanketed in white.
New Jersey had never looked more beautiful.
Danny forced down a small smile and schooled his features into something more suiting for a double homicide trial.
"You were the lead detective in charge of the investigation of the murders of John and Nancy Summers, is that correct?"
"It is." Danny hated this part- retelling the most gruesome details of a particularly brutal case. He preferred to solve a murder, and let the dead be at peace and the family be allowed to mourn, and then move on. A four year old homicide trial that had gone through two courts and two juries and a twice broken family was not his forte. It made him itch with unease.
"Can you tell us what pointed you to Martin Lucas?"
At this, Danny shifted his gaze to the man in question. Martin Lucas. The scummiest of scumbags if there ever was one. Lucas was the longtime suspected boss of a major crime family in Jersey and a well known drug kingpin. Even looking at him, Danny wanted to shudder at the man's perfect silver coif, well- pressed Armani suit, and calmly schooled features. Lucas had the nerve to appear as though he owned the courtroom. Although, given his track record and the fact that witnesses and civilian jury members had a tendency to disappear, Danny couldn't blame the man. In fact, that they had caught Lucas at all was a pure fluke.
"We discovered that the Summers has amassed large gambling debts, and that each was killed with a shot to the head. The bullets were removed, but a fragment was left behind in Mrs. Summer's skull. The bullet has enough substance to match a gun used in a previous number of murders, all of which had ties to the Lucas crime family." Danny explained as calmly as he could, but he still let his eyes wander toward Lucas every few seconds or so, and the man's infuriating, cold smile put him on edge.
The prosecutor continued his meticulous questioning, thoroughly and fully outlining the full story for the jury and the judge.
And Danny didn't blink when the defense attorney stood up. He knew Lucas hired the best lawyer money could buy, but he had also lived and worked in Jersey for years and knew how the court system worked. It wasn't as much about justice as it was about who you knew and how well you could play the game.
"Of course, pardon me, Detective. Is is true that you currently live and work in Hawaii?"
Danny paused, not expecting the out- of- the- blue question.
"Are you sure you don't need me to go with you?"
"You were the one reassuring me last night. Stop fretting. You're worse than a nagging wife."
"I thought you were the wife. You certainly nag like one."
"Hmph. Take care of my little girl."
"She won't leave my sight."
"Yep. I'll catch you up on work when you get back."
"Is that a date?"
"In the office? Not very romantic."
"You're not very romantic."
"Yes, it's true."
The attorney smiled ferally. "And what do you do?"
"What are we doing?"
"You're the detective, you figure it out."
"I think I know, but if I know then I have to say it."
"So say it."
"Are we sleeping together?"
"looks that way."
"Aren't you my boss?"
"Yeah, but it's not like we ever established no dating in the workplace."
"Are we dating?"
"I don't know. Yes or no, it doesn't matter, because right now all we're doing is sleeping together."
"That a problem?"
"I work for a special task force for the Governor of Hawaii. My team and I solve high profile cases."
"And what is your relationship with your partner, Steve McGarrett?"
"Is this a relationship?"
"Well... I live at your house, make you breakfast, and sleep on the other side of your bed. You pick my daughter up from school, talk to my father about being in the Navy like you were old pals, and do my laundry. It looks like a relationship to me."
"That a problem?"
"He's my partner. I really don't see how this is relevant to the case against your client."
The awful man smiled like the cat who ate the canary and declared that he had no more questions before the judge could stop him for irrelevance.
Danny nodded curtly, stood, and returned to the crowd of people to watch the rest of the case unfold. He gripped his seat, wary and on edge the whole time as he listened to the proceedings. Lucas's lawyer had asked pointed, irrelevant questions, but they were in no way benign. They were malicious, calculating. His hands shook ever so slightly, and his desire to return home overrode all other pretenses about being back in Jersey. Something didn't sit right with him.
"Something wrong, Danno?"
"Something's not right."
"... I was pretty sure I was doing a spectacular job."
"Not that, Steve. Something feels wrong... like I'm forgetting something."
"Did you take out the trash?"
"It's Tuesday, you schmuck, and you know that's not what I'm talking about."
"Danny, you're going to be fine. You've testified a hundred times before. Lucas is no different."
"He's powerful. What if he targets you, or Grace? Oh God, what if he targets Grace, Steve?"
"Danno, relax. I swear on my life to protect that little girl while you're gone. She will be the safest person in Hawaii."
"Will you take her off the island?"
"Do you want me to?"
"Then I'll take her off the island. She can come with me Maui to see a friend of mine. We'll surf, and nobody will know where we are. You can testify in peace, Danno. They won't get her."
