stellarmeadow: (stevedannohug222)
[personal profile] stellarmeadow
Title: Getting to the Truth
Pairings/Characters: Steve/Danny
Summary: Joe makes one request of Danny, and Danny's left to deal with the consequences of accepting, and the cleanup of the aftermath of the bombshells at the end of season 2.
Rating: NC17
Warnings: Minor, non-canon character death. Spoilers through end of season 2. Pure speculation from there on out.
Word Count: 18,400
Disclaimer: All Hawaii Five-0 characters herein are the property of CBS. No copyright infringement is intended. All characters engaging in sexual activity are 16 years or older.
Author's Notes: I was pondering the prompts for this when the deleted scenes leaked, and the one with Joe and Danny kind of ate my brain, because it was massive in its implications for everything that happened in the second half of the season, and I just couldn't stop thinking about it. 18,400 words later... maybe it's finally out of my head! Huge thanks to S and to T for the encouragement and for reading every scene with pom poms firmly in hand! Could not have made it without you! This was written for the [livejournal.com profile] h50_exchange for [livejournal.com profile] superbadgirl, so I hope she enjoyed it! H50 Exchange Mods? Thank you so much for arranging this, and for the extra couple of days when my head vs. desk fight did not end in my favor! (Special thanks to Space for the last minute error catches!)



Danny leaned against the bench, smoothing back his hair with one hand. This whole thing had felt wrong from the moment he'd gotten the text from Joe. Need to meet. Urgent. Ala Moana park, 1 hour. Don't tell Steve.

Which was about as easy as sneaking an elephant out of a zoo, but Danny had managed to escape the McGarquisition without revealing the true reason for disappearing. Now he just had to find something that was supposedly a Jersey tradition for a bachelor party to keep up the lie.

Considering the urgency, Danny had expected Joe to be sitting there waiting for him, but it was a few minutes before Joe arrived and sat down next to him. When Joe didn't speak right away, Danny looked around for something to say. He pointed at some workers decorating palm trees for Christmas. "Y'know, I've been living here for two years, and I still can't get used to wreaths on palm trees."

"Well, you just gotta get with the program, kid."

"Yeah, well, I am trying, okay? A little snow would help, I think." And maybe a certain Navy SEAL gift wrapped under his tree, but he certainly wasn't mentioning that. Not to Joe, especially.

"They got snow on the Big Island," Joe offered.

Danny jerked himself out of his fantasy of Steve in nothing but a bow. "Do they?" At Joe's nod, Danny said, "Hm. Well, I think one island's good enough for me." He leaned forward, elbows on his knees, done waiting. "So what's up? You said it was urgent."

"I need you to help me with McGarrett. Get him to stand down on this Shelburne thing."

Danny nodded as if that was a logical request when it came to Steve, when they both knew it was a ridiculous concept. As if Steve ever backed off of anything. As if Danny could control him. "Oh. Okay. You got a cattle prod I can borrow for that?"

"I'm serious, Danny. Everything I'm doing is for his own protection."

"Ah, right. Like keeping secrets, kidnapping Yakuza bosses...."

"Yeah, well, I didn't really have any choice about that."

Not for the first time, Danny cursed the fact that the good things about his new life in Hawaii--5-0, his team, Steve--came with a heavy dose of crazy. "I don't get you, Joe. You come here, you're supposed to be helping Steve, and now you're lying to him, and you're asking me to help you, which makes it worse."

"I'm just asking you to buy me a little time so I can get to Shelburne before Wo Fat does, otherwise there will be repercussions, and Steve won't be the only one in the crosshairs."

Danny considered that, but before he could reply, Joe reached into his pocket and held out a slip of paper. Danny took it, unfolding it to find a series of numbers on it. "What's this?"

"Insurance. Anything happens to Steve or to me, you call that number."

"What do you mean, anything happens to you or Steve? What are you talking about?"

"Just promise me you'll call that number, Danny."

Danny looked at him for a long moment. "Okay," he said finally.

Joe smiled, his relief doing nothing to help Danny feel better about having agreed to keep this from Steve. "Mahalo," Joe said, clapping Danny on the shoulder as he stood and walked off.

Danny looked at paper, 81 75 556748 written in Joe's scrawl, so similar to Steve's that Danny wondered if they taught strategic op handwriting at SEAL school.

He'd gotten good at keeping at least one secret from Steve--he was pretty sure Steve had no idea how much Danny wanted him. And that was for everyone's good.

But he felt like a heel, keeping something from Steve that might lead to answers about Shelburne. He knew how important it was to Steve. And yet...he still had nights where he woke up in a cold sweat, imagining a different outcome in Korea, nightmares where he found Steve on the floor with two bullets in him instead of Jenna, or opened the back of that truck to find Steve dead.

Wo Fat had tortured him when he wasn't even sure Steve had known anything about Shelburne. He just assumed he might know something.

What would he do if he knew Steve had a solid lead?

"Fuck."

Danny scrubbed his face with his free hand before pulling out his wallet and carefully placing the folded paper behind Grace's school picture. He stood up, tucking his wallet into his back pocket, and headed for the car to make up a new tradition in time for Chin's bachelor party that night.

***

"I just don't get it," Danny said, not for the first time. "Why would you hire a hit man to kill a teenage girl?"

"Well, nobody spends that much money on a hit without a reason," Steve said, swerving around two cars to sneak under a mostly yellow light, even though they were only going to talk to Emily's father and not on their way to a crime in progress. "It wasn't that kid, though. Even if he'd made that much from his blackmail, no way did he have the contacts to hire that kind of assassin. There's something off about this whole thing."

Danny tapped his fingers on his knee. "Yeah, by the way," he said, thinking about the weirdness between Steve and Joe before they'd left HQ, "what was that stuff with Joe about?"

