Ok, I am back - poking my head out of my box fort. This was the scene I had in my mind to end with when I started writing this. If you like it, awesome, if not, just pretend last chapter was the end!
To everyone reviewing thank you so much, I am blown away by your kindness!
Disclaimer: They are not mine, if they were the new series would already be showing and I wouldn't have to wait till JANUARY PEOPLE!
Oh and I am never moving again. Seriously.
Danny hung up his goodnight call to Grace and observed the group before him. The fire was lit in the pit and the few remaining guests at Freddie's wake were gathered around it, laughing, exchanging stories and enjoying the keg of beer that had suddenly appeared just as miraculously as the dress blues all seemed to disappear. There were four other SEALs plus Joe White and Catherine still there. Chin had left as this section of the day's formalities got underway, Kono had remained, but Chin insisted that this way Five-0 would have at least one man hangover free the next day.
Danny watched as Steve accepted the cup offered by the youngest of the SEALs, James, Danny thought his name was, though the other Navy men insisted on calling him 'Clip' for a reason Danny had yet to fathom.
Clip had been the rookie in Freddie's last team, reading between the lines Danny guessed Freddie had taken the then green young man under his wing and kept him alive his first six months on active duty. Danny had been amused when speaking to him to also discover how in awe of one lieutenant Commander S. McGarrett the highly trained young SEAL had only met once before when Freddie had let the newbie tag along one leave. Steve, it appeared, remained somewhat of a legend at 'SEAL school' as Danny called it. He and Kono had hit it off as the young sailor was also a surf nut and Danny was amused to notice the flirtation that the two were enjoying, maybe it was as well Chin had left!
Steve took a drink from the cup and flopped down on the lounger beside Cath, laughing at something that she said. Danny was pleased to see his more relaxed demeanour, he was running on fumes but Danny knew sitting talking with people who knew Freddie like this was something he needed.
Granted Steve wasn't really talking much. He remained even more introspective than usual, but as the evening wore on he laughed occasionally, and contributed a comment here and there. For the most part he seemed to be just soaking up the presence of the others. Catherine was keeping a concerned eye on him, but she too seemed more relaxed. His 'moment' on the beach seemed to have released the pent up tension and allowed him to rebuild his defences.
Danny hesitated to go and join them, unsure if he should stay or leave Steve with the guys who had actually known Freddie. It was strange seeing his partner in the centre of this group of elite soldiers, more than that, respected by these men. He wasn't sure if he should be proud or scared that the BAMF Navy SEALs thought his partner was tough! He was just musing on this when Steve glanced back at him, eyebrows raised in question. Danny took that as an invitation and realised his friendship with Steve gave him the right to be there. He moved into the space Steve created for him at his side. The arm he casually slung across Danny's shoulders for a moment removed any last hesitation Danny had about staying. Clip furnished him with a fresh pint.
Joe White had the floor "You know when the MPs call you to the gate at 3am that it'll be something good." Joe took another pull on his beer. He had everyone's full attention. "But really, this was a new one on me."
"Joe, I think its getting late. Shouldn't an old man like you be in bed?" Steve's blatant attempt to stop the story in its tracks adding to the amusement of the others gathered. It was the most animated he had been in days and Danny immediately grinned at him.
"Oh this must be good," Danny chimed in, very much enjoy the way Steve squirmed good naturedly beside him.
Joe merely glanced at Steve before continuing his tale, "In all my years dealing with drunken sailors, this was the first time I ever saw anything like it."
"Seriously Joe. They," he gestured the small group at the fire pit, "don't need to hear this, sir."
"Oh we do," Kono, a little tipsy chimed in.
Danny glanced at Steve who appeared to be struggling to keep his face neutral, their eyes met and a smirk flicked across the ex-SEAL's face but it quickly returned to a neutral mask that mirrored Joe's own deadpan expression.
"I was greeted by the sight of Lietenants Hart, Wright and your very own McGarrett dressed as if they were going to a wild west rodeo, complete with saloon girl." A whoop of laughter almost drowned him out.