"And you'll be okay too?"
"I'm a trained SEAL Danny. I'm fully capable-"
"Just promise me you'll be careful."
"Thank you, Steve."
"I... love you."
"Back at ya Danno. Now go put that bastard behind bars for good."
Danny didn't think Lucas was going to get off. In fact, he was confident that the jury was free of corruption, and that they would want nothing more than to make sure Lucas went away for life.
Still, there was a persistent nagging at the back of his head that told him there was something he was missing. Lucas was too smug, the lawyer too knowing. Something was going on behind the scenes that had the Jersey Detective biting his nails and furrowing his brow.
What was Lucas planning? What did he know that Danny didn't?
He wanted to call Steve. Desperately. To make sure he and Gracie were okay. Were safe. But calling him would be like painting a target on his partner's back, and on Grace's. No, he would have to wait.
"You don't like to wait, do you?"
"What can I say, I know what I want."
"So you decide to ambush me in my office?"
"You're supposed to be prepared for an ambush at any time."
"If you really want me to consider you a threat and take appropriate action, I can."
"No, no threats, just actions."
"How come every time we do this, I always end up sitting on your desk with you holding onto my tie?"
"SEAL school- I learned to take control of every situation."
"You just have control issues."
"Shhh. Less talking, more kissing."
The leader of the jury- a small, but fierce looking woman- stood, holding the verdict in her hands. The paper shook slightly, but she looked as determined as ever.
"Does the jury have a verdict?"
"We do." She sounded like tissue paper- thin and without substance. Danny frowned.
"How do you find the Defendant?"
"In the case of the People of New Jersey vs. Martin Lucas, we find the defendant to be... guilty of all charges."
Danny breathed a sigh of relief, melting into the floor as his worry floated away. Lucas was guilty, Steve and Grace would be safe, and he could go home.
"What did you just say?"
"That last bit."
"About how we need to leave now if we want to pick up Grace?"
"No, the part about being grateful that you can stay home until the day of the trial. So Hawaii is your home now, is it?"
"They say home is where the heart is."
"... and your heart is here now as opposed to a year ago when you hated everything about this island?"
"I don't hate you."
"I don't hate you too Danno."
Danny looked up, catching the eye of a tall and lanky young man who looked as though he was dressed in his father's police uniform.
"Martin Lucas's lawyer has requested to see you, sir, before Lucas is moved to prison."
"Uh huh," Danny replied, forcing nonchalance even as his heart thudded faster and faster. "Lead the way, kid."
The officer frowned minutely, obviously put off by being called a child, but still led Danny forward, through a series of hallways and rooms until they entered a large and well lit transition area, designed to move recently convicted prisoners to their respective jails. Currently, media swarmed the floor, each trying to get a picture of Martin Lucas being hauled off to prison. Lucas's lawyer stood off to the side a bit, alone, his eyes trailing Danny's every move.
Danny swelled with anger, and only barely resisted the urge to spat as he approached the man.
"My client has a message he wished to convey to you."
"Oh yeah? And what message is that?"
The lawyer smiled, his gleaming teeth entirely too perfectly set in his wide mouth. It was like the man's face was designed for cold, animal grins.
"He says that he'll see you soon."
With that, the lawyer turned and left, not bothering to wait for the rant that was building up inside Danny to spill out.
And as he cooled, Danny's anger was replaced with cold dread. Lucas was a dangerous man. A very dangerous man. Danny had to get home. Now.
The flight from New Jersey to Los Angeles was filled with thoughts of dread and worst case scenarios that left either or both of the loves of his life dead or dying. The connecting flight from LA to the Oahu airport was filled with strategies of how to kill Lucas in prison, which led Danny down the road to police corruption and subsequently how Lucas would escape prison and track down his family. And so by the time Danny landed in Hawaii, he was a mess of disjointed thoughts and half- cocked plans that left him listless and exhausted at the same time.
He felt as if he has never been wearier. Sure, men had threatened his life before, but none as powerful as Lucas and none with enough balls to insinuate that they were going to find him on his home island.
Danny looked up, still shaken by his own morbid thoughts, and spotted Steve several feel away from him and even further from the crowd of families and loved ones there to greet their significant others as the departed the plane. He stood in a relaxed military pose, looking at him in concern. As he started toward Danny, lines of worry appeared in the crease of his brow.
Danny, on the other hand, let his worry sink into the ground when he spotted his partner. He did not smile, but instead closed the last bit of distance between them and hugged Steve around the middle with all his might, clinging to the solid, grounded mass of muscle for dear life, letting the familiar touch soothe his heartache and strife.