"What stuff?"

"Before we left. You told him to lay low. What's that about? Is he in danger?"

Steve took a deep breath. "HPD brought him in for questioning about Hiro's death. Hiro's son has the Yakuza practically following Joe with guns half drawn. And he keeps making trips to Japan to do God only knows what. So I figure the less he's out where he can get into trouble, the better."

Danny felt the weight of that phone number in his wallet. A number in Japan--Danny had looked up the country code. Joe's trips to Japan had to be connected to that number. But Joe had also spent half of Steve's life protecting him from anything and everything where this was concerned, including protecting him from Steve himself. And Steve was still alive, even if every run in with Wo Fat or anyone connected to him seemed to be doing its best to kill Steve slowly, one encounter at a time.

Danny couldn't get North Korea out of his head, no matter how hard he tried. He had the dark circles from too many nightmares to prove it. He'd come so close to losing Steve altogether.

It was on the tip of his tongue to ask if Steve knew anything more about Joe's trips to Japan, but the phone number was practically kicking his ass through his wallet. He didn't dare say anything even remotely leading. The quickest way to make Steve suspicious would be to start agreeing with him. Or disagreeing. Or discussing it any further. Period. "So if it wasn't the kid," Danny said, jumping back into the safety of the case, "who do you think hired the hit man?"

***

Danny juggled two six packs of Longboards as he opened the door to Steve's house, shaking off the rain that had started as he'd pulled up. He shoved the door closed with his foot and started to call out to Steve, but a banging from the kitchen made it unnecessary.

He went through to the kitchen to find Steve opening and closing cabinets with more force than necessary. Then again, considering he was in Ninja mode, complete with guns and a tac vest...

"Did the cabinets take hostages?" Danny asked mildly, putting down the beer.

"What?"

Danny had been the recipient of that sharp tone too many times to flinch. "I was asking what the cabinets had done to warrant Ninja SEAL."

"I can't find the damn bottle opener."

"The bottle opener?" Danny pushed past Steve, brushing against him as he pulled open a drawer and reached down beside the tray inside. "You mean this bottle opener?"

Steve glared at it as if it had personally shot him before flicking an accusing look at Danny. "Did you hide my bottle opener?"

"Did I--?" Danny rolled his eyes. "Yes, Steven, I thought it would be fun to sneak in here when you weren't home and hide the bottle opener," he said. "And I thought it would be even more fun to hide it exactly where it always is every day."

Steve opened his mouth, closed it, opened it and closed it again before his shoulders slumped just a little. "Sorry, just...bad night," he said at last, running a hand through his hair and down to his neck.

"I'm gonna go out on a limb here and guess that this isn't just about Sutherland falling to an untimely--albeit very much deserved--death."

Steve shook his head. "I just had to rescue Joe from Adam Noshimuri."

"Rescue? What happened?"

"I..." Steve was massaging the back of his neck as he looked for words. "I went to see him," he said at last, dropping his hand to his side. "It was obvious he'd been taken, and I knew exactly where and by who."

"So you just went after him by yourself? You couldn't stop to call for backup? Wait, what am I saying?" Danny threw his hands in the air, his laugh bitter. "Of course you couldn't."

"Danny--"

"No. Stop. Right now. Because I don't need any explanations for you being you. Just...tell me what happened."

Steve took a deep breath. "I think I'm gonna need a beer for that. Or six."

"Lucky for you I brought beer and I know where your bottle opener is." Danny grabbed one of the six packs, letting Steve get the other, and went back to the living room.

He dropped onto the couch and opened a beer, holding it out for Steve before he realized that Steve hadn't joined him on the couch. Steve was standing between the kitchen and the couch, staring at the coffee table.

"I swear," Danny said, putting the beer down and standing up, "you are the worst Army soldier ever."

"Navy," Steve said automatically, none of the usual annoyance coloring his tone.

"Whatever branch--did they not teach you how to take off your gear?" Danny pulled the tac vest off Steve's body, trying not to touch him any more than necessary. Too much touching left Danny with visible side effects, and a hard on wasn't going to help anything.

He went to work on the thigh holster next, giving him the opportunity to fondle Steve's thighs, which led him to having to deal with at least half a hard on after all. "Okay," Danny said when he was fairly sure Steve was disarmed enough that he wouldn't shoot a hole in the couch, "sit."

He guided Steve over to the couch and pushed him down, frowning at the ease with which Steve obeyed. Danny sat next to him, reaching for the beer he'd opened and putting it in Steve's hand. That seemed to rouse him a little, and he took a long drink.

"So what happened?" Danny asked.

Steve took another long drink. "Adam had Joe tied up. He was trying to beat a confession out of him," he said quietly. Too quietly. "So I went in and got Joe out of there."

Lips thinned, Danny took a couple of deep breaths. "Should we be worried about HPD paying a visit?"

"What?"

"Did you kill anyone?"

"No." Steve gave a half shrug. "I shot one of them in the leg, but given that they're Yakuza and they were torturing someone, I don't think they're going to report me."

Danny grabbed a beer. "So you rescued Joe," he said as he opened the bottle. "Then what?"

"He told me," Steve said, stopping to finish his beer. Danny took the empty and handed Steve the one he'd just opened, grabbing another for himself. "He told me," Steve repeated, "that he did not kill Hiro. He helped Hiro fake his death."

Bottle half way to his lips, Danny stopped, whipping his head around to look at Steve. "He what?"

"He helped Hiro fake his death."

"Why would he do that?"

"Why does he do anything?" Steve asked. "Your guess is as good as mine, because he certainly doesn't feel the need to explain it to me."

"Well did you ask?"

Steve gave Danny a 'do you think I'm an idiot' look over the top of his bottle as he drank. "I didn't just ask," he said. "I stopped the truck and demanded answers."

