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Part 1



Two days later, Danny was starting to hope for Chin to break. Chin had agreed to stay in McGarrett's guest room the first night, but then he'd insisted on going back home the next day. Danny had spent a lot of time at Chin's, watching as Chin made funeral arrangements, talked to friends and family, calmly and politely accepting condolences as if nothing had really happened.

Chin Ho Kelly might be unflappable, but this was delving into the realm of inhuman.

Danny left Chin's house after lunch to head to the airport. Steve was due in soon, and Danny could honestly say he'd never been happier to see him than he knew he'd be today. Apart from worrying about how Steve was handling his mother's return from the grave, he was a little hopeful that Steve might have some insight into how Chin was reacting. Or not reacting, to be more exact.

A flash of his badge meant Danny was waiting at the gate as Steve came through the door from the jetway. The way Steve's face lit up with a smile at seeing Danny settled something in Danny's gut that hadn't been quite right since Steve had left, and Danny moved forward to meet Steve halfway, giving him a hug.

"Glad to see you came in on the plane you started off on this time," Danny said into Steve's neck.

He felt Steve's huff of laughter. "Definitely easier on the nerves," Steve agreed.

"Yours or mine?"

Steve laughed again as he pulled out of the hug to smile down at Danny. "Yours, of course. I have nerves of steel."

"Or something," Danny muttered, shaking his head. He eyed Steve critically for a moment, taking in the faint blue smudges under his eyes and how the subtle lines in his face seemed a little more deeply set. "Couldn't sleep on the flight?"

"I don't think I've slept much since I left," Steve admitted, and he must be tired if he was actually confessing to it. "It was...complicated," he added, looking around.

And probably something he didn't want anyone else overhearing, especially since the rest of the world still thought his mother was dead. "Come on," Danny said, tugging on Steve's arm and heading for the exit. "Let's get you home."

"How's Chin?" Steve asked as they stepped out onto the open walkway from the gates to the terminal.

"He says he's fine."

"And is he?"

Danny took a deep breath. "He's acting fine," he said, turning his head to meet Steve's gaze. "Making arrangements, dealing with family and friends, all very calm and civil."

"People deal with grief in different ways," Steve said. "Maybe this is his."

And some people never really deal with it at all. Danny wondered if Steve ever had, if even putting Hesse and Wo Fat away had been enough, or if it was all bottled down inside ready to come out one day when least expected. "Maybe," Danny replied. "But pressure cookers exist for a reason."

"He's a person, Danny, not a pot."

"The principle isn't that far off."

The Camaro was waiting for them in the lane just outside the exit from the terminal, and Danny nodded to the security agent nearby, a silent thanks for not bothering with the car after Danny had mentioned 5-0. He'd been running a little late, and he'd really wanted to be standing there waiting when Steve deplaned.

He thought about letting Steve drive, just to be nice, but one more look at his face, and Danny went around to the driver's side, leaving Steve to drop into the passenger seat.

"I'm gone a few days so I can't drive the car?" Steve asked when Danny had closed his door.

"No, you look like you're going to nod off any second, so you can't drive the car."

"Fair enough," Steve said, leaning his head against the window. His eyes stayed open, though, staring out at the scenery, or what there was of it near the airport.

Danny navigated his way out onto Nimitz before breaking the silence. "Malia's funeral is on Tuesday."

Steve turned his head to blink at Danny. "That's still a few days away. I would've expected it tomorrow."

"They're waiting for some family from the mainland."

"Makes sense," Steve said, leaning his head on the window again and closing his eyes this time.

Hoping he'd sleep, Danny kept his silence and focused on the traffic from the early part of rush hour until they made it to Steve's house.

***

Steve didn't move when Danny stopped the car. When Danny wrapped a hand around Steve's bicep, though, he shifted, smiling and looking more alert than Danny thought he should, given they hadn't even been in the car an hour. "We're home." Steve's smile grew. "What?" Danny asked.

"Nothing." But the smile stayed as Steve got out of the car.

Danny opened the door, expecting Steve to go straight for the stairs and pass out. He didn't, though, instead dropping his bag by the stairs and walking through to the dining room to stare out at the ocean.

His shoulders were tense as Danny joined him at the French doors. "So," Danny ventured after a moment, "you wanna talk about it?"

"I'm not even sure where to start," Steve said, eyes firmly fixed on the sea.

"Maybe at the beginning?"

Steve took a deep breath. "Joe took me to this village--I was there, actually, when I was looking for Shel--for her. Just missed them, apparently. He told me to go into this house, and then he left. And I knocked, and she just opened the door. Just like that." The slight crack in his voice made Danny's heart hurt. "Like it was no big deal."

"So what did she say?"

He wasn't expecting the slightly bitter laugh. "Mostly it was 'classified, can't tell you this and that, secret,' you name it." He glanced at Danny. "I guess now I know how you feel every time I answer with that."

The trace of amusement was promising, but Steve was still a long way from okay. "It's not quite the same thing," Danny said. "Did she give you anything?"

"She witnessed something," Steve said. "Her life was in danger, and no one could know she was alive or we were all in danger. So she left." He turned his head to look at Danny, eyes searching. "She just left. Let me and Mary think she was dead."

Him and Mary? Danny was almost afraid to ask. "Did your dad know?"