"We were practicing the art of disguise," Steve sat at attention, deadpanning his response as Danny could imagine him doing all those years before. "Blending in."
"I am not convinced it was working, though I must say your make up was surprisingly good."
"Thank you, sir. You trained us to improvise."
Kono was clinging to Clip by this stage and Danny was doubled over so far he could hardly breathe. Tears of laughter were threatening to roll down his cheeks.
"You were the girl, boss?" Kono managed to choke out.
"I can neither confirm or deny," this brought another wave of hysterical laughter from the assembly.
"Please," Danny wiped the tears from his eyes, "Please tell me someone had the foresight to record this moment for posterity."
"Classified, Danny boy, that would be Classified," Steve took another drink.
"Actually there is a photo up in the SEAL bar in Coronado, copies should be easy to come by," Clip chimed in, blanching slightly at the dirty look Steve gave him. "I mean...if that would be ok with you...um...sir. I mean...um"
This drew hoots of laughter from the rest, especially Danny and Kono, "Sounds like you are famous, Boss." Clip was blushing now and the laughter increased at his embarrassment.
"Leave the tadpole alone, Steve," Catherine teased.
Steve grinned at the younger man before his discomfort could increase. He took another deep drink. "I think I remember something about a camera and photo.I am fairly certain it was Freddie's idea."
Joe barked a laugh and resumed his narrative, "I was always been more concerned that you thought the MPs wouldn't notice three, six foot, soon to be Navy SEALs, sneaking back onto base well after curfew... In that get up."
"In our defence, sir, we were really really dunk."
"That I can attest to"
"We probably would have made it too, if the chicken hadn't bitten Fred at the wrong moment," Steve continued to defend their actions with mock solemnity.
"The chicken, Steven?"
"Yes, Danny. There might have been a chicken involved." Kono had slid off her chair to the ground laughing at this point.
"It was to cheer up old Belch there, remind him of home " Steve gestured toward the large Texan SEAL on Danny's left who had been through basic training with Freddie and Steve.
"Dog was bringing it back for me. I had been hurt in training the day before and was missing out on a trip home," the large bear like man offered, his face also serious though clearly enjoying winding up the small detective.
"A chicken?" Danny oddly enough felt further clarification was necessary. "Why a chicken?"
"My family have a large cattle ranch back home." Danny missed the wink Steve shared with the other man.
"Then why a chicken?" Danny appealed to the group at large, his voice raising in amused exasperation, his hands gesturing wildly.
Joe merely watched the exchange, drinking deeply from his beer. Catherine was clutching at her broken ribs, crying with laughter. Steve pulled her in towards him, supporting her against his chest, his serious demeanour not altering.
"Danny, think about it for a second, where on earth would we have got a cow in Coronado at three o'clock in the morning."
The group erupted. Even Danny.
"Anyway," Joe resumed his story, "Hart insisted on feeding the MPs a story about my having ordered a covert training mission that necessitated the get up. Even blind drunk, he was so convincing instead of locking them in the brig till the morning, they actually got me up to corroborate their story!"
"Man, he always was full of it, our Fred," Belch, slapped Danny's back, enjoying the joke and nearly knocking Danny off his seat.
Steve took a long drink of his beer, "Yes, yes he was," he spoke softly, more to himself than the others who were still laughing loudly at the tale. Danny glanced at him, he was smiling but his eyes had suddenly grown distant.
"Come on, Bubba. Stay with me here!" Freddie lent over Steve, slapping his cheeks. "I need you conscious!"
"'m with you. Ge' off" Steve batted half heartedly at the hands that lifted his stolen robe to check the pressure dressings around his stomach.
"Honestly, hundreds of dollars worth of body armour and you still manage to get slashed in the stomach."
"Yea, well..." he hissed as Freddie lifted the corner of the dressing, "who...whose ass... was I saving? Aaah!" he couldn't stop from crying out as Freddie repositioned the already heavily stained dressing.
Freddie clapped him on the shoulder, "True, Stevie, true. However, now we have to high tail it out of here without you bleeding to death. We'll rest here a moment. Drink this." He opened the lid of a small bottle of water.
