A/N 1: SO. It's finally here. There is quite the story behind this tale. This is the story that I've been promising for ages and writing for even longer. It was inspired by an episode of Criminal Minds that aired almost a year ago about a Navy SEAL that went a little crazy and killed some people. Fear not, though, that's not what this story is about. But there was a line from the wife of the SEAL about his "bolt hole" and then this story was born. I've been slowly writing it pretty much all year because school and life and everything else kept getting in the way. But with summer finally rolling around, I got to finish it and edit it (mostly) and now publish it!
A/N 2: This was written before Steve took off for Japan without telling anyone where he was going in season two, so just ignore the whole similar leaving-thing. ALSO because this was started waaayyyy early in the season, I just ignored everything that happened in the season finale. So just keep in mind that when reading this. Other than that, enjoy!
Disclaimer: I do not own, nor do I have any rights to Hawaii Five-0. This is done purely for my own enjoyment, and hopefully yours.
If you were to ask him later, Danny would have been able to tell you the exact moment it happened, the exact moment everything changed. Steve and he were in the Camaro, driving back to headquarters after interviewing a suspect when Steve's cell phone rang. Without even looking at the screen to see who it was, his partner answered it on speakerphone. "McGarrett."
"Shit, man, it's good to hear your voice. I've been calling for hours. I—"
That was all Danny heard because as soon as the other voice came on, Steve immediately grabbed the phone and removed it from the speaker function. That alone made Danny suspicious, but one look at Steve's face completely did him in. Suspicion, confusion, and surprise were all written there, along with what Danny could only say was fear. But that made no sense because he'd only seen McGarrett truly scared a small number of times.
"Right." Steve was saying, nodding into the phone his agreement. "No, I totally understand. Thanks for the heads-up." Danny could hear the mumble of the other man's voice for a few more seconds before Steve said, "I'll check in later," and hung up.
Danny gave his partner a moment to put his phone away before letting the questions roll off his tongue. "Who was that? What's going on? Are you getting called up?"
He watched as Steve turned to face him to answer his questions, and he was completely taken aback by Steve's expression—or rather, the lack thereof. His partner's face was totally black, a mask that gave away nothing. It was a mask he hadn't seen in ages, and it made his guy clench with worry. Before he could say anything about it, though, Steve addressed his earlier questions. "No, Danny, I'm not getting called up. That was just an old friend. We, uh, were supposed to meet up because he's here right now, and I accidentally blew him off for the case."
"But you said 'thanks for the heads-up.' Why would you say that if it was just a skipped lunch?"
"Geez, you're such a mother hen, Williams. He was just telling me that he'd left a bunch of messages on my home phone. You need to relax a bit."
All of Steve's responses fit with what Danny had heard, and yet he still couldn't shake that worry, and his partner's face was still carefully schooled. "So you're not getting called up for something? You're not leaving?"
"Stop worrying, Danny. I'm not getting called up for anything."
"Okay," he replied, only realizing later that Steve had completely neglected to answer his second question. But, unfortunately, he didn't even think about it until it was too late.
They continued the drive in silence, leaving Danny to his own thoughts. Inevitably as they always did lately, they turned toward the situation with his ex-wife and daughter. He had taken some time to adjust to the idea of being a father again, but once he had, he was incredibly excited. Now he had had to readjust everything again, and while Grace was more than enough for him, he still felt a little hole in his heart where he had made room for the baby that wasn't his. Helping to deliver the baby hadn't helped necessarily, and his emotions had been on a bit of a roller coaster lately. He was glad it was the weekend so that he could see his daughter, which always made his mood just that much better. He sighed and then all of a sudden refocused on his surroundings, realizing that Steve had asked him a question. "Huh?"
"Real nice listening skills, Danno." Steve replied. "I asked if you would be okay dropping me off at my house before going back. It's almost quitting time and my friend's free now, so…"
"Oh, yeah, sure." Danny nodded, not even recognizing the bizarre request coming from a man who never left work early, never left work before everyone else. But as soon as Danny consented, Steve immediately started driving towards his own house instead of the Palace. When they finally reached the McGarrett home, Steve jumped out of the car quickly, almost running to the front door before Danny had even undone his seatbelt. "You're sure eager to get rid of me," he teased.
Steve laughed, but Danny detected a hint of unease behind it. He could tell something was going on—something about that call had spooked the SEAL—but he wasn't sure what, and with Steve's wall making a grand reappearance, he wouldn't get an answer from the man. "Nope, just got things to do. I'll, uh…I'll see you around, Danny. You be careful, alright?"
"Careful?" Danny just looked at his partner, bewildered. "What the hell are you talking about? I'll see you on Monday and I'll probably talk to you at some point this weekend, and yet you're acting like this is goodbye. Which it isn't, right? Because you said—"
"I'm not getting called up. I promise I'm not, Danny. I just—never mind. I'll see you later, okay?"
Danny nodded, but the worry in his gut was resurging. "Okay. See you, then." He walked around and got in the driver's side, watching McGarrett walk into his home.
His partner had almost disappeared into the house when Danny rolled down the window and yelled, "You're sure everything is all right? You seem…off."