Steve did not hesitate in hugging back. With no concern for the crowded airport, he wrapped his long arms around Danny and pulled him in closer, understanding without needing an explanation. Danny sighed.
"Gods I missed you."
Steve would normally have made a remark about how it had only been three days, and Danny was such a woman, but today he did not. No, today he merely said, "you too Danno," and let the smaller man cling to him.
"Gracie had a good weekend."
"Did she? Good. That's really... good." Danny silently thanked Steve for the distraction from his own crippling imagination.
"Yeah, my friend Lani taught her now to surf. She wants me to tell you that she's taking you when comes over next weekend."
"Ha. Did you tell her-"
"That Danno don't swim? Yeah, but she insisted that her 'puppy dog face' would get you into the water."
"And what did you say?"
"I told her she was probably right."
"I hate you."
"I hate you too. Ready to go? Chin and Kono have dinner waiting at the office."
Danny nodded reluctantly, not wanting to let go of Steve. Not wanting to think about what he would day to the man about Lucas's threat and the implications. Not wanting to go back to reality.
"Yeah, let's go."
Two months. Two months had passed in much the same way as the first year and a half of Steve and Danny's task force partnership, before Lucas. Steve still charged into situations with only his own skin and a reassuring smile, and Danny's resilience and planning still kept the two of them alive, as per usual.
When Danny had told Steve about Lucas's threat, the SEAL had nodded in understanding, but did not appear shocked or even remotely phased. That had annoyed Danny until he realized that compartmentalization was the way Steve coped. What did have Steve frowning, though, was the though of the little girl Danny knew he loved like she was his own.
"We'll protect Gracie, Danno. He won't get her." He'd said, and did so with such conviction that Danny didn't doubt him. He trusted Steve wholeheartedly.
But Steve himself still needed protecting, even if he insisted he could take care of it, and Danny took it upon himself to be extra vigilant so that Steve could do his job and protect the people of Hawaii without having to look over his shoulder.
And for two months, Steve and Danny fell back into a perfect routine. They were an infallible team, and once again Danny thanked whoever he could think of that the Governor had not disallowed relationships in the workplace. Of course, Danny was sure she had no idea any of them were even dating, especiallynot Steve and Danny. In any case, their teamwork was only enhanced by their relationship. Their bickering had a soft edge and sometimes even a... dirty... undertone, and each knew exactly what the other was going to do at any given time.
During that time Danny let himself forget that he had made a powerful enemy. He let himself live as normally as he could, without having to think about how any day, Lucas could show up and threaten him and his family.
"Thinking big thoughts, Danno?"
"Not big thoughts, just... thoughts."
He looked up from the paperwork he was trying to trudge through to see Steve's large form in front of his desk, the bottom of the man's entirely too tight shirt directly in front of his face. Danny let his eyes fall to the top button of Steve's cargos.
Steve smirked down at him, placing the palms of his hands on Danny's desk and letting his face sink closer and closer to the smaller man's. Danny's stomach fluttered; he wouldn't ever admit it, but he loved it when Steve barged in and took control of a situation. It was hot.
"What are you thinking about?" Steve breathed, only inches away from Danny's lips. Instead of answering, Danny rose up to meet his partner, pressing his lips to Steve's surprisingly soft ones, and let himself get lost in the feeling of his lover.
Steve responded in kind, running a large hand through Danny's hair and leaving it at the base of his neck, pulling the blond impossibly closer to him. Steve's tongue swiped along his lip, and Danny opened his mouth eagerly, allowing the dark haired man entrance. Danny's hand found Steve's waist across the desk, and he lifted the man's t shirt, running his hands across the hard muscle and light trail of hair underneath.
They were both growing excited, and probably would have entered territory deemed entirely inappropriate for the workplace had they not been rudely interrupted by a knock on the office door.
Kono poked her head in, smiling, but didn't comment on how Danny was trying to fix his hair and Steve was pulling his shirt down, both of them flushed and bright- eyed.
"Chin has something on the Denovo case."
"Thanks Kono." Steve winked at Danny and followed the lithe Hawaiian out of the office.
Danny cursed to himself. Steve had gone and got him all excited, and now he would have to wait until they got home to finish. Damnyou,Steve.The fact that Steve could look presentable at any given time with only a moment's preparation greatly irked the blond. The SEAL insisted it was part of his training, but Danny had no inclination to believe him.
Of course, Chin had caught a big break in the case they were working on, and so by the time he and Steve did get home, it was very late and neither of them were nearly as excited as they were in the office.
