My bestest, lyricoloratura, sent me the following note after re-reading my 20-in-20 drabbles. I could never say no to her so this story happened. Not a story I intended to write but now, well, I have and am sharing it with you. Hope you enjoy!

Yes, but seriously, wouldn't it make a lovely one-shot? Especially if it was a "Steve actually ditched because he suddenly realized that he'd fallen passionately in love with his best friend and couldn't reconcile it with his hard-ass SEAL self," and "Danno won't admit it, but is pretty sure that Steve has figured out that Danno is in love with him and is so uncomfortable with it that he's disappeared rather than having the humiliating confrontation." Does he contemplate leaving 5-0 - or even Hawaii - for the sake of Steve's happiness? Is he gone when Steve gets back? Big angst!

Don't you love it when I start prompting for a fandom that I'm only marginally familiar with?


"We are ohana, Steven," Danny said in exasperation. It was the 10th or 11th or 23rd message he had left for Steve since his mysterious disappearance. "That means we have each other's back. I could have contracted smallpox while you're off God knows where doing God knows what. You could have come back to an urn of ashes and you'd have to explain to Grace why you weren't here when I needed you. All your talk of ohanais just that – talk." Danny took a pause and a deep breath. "Please just come home safe. Grace misses you. Kono and Chin miss you. And…I miss you most of all."

Steve listened to the latest voice mail twice more before deleting it, just like he had all the others. Part of him wanted to keep them, to prove that Danny cared enough to keep trying. But the other part, the part that had made him leave Hawaii, knew the danger in holding onto them.

Holding on. That's all he was doing. Putting one foot in front of the other. Trying to keep his focus on his goal. He hadn't lied to Danny in the "Dear Danno" letter he'd left. He was determined to find Joe and Shelburne and, finally, the truth. But he had never intended to begin the hunt like this. Abruptly leaving without informing his team, his ohana.But staying had ceased to be an option. Waking up with Catherine in his bed and realizing he not only wanted her gone but more urgently wanted her to be Danny had been the last straw. His sanity was deteriorating and he had to remove himself to sort out what was going on in his own head.

He'd never had sexual feelings for any man. He was the poster child for Heterosexual Man. He was self-assured enough to know he was pleasing to look at but had never responded to the come-hither glances he'd occasionally gotten from men. He wasn't disgusted by their advances. He simply wasn't interested. He didn't care what anyone did in the privacy of their own home if both parties were willing and legal. Doing anything behind closed doors with another man had never been of any interest to him.

Whenever he left a bar with a new 'friend' she almost always looked like Catherine - dark hair, dark eyes, killer body, smart enough not to ask too many questions and to know that a one-night stand was all he was looking for. He was never at a loss for company. Even after settling back in his childhood home, he'd kept himself amused between Catherine's visits. The team teased him about his booty-calls but he didn't mind. He and Catherine were good together, gave each other exactly what they wanted with no expectations for more.

Then she had come town, they had had dinner and dessert, like always. But when he woke up from dreams of Danny doing those things to him, of wanting it to be Danny next to him instead, he had questioned everything that his life had contained up to that point.

He couldn't face Catherine and he certainly couldn't face Danny. By extension, he couldn't tell Kono or Chin the truth. They would see through him, know that his world had unexpectedly been turned upside down. So for the first time in his life, he'd taken the coward's way out. He'd left a note. He promised he'd be back when he had some answers. Maybe he didn't quite know what the questions were yet but he'd find those as well.

The futile search through the less populated areas of Japan afforded him plenty of time to consider what he had done and what Danny had said in this voice mail. Smallpox? How would Danny have been exposed to smallpox? That made no sense. And he certainly couldn't ask Danny how that had happened. In one of his voice mails Danny said he was in Los Angeles with Sam Hanna. What was he doing in California?

So many questions he couldn't answer. And so many questions he couldn't ask, not even of himself.