"He found out," Steve said shortly. "Not long after. That's why his investigation took over his life. It's why he sent us away. He had to investigate carefully, and he couldn't let on he knew, or we were all in danger."

Danny couldn't even imagine being in Steve's shoes. "So all those years, he knew she was alive and he couldn't contact her?"

"He talked to her once," Steve said. "When she told him to back off, or Mary and I would end up paying the price. And he never saw her again, and he never told us." Steve turned away from the door, leaning back against it. "Why?" he asked, looking at Danny as if he had answers. "Why do people keep secrets like this? It always blows up and the people you're trying to protect get hurt anyway, so what's the point?"

It wasn't the time to point out Steve had done his share of secretive things, especially not when the phone number Danny was still carrying in his pocket felt as if it was practically burning a hole through his wallet. "Because it's in our nature to try to protect the ones we love, and there's nothing rational about love," he said, only able to give his own reasons for keeping secrets. "In the end we're all human," he added, poking a finger at Steve. "Even you...all evidence to the contrary aside."

Steve's smile was a little wobbly, but it stayed. "I missed you," he said softly.

"Me, too."

"I missed my bed," Steve said, pushing off the door and grabbing Danny by the hand, pulling him into the living room.

"Naptime?" Danny asked, as Steve led him to the stairs.

"I said I missed my bed," Steve replied. "Particularly with you in it," he added. "But I didn't say anything about sleep."

Danny grinned, turning Steve around and pushing him up the stairs.

***

Danny woke a couple of hours later to find the bed empty. He could hear the shower running, so he clawed his way out from under the covers and padded naked into the bathroom just as Steve turned off the water.

"I thought you'd be passed out for hours," Danny said as Steve pulled back the curtain.

"Couldn't sleep." Steve leaned in for a kiss as he reached for a towel.

Danny wasn't particularly surprised--he wouldn't be able to sleep either if he'd been through everything Steve had. "Apparently I'm losing my touch," Danny said lightly, "if I couldn't wear you out."

"Trust me," Steve replied, pressing himself against Danny for another kiss, "you're not losing your touch." One more kiss, and then he moved away. "I haven't really eaten since we left Japan, and I didn't eat a lot there, so I'm starving. My stomach finally got insistent."

"I'm not sure how much food there is in the house."

"I ordered pizza," Steve said. "Right before I got into the shower." He snapped the towel at Danny. "Hurry up and shower and I might leave you a slice. If you're good."

Danny smirked. "I'll let you be the judge of how good I am."

"In that case...I'll keep half the pizza for you." Steve stole one more quick kiss. "Hurry up."

He left, and Danny hopped into the shower, turning on the water and standing under the hot spray. He had to tell Steve about the phone number now that it was no longer a threat. He just didn't know how, especially given everything Steve had said about secrets. But he had to tell him.

He was no closer to an answer to how to break the news when he turned off the water. He dried himself as he walked into the bedroom, grabbing a pair of jeans he'd left on a chair days ago. He heard the door as he was pulling on a t-shirt, which meant the pizza must've arrived. Shoving his wet hair back with his hands, he hurried down the stairs, his stomach registering its excitement at the thought of food.

Steve was standing in the living room, the pizzas on the coffee table, his wallet in his hand. "What's wrong?" Danny said, registering the look on Steve's face. When he didn't answer right away, Danny moved close enough to put a hand on Steve's shoulder. "Hey, what's wrong?"

Steve held his wallet out, a slip of paper on top of it. No, Danny realized, recognizing the folded leather. Not Steve's wallet. It was Danny's.

And the paper held the number Joe had given him months before.

"I didn't have any cash," Steve said, his voice hoarse. "So I grabbed your wallet, and when I was paying the pizza guy, that fell out."

"Steve..."

"That's my mother's phone number, Danny. I know it. She gave it to me before I left Japan. What the hell's going on?"

Danny took a deep breath. "Let's sit down and talk, okay?"

"No. Tell me why the hell my mother's phone number is in your wallet--and looks like it's been there for some time."

"Steve, look, it's--"

"I swear to God, Danny, you say it's complicated and I'll punch you."

Danny held his hands up, taking a step back. "Before he left," Danny said carefully, eyes glued to Steve's face, watching every single microexpression, "Joe gave me that number and said if anything happened to you or to him, I was supposed to call it."

"Before we left for Japan?"

The temptation to lie had rarely been this strong. But he couldn't. "No, uh...he gave it to me the day of Chin's bachelor party."

Every single muscle on Steve's face froze. "You've had my mother's number for six months," he said slowly, "and you didn't tell me?"

"No!" Danny put a hand on Steve's arm. "I didn't know what it was, I swear! If I'd known that, if I'd known she was alive, I would've told you," Danny said, the words coming out in a rush. "All I knew was that it was an emergency number. I think now that he only gave it to me because he was afraid something might happen to him and she wouldn't know. That she couldn't do anything if he wasn't there to tell her." Danny's hand gripped a little tighter. "All I knew was it was a number in case there was trouble."

"But why didn't you tell me?"

"Because he more or less left me with the feeling that you knowing that number would end with at least you, and possibly all of us, dead. Or worse." Danny's gaze was steady on Steve's. "What would you have done in my position. Can you honestly say that in my shoes you'd have told me?"