Danny shook his head.
"Thank god," Steve replied, sinking into the bed fully clothed and closing his eyes. Danny tried to smirk down at the exhausted man, but found that he too just wanted to ease into the bed and sleep for about a week.
So he did. He fell less gracefully than his taller partner, hitting the mattress with a satisfying oomphand closing his eyes against the suddenly harsh light of the lamp of Steve's bedside table.
"We should probably change."
Neither of them moved.
Danny had no inclination to go anywhere again for the rest of his life, and neither, it seemed, did Steve. So both of them just lay there, fully clothed on the bed, basking in each other's company and the soft sounds of the ocean outside the slightly open patio door.
Danny let the gentle sounds of Steve's easy breathing- the relaxed kind that his partner only found in sleep- lull him into soothing unconsciousness.
"So... We're sleeping together, but not sleeping together?"
"There's hardly room to complain. You got off, I got off, and now I should go."
"It's just sex, Steve."
"It's not like we're married."
Danny awoke to sunlight streaming through the open patio doors and the chill that came from a general lack of Steve.
He cracked his eyes open, confirming both that the early morning sunlight was piercing his retinas in a most unpleasant way and that Steve was missing from the other side of the bed. Which wasn't all that surprising; no matter what time they went to bed, Steve got up at the crack of dawn and went for a run on the beach. Danny preferred to workout at the gym like a normal person, but hey, to each his own.
Danny stretched out, wincing as his back popped in several places, and then crashed back down onto the mattress, sighing contentedly and feeling particularly lethargic.
And the phone rang.
Danny ignored the first two blaring sounds, but figured anyone who didn't hang up must really need to talk to him. Grumbling, he sat up and fished the device out from the folds of blanket on his side of the bed.
"Williams," he answered gruffly, coughing the sleep out of his voice.
"I told you I'd see you soon."
"Lucas..." He whispered, his mind blank, feelings swinging between disbelief and shock and pure, undeniable hatred.
"It's good to hear from you, Detective," Lucas continued, perfectly genially, his smooth tenor ringing true through the phone. "I was thinking about visiting the island and I was hoping you could show me around."
"Listen here, you sadistic son of a bitch, if you come anywhere near me or my family-"
"Now, now, Detective," Lucas interrupted smoothly, "That's no way to treat a guest. If you won't show me around, I can always ask you daughter. Or how about your partner? I hear you two are much... closer... than you let on."
"Lucas, I swear to god I'm going to fucking kill you."
Lucas laughed. Danny saw red, and the hand clenched around the phone went numb.
"I'll see you around detective."
The line went dead.
For thirty seconds, Danny could not bring himself to move. All he could do was think about his little girl and his partner and Lucas and...
Danny sprang up from the bed, already dialing the number on his phone.
The Hawaiian man looked up, his eyes hard and unforgiving even as his lithe hands worked the computer beneath them.
"She's safe, Danny."
Danny breathed half a sigh of relief. At least one them was alright.
"Where is she?"
"Rachel understood, and she and Stan took her to the big island. The PD there has a round the clock watch two man guard on her, as well as a plain clothes officer commissioned by the governor."
Chin didn't respond.
"Kono hasn't been able to find him. He doesn't have his cell, and it's not like we can search every inch of path he runs looking for him. I'm sure he's fine Danny."
Danny frowned. He was entirely less sure that Steve was safe. That man attracted danger like a magnet. The phone in his hand shook.
He looked down at it once more, hoping that the screen would light and Steve's sardonic smile would pop up and everything would be alright. But the screen remained black.
Steve's phone- the one he left on the bedside table when he went running- lay on the computer, uselessly quiet when not attached to the ear of its owner.
"Hey, Danny, come in here!" Kono yelled from somewhere down the hall, the tone in her voice was hard to read through the echoing of the empty hallways. But it didn't sound too unhappy. At least, Danny didn't think it did.
Sighing, he pocketed his phone and trudged toward the native's voice, already feeling the weight of the day, though it was still early morning.
"What do you have, Kono?" he asked, noting the woman's easy expression and the lack of urgency in the hands that grasped her cell phone.
"I found Steve-" Danny let loose a breath he felt he had been holding for hours. "Well, sort of. Actually, he found me."
At that second, the cell phone in Kono's hand rang clearly, the sound like a church bell, a salvation. She held it out to Danny, the innocuous item relieving him of a great many worried when he saw the number flashing on the screen.
"Steve!" Danny answered, unable to hide the palpable relief in his voice. "You schmuck. Where are you?" He left the phone on speaker for Kono's benefit.
