Unfortunately I don't own anything of Hawaii Five-0, it all belongs to CBS. But I wouldn't mind at all sharing my couch with the Five-0 team – feel free to come around whenever you like ;-)
The story takes place sometime between 2x13 and 2x14, before the revelation of Shelburne, but not really much action or storyline in here just a little something I wanted to share with you. My brother sent me an e-mail right before Christmas with a wonderful story called "The Flowerpot and the Beer". I don't know who the original author of this story is but I hope he or she doesn't mind that I used it. It's an amazing little story about the important things in life – I hope you enjoy it!
English is not my native language, so please forgive me my mistakes.
Once again a great big thank-you to the wonderful montez for betaing – thank you so much for your continuing support, you are the best! :-)
Thanks a lot to ShakespeareIsMyMuse for additional advice, I really appreciate your help.
Stand By Me
Danny stood outside McGarrett's office, arms crossed in front of him, frowning and chewing on his lower lip as he threw a worried look at his partner.
It was late Friday evening, closing had been hours ago. The week had been crazy, as only a week of work with Five-0 could be, with surveillances and undercover work, drug dealers and human traffickers, shootouts and car chases.
Kono and Lori had long since gone home. Both women mentally and physically exhausted from their undercover work over the week, where only luck and a desperate one-man-show on Chin's part had saved them from being raped by a bunch of barely grown-up drug gang members, each one armed to the teeth with more weapons than Danny had ever seen in one place.
Chin had insisted on running an update on some software packages he had planned for weeks, but Williams could hear him shutting down the computers for the weekend, packing his things.
Danny himself had offered to take care of all the paperwork on the case, since his evening with Grace had been canceled and he preferred doing office work than sitting in his hotel room, watching TV and getting drunk while mourning his loneliness. He finished a lot faster than he anticipated, so he looked for other things he could mop up, but after cleaning his desk from top to bottom he found nothing else to do. But there was no way he could go home, leaving McGarrett alone in his office, brooding over all the shit the man had endured over the last few weeks and months.
So he found himself standing in front of Steve's office for the last ten minutes, pondering the best way to approach his partner. Danny knew from experience that in a mood like that, the more he tried to get past McGarrett's walls, the farther Steve would hide behind them.
Williams still hadn't found a suitable solution when he heard footsteps coming closer, feeling a hand on his shoulder, Chin's voice low and calm as always as he asked, "You alright, brah?"
Danny nodded slightly, never taking his eyes off McGarrett, closely watching the former SEAL through the window. They were all exhausted after the hell of a week they'd had, but Danny could see that Steve's exhaustion went far deeper, not only physically but mentally. The guy looked like something was literally eating him up from the inside out.
Steve sat in the leather chair behind his desk which was full of photos, books, papers, and the few items from the CHAMP box they had gotten back before Laura Hills had been murdered, Danny even saw the Arthur Conan Doyle books with the stories about those fancy stick figures. The only light came from the desk lamp, bathing the room in a dim glow, throwing dark shadows at McGarrett's face, giving him an ominous, sick complexion. He was unshaven and paler than usual; even from his position outside the office Danny could see Steve's hands trembling slightly when he grabbed one of the items from the desk.
"You're worried about him." It was more a statement than a real question, the hint of concern in Chin's voice causing Danny to avert his eyes from McGarrett. Danny sighed, running a hand through his hair, silently looking at Chin but the older man could see the wrinkles on Williams' forehead and the deep worry in his eyes that exactly mirrored his own feelings.
"Yeah, me too," Chin replied, no longer able to hide his own worry that now clearly colored his words. "He's way too obsessed with this whole Shelburne thing. And now the mess with Joe and the Yakuza? I think he feels deeply betrayed by Joe, by the man he sees as a second father. He's not sure whom he can trust anymore."
"He can trust us, Chin," Danny exclaimed fiercely. The anger in his voice betraying the feelings of pain and helplessness that glistened in his eyes.
"Hey, he does," Chin answered immediately, locking eyes with his teammate, "and you know he does."
"Yeah, I know that. It's just…" Danny heaved a deep breath, rubbing his hands over his face, "he's so damn stubborn, why isn't he talking to us? I just don't get it, Chin."