~o0o~

"So I'm thinking of taking leave for a little while," Danny said to Kono and Chin over lunch when they had been back from LA for several days. "I know we're a man down already but…"

Kono and Chin traded a look, one that said everything that needed to be said between them. "We understand," Chin assured him for them both. "I'll talk to the Governor. You take all the time you need."

"I'll call him before I go," Danny said, weariness in his voice.

"Let Chin do it," Kono advised. "Then when he demands you stay, Chin can honestly say it's too late. And don't answer you phone."

"Right," Danny said with a nod.

"Do you know where you're going to go?" Chin asked.

"Jersey. My sister just had her baby. It's a great excuse to go back east right now."

Chin nodded at that. "Not Japan, right?"

"No," Danny sighed. "As tempting as it is to see if that map was right, I'm not chasing him. He doesn't want me as back-up so…."

"I'm sorry," Kono said, her warm hand over Danny's. "It was a shitty thing he did to you. To us all."

"I'm doing it too," Danny pointed out softly.

"Not the same thing, brah," Chin assured him. "We'll be able to reach you. We'll call you if we need you. And you'll do the same."

"I will," Danny agreed.

"Do you have a flight yet?" Kono asked, fighting the tears that wanted to fall.

"No. I'll find one tonight. I'm going to try and leave Friday if I can. I have a little more paperwork to finish up. Then I'll be ready to go. Gracie's still on the mainland so I don't have to explain to her."

"Okay," Chin said. He looked like he wanted to say something else but instead gathered the remnants of his lunch and threw it out before leaving the break room, Kono leaving shortly afterward.

Danny didn't know if he was grateful for the solitude or disappointed by it. Not disappointed in them. Disappointed in himself that he couldn't, or wouldn't, tell them the entire truth. They deserved to know but he couldn't tell them before he had it out with Steve. And apparently Steve had no intentions of discussing the situation they found themselves in. So Danny was going to remove himself from everything that reminded him of Steve, to see if distance brought clarity.

It had been so much easier when he and Steve were just friends. Best friends who were in synch, understood each other, could finish each other's sentences. But their relationship had been evolving, changing right in front of his eyes and until Steve left, he hadn't fully realized the depth of their connection. He usually noticed everything. You didn't last long as a detective if you failed to pick up on the subtlest of clues. But that didn't extend to his best friend. Or himself. Now that he was in the process of loosing his best friend, the most important relationship in his life, he saw the signs as though they were outlined in neon.

He and Steve had been orbiting each other, a planet and its sun. No, that analogy didn't work. Because the planet could not survive without its sun but the sun would continue to burn as brightly if the planet imploded. Everyone assumed Danny was the planet to Steve's sun. But that wasn't the way it was. Steve was as dependent on Danny as Danny was on Steve, maybe even more so. Steve was adjusting to civilian life, to being in charge of civilians, civilians who were law enforcement agents, a career about which he knew only the basics. Steve had been thrown in the police pool and told to swim to a shore he couldn't find. Danny had been there for every missed stroke, for every near drowning, for his triumphant emergence from the deep end to discover he could swim with the big dogs.

Well, that was kind of a stupid way to think about it too, Danny chided himself. He sighed, sipping his now tepid water. Steve needed Danny. That pissed Steve off. And Danny was confident Steve had fallen in love with Danny and didn't know what to do with that realization. What he failed to factor into his thinking was that Danny had also fallen in love. And as neither of them had ever experienced that particular emotion with anyone of their same gender, they were at a loss as to where to go next. So Steve ran. Man of action that he was, he used the eternal mystery of Shelburne as his escape hatch. Damn him. Danny was tempted to go back on what he had told Kono and Chin and fly to Japan. If only to have the satisfaction of punching Steve's lights out and leaving him to pick up those scattered pieces.

Instead he wearily went into his office, buying plane tickets for Newark. He paid the extra to keep the return date open. If he needed to hide out for two weeks instead of one, he would. He doubted he'd be in Jersey that long but he wanted that option.