Steve closed his eyes, his throat working as he swallowed hard. "After all the secrecy in my family and the fallout?" he answered after a moment, opening his eyes again. "Yeah, I'd have told you, because I know what secrets cost."

"Oh really?" Danny dropped his hand to his side. "So the person doling out secrets like they were gold nuggets about the Champ box when we first met, that was someone else?"

"We barely knew each other, Danny, it's not like it is now, not--"

"Oh, okay, then," Danny said, arms out wide, "how about the guy who ran off God only knew where to chase after Shelburne and left me a letter not even hinting at where he was going. That wasn't you?"

Steve leaned in, every muscle in his face and neck taut. "Hey, here's a thought--if you had told me you had the key to everything in your pocket for six months, I wouldn't have had to run off looking for answers!"

"I told you, I didn't know what it was! What, am I psychic now? All I knew was that it was only to be used in emergency, and that if you had it, there was a good chance Wo Fat would use it against you."

"How exactly was he supposed to do that?" Steve demanded.

Danny balled his hands into fists to avoid reaching out and shaking Steve. "Joe gave me that number when I was having nightmares about North Korea ending a hell of a lot worse than it did," Danny said, his voice low and intense. "Hell, who am I kidding, I still have those nightmares."

"I don't see what that has to do with--"

"You don't? Let me enlighten you, Steven. The only thing that was likely to keep you alive was that you didn't know anything."

"Really? Do you know how much of an insult it is that you think I would break under torture?"

"You do know that torture is not the only means of extracting information, right?" Danny asked, not for the first time. "Because all evidence to the contrary, you must've heard that they have a whole bunch of drugs that will make you talk, whether you want to or not. And if Wo Fat had managed to capture you again, he might've drugged you for info. As long as you had no solid leads on Shelburne, he might've kept at it, but there was still a chance he would keep you alive long enough for us to find you. If you had something to give him..."

He moved in closer, but didn't touch Steve. "I don't ever want to walk into a room and find you lying on the floor, dead," Danny said, his voice low and intense. "So I did as Joe asked and I didn't tell you about the number. But I swear to you, Steven, if I had known what it really was, if I'd known your mother was at the other end, I'd have shattered the speed limit to get it to you the second he gave it to me, and to hell with the consequences."

Steve looked at him for a long moment, eyes red and suspiciously wet. Danny reached out, but at the movement, Steve shook his head, turned on his heel, and all but ran out of the house.

Danny listened as the door slammed, and as Steve's truck started and took off like a bat out of hell, until the sound was gone and he was left with nothing but quiet and the ocean.

***

Danny walked into HQ rubbing at his eyes, wincing as it felt like half of Queen's Beach had deposited itself in them. After it had become apparent Steve wasn't coming back, Danny had gone out looking for him, but no luck. His phone was turned off, and he wasn't at any of his usual spots, so clearly he hadn't wanted to be found.

Uncertain if he was even welcome at Steve's, Danny had gone back to his apartment, but sleep hadn't come. He'd waited until it was light before giving up and trusting a long shower and about a gallon of coffee to keep him from falling asleep on the way in.

No one else was in yet, so he sat down at his desk and tried to distract himself with paperwork and more coffee. He'd managed to fill out maybe one form in an hour when Kono knocked on his door. "Hey, Danny--wow, you look like shit."

"Thanks a lot."

"Guess you welcomed Steve home in style?" Something in his face must've clued her in, because her teasing grin gave way to a frown. "What's wrong?"

Danny shook his head. Even if he could tell her, he didn't want to discuss it. "Long story. How's Chin?" He'd had to stop asking her how she was since she'd threatened to kick his ass the day after the whole mess, but asking after Chin was still allowed.

Her frown deepened. "The same. He's 'fine'--as he'll tell anyone who asks."

"You think he's really gonna be okay?"

"He's been through a lot and made it," she said. "I have to believe he'll get through this, too." She leaned against the doorjamb. "He actually said he'd be in today. Wanted to get back to work."

"Is that a good idea?"

Kono shrugged. "At least here we can keep an eye on him."

"He could wait until after the funeral."

"I think he doesn't want to spend all day thinking about the funeral."

"Fair enough," Danny said. He imagined sitting at Steve's if all the things he'd been fearing had come to pass, surrounded by memories of someone he'd never see again, feeling that loss every second. "I can't say I blame him."

He heard boots coming down the hall and tensed, even as he wondered how sad it was he knew the sound of Steve's footsteps. "Hey, boss man," Kono said, but Steve just grunted at her and went into his office without even looking at Danny.

Kono narrowed her eyes as she turned back to study Danny. "Something you wanna talk about?"

"Believe me when I say talking about it is the last thing on my list of wants today." At least not with someone other than Steve. He'd give anything to get Steve to talk to him reasonably.

"Okay. I'll be in my office. Just warn me if you think there's about to be a gunfight between the two of you."

She ducked out of the way before Danny could hit her with the Nerf ball on his desk. It bounced against the wall by the door and rolled back towards his desk, but he left it there. He didn't have the energy to get up from his chair and go get it.

He'd just gone back to his paperwork when he heard softer footsteps and looked up in time to see Chin walking by. Danny pushed himself out of his seat and headed for the bull pen, catching up with Chin as he was turning on the computer table. "How's it going?" Danny asked.