Both men stared at each other for a few seconds, coming to a mutual agreement before they shifted their gazes back to their partner and boss. McGarrett rested his elbows on the desktop, his face hidden in his hands while every now and then, a small shiver ran through his whole body.
"We need to do something, Danny, this can't go on," Chin said, his voice low but serious.
Williams took another deep breath, nodding slowly as he replied tiredly, "I don't think it will work if we go in there together. Go home, Chin, I'll handle this. There's no need for both of us to stay. Go home to your wife, I bet she's already waiting for you."
Chin looked from Steve to Danny, throwing him an inquiring look. "You sure? I know Malia would understand…"
"Go home, it's okay," Danny interrupted, gently nudging him away from Steve's room. "Really, I'm fine, I'll take him home."
Reluctantly taking a few steps toward the exit, Chin said, "Okay, brah, but don't hesitate to call if you need help." Seeing Danny's nodded thank-you and the slight smile on his lips, Kelly continued, "See ya Monday. Take care of him."
"I will." Danny waited until Chin left, then Williams squared his shoulders and took another deep breath as he pushed open the door to McGarrett's office.
Although Danny made no attempt to silence his steps, Steve neither stirred nor showed any other sign he'd heard someone approaching. Furrowing his brow, Danny clapped his hands, his voice laced with faked cheerfulness as he said loudly, "Okay, Sherlock, time to go home."
Steve's head jerked up, his bloodshot eyes opened in shock but once he recognized Danny, he squeezed them shut, pinching the bridge of his nose with the fingers of his right hand. "I'm not finished here," McGarrett answered hoarsely.
"Oh yes, you are, my friend," Williams replied, still friendly but with a hint of steel in his voice.
"Leave me alone, Danny," Steve growled, throwing his partner a brief look before he randomly grabbed one of the items from the desk, but the medal slipped from his trembling fingers, falling back onto the desktop with a metallic clatter.
Danny furrowed his brow, deciding to ignore that little incident for the moment when his gaze fell on the pizza box on one corner of the desk, seemingly untouched since Chin had brought it in about two hours ago. "Did you eat?" he asked matter-of-factly, although he was pretty sure of the answer, stepping closer to the desk.
"I'm not hungry," McGarrett said, clasping his hands in a vain attempt to suppress the trembling. Williams stood now right in front of the desk, his hands resting at the desktop as he leaned forward to study his partner. Steve threw him an angry look, repeating his former statement, "I said, leave me alone."
"And I said, let's go home," Danny replied without hesitation as he circled the desk in a few large steps, grabbing the back of the chair with one hand and Steve's shoulder with the other hand. "I mean it, McGarrett, get out of this office right now," he said firmly.
"Or what?" Steve roared, almost overturning the chair as he jumped up, slapping Danny's hand away. He slightly swayed on his feet, staring angrily at the man in front of him.
Clearly not intimidated at all by his partner, Danny said harshly, "Or I swear, I'll kick your sorry Army ass all the way back home."
"Try it and it'll be the last thing you do today," Steve snorted derogatively. "And for the last time, it's the Navy!" he shouted as he approached his partner, trying to push him out of the way.
Having grown up in New Jersey, where playing cops and robbers had always been pretty realistic, Danny learned quite a few techniques to pin down an opponent even before he was in High School. In later years, he not only improved those techniques but also learned a couple of new ones, some of them trained to perfection during his time at the police academy.
He knew he was good, but he also knew he would never stand a chance beating a trained Navy SEAL who was almost a head taller than himself, if said SEAL had been in full possession of his strength. But given Steve's current state Danny had no trouble at all grabbing McGarrett's wrist, twisting his arm back in one swift move while his foot slipped between Steve's legs, hooking around one boot and yanking jerkily, causing Steve to lose his footing. In the same movement Danny's other hand went to his partner's head, easily pinning him down, face flat on the desk, before Steve even knew what happened.
The fact that he was able to overwhelm Steve in the blink of an eye without getting any defensive reaction on his partner's part showed Williams that it was high time to intervene; McGarrett needed help, urgently, and Danny would be there to provide it, whether Steve wanted it or not.
"Get off me!" Steve growled, struggling against Danny's restraints but unable to break the hold.