"Athome," the man replied, sounding uncharacteristically bewildered. "My phone was gone and so were you,so I called Kono."
"Why didn't you call me?"
"Couldn't get through. What's going on?"
"Lucas," Danny said simply, not elaborating any more than that.
There was a pause on the other end of the line. But only before a fraction of a second before Danny heard movement on the other end of the line, and knew his partner had sprang into hurried action, carrying the cordless phone through the house with him as he moved.
"She's on the big island. She's fine. But you need to get her now."
"I'm on my way, Danno, don't worry."
"Be... careful Steven," Danny said, hesitating, fully aware that the SEAL hadn't a careful bone in his body. "He threatened your life. I can't- I- I just can't. I needyou to be careful. Please."
To his credit, Steve didn't make a single snide remark or sarcastic comment.
"Of course." He said simply. "Danny...check your phone.If I can't get through, it could mean Lucas could have tampered with it."
"Why would he make it so I couldn't receive calls, though?" Danny questioned, unable to see the dots the SEAL was connecting in his Military brain.
"Well..." the man began, as though saying the words just as he figured them out himself. "I'm not sure...when did Lucas escape?"
Danny growled here, remembering the conversation of over an hour ago with the NJPD and the district attorney; it hadn't been pleasant for either party. Chin and Kono said they could hear the yelling from outside.
"I called Jersey, and they said that he's been missing for threedays. Three fucking days and nobody bothers to call me. Said they were avoiding a mass panic. Which is bullshit, of course..." Danny was prepared to continue with a full scale rant about the lack of integrity of everybody when his partner cut him off.
"And have you been away from your phone at all in that time?"
"No, so how could Lucas have tampered with it? Steve, that doesn't make any sense; it worked when he called me this morning."
"Give me a sec," Steve replied, and Danny could hear the sound of the car door opening and closing with an audible snap. Agitation. Danny was sure the SEAL was fuming silently, the only evidence in his angry actions.
The car turned on, and Danny could hear Steve muttering to himself from far away, as though the phone was sitting on the dashboard.
"Look, Danno, the phone won't last forever; it's going to cut out when I get about a mile from the house. But I'm in the car and I'm on my way now. See you in ten?"
"What about my phone?" Danny asked, slightly embarrassed by the note of panic in his voice. He cursed Lucas for reducing him to this.
"I don't know. There's something... Something I'm forgetting. Wait- Danny- is Kono there?"
"Yeah," Danny nodded unnecessarily, looking at young woman, who had been listening to the exchange in silence.
"I'm right here, Steve."
"Kono, you got a new phone delivered from the Governor's office yesterday, right?"
"Yeah..." She replied, giving Danny a look that said she was as lost as he was. "Why?"
"How did it get there?"
"Delivered by an HPD rookie. Steve, what are you thinking?"
"I'm thinking..." Steve replied hesitantly, deep in thought, "That seem entirely too opportune, that your phone goes missing two days after a convict escapes from prison and comes to Hawaii. I'm thinking that Lucas killed Danny's phone after they talked so that we would have to use yours. I'm thinking that, if we tried Chin's, his wouldn't work either."
"And since we have to use a brand new, unchecked phone, Lucas could have done whatever he wanted to it before making sure Kono got it," Danny replied. His insides had turned to ice, his fingertips going numb and eyes widening at the implication.
"Steve, get out of the car!" Danny cried, seizing the phone and holding it unnecessarily to his ear. "Get out!"
"Danny, I'm-" The phone died.
"Shit!" Danny swore, holding the phone out and willing it to bring Steve back.
"Kono, put an APB out on Steve's car. Now."
She nodded and made to stand up. "Wait!" Danny cried, thinking over what they had just figured out. "Scratch that. Track it using the GPS. Don't use the phones and don't tell anyone in HPD about this."
Kono bobbed her head in understanding, and flitted out of the office.
Danny gave himself one second. One second to file through all of his fears and doubts and worst case scenarios. One second to remind himself that this was for Steve. One second to think about the man he loved with every fiber of his being.
And then he closed his eyes, let everything float away, and got to work.
He went through all the things he knew: that Steve would've taken the shortest route to the office as possible, that he would have blasted the horn and flared the lights to get everyone out of his way, that it would have been perfectly clear to anyone listening in on a conversation which car belonged to the SEAL.
Things were looking bleak. But Danny didn't allow himself to think of bleak things. No, instead he focused on the task at hand, focused on finding and retrieving Steve and putting a bullet in Lucas's head. Those were good things. He focused on those.