"I'm good," Chin said. And it wasn't that he sounded sad, or even had that forced happiness that some people adopt when they're trying to be stoic. It was more that his voice had no expression at all. Like a poorly-designed robot trying to imitate humanity.

The reminder that he didn't have to be here died on Danny's lips. He was more afraid of sending him home like this. "If you're looking for something to do," Danny said, "I've got a pile of paperwork."

"I'll come get some from you once I'm done running this diagnostic."

No argument about the paperwork. Bad sign. "I'm holding you to that," Danny said, turning around to go towards his office. He could just see Steve's head bent over his desk, as if he looked up and even accidentally caught Danny's eye, it might be the end of the world.

This was ridiculous. Chin was out there so lost in grief over the love of his life that it was like his whole personality was buried, and Steve was wasting time they could have together being pissed off about something that Danny had had perfect reasoning for.

Life was too short for this shit, especially with their life expectancy.

He marched away from his office and into Steve's. "I left you a few voicemails," Danny said, standing in the doorway to make it harder for Steve to escape.

"I know." Steve kept right on looking at the folder lying open on his desk.

"Common courtesy would've been to reply."

That got Steve to look up, his eyes as red from lack of sleep as Danny's had been when he'd looked in the mirror. "Do you really want to have a discussion about common courtesy right now?'

"If it'll help clear the air and get us past this?" Danny said. "Sure."

"Not here."

"Steve--"

"We're not doing this here."

"You can't--"

The door opened behind Danny, and he turned around to see Kono standing there, mobile phone in her hand halfway to her ear, as if she'd forgotten it was there. "Wo Fat's escaped," she said.

"What?" Steve said sharply, jumping up to join them by the door. "How?"

"Don't know," Kono said. "He was there for lights out, but this morning when they did roll call, he was just gone."

Danny met Steve's gaze, not surprised by the combination of anger and fear he saw there. Danny put a hand on his arm. "You need to call--"

"I know," Steve said, pulling free. "Can you--" he waved in the direction of the door, and Danny nodded, ushering Kono out of the office and into the bullpen.

"What was that all about?" she asked.

Danny shook his head. "Nothing," he said, hating to lie to her, but he didn't have a lot of choice. It was safer for everyone. Plus, it wasn't really his secret to tell.

Chin was already pulling up camera recordings from the prison to look for any hint of evidence when Steve came into the room. Danny raised his eyebrows at him, wondering if he'd gotten the news to his mother, and Steve just nodded before going back to not looking at Danny as much as possible.

They'd gone through footage for maybe half an hour when Danny's phone rang, a cone of cherry shave ice on the screen, courtesy of Grace. "Kamekona," he answered. "What's up?"

"Hey, Danny," Kamekona said, his voice a near whisper. "Listen, you didn't hear this from me, right? But I might've heard somewhere that somebody helped a certain bad guy out of his cell last night."

"Name, Kamekona. Now."

"Like I said, you didn't hear it from me. But if you went to Wopo's and asked Hekili Kanaka about it, he might be able to tell you more. You might have to convince him to talk, but he's definitely got somethin' to say."

"Remind me to buy extra shrimp next time I'm at your truck," Danny said. "Let me know if you hear anything else."

He hung up, pocketing his phone and relaying Kamekona's message to the team. "Wopo's?" Steve said, already on his way out the door.

"Hang on a minute," Danny said, going after him. He reached into his pocket, but his keys weren't there, and he remembered throwing them on the desk in frustration when he'd gotten in. He ducked into his office to grab them and jogged for the parking lot, getting out of the building just in time to see Steve pulling away in his truck.

"Son of a bitch."

***

The Camaro had more speed and maneuverability than Steve's truck, but the truck had the advantage of Evil Kenevil McGarrett at the wheel. By the time Danny made it to Wopo's, Chin and Kono right on his heels, Steve's truck was parked outside, and from the way people were running out the door, Steve was inside.

The scene in the bar was eerily reminiscent of the first day he'd met Steve. A guy, about six feet tall, long black hair in a ponytail, surly look on his face, who Danny assumed was Kanaka, was holding a gun on a woman, his arm firmly around her waist. Steve had his gun trained on Kanaka, but Danny could tell he was about to give up.

As Steve started to lower his gun, Danny snuck in behind Kanaka, wrenched the gun out of his hand and hit him on the back of the head, watching him crumple to the ground, groaning. The woman scampered free, but Danny's attention stayed on the guy he'd taken out. "Kanaka?" he asked, looking at Steve, who'd joined them.

Steve nodded. "Get him back to HQ," he said, holstering his gun. "I want to have a few words with him."

He turned and walked off before Danny could respond. A moment later, as he was dragging Kanaka to his feet, Danny heard the truck start up and take off.

***

"Okay, you have two options," Steve said, towering over Kanaka, whose hands were cuffed behind the chair. "You can talk, or I can make the rest of your short life very unpleasant."

"I'd talk," Danny said from a few steps away.

Steve shot him a brief look, the harsh lighting of the interrogation room heightening the dark circles under his eyes. "Where's Wo Fat?" Steve asked Kanaka.

"I don't know."

"How'd he escape?"

"I don't know."