"Dammit, Steve," Danny said angrily, "stop fighting! This is my famous Danny-Williams-special-pin-down-grip, and trust me, you won't escape unless you plan on ending up in the hospital with a dislocated shoulder." Danny had no trouble keeping his partner secured on the desk, twisting McGarrett's arm a little further for good measure, which resulted in a low groan and even more struggle on Steve's part.
"Steve, please stop it, I'm not the enemy, okay? I'm trying to help, can't you see that?" Danny continued, his voice now uncharacteristically quiet and gentle, as he spoke in a tone usually reserved for calming Grace when she was upset or had woken up from a nightmare in the middle of the night. It was his last hope of getting through to Steve and to his surprise and relief, it worked.
Williams felt the exact moment when all fight and resistance left Steve's body, just like deflating a balloon. A few heartbeats later McGarrett took a deep shuddering breath that almost sounded like a sob, whispering hoarsely, "Let me go, Danny."
Hesitantly releasing his grip on his partner, Danny took a step back, breathing out a long tired sigh. He ran both hands through his hair as he replied quietly, "Let's go home, Steven."
Steve slowly pushed himself off the desk, silently staring with red-rimmed eyes at Danny for almost a minute until he finally nodded, exhausted, stiffly walking toward the door. Danny hastily grabbed the untouched pizza box, switched off the light, following Steve out of the office.
They walked the short distance to the parking lot in silence, both men lost in their own thoughts. Danny heard McGarrett breathe in deeply, he seemed to relax slightly in the calming ambiance created by the tepid breeze and the dim light of an almost full moon. Williams' silver Camaro was the only car left, parked under some palm trees not far away from the building's entrance. Danny heaved a pained sigh when his gaze fell on the damaged bumper and red-brown splatters that covered the entire hood, doors and even part of the roof, remainders of the car chase on some muddy dirt track earlier that day.
"I'll drive," Danny said firmly as he reached out for the keys, preparing himself for the ongoing fight, but Steve accepted the passenger's side without complaint, slumping heavily down into the seat.
Carelessly flinging the pizza box onto the back seat, Danny got in the car and started the motor. Leaving the parking lot, Williams' gaze focused on the road, his thumbs rubbing little circles over the steering wheel as he thought about a way to get through his partner's walls. Out of the corner of his eye he saw Steve silently staring out the window into the lively Friday night, obviously not yet ready to talk. McGarrett still looked utterly exhausted and without a second thought Danny switched on the radio, quickly zapping through the stations until he found the one he was looking for. He dimmed the volume to a very low level, the music nothing more than an unconscious background sound beside the noise of the car and the streets outside, but regardless of how low, the choice of music still made Danny's toenails curl. For Steve's sake he gritted his teeth, smiling slightly as he watched McGarrett closing his eyes, his head drooping against the headrest. Steve relaxed in his seat, his breathing evened out and two traffic lights later he was fast asleep.
"Stubborn idiot," Danny murmured quietly, his voice colored with worry and sympathy. The last few weeks had been hard for Steve, he'd withdrawn more and more from the team ever since they'd returned from Korea; not willing to tell them anything about Wo Fat or what exactly happened in that Godforsaken bunker. Every morning when he would come to work he looked more exhausted and haggard than the day before, but he vehemently avoided all questions; insisting everything was fine.
Driving as slowly as possible without constraining other traffic, Danny deliberately made some detours, making sure his partner could sleep for a while. Knowing McGarrett would be wide awake the moment Danny stopped the car, he was not surprised to find Steve stirring in his seat as Danny turned into Steve's driveway some forty-five minutes later.
Shutting down the engine, Williams turned his head, patiently watching as Steve again stared out the window. After a few moments, McGarrett cleared his throat, asking tiredly, "I bet you won't be satisfied with 'Thanks for the ride, see you on Monday'?"
"You are damn right, my friend," Danny answered, fishing the pizza from the back seat. "Let's go inside, you choose the place to talk."
Without saying another word, Steve stiffly got out of the car and headed toward the house. After entering the security code, he opened the door, crossed the living room without even bothering to switch on the lights, leaving it to his partner to shut the front door and follow. Danny blinked a few times to adjust his eyes to the darkness, hearing Steve leaving the house through the back door. He nodded briefly to himself, heaving a little sigh, "The beach it is… what a surprise."