"And?"

"And he got out and walked away."

It took Danny a moment to process that. "He got out of the truck and just walked off?"

"He did," Steve said with a nod. "Don't know if he walked home or called a cab or what, but he got out and walked away."

Steve finished his beer in one long drink. "He didn't care," he said, leaning forward to put the empty bottle down and grab another one, "that I was tortured, that Jenna was shot and killed right in front of me, that all of you had to risk your lives or worse to come and rescue me. None of that was more important than his fucking secret!"

He pulled the bottle opener out of Danny's hand and opened his bottle, dropping the top and the opener on the coffee table. "Whoever Shelburne is," Steve said at last, "it's more important than me, you, our team, or anyone, apparently."

"But hasn't he said he's protecting Shelburne to protect you?"

Steve's brows drew together in a way Danny knew meant they were on dangerous ground. "And look how well that's worked so far," Steve ground out, lifting his t-shirt to show the still-healing bruises and burns from his torture session at the hands of Wo Fat. "If this is protecting me, I'd hate to see what it would look like if he threw me to the wolves!"

"Calm down a minute," Danny said, wrapping his hand around Steve's forearm. "Have you stopped to think about what would've happened if you'd had the answers Wo Fat was looking for?"

"I wouldn't have told him."

"Look, I know you SEALs are trained to endure torture," Danny said, his grip tightening on Steve's arm a little, "but what if he'd drugged you? You'd have had no choice, and once he had his information, what do you think he'd have done?"

"It wouldn't have come to that--"

"Yes, it would!" Danny let go of Steve's arm to pull Steve's shirt up higher, placing a hand across the ugliest burn. "This," he said forcefully, "will heal. But if he'd drugged you, and you'd told him, he'd have shot you. Right then and there. And you'd be dead."

Steve's nostrils flared, and Danny could tell he was searching for some argument. He could also tell when he came up with nothing. "You don't know that," was all he could manage.

"Oh, really? I didn't know we were in the second grade," Danny said. He felt some of the tension leave Steve's body, which was when he remembered his hand was still on Steve's abdomen, the slightly scarred flesh warm beneath his palm.

His hand seemed to have a mind of its own, refusing to move. Danny looked up at Steve's face, something lurking in his eyes that Danny couldn't interpret. Steve licked his lips and glanced down at Danny's hand.

He managed to wrench it away, sitting back on the couch, leaving just enough distance between them that they weren't touching. He cleared his throat and took a long drink.

"Danny...."

Something in Steve's voice made it impossible for Danny not to meet his eyes, that look there again. Danny struggled to figure out what it meant. "Yes, Steven?" Danny said, his voice hoarse.

Steve opened his mouth, but instead of words, a large belch came out.

The tension broke, and Danny laughed much harder than it probably warranted. "Definitely second grade," he said when his laughter subsided.

"Not quite," Steve said, something odd still in his voice, but he was smiling now. "High school, maybe."

"I'll give you that one," Danny said, sobering as he remembered what they were talking about. Joe's adamant refusal to tell Steve anything, and the way people seemed to get tortured more often than not over this whole mess, made it impossible for Danny to even mention the phone number. And if it bothered him every single waking moment and most of his sleeping ones as well, then that was his torture to bear.

"So," Steve said, "TV?"

"Yeah."

Steve switched on the TV, finding an action movie they could mock and argue over, and Danny did his best to ignore his secrets and just enjoy himself.

He was only marginally successful, but he'd mark it as a win.

***

Danny took another bite of his food, but it tasted as much like sawdust as the last. The events of the day had ruined his appetite. It wasn't just the fact that he'd helped his ex-wife give birth to someone else's child--the child she'd originally told him was his--that was distracting. It was the sight of Steve McGarrett, health nut, digging into an actual Zip Pac.

"Do you know what's in Spam?" Danny mocked, having heard those words all too often from Steve.

"Shut up," Steve said around a mouth full of food.

"I mean, really--was your usual vegi-tofu burger not enough for you? Did you have a sudden hankering for the meat of your youth?"

Steve's eyes darkened, and Danny went back over his sentence, wondering what he'd said. "I can indulge occasionally," Steve said after he swallowed.

Brushing away images of Steve and indulgences, Danny pushed his half-eaten dish aside. "What happened?"

"What do you mean?" At Danny's somewhat-patient look, Steve rolled his eyes. "Something has to have happened just for me to eat Spam?"

"Do I really need to answer that?" After a moment of silence, Danny said, "Fine, yes, something terrible has to have happened in the world for you to be eating Spam. And since we haven't been called to avert the apocalypse, then you need to start talking."

Steve's mouth twisted up in a way that Danny told himself was in no way attractive, even if he wasn't buying into his own lie. "Joe left," Steve said, after a long moment.

"Left?"

"Left."

"Where to?"

Steve shrugged. "He said he'd know when he got there."

"Did he give you a reason?"

Steve looked around before wiping his mouth and pushing his food aside. "Are you done?" he asked, nodding at Danny's plate.

"Yeah."

"Let's go."

Danny followed him out to the car, waiting until they were out onto the road before prompting, "So, why did Joe leave?"

"He said he was putting me and everyone I cared about," Steve said, glancing at Danny, "in danger by being here. And he had to go."

"Did he explain how he was putting everyone in danger?"

Steve checked the rearview mirror and side mirrors twice, even though Danny knew that freakish brain of his could tell you the color, make and model of every car around them. Even when he was certain they were safe, he lowered his voice. "He said he's Shelburne."

"What?" Danny twisted in the seat, staring at Steve. "All this time, everything that happened, Jenna, you...and now he suddenly just admits it?"

"Yeah, seems a little suspicious, huh?"

Danny looked for words, none of which could be, 'hey, by the way, he gave me this phone number....' "Did he say why Wo Fat is looking for him?"