Steve leaned in, and Danny knew that smile. That was the killer shark smile that always had Danny worried that he'd end up in court saying 'Yes, your honor, that was a totally justified shooting.'

"You do know," Steve said in that deadly tone that had Danny stepping a little closer in case he needed to intervene. "And you're going to tell me right now, or my next call is going to be to someone who can make sure the Yakuza know how you helped Wo Fat right out of prison just to spite them."

Steve leaned in more until his nose was maybe an inch from Kanaka's. "What do you think the Yakuza's going to do to your friends and family when they hear that?"

The guy looked at Danny who just folded his arms over his chest and gave him a blank look in return. "You can't do that. You're cops."

"Funny how they always say that," Steve said, slanting Danny a cold grin. "And they always regret it," he added, looking back at Kanaka. "I can give you a list of references to back that up, if you think I'm bluffing," he said. "But by the time you call them it'll be too late."

Kanaka looked at Steve for a long moment, uncertainty crumbling into defeat. "Delano," he said finally. "I owed Delano a favor. He said I help get Wo Fat out, we're even."

"Where are they?"

"I dropped Wo Fat at 1325 Prospect," he said. "Don't know if they're still there, but there's a number on my phone from the phone Delano was using."

"Smart decision," Steve said, collecting Danny with a look on his way out of the room.

***

At the mention of Delano, Chin's face tightened in the first show of emotion Danny's seen from him since the night Malia died. "We can be there in five minutes," Chin said, hand on his gun, once Kono had confirmed that the cell phone Kanaka had called seemed to be at that address.

"Hang on," Danny said, because someone had to be the voice of reason. "We need backup."

"Every second we talk about this they could be getting away," Steve said, turning to go, but Danny grabbed his arm.

"I know that, but if they're getting away when we're on the way, we need more cops to be able to cover more ground. And if they're still there, we need all the exits covered. Do you want to do this in a hurry and lose them? Or do you want to do it right?"

Steve's nostrils flared as he glared at Danny for a moment. "Fine. Call HPD on the way to the car."

HPD was already dispatching officers by the time they stopped at the cars to suit up. "Did you tell them not to move in until we're there?" Steve asked.

"Yes. And not to be seen, etc. etc. I have done this before."

Steve frowned at him, but he didn't say anything. He started for the truck, but Danny said, "Wait," and tossed him the keys to the Camaro. "It's faster."

After a second, Steve nodded and slipped into the driver's seat. As soon as Danny was in, they took off, Kono and Chin close behind. They stopped at the cluster of police cruisers a couple of blocks from the house, finding Duke at the center of the officers waiting for instructions.

"Danny and I will take the front door," Steve said. "Kono and Chin will take the back. I need your men stationed around the house in case they get by us, and cruisers on every corner in case they get to a car. Got it?"

Duke nodded and began doling out instructions. When everyone was in position, Steve looked at Danny, then Kono and Chin. "Let's go."

***

The first thought Danny had when they broke down the door and saw Delano and Wo Fat with half a dozen men is that it was far too easy.

Considering that the next thought he had was from the floor, staring at a sofa he'd managed to throw himself behind in the middle of a hail of automatic weapons fire, he might have revised that opinion.

Steve was leaning out around the sofa, shooting. "Cover me," he said to Danny, giving him just enough time to get around the other side of the sofa and start shooting before he ran through the room into another room beyond it.

Danny looked around and saw Wo Fat and Delano had both disappeared. "Fuck this," he said, staying out of cover far too long, but managing to kill all three men still shooting at him without getting harmed in the end.

He ran in the same direction he'd seen Steve go, finding him standing in a kitchen, his gun trained on the floor. When Danny went around the table, he saw Wo Fat on his back, hands up, Steve's booted foot on his chest.

"Give me one good reason I shouldn't kill you," Steve said as Danny approached.

"There isn't one," Wo Fat said, his voice every bit as calm as Steve's had been. "But you will not do it."

"You think?" Steve's bitter laugh had Danny's stomach tightening. "You don't know me."

"Oh, but I do, McGarrett," Wo Fat said. "You are many things, but you are not a cold blooded killer."

Steve huffed out another harsh laugh. "I think I could make an exception. Just this once."

"Steve," Danny said quietly.

Danny never stopped looking at Wo Fat. "Book him," he said, flatly, moving his foot off Wo Fat's chest, but keeping his gun trained on him while Danny cuffed him.

Kono appeared as Danny handed Wo Fat over to Steve, who said he was personally escorting him back to prison as soon as the transport arrived. "Where's Chin?" he asked.

"He was in first," she said, frowning. "I had a couple of guys to deal with, but I saw him go in the back door."

Danny listened, but he didn't hear anything upstairs. He'd passed a basement door on the way into the kitchen though. If Chin had followed Delano down there...he didn't want to think about what he might find.

"Let me handle it," he said to Kono, who had taken two steps towards the basement before he stopped her. "You, Delano and Chin together? It won't help."

She looked as if she might argue for a second, then she nodded and went to help Steve.

Danny went for the basement door, hurrying down the steps. As soon as he turned the corner, he saw Chin kneeling over a bloody and beaten Delano. He looked as if he'd fallen down the stairs, but his injuries and the blood on Chin's fists also showed there'd been more than just the fall.