Danny took his time following Steve, first strolling into the kitchen, grabbing two beers out of the fridge. He closed the door but after a second thought he swiftly reopened it again, taking another two bottles. Better be safe than sorry, he thought, leaving the kitchen with the four bottles under his arm, the pizza box in the other hand.
The first thing Williams noticed as he went outside were Steve's boots, neatly positioned next to the door. Looking around, he found McGarrett standing on the shoreline, the calm waves playing around his bare feet, not caring at all that his pants were already soaking wet up to his knees.
With the full moon only a few days gone the night was light and clear, making it easy for Danny to find his way across the beach. He sat down in one of the wooden chairs, knowing pretty well that pushing the subject would do no good. So he waited patiently, slowly opening one of the bottles, pressing the other three into the cold sand next to the pizza box. Sipping at his beer, Danny felt the gentle breeze on his face, noticing that the ambiance indeed had a calming effect even on him. He sighed contentedly as he felt some of the stress from the last few days melting away, resting his head against the chair, taking another sip of the cold beverage.
He was not tired but nevertheless he closed his eyes, the cool twilight of the Hawaiian night helping relax not only his body but also his mind. Danny knew that Steve needed time but sooner or later the man would be ready to talk and no matter how long it might take, Williams would be there for him.
Danny had finished about half of his beer when he heard the rustling of clothes next to him and only moments later the telltale Plop – Hiss of opening a bottle. He waited another two or three minutes before he opened his eyes, throwing a cautious look at his partner.
"Ready to talk?" Williams asked, using uncharacteristically few words. "I'm here to listen."
"Actually, I don't want to talk and I don't need anybody to listen, Danny," McGarrett said tersely, staring into the night, absently rolling the beer bottle between his hands, his fingers playing and picking at the corners of the label. "The Navy teaches you quite a few techniques to handle difficult situations, you know? So I'm perfectly capable of dealing with the current situation on my own."
Pondering his next words for a few moments, Danny finally said gently, "This may be true… but only to some extent. I know you've been trained to endure an unbelievable amount of stress and pain and even torture, and I bet the techniques you learned where damn helpful during your naval career, but this is not one of your SEAL missions, Steve. This is personal, more personal than anything else in your life, this is just about you and your family, which is exactly why all your fine techniques aren't working, right?"
There was no answer, Danny just saw Steve's expression harden, his lips pressed together to a small line. Danny sighed, this would be a lot more difficult than he expected. With one big gulp he finished his beer, carefully putting the empty bottle on the sand next to the others. Then he stood up, swiftly turning around the chair, sitting back down so that he came face to face with Steve. He leaned forward, elbows on his knees, trying to get his partner's attention, but McGarrett avoided his gaze, still staring stubbornly over the ocean.
"Steve, please, this has to stop. You've become way too obsessed with all of this, with that whole story about your father's toolbox, Wo Fat and Shelburne, and now Joe and the Yakuza. Don't you see that this is eating you up?" The wrinkles on Danny's forehead increased with every word, his voice thick with worry as he continued, "You've focused your whole life, your whole being, on this, you don't do anything else other than brood over these things day in and day out."
Williams dropped his head, his hands briefly rubbing over his face before he looked up again. "When was the last time you talked to Mary-Ann?" he asked, immediately noticing the change in Steve's posture at the mention of his sister. McGarrett stiffened, his hands involuntarily clutching the bottle tighter. "I know Catherine is somewhere in the Middle East, but there are certainly ways to contact her. Have you even spoken to her since she left?" Danny was sure that the bottle in Steve's hand would soon burst, his hands already trembling from the tension he'd built up.
"Do you ever take the time to visit your parents' graves?" Danny asked softly, continuing before Steve had the possibility to answer. "Have you met Mamo again? Or contacted some of your old Navy buddies? Did you ever try to find some former friends from school since you've been back in Hawaii?"
Angrily shaking his head, Danny took a deep breath. "You're breaking off all contacts, trying to shut everyone out from your life. But this won't work, Steve, if you go on like this there won't be a life for you to return to." Danny swallowed heavily, trying to make eye contact with McGarrett as he asked, "When was the last time you went spear fishing with Chin? I know about your plans with Kono to go surfing together, why haven't you done that yet? Gracie's been asking for weeks now when you'll take her on that boat trip you promised." He reached out, firmly squeezing Steve's arm to finally get a reaction.