"Apparently Wo Fat believes Shelburne killed his father."

"Did he?"

"Joe said he did it."

Danny studied Steve carefully. "But you don't believe him," he said slowly.

"I don't know what to believe, Danny." Steve's grip tightened on the wheel. "All that crap about trying to protect me, and the whole time he was the reason I was in danger, and then he suddenly just tells me and takes off?" Steve's glance held confusion and more hurt than he probably realized. "It doesn't add up."

"So what are you going to do?" Danny asked, trying to ignore visions of Steve being tortured somewhere Danny couldn't get to him without Joe's help. Unless that magic Japanese phone number was the help.

"Do?" Steve shook his head. "What can I do? He's gone."

Danny raised an eyebrow. "So that's it. Joe's gone, end of investigation?"

Steve's mouth tightened to match his white-knuckled grip on the steering wheel. "How many people I care about have to die before I give it up?" he said quietly. "You think Jenna is going to be the last if I pursue this again? Who's going to be next?"

"You think Wo Fat's going to stop coming for you if he thinks you know anything?"

"I think he's lying low," Steve said. "And maybe Joe will pull him off the scent for a while." Steve glanced at Danny, his eyes dark. "But no, I don't think he'll stop. He's after the man who killed his father. You don't stop. Not with something like that."

The similarities between Steve and Wo Fat would be chilling if Danny didn't know Steve's heart better than Steve probably knew it himself. "So what, then? Wait it out?"

"I don't know yet," Steve said. "I'll let you know when I figure that out."

'Before or after you do something stupid?' was on the tip of Danny's tongue, but he kept it from coming out. "We're here to help," he said instead. "You know that, right?"

"I know." Steve's voice had that richer, husky tone that made Danny shift in his seat. "Danny...what you did for Rachel...I don't know anyone else who would've done that."

"You would've."

Steve gave him a faint smile. "Maybe. I don't know." His smile deepened as he stopped at a light and gave Danny his full attention. "Being a father," Steve said, stopping for a breath, tapping his finger on the steering wheel. "You set the bar for fatherhood," he said quietly after a moment. "Other people should take note. That's all."

The light turned green and Steve pulled away, leaving Danny to stuff about a million feelings into a lock box to be dealt with later.

***

Danno, I'm gonna need you to hold down the fort for a while. I'll be in touch. Mahalo.

Danny folded the letter back up and put it away, creases worn after a week of being folded and unfolded and stuffed into his wallet. He stared at the front of Steve's house, shuttered, dark and still, waiting for its owner to come home. Danny sort of knew how it felt.

Unlike the house, however, he was tired of waiting.

"I'll be in touch my ass," Danny muttered as he got out of the Camaro and stalked over to the front door. The key was still on his key ring--for all his protection of his privacy and his home, Steve had never even hinted at wanting it back, and Danny hadn't really wanted to give it up.

He went inside, turning on a few lamps as he walked around the room, each one lighting up memories. He had a lot more memories in that house than one would expect for someone who didn't live there. But what haunted him weren't the memories he had. It was the ones he didn't.

He hadn't fully realized until he'd gotten that note how many things he really wanted to say to Steve. Needed to say. They were stacked up in his head now waiting for Steve to get home, and for Danny to decide if he was going to say them before or after he kicked Steve's ass for leaving.

With a sigh, Danny went into the dining room and pulled the Champ box out from under the desk. He sat down and opened it, sorting through the evidence that seemed to have grown since he'd last seen it.

A map he found near the top was definitely new. Well, the map itself was old, clearly, from the well-worn, slightly aged paper, but it was not a piece of evidence Danny recognized. He had it halfway open before he realized the significance. One word--Shelburne--written in someone else's handwriting, pointing at a city just off the Shima Peninsula, the only place on that part of the map that sounded even remotely familiar to Danny.

The arrow was several hundred miles from Kyoto, which was supposedly the origin of the number Joe had given Danny, if the internet was to be believed. He wondered for the trillionth time if he should just call the number. Joe and Steve were both gone, and Danny had no way of knowing if they were in trouble.

He certainly didn't know from McGarrett himself who, for all his 'I'll be in touch,' bullshit, had not answered a single one of Danny's hundred or so messages, or bothered to call for any other reason. His phone was obviously still on--sometimes Danny would go straight to voicemail, but others it would ring, indicating that it was working, but Steve was just a dick who wasn't answering his damn phone.

Which left him with the Kyoto number. Joe's phone had been going to voicemail for a couple of days, and Danny had no idea if that meant he was in trouble, or just making it harder for Steve to track him.

Anything happens to Steve or to me, you call that number.

No instructions on what to do if he only thought something might have happened. Joe had been as helpful as always. Danny itched to call the number, but if they weren't in trouble, how much would they be in if he called? Could he inadvertently cause them to be in greater danger just by dialing that number?

He tossed the map on the pile of evidence, sitting back and digging the base of his palms into his eyes. Fuck both of them for putting him in this position anyway. He felt like he was playing Russian roulette, only with the gun to someone else's head.

He needed perspective. He couldn't tell anyone about the number, but Chin knew the evidence, and he knew Steve's father better than any of them. Maybe something in the evidence could help Danny decide.

Danny pulled out his phone and called Chin.

***

When Danny saw Steve standing next to a helicopter with Wo Fat, gun out (of course), many guns aimed at him (of course), he was torn between wanting to either throw himself in front of Steve or shoot him in the leg.

His head had been like a roller coaster for hours. He'd been kidnapped by the "good" guys (bullshit), and told that Steve was as good as dead. All that time alone, tied to a chair, he'd gone back and forth between the certain knowledge that there was no way a dick like Kendricks was going to be able to kill Steve, and the just as clear certainty that no one's luck held out forever.