Chin wasn't beating him now, though. He was holding his gun point blank to Delano's chest. "I should shoot you," he said, and all the emotion Danny had been waiting to hear for days was there. "Just like Malia, right here," he said, pressing the gun in hard, making Delano hiss from what Danny guessed were broken ribs, "and let you lie there and bleed to death. It still wouldn't be punishment enough for what you've done, but I should do it anyway."

Delano's laugh was raspy, and Danny added punctured lung to his diagnosis. "Go ahead. Do it. That's what dirty cops do, right?"

Chin pressed the gun in even harder, and Delano grunted. "Nobody would think I was dirty. I shot a dirty cop running from the law, and he fell down the stairs. I even have a witness," he said, nodding at Danny.

At least he's noticed I'm here. He thought that might be a little encouraging, because while he'd been fairly certain Steve wouldn't shoot Wo Fat, he was just about as certain that Chin was seriously considering shooting Delano. But if he knew Danny was there, then maybe he was just twisting the knife.

Danny saw the amusement fade from Delano's eyes, saw the moment when Delano was sure Chin was going to kill him, before he stepped in. "Let me get that for you," he said to Chin, gently pushing Chin's gun away before rolling Delano over none too gently. He grabbed Chin's cuffs and locked Delano's hands tightly behind him, no hint of gentleness.

"Stay," he said to Delano, as if he was in any condition to go anywhere, even if he wasn't handcuffed. He led Chin over to the steps and up, stopping in the hallway just outside the basement entrance. "You okay?" Danny asked.

Chin appeared to seriously consider the question. "No," he said finally. "But I will be. Malia would want me to be."

Danny smiled and clapped Chin on the shoulder, leading him into the kitchen to get some officers to deal with Delano.

***

Shadows were creeping up on the ocean behind Steve's house when Danny heard Steve's truck pull in and stop around front. Danny heard the front door open and close, which was progress--at least Steve hadn't taken off upon seeing the Camaro. He wondered, though, if Steve would actually come out back, or if he'd make Danny come find him.

Footsteps on the lanai answered that question, and Danny turned to see Steve slowly making his way down to the chairs by the water. "Wo Fat safely back in his cell?" Danny asked.

Steve nodded as he sat down. "I don't like leaving him there," he said. "He needs to be somewhere he doesn't have connections so he doesn't get out again."

"Are you sure there's a place he can't get out of?"

"There has to be, or...." Steve shook his head. "It's going to be a long road, waiting for him to go to trial, the trial itself, and hoping he rots in jail after."

"I'm sure there are some countries with less-than-friendly views on murderers who are dying to extradite him," Danny said.

Steve shrugged. "There are just so many ways he can get out," he said, rubbing his eyes tiredly. "Mom's not coming here," he said after a moment. "Not after his escape. It's not safe for anyone else to know she's alive yet."

"I'm sorry," Danny said, wanting to reach out and comfort Steve, but not sure if he should, given everything that still lay between them. "And I'm sorry about the phone number. I should know by now that trying to protect the people you love by keeping things from them, even with the best of intentions, never seems to end well. It's just so hard to fight that instinct."

"So you're going to do it again, is that what you're saying?"

It's obvious from Steve's tone that he's all but looking for a fight, but they can't not talk about this. "That's not what I'm saying."

"So you won't ever do it again?"

"I didn't say that either," Danny replied, clinging to the edge of his temper. "Can you honestly promise that?"

He knew it was the wrong thing to say, but he couldn't help it. Steve straightened, blank mission face taking over. "I'm not the one who kept quiet about a vital piece of information that could've gotten my mother back six months ago."

"No, I'm the one who kept a piece of information I thought would get you killed if you knew it. Information that might have gotten your mother killed if it had gotten out before Wo Fat was in jail, have you thought of that?"

"It doesn't matter, it wasn't your information to keep!"

"You know what?" Danny stood up, looming over Steve. "You're right. It wasn't my information to keep. Joe gave it to me, and I thought it was just his failsafe. I don't know how many other ways I can tell you that I thought it would cost multiple lives if I gave you that number, based on what your buddy, Joe, said. What would you have done in my shoes?"

Danny knew what Steve would've done. He would've kept the info quiet. Not that he'd admit it. "I'd have told you."

"Bullshit," Danny said. "Maybe, possibly after this, you might have learned a lesson and you might share, but really? You'd have told me? I don't think so. Because 'Don't ask, I won't tell' is pretty much your whole life!"

Steve pushed to his feet, and Danny lost his height advantage. "What's that supposed to mean?"

"You've made a life out of keeping everything quiet! I'm supposed to believe that you'd just suddenly start sharing information without having it dragged out of you?" Danny stepped closer. "The only thing that gave me any hope that you'd still be alive when we got to North Korea," he said, his voice dark, "was that I knew Wo Fat would have to practically kill you before you'd give up so much as your favorite color. So we had a little time to find you."

"Then you should've known it was safe to give me that number!"

"Were you not even listening when I was talking last night about drugs? He knew by then you weren't going to talk if he tortured you. The guy's an asshole, but he's not an idiot. If he'd tried it again, he'd have had every drug known to mankind on hand. And before we could find you again, you'd be dead."