Kevlar vest on, gun in hand, and extra clips within reaching distance- just in case- Danny walked out of his office three minutes later fully prepared to kick ass.
Chin and Kono were in much the same condition.
"Did you find the car, Kono?" Danny asked, hopeful.
She nodded her head softly, not looking particularly happy about the news. "I did. It's at the intersection of Kapahulu and Ala Wai. But its not moving."
Not moving? It meant either that Steve ditched the car in some lot over there, or that he was no longer fit to drive. Danny couldn't afford to think about the latter. He didn't say another word after that.
The damage was worse than they thought. By the time Danny, Chin and Kono arrived at the scene, someone had already called the police and HPD patrol cars were parked blocks away, the officers firing shots at an assailant none of them could see.
Steve's truck was turned on it's side, smoking slightly, a large chuck of the driver's side dented in from what must have been the impact of another large vehicle. Steve was nowhere to be seen.
All around, bullets flied, cracking glass and denting cars. Most civilians had already fled, but the sound of screaming was still prominent. Danny went numb. Lucas caused this. He caused this. Guilt filled his gut, weighing him down like lead.
"Danny, your hands are shaking. You got this?" Kono asked, frowning at the Jersey native's vibrating fingers wrapped around his gun.
Danny nodded, not trusting his voice. Together, the three of the them moved forward, weapons drawn, until they were level with the squad car nearest them and almost fifty yards closer to Steve's overturned truck. Danny craned his neck to try and seen anything beyond that, but he could not.
A bullet whizzed past him, and Danny ducked instinctively, letting the speeding thing fly past him and embed itself in a tree across the street.
Chin approached the officer nearest them, ducking next to him behind the front of his car.
"What's the situation?" He cried over the din of screaming voices and gunfire.
"Several perps!" The man yelled back, hunkering close to the side of his white car, "The truck was like that when we got here, and we haven't been able to get closer! They're blocked in, though. Nowhere to go except the alley, and we have the other end blocked off."
"Have you seen Commander McGarrett?" Danny asked, his voice surprisingly steady, even though his nerves were fried.
The officer shook his head.
The gunfire seemed to ebb a bit, but Danny knew the kind of people they were dealing with. If Lucas was anything, he was smart, and he was trying to figure a way out of the shit show that he had gotten himself in. In fact, Danny wouldn't be surprised if Lucas had even showed up, opting instead to leave his dirty work to the people under his command.
That thought drew Danny's eyes back over the top of the car he was crouched behind, once again trying to catch a glimpse- anything- of Steve. The car remained silent and unmoving, a ghost left behind to haunt Danny with an unanswered question. The vehicle was crushed completely on the driver's side, destroyed in such a way that the probability of anyone surviving was slim in any case. And who knew how long Lucas's people had before HPD showed up...
Danny couldn't stand it any longer. He jerked himself up, gun aimed in the general direction of the gunfire opposite him. A bullet flew past him on the right, and he involuntarily took a step backwards, away from the scene. Away from Steve.
"Where are you going?"
"Away from you."
"Because I'm mad, that's why."
"Why are you mad?"
"If you don't know, Steven, I'm not going to tell you."
"Look, Danny, Whatever it is, I'm-"
"I don't want your apologies!"
"Then what the hell do you want?"
"I want you to why I'm mad, and then apologize."
"Danny. Danno... come back. Please."
"I'm still mad."
"I know, but I am sorry. And I want to make it better, whatever it is. Look Danno, I'm no good at this... this feelings and trust and relationships thing. I don't love like you do. But I want to try, and I want to try with you. Please, just come back and give me a chance to do that."
"... Okay. Yeah, okay. I can do that."
"Chin," Danny hissed, getting the attention of the older man as he sat crouched against the patrol car reloading his shotgun. Chin looked up, even as Kono fired over his shoulder, forcing a man reaching out of a convenience store to retreat into the doorway. This was useless; they were making no headway- getting no closer to getting to the man he loved.
"I'm going around the back by the alley. To see if I can find Steve." Chin must have seen the desperation in Danny's eyes and the tremor in his voice, because he merely nodded and said, "be careful," before engaging himself again in the firefight, leaving Danny in peace to retreat down the side alley.
Danny took a single step backwards, and then another, and then he turned and hurried away from the sounds of gunfire before he could change his mind and charge straight toward Steve's truck, danger be damned. He convinced himself that the alley provided a better vantage point anyways.
Holding his weapon out steady, he turned the corner into the alley, carefully placing each step before the next in a well rehearsed dance, ears strained for any noise, anything out of the ordinary, anything- click.