He got a smile in response, but everything in Steve's face just seemed wrong and forced. Danny wanted to call him out on it, but before he could, McGarrett just said, "I really am fine, Danny. I'll see you around." Then he closed the door with a dreadful sense of finality; Danny couldn't help but frown at the situation.
Nevertheless, he drove away and went back to the Palace briefly before going back to his apartment. He spent the night playing games with his daughter and giving Steve space in the hope that the next time he saw his partner the wall would be gone. He decided before he went to bed that he would let Steve call him instead of bugging the SEAL and making whatever was wrong worse.
Danny started to regret that decision by Sunday afternoon, though, when he had yet to hear from Steve. He felt slightly reminiscent of the time after the Hesse-debacle with Chin Ho when his partner had gone incognito for the weekend, but nothing had happened that he knew of for Steve to be avoiding him or wallowing in moodiness. Instead of going to check on Steve like he had in the past, he just rode out of the worry and settled on seeing—and interrogating—Steve on Monday.
But Monday morning brought no answers.
As soon as Danny opened the office doors, Kono immediately ambushed him. "Is McGarrett with you?"
"Well, it's…" She checked her watch. "It's 9:30 and the boss is usually here by 7:00, 7:30 at the latest, unless he's with you. But he's not here and he's not with you, so where is he?"
"Have you tried calling him? Maybe he just overslept." But even as he said it, Danny knew that, somehow, that wouldn't be the case.
"Not yet," Chin said calmly. "We were waiting to see if he was with you. Did he say that he was going to be running late today?"
"I wouldn't know—we haven't spoken since Friday."
The cousins shared a look. "I feel like Christmas all over again," Kono remarked. "I'm probably over-reacting. He could just be having car trouble, but—"
"But it's McGarrett. He attracts trouble like nothing else. Let's call and give it another twenty minutes before we start worrying…more." Chin concluded. Danny just wanted to rush out and find Steve, but he could see the logic in the older man's plan, so he nodded his consent.
Half hour later, there was still no sign of his partner, no answers to either home or cell phone, and Danny was on his feet, grabbing his keys and racing towards the car. It took only thirty seconds before Kono and Chin were coming after him. At his look, Chin just said, "He may be your partner, but he's our friend too." That was enough for Danny, and the trip to Steve's house was over before he could even blink.
He took into account a few things as soon as they pulled in. Steve's blue truck wasn't in the driveway, and the house looked completely empty. No lights were on, no movement could be seen in the windows, and there just a pervasive air of stillness. The final thing his detective's eye noticed was the curtains of the house were drawn everywhere—something that Steve had never done before. All of it screamed that McGarrett wasn't here.
The three of them approached the house quietly, all reaching for their guns at the exact same time. Danny made it to the door first and was surprised that not only was it unlocked, but the alarm wasn't on either. The three of them spread out throughout the downstairs and mat at the base of the staircase when all the rooms had been swept. "It's all clear," Danny whispered. "Let's move up."
Once more, Danny took the lead and they moved up the stairs, again finding every room empty after regrouping. Somberly, Chin stated what they were all thinking. "He's not here, and it doesn't look like he's been for a while. There's no coffee in the machine, and it's cold. There's nothing in the sink, the fridge is empty, and there's nothing in the trashcan. I don't think he's been here all weekend."
"Shit," Danny cursed, running a hand through his hair. "Where could he—wait!" He stopped and took off down the stairs towards the garage, the others following after him. He tore past the car that Steve was still restoring and to what he had only seen once before. He pulled open what looked like a filing cabinet, but what was actually the outer façade of Steve's gun locker. He knew McGarrett definitely had more hiding places, but he knew about this one because Steve had installed it for Grace, so that Danny would know where the weapons were so his daughter wouldn't find them. Even though Grace knew not to play with the weapons because of Danny, he still didn't want guns just laying around in his daughter's presence. It had touched him and proved how strong their friendship had become when Steve had done this. Usually the safe was locked, but it swung open to his touch, and the inside was barren. "He cleaned it out. He kept some of his weapons in here, and one of them was his dad's—he never took it out, but it's gone. They're all gone. Why would they be gone?"
"I think he's gone, Danny," Kono said, her voice laced with concern. "Let's search the house, maybe see if we can find anything."
Danny immediately wanted to protest, wanted to say that his partner wouldn't have just left them—left him—without a word or a goodbye. He wasn't ready to accept what Kono was saying, and the stubborn part of him thought that maybe Steve could be on the way to the office, that they had just missed him. He wanted to say something, but didn't want to deal with the twin looks of pity from the cousins if (when his mind supplied unhelpfully) he was wrong. "I'll…uh…go through his room. I'll see if I can find some clues."
"It feels weird to be going through the Boss's stuff," Kono remarked quietly.
"But if he's in trouble, we need to figure it out, and this may be the only way. I think he'll forgive us if it means helping him," Chin replied.