Finding out Steve was alive was even better than getting unexpectedly rescued. Getting to Dillingham and finding Steve at gunpoint, again, was almost more than his heart could take.

But Steve's luck had held, and the only one dead was some asshole who more than deserved it. Danny thought of about a million different things to say when he was walking up to Steve, the top five being: You're an idiot. Stop trying to get dead. You nearly gave me a heart attack. I hate you. I love you.

And then he saw that face. That stupid, apprehensive, 'I'm going to wait for you to speak first to see how pissed you are' face. "See, I knew it," Danny said, instead of all the stupid feelings in his head. "Cargo pants."

Some of the apprehension faded. "Book 'em, Danno."

It was seriously wrong how much that phrase made his heart flip. Maybe Kendricks' slap had knocked something loose in Danny's brain. "You could've just said hello," he managed, but there was nothing but fondness in his tone, and he almost turned into the hand that lingered on his shoulder, before he remembered he had someone who was long overdue for being shoved into the back of an HPD cruiser and carted off to the deepest hole they could find for him.

He pulled away, glancing back to watch Chin and Kono get their hugs. When Wo Fat was safely locked in the car, Danny joined the team again. He looked at Steve, bloody--a far too frequent sight--but happy. "What a mess," Danny said, the words encompassing far more than just the scene around them.

"Yeah." Steve pulled him into a hug that was all too quick, and Danny refused to even attempt to cling, letting go quickly. He watched as Steve surveyed all of them again, as if he wasn't quite sure they'd managed to survive without him.

Before Danny could make a snarky comment, however, he felt himself pulled in close to Steve, who was grinning and holding Danny tightly, as if he wasn't planning on letting go anytime soon. Danny was perfectly okay with that. It wasn't going to stop him from letting Steve have it later about taking off, but he was okay with being pressed against him in the meantime.

As long as he was warm and solid against Danny's side, it was firm proof he was alive. And that was what mattered for the moment.

***

Steve being Steve, he insisted on taking Wo Fat to prison himself. Danny couldn't blame the guy, given the circumstances. If someone was responsible for one or possibly both his parents' deaths, well...he's pretty sure he wouldn't have come back from the jungle without that person having an accident involving a cliff or a tree.

Danny followed the transport in his Camaro as it left HQ, the sun rising as they reached Halawa. He waited outside in the car, making a quick call to Grace before she left for school, while Steve got the pleasure of locking Wo Fat away.

When he saw Steve coming, Danny buckled his seat belt and turned on the car as Steve approached the passenger side door. As soon as he was in, Danny took off. The drive back to Steve's house was quiet, Steve's head resting against the window, his eyes mostly closed.

He didn't stir until Danny pulled up to the house. "Up and at 'em," Danny said, shaking Steve's arm gently.

"I'm up," Steve said, his voice sounding as though he'd been gargling with rocks. He did look alert, though, getting out of the Camaro and walking up to the house with his usual energy. When Danny closed the door behind them, he realized he hadn't really had a chance to clean up, and the mess on the couch was quite impressive.

Steve turned around, quirking an eyebrow at him. "You move in while I was gone?"

"Well, it's not like I knew if you were ever coming back again," Danny replied with a shrug. "Your note was non-specific on timing. But I'd have written you back to let you know I was staying here, except, oh, wait, I'm sorry, I didn't know where you were."

"Danny--" Steve closed his eyes briefly, shaking his head. "It's fine. Stay as long as you want." Steve made for the kitchen, but caught sight of his father's desk and stopped. "You went through the box," he said slowly, turning back to look at Danny again.

"Yes," Danny said, nodding, pulling himself up for a fight. "I went through the box. I didn't know where you were, I didn't know if you were alive or dead, and I didn't know what to do, so I went through the box." Because I had no other way of knowing if I needed to use the phone number Joe gave me. The number he still wasn't sure he could mention. Just because they had Wo Fat didn't mean the Shelburne issue was all fixed.

Steve took a deep breath. "Did it ever occur to you," he said after a moment, "that maybe I was going off to do this on my own to protect you? To protect all of you?"
"Of course it did. Did it ever occur to you that maybe I don't want to be protected? Chin, Kono, they might not want to either?"

"Danny, I don't think--"

"No, no, you can stop right there, because you just hit the nail right on the head there, my friend. You don't think. You do things, and you don't stop to think there might be a better way to do them."

Steve's arms shot out to his sides, both palms up. "Like what, a way that gets you killed?"

"Because getting yourself killed is just so much better."

"I'm trained for--"

"So am I!" Danny ran a hand through his hair, spinning in a little circle before facing Steve again. "I am a cop. A damn good cop. And I am trained to face this kind of danger, and frankly, Steven, it's a little insulting that you think I can't handle it."

Steve's eyes widened. "I never said you couldn't handle it."

"Why else would you feel the need to bench me? Clearly you think I can't handle the danger."

"That's not it at all!"

"Then what is it, Steven? Because I've spent a lot of nights trying to figure it out over the last couple of weeks, and that's the only thing I've got."

Steve was breathing harder now, energy coiled just under the surface in a way Danny was used to seeing right before a takedown. "I..." Steve pressed his lips together hard. "You..." He stared at Danny.

"I you what? You're suddenly a non-verbal caveman? Here, let me help. You didn't think that I was as well-trained as your SEAL buddies, so you made sure to leave me out of the scary ops. Does that about cover it?"

"No!" Steve stepped forward, hands gripping Danny's biceps. "You're worth a team of SEALs in the field Danny, it's not that, it's just...."

"Just. What?"

"Wo Fat...he's used everyone I cared about against me. I can't...I couldn't...."

Danny counted to five, but it wasn't helping. "You couldn't what?"