Anything that sounded like the hammer of a gun being cocked.
Danny froze as soon as the cool metal gently brushed the back of his head. But he could not suppress the shudder that wracked his frame when long delicate finger brushed at the back of his neck.
"detective Williams," a smooth, feathery voice fluttered in his ear. "So nice to see you again."
"Lucas," Danny hissed, still frozen. His hand gripped the gun so tight he thought it might fall off. "What have you done with Steve?"
Lucas laughed, and the sound grated on Danny's eardrums.
"You're... partner ,Detective, had a little accident. We had to remove him from the vehicle lest he be in danger." Lucas laughed again, the chocolaty sound was hardened by something... sinister underneath. Something insane. Danny hated this man with every fiber of his being.
But a party of that sea of hate turned inward, and a small voice in Danny's head whispered this is your fault.
The gun pointed at Danny's head shifted slightly, if only to remind the Detective of it's presence.
"Now, Detective," Lucas continued as though they were old friends, "Commander McGarrett, unfortunately, has succumbed to the injuries he sustained in the accident. I'm terribly sorry."
"No..." Danny whispered. The words were stone, weighing him down. They were water, and he was drowning. Steve... just couldn't be... No, he couldn't be...
The small voice in Danny's head iterating his own guilt grew stronger. If only he had more evidence. More power. If only he had done better. Steve wouldn't be...
Lucas laughed again, and the gun pressed hard into Danny's head. "If only, Detective... if only you had been able to best me. Maybe your dear Commander would still be with us. If only..." he chuckled at his own words. If only.
"Wait, what was that?"
"Would you at least try to listen, Steven? I was saying if only-"
"There it is again. Why are you saying 'if only'?"
"Because I was trying to tell you that if only-"
"If only what, Danno? You had a million dollars? A flying pig?"
"What are you talking about?"
"I'm talking about 'if only'. It's a useless statement. Either you do or you don't. Leaving room for 'if only' just leaves room for disappointment. There's no sense in it."
"That's... a very blunt way of looking at the world, Steve."
"It's practical. If I spent my time thinking about 'if only' I would have never been able to function. I would have drowned in what might have been."
"Is that why you were so adamant about...this?"
"I wasn't going to settle for 'if only' with you, Danno."
"You, my friend, are one strange man."
"Yeah but you love me anyways."
"If only, Detective. And now I'm going to kill you, and your last though will be how you were too weak to save the life of your Commander. How this was all your fault. Goodbye, Williams."
Danny closed his eyes, and let the hand holding his gun fall. His mind cleared, and he was left with only a bright, clear image of Steve. Smiling. No guilt, no pain, no nothing. Danny smiled. I'm almost there, babe.Hope you can forgive me for doing this to you.
A single shot rang thought the air, loud and reverberating in the otherwise silent alley.
… Danny open his eyes. Steve was gone, replaced by the dank and dreary alley and the dirty ground and the gun pointed- the gun!
Danny raised his weapon and turned a hundred an eighty degrees around, whipping the pistol about, prepared to fire.
His mind noted several things at once: the very dead Martin Lucas on the ground, blood pooling around a gaping wound that tore through the bone under his eye socket, the lack of a gun pointed at his head- see dead Lucas- and that he must be dreaming.
It was impossible. It wasn't true. It was...
"Steve?" Danny could only whisper, willing himself to wake from this beautiful nightmare. He blinked, hoping the image would dissipate and reality would come back.
But it did not, and Steve remained. Leaning heavily on his right leg- the left looked like it had seen the nasty end of a meat grinder- and holding the left hand to his abdomen, Steve held a gun in his right, his expression grim and marred with several wicked lacerations.
In the second since Danny had turned and waited for his body to catch up with his mind, Steve had already lowered the gun and started toward him, and by the time he had fully processed what was happening, the Commander was nearly upon him.
"Danny," Steve breathed, voice hoarse. Danny didn't say anything else. Steve was alive, and he didn't need words for that.
Steve engulfed him in a huge hug, clinging to the shorter detective like a lifeline. Danny in turn wrapped his hands around Steve's middle and pulled the man close. He held on to Steve and let the man's familiar feel anchor him, keep him grounded.
"I thought you were dead." Danny spoke into Steve's shoulder, hands still wrapped securely around the man's waist.
"I'm right here, Danno. I'm here." It was a mark of the absurdity of the situation and Danny's palpable relief and Steve's consideration that the Commander did not retaliate with a witty remark or a sarcastic jab. Just plain, old fashioned words of comfort.