"I don't have time for this!" Steve exclaimed angrily, finally shifting his gaze, staring defiantly at his partner.
"You don't have time?" Danny asked, his tone a mixture of disbelief and anger as he locked eyes with McGarrett. "You also don't have time to eat properly? Or sleep more than four hours a night?" His grip on Steve's arm tightened, his voice almost pleading now, "Listen Steve, I'm worried about you, we're all worried. I mean, look at you, you've lost at least ten pounds in the last few weeks." In fact, Steve was thinner than Danny had ever seen him, his cheeks sunken, his complexion ashen.
"I don't have time for this," Steve repeated hollowly, "Wo Fat…"
Interrupting him with a sharp gesture, Williams said fiercely, "Wo Fat's been around before we even knew he existed and he'll be around an hour or a day or a week from now. And if not, even better for all of us, let him rot in hell."
The blank look in Steve's eyes made Danny's heart clench painfully, he'd hoped to see that look never again; the one and only time he had seen it had been after Governor Jameson's murder, the picture of his partner handcuffed in the back seat of that squad car forever burnt into his memory.
"Please, Steve, don't do this. Don't shut us out, don't let Wo Fat completely take over your life. Don't let him win."
Staring at each other for what seemed like an eternity, Steve finally broke eye contact, whispering hoarsely, "I can't, Danny. This… this is all I have left, I can't stop." Biting his lips, he turned his head, his fingers still wound tightly around the beer bottle.
Almost at a loss for words, Danny ran his hands through his hair, breathing out a frustrated sigh. "I don't want you to give up everything, Steve. I just want you to shift your focus. Go back to your life, to what's important, to the people who care about you. You know that we'll help you find Wo Fat, I'm sure that together we can solve the mystery behind that man, but you need to give us the chance to help. You need to involve us…" Danny's voice trailed off when he saw Steve hunching his shoulders in a futile attempt to suppress the shiver that ran through his body.
Williams leaned forward, firmly squeezing McGarrett's biceps, giving him an angry shake. "Dammit Steve, you need to take better care of yourself! Are you trying to kill yourself? When was the last time you've eaten properly?"
"Danny, please… I can't…" Steve said distressed, trying to stand up in an attempt to free himself from Danny's grip, but Danny just squeezed harder, his fingernails digging deep into Steve's skin.
"Oh no, Steven, no way! Don't you dare leave now!" Danny said angrily, throwing Steve a menacing look. He grabbed the pizza box, furiously tossing it into Steve's lap. "Eat!"
"I'm not hungry," Steve replied defiantly as he tried to shove the carton away.
"I don't give a damn if you're hungry or not, McGarrett!" Danny hissed through clenched teeth, trying to read the expression on Steve's face.
For almost a minute Williams just glared at his partner before he shook his head in defeat, tiredly rubbing one hand over his mouth and chin. "You know what, Steve?" he finally asked quietly. "I think that's it. If you're not willing to listen to your friends or at least try to change your suicidal behavior, then there's nothing left for me to do." He leaned back in the chair, protectively crossing his arms in front of him as he said firmly, "I won't stand on the sideline any longer, waiting for you to break down. It's your choice, Steve, either you admit that this can't go on and let me help, or today will be the last time you see me here at your house or outside our work with Five-0. I'm dead serious about this, I have no interest in running a friendship with someone who doesn't give a damn about what his friends are thinking."
Squeezing his eyes shut, Danny tried to ignore the dull throbbing in his temples. He just wanted to go home and sleep for at least the next twenty-four hours, forgetting his stubborn partner and everything he'd ever heard about Wo Fat and Shelburne. He swallowed down the sigh that built up in his chest, trying not to think about his recent words and what they could possibly mean for his future. Steve and the work with Five-0 were, apart from Grace of course, the only things that made his life on this Godforsaken island worth living. He couldn't imagine losing McGarrett's friendship, but he had been serious, he couldn't and wouldn't stand there without being able to do something, watching helplessly as Steve slowly destroyed himself.
Losing Matty had been hard enough, standing outside, unable to do anything, no, even worse, his help not even wanted, all that had nearly broken his heart, but in the end he had let his brother go. It was one of the hardest things he'd ever had to do in his life, but he knew that if it was necessary, he could do it again. If McGarrett didn't accept or want his help, he would let him go, just like he had Matty. Danny had always been a man of action but the simple task of just standing and watching without the chance to interfere was too much for him.