"I couldn't put you in--I couldn't deal with..." Steve took a deep breath, his eyes holding Danny's. "I couldn't lose you like that. If he'd had any clue, if he'd seen even half of--"

He broke off, fear evident in his eyes, and Danny lost some of his anger, suddenly much more interested in getting to the end of that sentence. "Half of what?"

Jumping off a cliff didn't even make Steve look this scared. "Half of what you mean to me," he said quietly, after a long pause. "If he'd seen it, he'd have used you against me, and I couldn't be responsible for your death. I couldn't handle it."

"Listen to me very carefully," Danny said, his hands gripping Steve's elbows. "The only way you could be responsible for my death would be to put a gun to my head and shoot me yourself. Anything else that might happen to me would not be your fault. And you need to get that if we're going to do this."

Steve blinked rapidly. "Do what?"

"This."

Danny let the memory of his utter terror at hearing the CIA's plans for Steve's plane overcome any worry that this could be a very bad idea and stepped closer to Steve, hands landing on Steve's waist. He leaned up, closing his eyes, grateful when Steve's lips met him halfway.

The kiss was careful for about two seconds before Steve seemed to fully realize what was going on. Then there was nothing careful about it. Hands were everywhere at once, and Danny wasn't even sure whose hands were where. The next thing he knew Steve was sitting on the couch, naked, and Danny was on top of him, pants long gone, shirt wide open, hanging half off one shoulder.

He couldn't have cared less about the clothing, though. He was much more interested in the nakedness, in how his skin felt against Steve's, and how their cocks were rubbing together, Steve's hand gripping them both as they moved.

Danny felt like he couldn't get enough of Steve's mouth, or of the sounds he made as Danny tasted his skin, and he managed to push away one dark thought wondering if he'd ever get this again before he came, blotting out all thought completely.

He felt Steve push up hard against him, though, and felt more sticky warmth between them as Steve's breath was harsh and hard in Danny's ear. Danny licked at Steve's neck, making Steve shiver. "Keep doing that," Steve said, sounding completely wrecked now, "and we'll never make it off this couch."

"I've kind of gotten used to this couch," Danny said into Steve's shoulder. "'S comfy."

"My bed is comfier."

Danny considered that for a moment. "But you don't have a TV," he said, even though he knew he'd have no problem sleeping in Steve's bed, ocean or not.

"Okay, I'll buy a TV, if that's what it takes. I'll move the one over there upstairs tonight if you want."

Danny raised his head to smile down at Steve. "Really? You'd do that?"

"After everything I've done, you think I wouldn't stoop to moving a TV just to get you into my bed?"

Danny frowned. "Wait, everything you've done? What have you done?"

Steve shook his head sadly. "I'll give you a list," he said, leaning up for a kiss. "Tomorrow."

"Tomorrow?"

"It'll be your reward for sleeping in a bed where you can hear the ocean."

"Okay now you're just fucking with me."

Steve's grin was filthy and made Danny wish he was 22 and had had a decent night's sleep lately. "Not yet," he said, "but there's condoms and lube in my room that we could make good use of when we wake up in the morning. In my bed. Upstairs."

"Fine," Danny said, trying to sound grumpy and look a little less eager than he actually was. He pushed himself off the couch and helped Steve up. "But," he said, looking at Steve seriously for a moment, "you're totally making me breakfast after."

"I can do that," Steve said softly.

"Okay. Bed it is, then."

***

Danny dropped Grace off at Rachel's, taking great care to avoid going inside. He didn't want Grace catching the tension he was sure would be obvious if Danny talked to Rachel, and he didn't need that particular aggravation either. He'd told her he was fighting for Grace to stay on the island by phone for a reason.

He picked up his phone to call Steve and tell him his decision, frowning at it when he realized he had a missed call and a voicemail. Steve's voice filled the car through the speakers, telling Danny he was going to Japan with Joe to finally find out what was going on, and that he'd call from Japan.

"Yeah, right," Danny muttered as he hung up, "like you called last time?"

But at least he'd called to say where he was going instead of leaving a note.

The missed call had only been half an hour ago, so he couldn't have left yet. Danny called him back. "So," Danny said when Steve answered, "I'm not going to find a letter waiting for me or anything when I get back to the office?"

Steve's laugh made Danny miss him already. "Hey, I called you and everything," Steve said. "What more do you want?"

"Oh so many things," Danny replied, dropping his voice lower. "How much time do you have? I'll give you a list."

There was a slight pause, then a door closed, and the background noise level dropped. "Not enough time, unfortunately," Steve said. "But I'll call you from Japan."

"Sure you will."

"I will. I promise."

Danny raised his eyebrows at the speaker as if Steve could see him. "Because your track record is so fabulous."

"I will call."

"Good," Danny said. "Because I might need someone to talk me off the ledge."

"Why?"

"I just told Rachel I wasn't letting her take Grace off the island without a fight."

He heard a catch in Steve's breath, followed by a moment of silence. "So you're staying?"

"I'm gonna do everything I can, yeah." Danny shifted in his seat. "It might get ugly," he said. "On both sides."
He could tell Steve got the message behind those words. "I don't care. We'll deal with it."

"Yeah, well, get your ass back from Japan in a hurry so we can."

"I'll be back as soon as I can. I don't exactly know where we're going, but Joe's promised me answers, so...."

Not the first time, Danny thought, but he only said, "Watch your six, then." Because if Joe was taking him somewhere for answers about Shelburne, who the hell knew what kind of trouble might be following them.

"Again with the military lingo?" Steve teased.

"Roger that," Danny joked back. "And I'm going to start using more of it the longer you're gone."

Steve groaned. "I'll hurry back."

"You'd better."

Danny heard a door open and a muffled voice. "I've got to go," Steve said. "I'll call you from Japan."

"Okay. Be careful."