Steve's arms encircled him, wrapping Danny up in a cocoon and making him feel wonderful and warm and- warm? His middle was very warm... too warm. Hot, even.
Danny reluctantly broke away from the embrace and held Steve out at arm's length.
The warmth was quickly explained; Danny's shirt was soaked through with deep red, the hot blood clinging to him. The same liquid was oozing out of Steve's middle.
"Steve!" Danny cried, looking up at the man's face to see flushed underneath the cuts and bruises.
"I'm good, Danno," Steve replied softly, his eyes glazing over and his breath coming in soft pants. His left leg had started to shake violently.
"Like hell you are!" Danny eased Steve to the ground- the larger man had practically begun to vibrate at this point- just as Chin and Kono came racing around the corner and into the alley.
"C'mon, babe, wake up," Danny whispered, gently tapping Steve's laceration- free cheek until his eye's fluttered open. "Stay with me."
"Danno," Steve said back, equally quietly, and suddenly the world around them went silent. The chaos of detectives and paramedics and gunshots grew faint and then faded away, leaving only Danny and Steve and this moment.
Steve sighed. Danny shook his head, eyes wide. Steve nodded silently. Danny went still, letting a tear or perhaps two leak out of the corner of his left eye. Steve smiled slightly.
"Love you, Danno."
"Love you too, babe."
And then Steve's eyes fluttered closed, and the expression of serenity deepened into his features until Danny was sure the beautiful man was sleeping.
But he knew that wasn't the case.
Danny bent down, and placed a salty open- mouthed kiss on the cool lips of his lover, pressing down hard.
And he lifted his head, took a deep breath, and did it once more. And then he placed both hands over Steve's heart through his stained and ripped polo, and pushed with all the strength he could muster, slamming his life and his hopes and everything he could into Steve's chest.
He bent down, and kissed his lover once more, twice more, before slamming two hands into Steve's broad chest.
"I love your chest."
"Your chest. I love it."
"That's nice, Danno."
"Seriously, if I could just spend the rest of my life with your chest, I would."
"The rest of your life, huh?"
"What about the rest of the guy attached to that chest? Could you spend the rest of your life with him?"
"He's... tolerable. I suppose I could try to do such a thing, if asked."
"I'll keep that in mind."
The sunrise was ordinary. No blinding orange ball of light, no epiphany- inducing rays of sun, no magically sparkling water. Just another sunrise on another day. Just another mark of the day to come.
"You sleep less than I do these days, Danno."
"You can't stay out here forever, you know. We have to be at work in a couple hours."
"Right. I'm going for a run. Back in a bit."
The larger man plopped down next to Danny in the sand, not the slightest bit concerned with sand getting in his mesh shorts. Danny himself was letting the terrible substance infiltrate his own sleeping pants.
"I can't sleep."
"I know." Steve's large hand found Danny's, and their fingers entwined. Danny squeezed and ran a thumb along the ridge of his lover's knuckles, if only to assure himself that the man was really there.
"I can't stop thinking about it."
"Steve, this is-" But the rest of his words were lost when Steve turned and pressed his lips to Danny's, silencing him mid sentence. Danny froze for a second, and then melted, letting his worry ebb away.
Steve pushed him softly back into the sand until he lay flat and the Commander was leaned up on an elbow above him.
"No, it's not," Steve said back after breaking a second kiss, running a hand though Danny's hair. Danny closed his eyes partly out of comfort at the gesture and partly because every time he looked at Steve now his eye was drawn to the thin but prominent scar on the man's cheek- the only visible repercussion from that day, but Danny knew beneath the t shirt and the mid-calf socks there were plenty more. He couldn't take his eyes off of that thin, straight scar whenever he looked at his lover, and every time he hurt just a little bit more.
"Danno... Danny, look at me."
Danny opened his eyes, and immediately found the thin line hidden by Steve's five o'clock shadow only minimally.
"This-" he gestured to the space around himself, "none of this is your fault. Lucas did this. The corruption of the New Jersey justice system did this. All you did was try your best to keep everyone safe from this madman, and you did a damn fine job of it."
"No buts, Danny. No 'if only's', no what could have beens. Just you and me. Just this. Just us celebrating the time we have together, the time we get to keep having because you saved my life."
"I need- I need to know that you're not going anywhere. That you're always going to be here."
"Do you swear?"
A/N: A bit more romantic than usual, but hey, I was feeling sappy. Like? Hate? Let me know. And let me know if any sort of sequel is interesting to anybody, because I daresay I could write this romance business all day. Sorry for any typos; fanfic was freaking out