Steve waved a vague hand in the air, "It's a scratch. You...you can be a bit of a...drama queen, ya know that?" He took the water bottle in shaking hands. He only managed a few small sips however before lying back with his eyes closed, willing it to stay down.
"Indeed." Freddie regarded him, his tone light but his eyes worriedly assessing his friend. "However you look worse than the other guy and he's dead." He allowed himself a moment to sit back beside Steve and gather himself for the next phase of their slightly insane escape plan.
Steve grinned weakly at him. He must have drifted slightly because the next moment Freddie was again slapping his cheeks. "Come on, Stevie boy. No sleeping, remember? When we get back, the drinks are on you. You are gonna to owe me for saving your ass once again."
"First..." Steve tried to sit up straighter, ignoring the pain that blossomed in his abdomen at the movement. "This," he gestured weakly to his injured body, "Your fault as I has saving your ass. And..." he lost his train of thought momentarily, damn blood loss, "when did you save me before?"
"Oh come on, that night in Mc P's? Hey, hey easy..." He pushed the other man gently back against the wall as he tried to struggle up in indignation. He could feel Steve's temperature was elevated and feared infection was already setting in. He kept talking though, "That guy at the bar would have killed you if I hadn't been there."
"You are so full of it..." Steve breathing hitched slightly as Freddie checked the dressing on the smaller wound on his forearm. "He wouldn't have wanted to kill me if you hadn't insisted on hitting on his date! I was defending you!"
Freddie laughed at that, then rolled seamlessly to his feet as a noise outside alerted his attention. Weapon drawn, he risked a glance through the broken window of the old building they were sheltering in. He saw nothing amiss but remained on alert. He also noticed with increasing worry Steve hadn't even tried to react to the potential threat.
"Come on, Steve." he must have been drifting again. Freddie took a deep breath. "Ok, the patrol is literally at the end of this street...Steve, Steven!" His voice rose slightly. Steve jerked his head up, he hadn't realised that it had been lolling.
"Come on Stevie, hang on for me just a little longer." He patted his friends cheek, checking his much to fast pulse and rising temperature as he did so. He sat back on his hunkers rubbed his hand over his face, they were running out of time. Steve needed medical attention urgently, they were going to have to risk this.
He checked his weapon, hiding it in easy reach under the belt of his robe. He checked Steve's pistol too, the other man had his eyes pressed shut, concentrating on steadying his breathing. He pressed the gun into the limp hand that rested on Steve's lap. Steve opened his eyes, meeting Freddie's gaze. The two shared a moment of understanding. Even in his weakened state Steve would have Freddie's back should their attempts to go unnoticed fail.
"Time to go. On your feet." he hauled the injured man upright, keeping a tight grip to prevent him crumpling to the ground. "Wow, easy...ok?" he paused until Steve signalled he could move. "Ok Lieutenant, Your job? Just keep your mouth shut, don't pass out or bleed for the next few minutes and we are practically back on the Enterprise."
Steve's world greyed again then steadied slightly. He clung to Freddie's voice as he pushed the pain away and straightened up. "Sir, yes, sir!" he mocked, cracking a weak grin that let Freddie know he really was with him again.
"Alright," Freddie grinned back, slinging his friend's arm over his shoulder. "Stick with me Smooth Dog. I might even step back and give you a crack at that pretty little lieutenant you were flirting so desperately with last week. With me out of the way, you might even have a shot. Reilly, wasn't it?" Freddie teased.
"Rollins" was all Steve managed to choke out as they began the painful journey towards the doorway, Steve leaning heavily on Freddie. He would be lying though if the mention of the girl he had just met didn't give him something to focus on. There had definitely been a spark. A memory of laughing brown eyes caused him to smile slightly. "And you, Freddie Hart, are so full of it..."
"You said that before, Stevie" Freddie's trade mark grin blazed across Steve's fading consciousness, "but aren't you glad I am?"