"You, too. Who knows what you might get yourself into without me there to watch your back?"

"You mean my six? Roger that. Over and out."

"Seriously, if you're trying to make me hurry back, it's working."

"Good. Don't wreck the plane this time, okay?"

He could hear Steve's eye roll. "Goodbye, Daniel."

"Goodbye, Steven."

***

Steve had been gone less than ten hours when all hell broke loose.

The first indicator was a phone call Danny received from Duke. There'd been a report of shots fired at Chin's and an ambulance was headed there for someone who'd been hit. Danny couldn't get Chin on the phone, so he went straight for Queen's, arriving at the ER just in time to see Chin racing along beside a stretcher. Danny caught a glimpse if Malia's pale, still face on the stretcher before she was whisked away through a set of doors, leaving Danny standing next to Chin.

Before Danny could ask what happened, there was another flurry of activity behind them, and they turned to see Adam Noshimuri rushing into the ER carrying Kono. Unlike Malia, she was at least moving, though not much.

Danny hurried over. "What happened?"
Adam ignored him, barking at the first doctor who came by, something about Kono almost drowning--which made no sense to Danny, since she was part fish. A nurse brought a stretcher and wheeled Kono off, leaving Danny standing with Adam and Chin, both of them wearing similar expressions of helplessness as they stared at the "Authorized Personnel Only" signs on the closed doors in front of them.

"What the hell is going on?" Danny asked both of them, not really caring who spoke first as long as someone started talking.

"Kono wasn't home," Adam said. "We were supposed to meet, and she wasn't there, and I knew she'd been there waiting, so I tracked her phone. And it was in the water. I knew something was wrong, so I flew out and followed the signal, and just as I was getting close, someone threw her in the water, tied up, and took off."

"Someone?" Danny prompted. "Who?"

"I didn't stop to ask for names," Adam said shortly. "I jumped in and pulled her up and we flew her as close to here as we could get. She'd swallowed a lot of water, and she couldn't really talk. She was out of it."

Danny ran a hand through his hair. "Okay. Can you remember anything about the boat? Is there anyone you can think of that might use her against you?"

"Actually," Chin spoke at last, "it wasn't Adam."

"What?" Danny and Adam said in unison.

"It was me." He shuddered a little. "Well, partly. Delano...he kidnapped Kono to get me to let him out of prison. Only when I got him out, he showed me Kono and Malia. Both held hostage, and only gave me time to save one of them." Chin turned pleading eyes on Danny. "What was I supposed to do? Kono's a cop, she was trained to handle herself. Malia had no way to protect herself and it was all my fault she was in danger."

Danny put a hand on Chin's shoulder. "It's not your fault, Chin. None of it is. You did what you had to do when an asshole put you in an impossible situation." Danny didn't even want to contemplate what would've happened if Rick had kidnapped Steve as well and forced him to choose. Steve might be indestructible, but even if he'd made it out--and Danny knew Steve wouldn't want him to make any other choice but Grace--Danny wouldn't want to be living with having to make it in the first place.

"Why was this guy using anyone against you in the first place?" Adam asked, sounding like Chin might be in trouble if he didn't have a really good answer.

"He was pissed at me for something that happened years ago," Chin said, glancing at Danny, but Danny wasn't following. "And Kono set him up and put him in jail, so he kidnapped her to get back at her as much as me."

Adam ignored that last part. "What was he pissed at you about?"

A nurse saved Chin from having to answer. "Mr. Noshimuri?" she said, looking at the three of them.

Adam stepped forward. "That's me."

"Miss Kalakaua is going to be okay. She's just having a little trouble breathing, but she's asking for you, and the doctor said it would be okay if you come back."

"Thank you."

Adam started to follow her, but Chin stopped the nurse. "Wait, is there any word on my wife? Dr. Waincroft," he clarified at the nurse's confused look. "She was brought in with a gunshot wound."

"I'm sorry, sir," she said. "I haven't heard anything. I'll see what I can find out."

The nurse led Adam through the doors, leaving Danny to put a hand on Chin's shoulder in sympathy. There was nothing else either of them could do until someone came with news.

***

They'd moved to the waiting room at least twenty minutes before the nurse came back to say that Dr. Waincroft was in surgery, and that the surgeon would be out to talk to them when it was done, but it could take hours. There was just no telling how long it might be.

Four hours and eight cups of horrible coffee later, Danny's phone buzzed in his pocket. He looked at the screen to find Steve's face smiling up at him. "Be right back," he said to Chin, already picking up the call as he walked out of the waiting room.

"Glad to see you figured out how to use a phone in Japan," Danny answered.

"Danny...."

That tone was never a good thing when Steve used it. "What's happened?"

"She's Shelburne."

When Steve didn't elaborate, Danny said, gently, "Who's Shelburne?"

The pause was so long that Danny was about to ask if Steve was still there when he replied, "My mom."

"Your mom?" Danny looked around, as if the secret was going to get out just on those two words. "What are you talking about?"

"It's a long story," Steve said, and Danny could hear a little of the shock falling away, being replaced by more emotions than Danny wanted to list. "But she's been in hiding. And now that Wo Fat's locked up, she felt it was safe for me to know."

If there was a family that deserved the majorly fucked up award more than the McGarretts, Danny didn't want to know about them. "So...how are you doing?"

"Honest to God, Danny, I don't even know." Steve's deep breath was audible over the phone. "I...she's alive, Danny. All these years...she's alive."

"Did you get to talk to her?"

"Yeah. I'll tell you more when I get home. I'm going to go talk to her some more, I just needed...I don't know."

A break. Perspective. A friend. "I know. When are you coming home?"

"I'm on a flight tomorrow night, so I'll be in the day after. She's going to come in a couple of days if they say it's safe."

"They?"