Perhaps it had been a stupid idea trying to get McGarrett to talk, the man was far too stubborn or too dumb or perhaps just too proud to admit that he needed help. Williams tiredly rubbed his eyes, deciding that it was about time to go home when he heard his name.
Steve's voice was low, almost shy, he sounded so forlorn that Danny's eyes snapped open, the father in him immediately and unconsciously reacting to that tone. He was astonished to find McGarrett reluctantly nibbling on a piece of cold pizza, briefly flashing an apologetic smile between two tiny bites before his face became serious again. The look in Steve's eyes was no longer as hollow as before but Danny still could see enough pain and doubt in them to make his gut wrench.
"You're right, Danny," Steve said, hesitantly trying to catch Danny's eye, swallowing heavily before he added quietly. "I think I need help."
"You're such an asshole, McGarrett," Danny replied outright, not able to completely hide the feeling of relief that flooded his mind. "Why didn't you say that two hours ago? It'll be your fault when my hair prematurely turns gray." He sighed silently, returning Steve's gaze as he asked, "So, you're willing to rearrange your priorities? Shift your focus back on more important things in life?"
"I can't promise anything, Danny, but I'll try, okay?" Steve answered earnestly, still maintaining eye contact.
Danny nodded pensively, "Okay, fair enough for now, Steve." He remained silent a moment, closely watching his partner before he asked with a little smile, "Do you know the story of the Flowerpot and the Beer?"
Frowning slightly, Steve shook his head, unconsciously taking another bite of pizza as he threw Danny an expectant look.
"Okay, then listen," Danny rested his elbows on his knees, gathering his thoughts to correctly tell the story. "Eugene Scharpman was one of my teachers at the police academy, a retired cop with a great interest in philosophy and more often than not we discussed Aristotle and Descartes and Nietzsche instead of learning about the principles of civil law." He stopped shortly, lost in some fond memories of his late teacher. "Well, one day Mr. Scharpman walked into the classroom with a large flowerpot, three plastic bags and two bottles of beer. He placed the flowerpot on the table and filled it up with golf balls from the first bag, asking if the pot was full."
"Just as you, the whole class agreed that the pot was full," Danny said smilingly as he saw McGarrett nodding slightly. "But then Mr. Scharpman poured the content of the second bag into the pot. He shook the pot a little bit so that the pebbles could fill up the cavities between the golf balls, asking again if the pot was full."
A little smile played on Steve's lips as he nodded again, a little more powerful this time.
Danny also nodded, swiftly continuing with the story, "That's what we also thought, but before long, Mr. Scharpman took the third bag which was full of sand, pouring it into the pot." He smiled wryly, gesturing at the beach all around. "Of course the sand filled up the last remaining free space and once more Mr. Scharpman wanted to know if the pot was full."
Steve furrowed his brow, the smile increasing on his face as he answered Danny's inquiring look with another nod. "Well, Steve, that's what we also thought." Williams grinned brightly, wagging his finger as he went on, "But Mr. Scharpman took the two bottles of beer, pouring them into the pot and unsurprisingly the beer seeped into the sand, filling up the free spaces between the sand grains."
McGarrett couldn't help the small chuckle that left his throat as he finished his own long-forgotten beer. Danny waited patiently until he dropped the empty bottle on the sand, returning his attention to the story at hand.
"According to Mr. Scharpman, the flowerpot is a representation of our life," Danny explained quietly. "The golf balls are the most important things in our life, our family, our children, our health, our friends, all the preferred and passionate aspects of our life, which in case of a total loss of other things still would remain and which would still fulfill our life." He raised his eyebrows, throwing Steve a meaningful look before he continued, "The pebbles symbolize all the other things in our life such as our job, our house, our car. The sand is the rest, all the other little things in our life."
Danny remained silent for a moment, giving Steve the time to think about his words. "If we begin to fill up the pot with sand first, there would be no space left for the pebbles and golf balls. The same applies to our life; if we invest all our time and energy into the small things we'll never have place for the important things. Play with your children, Mr. Scharpman said, take time for a medical check, take your partner out for dinner. There is always time left to clean the house or to fulfill other obligations. Always watch the golf balls first, he advised, all those things that are the most important in your life, the rest is only sand."