Steve opened his mouth, then closed it again, running a hand through his hair. "I can't do this right now," he said, turning on his heel, darting around the chair, and storming off into the house. Before Danny could even process enough to follow, he heard the front door slam and the truck start up a second before he heard it zoom off down the street.

Danny dropped back down into his chair and put his head in his hands, growling into his palms. He'd give Steve an hour to calm down, then he'd start tracking him down.

He didn't care if he had to put out an APB to find Steve. They were finishing this tonight.

***

Three hours later, Danny was almost ready to actually put out that APB. Steve had shut off his phone again, and no one had seen or heard of him. The GPS on his truck showed it was stationary, sitting at a bar, but Danny had talked to the bartender over an hour ago, and Steve had left before then.

He was debating between calling cab companies and just calling HPD for a BOLO when his phone rang. The screen showed HPD, and Danny picked it up quickly.

"Detective Williams?"

"Yeah, Duke, what's up?"

"We got a call from Punchbowl Cemetery about a drunk guy trespassing in the cemetery after dark. Uniforms got there, and it's Commander McGarrett, so they thought maybe you'd like to handle it?"

Shit. "Yeah, I got it. Thanks Duke, I owe you one." Even if the uniforms were probably just afraid to cross Steve, and that's why they didn't want to deal with it.

"One?" He sounded more tolerant than annoyed, though, which was why Danny suspected the rest of HPD kept making Duke have to deal with 5-0.

"Or fifty. Thanks."

"No problem."

Danny hung up and pocketed his phone, pulling out his keys and heading for his car.

***

A cruiser was at the entrance to the cemetery when Danny arrived, one officer watching the road, the other watching the cemetery. Danny recognized the cop watching the road. "Hey, Kelekolio, how's it going?"

"Not bad, Detective. Yourself?"

"Oh, you know, the same as usual," Danny replied, nodding towards the cemetery. He could just make out a shadow around what he was going to guess was John McGarrett's grave. "Thanks for calling instead of arresting him."

Kelekolio shrugged. "We heard about this afternoon. Rough day."

"Yup." Danny shook the man's hand. "You guys can go on. I've got this."

They said goodnight and Danny waited until their tail lights had disappeared before sighing and making his way up the hill. He had to turn on the flashlight on his phone just to keep from tripping over graves as he picked his way through the cemetery until he could fully make out Steve, huddled over a grave.

He was talking, and at first Danny thought it was to the grave, but then he realized Steve had his phone to his ear. Danny heard mumbling at first, then, more distinctively, if a little slurred, "...but I don't understand why."

After a moment, Steve said, "But you didn't have to keep it from us." Another pause. "Not when we were older. It was just easier for you, admit it."

Whatever the person on the other end--Danny's guesses were his mom or Joe, in that order--was saying made Steve push up off the ground, swaying on his feet. "No, it's not. And you--" he stopped, whirling around and almost falling over as he saw Danny. "I have to go."

Steve hung up without another word and went to jam his phone in his pocket but missed, the phone falling to the ground. He didn't seem to notice. "What are you doing here?" Steve asked.

"I," Danny said, closing the little distance left between them, "am here because I am a police officer, and I was called here for a drunk person trespassing in the cemetery after dark." He reached down and picked up Steve's phone, putting it in Steve's pocket for him this time. "What are you doing here?"

Steve's angry face crumbled, and Danny wanted to hug the teenager he saw break through for a brief moment. "Looking for answers," Steve replies finally.

"Well I hate to tell you this, babe, but you're not going to find a more close-mouthed place than this." Danny spread his arms wide. "There's a reason they talk about taking secrets to the grave."

"Dad was certainly an expert in that," Steve said, looking down at his father's gravestone. "You know the really sad thing?" he said slowly. "I've probably got more of a chance of getting answers out of that concrete stone than I did out of him when he was alive."

"Hey." Danny put his hand on Steve's arm, encouraged when he didn't pull away. "He was trying to protect you. And Mary. And your mom."

Steve's small huff of laughter held no humor. "Sure he was. So much so that he never stopped lying to us. And she kept it up," Steve said, patting his phone. So, he had been talking to his mother, then. "She said it was for our own good, and that she didn't want us suffering for their sins."

His bewildered face just about broke Danny's heart. "Why do people lie and then say it's to protect someone? Lies always end up doing nothing but hurting people, and yet everybody just keeps lying. All the time."

"Yes," Danny agreed, "everyone lies. 'No, honey, that dress doesn't make you look fat. I never think about anyone else when we're having sex. Yes, I love your eggs, they're wonderful!' It's what you do to protect people."

He slid his hand down Steve's arm to twine his fingers with Steve's, trying to provide some comfort. "I'm not saying it's right, or it's fair, but it's human instinct to protect the people you love. You run off to handle things by yourself to try to protect everyone else and I sit on things when I think they're dangerous. How is that different?"

"Because it is."

"That's a stupid answer." Danny squeezes Steve's hand to take the sting out of the comment. "How many times have you kept things from all of us 'for our own safety'?"

At Steve's guilty look, Danny said, "Exactly. You ran off to Japan and refused to even answer your phone just because you were hoping it would protect us. If you'd had that number in North Korea, you'd be dead," Danny said quietly, no heat behind the words, just solid conviction. "Do you know how many nights I've woken up in a cold sweat after dreaming it was you we found on that bunker floor instead of Jenna? Or that you were dead when we found you in the truck?