"Wit Sec. Like I said...long story."

Danny went over and glanced into the waiting room, but Chin was still sitting there waiting. "Well, not to make things worse," he said, because he'd want to know if he were in Steve's shoes, "but I'm at the hospital."

"What? What happened? Are you okay?"

"I'm fine. Kono and Malia...not so much."

Steve inhaled sharply. "What?"

"Delano had them both kidnapped so Chin would help him escape. He shot Malia and tried to drown Kono."

"Are they...I mean, you're at the hospital, so they're obviously not okay."

"Kono's going to be fine. Malia's still in surgery."

"Shit."

Danny sighed. "Listen, I'll let you know if anything changes. You go deal with your...mom." The phrase felt weird. "Call me if you need anything."

"Call me if there's any news."

"I will. Don't worry about us, though. Take care of things there."

"Got it. Bye."

Danny put the phone back in his pocket and went to see how Chin was doing.

***

They had to wait another hour before someone came into the room and called Chin's name. Danny had tried not to think about Steve's situation--he wasn't even sure if he could say anything about it, and he had enough to deal with right in front of him without worrying about what was going on in Japan.

"Mr. Kelly," the doctor said when he'd pulled Chin out of the waiting room and into an alcove with no chairs, but a bit more privacy. "I'm so sorry, but your wife had lost a lot of blood, and we couldn't repair the damage in time. She didn't make it."

Danny put a hand on Chin's shoulder. He'd dealt with his share of death, but it was always different when it was someone you'd eaten with, someone you'd stood up for at their wedding. "I'm sorry," Danny said quietly, as Chin stood there looking lost.

"Can I see her?" Chin asked.

"Not yet," the doctor said. "Let us...give us a little time." The doctor took off his glasses. "Mr. Kelly, your wife was a fabulous doctor. I'm sorry for your loss, and for the loss to the community as well."

"Thank you," Chin said quietly.

The doctor walked away, and Danny patted Chin on the shoulder before dropping his hand. "Let's go wait over here," Danny said, leading Chin back to the waiting room.

"I should make some calls," Chin said.

"They can wait." Danny all but shoved him down into the chair, looking around, hoping someone would come help.

But who? Steve was in Japan with his...with his mother, which Danny still hadn't processed. Kono was in her own hospital bed being looked over by the head of the Yakuza, which Danny was refusing to process.

That left him to take care of things.

Danny sat down next to Chin. "Can I get you anything?" Danny asked.

"No. Thanks." Chin rested his elbows on his knees and put his head in his hands. He stayed that way until a nurse came to take him back to see Malia.

Danny thought about asking to see Kono so he could tell her about Malia. Then again, maybe Chin would rather tell her. Or would it be better for him not to have to tell her?

Before he could decide, his phone rang, Steve's face smiling up from the screen, and Danny answered it as fast as he could. "Hey," he said sagging back into the seat.

"What's wrong?"

"What?"

"I know that tone. What's wrong? Kono...?"

Danny swallowed hard. "No. Malia."

"Oh, man." Steve's sigh came across loud and clear. "How's Chin?"

"In shock, I think. They took him back to see her. I'm waiting to take him home when he's done. I don't really know what else to do."

"I'm sorry. I wish I was there."

Danny switched the phone from one ear to the other, leaning his head back against the wall. "You've got your own shit to deal with," he said, even though he wished Steve was there, too. "Don't worry about us."

"Right. And you don't worry about me, either."

Danny managed a soft laugh. "I see your point," he said. "How are things there?"

"Progressing," Steve said after a moment. "I'll explain--"

"When you get home, I know." Danny saw Chin walk back into the room, looking even more out of it than before. "I have to go," he said, standing. "Chin's back."

"Tell him I'm sorry," Steve said. "I'll call you later, but if you need anything before, call me."

Danny nodded, even though Steve couldn't see him. "I will. Thanks."

He ended the call and put the phone in his pocket as Chin approached. "You ready to go?" Danny asked.

"I need to see Kono," Chin said.

"Let's see if they'll let us in," Danny said, silently daring anyone to stop him as he led Chin over to the doors.

He saw a nurse he recognized and managed to talk her into taking them back to Kono's room. Adam was sitting by her bed, holding her hand, and Danny knew Chin was even more out of it than he seemed when he didn't even notice.

Kono looked up as Chin walked in, but her eyes were a little cool, as if she might be in shock herself. "How's Malia?" she asked. "Adam told me what happened."

"She's...she didn't make it." Chin's voice was the kind of hollow Danny could feel reverberating in his own chest. "I tried, but by the time I got home there was so much blood...they said they did everything they could."

"Hey." Kono held out a hand, waiting until Chin took it. "You went after her. You tried to save her. That's all you could do."

"It's my fault."

"It's not your fault. It's Delano's fault. Or the guy who shot her. But not yours." Kono shook Chin's hand a little until he looked her in the eye. "You hear me?"

After a moment, he nodded. "I hear you."

"Okay. Then Danny's going to take you back to Steve's and you're going to get some sleep. I'll see you in the morning after they let me out of this place."

Chin nodded, and Danny noticed he actually squeezed Kono's hand this time before letting it go. "I'm glad you're okay," Chin said.

"You know me," Kono said, managing a faint attempt at her usual cocky smile. "I'm indestructible."

"Clearly your meds are too high," Danny teased. "You're developing a McGarrett complex." He leaned down and gave her a kiss on the forehead, sparing a glare for Noshimuri in case he wanted to make something of it, but he just looked at Danny placidly, still holding Kono's hand through it all. "Take care of her," Danny said. He still wasn't crazy about the guy, but at least he clearly had Kono's back.

"That's what I've been doing all night."

Danny nodded and led a silent, composed Chin out of the ER to the car, wondering when he was going to break.

***
Part 2
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