Steve was pulled back to reality by Catherine's gentle hand on his arm. He smiled sadly at her, clasping her hand in his and nuzzling into her hair as she leant back deeper against his chest. Her touch grounded him in the present again. Danny was watching him closely too, concern clearly showing on his face. If the others had noticed anything, they hid it well, they all had their memories. The joking and laughter were carrying on.
Tell my girl... It had been a long day.
Danny met Joe's eyes across the fire and the two shared a moment of agreement. Time to wind things up. Joe nodded slightly at the detective and once again commanded the group.
"Gentlemen," His voice carried a parade ground authority and Danny found himself straightening up as the other men and Catherine practically leapt to attention. He raised his cup and the other's followed suit.
"We knew him, we'll remember him, and he will not be forgotten. To our fallen comrade, Freddie Hart. Fair winds and following seas."
"Hooyah" the Navy SEALs all stated in unison the air charged with unspoken emotion.
The party broke up quickly after that. Danny noticed with a grin Clip offering to drive Kono home. It seemed to take only about five minutes for all the guests to disappear with promises to met up again soon. Steve was walking Joe to his truck and Danny stood a minute musing on the past few days.
"You heading too, Danno?"
Danny jumped slightly, he hadn't noticed Steve returning.
"Yeah, that was...well good is the wrong word, obviously. They are a good bunch of guys though."
"They are, aren't they."
"Hey you two," Catherine also appeared at Danny's elbow. "I have to be on the base for 0600 tomorrow so I am going to turn in."
"Ok," Steve turned towards her pulling her into an embrace.
"You two idiots don't sit up late!"
"No, ma'am," Steve pulled a mock salute and got a punch in the arm for his trouble.
"Seriously," her hand rested on his cheek and he closed his eyes at the touch. "You are dead on your feet." Steve lent down, his forehead touching hers eyes still shut.
Danny turned away, giving them a moment of privacy. They shared a silent exchange and then Catherine left them to it.
Both men turned and watched the petite woman as she walked back to the house.
"You know, despite being rather hen pecked, you are doing alright there." Danny gestured after his friend's 'not-girlfriend.'
"Yep," Steve replied, I've seen you with Lieutenant Rollins...He couldn't escape Freddie's voice at the moment. He wasn't sure he minded.
Danny noticed the strange expression that crossed Steve's face but said nothing. "So, she cooks for you," he started checking things off on his fingers, "sleeps with you, follows you into communist countries under imminent threat of being shot at...and she still isn't your girlfriend?"
"Danno, what is it with you and labels?"
"Nothing my friend, its just...uh...seven years. I can't believe you haven't blown it."
Steve puffed out a soft laugh. Don't mess it up. "A wise man warned me not to."
"Someone from whom you will take advice?" Danny realised the second he looked at Steve's face exactly who he was referring to. His voice grew gentle as e continued, "Must have been a good guy." They began a slow walk back up to the house.
"He was, Danno, he really was." The silence stretched between the two for a few minutes. Danny simply waiting to see if his friend wanted or needed to say anything more. He was lost in a world of memories once more but, this time, he seemed in control of his thoughts. They paused on the lanai.
Eventually Steve spoke again, a soft sad smile playing on his lips as he looked at the ground."Uh, you know Danno, I reckon you would have liked him. He...well...In fact you are quite alike..." he locked eyes with his partner, a grin surfacing, "He never knew when to shut up either."
"Hey!" Danny's indignation was fake and they both knew it. They moved into the living room, Steve flopping down into the comfort of the couch. Danny paused trying to get a read on his friend before he followed suit. "Tell me about him."
Steve looked up at the ceiling as he lay back against the soft cushions, grinning slightly, "We met at the Academy. Trained together. They say every BUDs class has it's surprise...he was ours..."
Danny sank back, listening carefully as Steve finally began to open up about his friendship with Freddie and what it had meant. He smiled slightly to himself. Steve would be alright.
Catherine, coming downstairs early the next morning, would find them there on the couch, snoring softly side by side.
As always, the moment I hit publish the mistakes will pour from the secret place they were hiding as I proofed this!
My first completed Fanfic! Let me know, be gentle!