Danny nodded and then turned and walked back into the house. He trudged up the stairs and tried to shake off the feeling of uneasiness that seemed to have taken up permanent residence in his bones. He quickly observed the room and noticed that everything looked exactly the same as it did when he had watched Steve after a concussion two weeks ago. But after a closer look, he saw that Steve's personal things—pictures of his family, a drawing that Grace had given him, and a photo of the team and Grace—were all missing. He looked into the closet and found that some of Steve's clothes were not hanging in their usual place. In fact, the closet seemed much emptier than normal.
Walking into the adjoining bathroom, Danny once again noted the emptiness of his partner's presence. He flicked through the medicine cabinet, but didn't find a glaring clue to Steve's location—not that he really expected anything here. It's not as though Mr. Secretive would leave me a message he thought grimly, and then jolted upright when inspiration struck. "Kono! Chin! Meet me in the kitchen!"
He raced down the stairs and moved straight to Steve's rarely used home phone, where sure enough there was a light blinking to indicate a message was waiting. The cousins rounded the corner just as Danny was reaching out to press the button, and both of them was wearing the same confused, hopeful expression. "Danny, what is it? Did you find something?" Chin asked quietly.
"Maybe. On Friday, when we were driving back to HQ, Steve got this phone call. He tried to downplay it as a missed meeting with an old friend, but he acted all weird about it and wouldn't really answer my questions. He said that this guy had left a bunch of messages on his phone, so I'm thinking that these are them. Steve promised me he wasn't getting called up from the reserves, but he's obviously not here, and maybe this guy—"
"Would know something," Kono finished, nodding. "You think there's a connection between the call and the boss disappearing?"
"It makes sense," Chin Ho said. "I mean, it seems to be our only guess thus far. Play the messages, Danny, and see if it's the same guy."
Danny needed no further prodding and immediately hit the button to start the messages, then stepped back to listen.
"Five unheard messages. First unheard message sent Friday, 12:01 PM: Steve, hi, it's Raven. Call me when you get this. I need to hear from you ASAP. Something has come up. End of message.
Next unheard message sent Friday, 12:15 PM: Hey Steve, it's me again. Call me back. End of message.
Next unheard message, sent Friday, 12:52 PM: Raven again. I really need to hear from you. Now. I'm going to wait an hour in case you're not home, before calling again but I'd love to hear from you sooner. End of message.
Next unheard message sent Friday, 1:50 PM: Steve, please check in. I have something you really need to hear. Please call. End of message.
Next unheard message sent Friday, 2:30 PM: Okay, I've yet to hear from you, and I'm just going to break protocol here and leave you a message because your life—if you're even still alive—is not something I want to mess around with. Anyway, stupid question here, but do you remember Anton Gregorovitch? Yeah, it's about that son of a bitch. There's been chatter about him, and it isn't good. We've gotten word that he's plotting some revenge on his favourite Naval Intelligence Officer and SEAL who took him down, and he's headed your way. I know, no worries beause he's in jail but there's the really awful part. He was being transferred and got away. Took down two Interpol agents in the process—only one got away alive. He's coming for you, Steve. I would suggest putting that bolt hole of yours to good use right about now, and I know yours is well stocked enough to last you indefinitely. I finally tracked down your new cell number, so I'll try you there next, but just in case get the hell out of dodge, man. A massive shit storm is coming your way, McGarrett. Raven out. End of message.
No unheard messages."
Silently, Danny leaned forward and turned off the machine, and then looked at the other two members of 5-0. They both looked as shocked as he felt, and for once he didn't know what to say.
Finally, Kono broke the silence. "Who the hell is Anton Gregorovitch?"
"And what the hell is a bolt hole?" Danny countered?
"Most importantly," Chin threw in, "where the hell is McGarrett?"
Danny drove back to HQ in the Camaro alone, feeling almost worse than he had when Mattie had fled months ago. Once again, in the midst of his concern, he noted that McGarrett was as good as family to him now; he was just like a brother and his disappearance was eating away at the Jersey detective. He was anxious and stressed and had this awful feeling that he was never going to see his partner again, because if this was a situation where Steve didn't want to be found, then no one could. Chin had once made the passing comment that if a SEAL didn't want to be located, especially one of Steve's caliber, he wouldn't because they knew how to be invisible. That remark rang especially true now and pointed to the fact that Danny was never going to see Steve again in all likelihood. It made him a giant emotional mess.
He slammed the palm of his hand against the steering wheel and pushed the gas pedal just a little further down. Watching the speed creep up incrementally did little to satisfy him. He didn't know what any of this was about or why Steve might be running—which was the only possible explanation, it seemed, with the phone messages and lack of foul play—but it hurt him more that Steve hadn't trusted him enough to say anything. He thought that they would have been close enough for his partner to leave him a message, at least to say goodbye.
That's when it hit him: Steve's odd comments at the house. "Be careful," McGarrett had said. "I'll see you around." Now it was so obvious, but at the time Danny had just brushed off the comments as something innocent, albeit weird. "Damn it, I should have known!" He hit the steering wheel again, and then just sped up a little more, in hope that he would be able to run away from everything that was happening.
Maybe, if he drove fast enough, he could drive just far enough that he could forget missing friends and partners, and move onto a place that didn't hurt.
Well., any thoughts? The next chapter should be up relatively soon, but pretty please leave me a review and let me know what you think in the meantime!