Williams grabbed one of the remaining bottles from the sand, opened it and took a long sip before he leaned back in the chair. "You do understand why I told you that story, Steve?" he asked quietly but McGarrett seemed to be completely absorbed in his thoughts, absently staring over the ocean.
Waiting patiently for any reaction on Steve's part, Danny closely studied his partner, relieved that almost half of the pizza was gone. Steve looked a little bit more relaxed now, his posture still tense but no longer as distressed as earlier.
A few minutes later Danny finally cleared his throat, the sound seemed to pull McGarrett out of his reverie. He blinked slowly, slightly shaking his head before he bent forward to scoop up a handful of sand, letting it slowly trickle through his fingers.
"I think my pot is already filled up with too much sand, Danny," Steve said silently, hesitantly raising his head, searching for Danny's eyes.
"Then spill it out and start fresh," Williams replied immediately, returning Steve's look.
"There's so much sand pouring down on me every day of my life, Danny." A sad smile played on Steve's lips as he added, "I don't know if I'm able to get rid of it."
"Oh, for heaven's sake, then finally accept that you need help," Danny said fiercely. He took a deep breath, thinking carefully on his next words as he leaned forward to lay his hand on Steve's forearm. "Listen, Steve, I know that your life is not as nice as it should be and I know that you don't have a lot of golf balls left. But you still have friends, you just have to let us back into your life. You know that we're not only your friends but also your Ohana…" Briefly interrupted by the expression on Steve's face, Danny said with a little sigh, "Don't look so surprised, Steven, I'm not a complete idiot. Believe it or not, I've picked up some Hawaiian lingo here and there." Rolling his eyes, he slightly shook his head as he continued, "You'll see, once you put your Ohana golf balls back into the pot, we'll help you keep some of the sand at bay." Firmly squeezing Steve's arm, Danny asked, "Can you do that?"
McGarrett tried to swallow past the lump in his throat, giving Danny a hesitant nod. "Okay," he finally promised quietly.
"That's good, man." Smiling contentedly, Danny briefly tightened his fingers around Steve's arm before he removed his hand, leaning back in the chair, taking another sip of his beer. Both men looked at each other, knowing that the depth of their friendship just reached a new level.
Steve inhaled the salty breeze that came from the ocean and Danny could see that finally the stress and tension inside him seemed to abate. A few moments later the expression on McGarrett's face changed, his nostrils quivered slightly as he turned his head, letting his gaze travel once more over the dark ocean.
Danny narrowed his eyes, he recognized that face and normally it didn't bode well. "What?" he asked, furrowing his brow as he waited for Steve to answer.
Still avoiding Danny's gaze, Steve smiled into the darkness, "Ohana golf balls, huh?"
Suppressing a sigh, Williams replied irritated, "Yes, Steven, Ohana golf balls, that's what I said. Is there actually anything you want to tell me or are you just randomly trying out some new words?"
Steve shifted his gaze toward his partner, his smile increasing as he teased, "I just thought about it and it seems that you're the smallest of my Ohana golf balls, Danno."
"Haha, very funny, McGarrett!" Danny retorted, smacking Steve on the arm with the back of his hand. He looked up, astonished to find the smile slip from Steve's face, replaced by an expression of utter sincerity.
"Actually that's a good thing, Danny," Steve said silently, no longer teasing. "So there will always be space for you in my flowerpot, even if it's filled up with pebbles and sand." He took a deep breath, locking eyes with Danny as he continued, "I'm really sorry that I shut you out from everything. I really thought I could deal with everything on my own."
Danny stared at him for a long moment before he finally nodded, for once in his life at a complete loss for words. A smile crept across his face as he bent forward to grab the last bottle from the sand, opened it and handed it McGarrett.
Reaching out, Steve placed his hand upon Danny's hand, giving it a quick squeeze before he accepted the bottle. "Thank you," he said solemnly, making sure that Danny knew he wasn't talking about the beer.
Steve put the bottle to his mouth as a sudden thought crossed his mind and he looked up, asking curiously, "Your story wasn't finished yet… what about the beer in the pot?"
"I'm glad you finally asked," Danny said, a bright smile on his face as he clinked his bottle against Steve's. "The beer is there to show you that, no matter how difficult your life might be, there's always enough space left for one or two beers."