"So yes," Danny continued, because he was going to get this point through to Steve if it took a hundred repetitions, "when Joe implied that the world might end--or at least your life--if you knew about the number, I kept it a secret. I lost more sleep over it, but I kept it, because call me crazy, but your life matters, and I've lost enough in my life already. I can't be party to losing you, too. So if you don't like it, you can a) take a look at your own actions in the last two years, and b) go fuck yourself very much, thank you."

Steve stared at him, no hint of whether the words had gotten through this time. At least he wasn't yelling, but after a full minute, Danny shook his head and took his hand back. "Okay, fine."

He turned to go, already planning his next line of reasoning for sober Steve in the morning, but then a broken "Danny...." stopped him dead in his tracks.

He turned around, taking back the two steps he'd gone until he was almost touching Steve. "Yeah?"

"My mom's alive," Steve said finally. "Twenty years and no one told me--over half my and Mary's lives we've lived with this...this weight that our mom was dead...and all this time she's been fine, living a completely different life thousands of miles away."

"People will do anything to protect the ones they love."

"What good is protecting them if it breaks them in the process?"

"You're not broken, babe." Danny gave him a small smile. "You've turned into an excellent person and, aside from an unhealthy affection for explosives, I wouldn't have you any other way."

"My mom's alive."

"I know." Danny laced his fingers through Steve's again. "So the question is...are you going to continue living as though she wasn't alive, exactly what you're upset she made you do all these years, or are you going to take that opportunity that you'd have given anything to have up until you found out you did, and get to know her? Because the former seems pretty stupid, and you are not what I would call stupid."

"You call me stupid all the time."

"No. No, I do not. I call you a lot of variations on crazy--all of which are completely valid, by the way--but not stupid."

The corner of Steve's mouth quirked up, and Danny found it a lot easier to breathe all of a sudden. "I distinctly remember at least one rant including 'stupid.'"

"Yeah, but you're drunk. Your memory isn't that great."

Steve rubbed at his face with his free hand. "You might be right about that," he agreed. "Drunk and tired."

"Oh my God," Danny said with mock horror. "You just admitted to being tired? Should I take you to the hospital?"

"Shut up, Danno."

"Make me."

Steve's smile spread a little further this time. "Okay."

He leaned in for a short kiss before Danny pulled back, squeezing Steve's hand. "Come on, there's a nice, soft bed at home that's got your name on it."

"Carving my name on the bedpost already?" Steve asked as he let Danny lead him down to the Camaro.

"Funny," Danny said. "You're a funny guy."

"I keep telling you that."

"Yes, and I'm humoring you because you're drunk. I will deny it all tomorrow."

They reached the Camaro, and Steve climbed obediently into the passenger seat, his head against the window and his eyes closed by the time Danny got into the car. Danny squeezed Steve's arm, just for an excuse to touch him, before he started the Camaro and pointed it home.

***

Danny watched from across the living room as Chin spoke with Malia's mother. Chin's eyes were red, and there was a tightness to his mouth that Danny associated with particularly gruesome cases, usually involving kids, but that was a comfort after the first couple of days when he'd thought Chin was never going to recover. Even though it sucked, suffering was a requirement for recovery.

His eyes drifted to Steve, listening to one of Chin's younger cousins, but his eyes spending more time on Danny than the teen, even though Danny could tell Steve was still listening. Steve had only arrived a few minutes ago, having received a phone call just after the graveside service. He'd given Danny the look that he already recognized as 'Mom's calling' and gone off to take the call in his truck before heading to Chin's.

"Having this much family this close still gives me hives," Kono said as she stopped beside Danny, looking around the room.

"You're lucky to have this much family," Danny said.

"You say that now, but if twenty-one of them had turned up just to see you off to prom, you'd feel differently."

Danny smiled. "I might at that," he agreed. "How's he doing?" he asked, nodding at Chin.

"He'll be okay. He's stronger than he looks."

"And yet more fragile than people realize," Danny said, remembering the hurt he'd seen in Chin's eyes when he'd faced people who assumed he'd stolen all that money.

"But only if you know him well," Kono replied. "Kind of like someone else we know," she added, jerking her head in Steve's direction.

Danny let his eyes linger on Steve. "Yeah, they are a lot alike in some ways, aren't they?"

"Just a little. Just don't--"

"--let them hear you say that? I know."

They both laughed, and Danny felt Steve step up beside him a second before Steve asked, "Do I want to know what's so funny?"

"No," Kono and Danny said in unison, laughing again.

"I'm going to go check on Chin," Kono said, beating a hasty retreat.

Steve bumped against Danny in a way he suspected Steve thought was subtle. "What was so funny?"

"Nothing," Danny said. "How was your call?" he asked, choosing his words carefully, in case they were overheard.

"Frustrating," Steve said. "Better than no call at all," he conceded, "but we won't be having visitors anytime soon."

Translation: Even though Wo Fat was behind bars, Steve's mother wasn't budging on coming back from the dead just yet. Not when Wo Fat had escaped so easily the first time. "I'm sorry," Danny said, squeezing Steve's arm for a second, then dropping his hand.

"I might be able to go over there in a couple of weeks though," Steve said, far too carefully, his eyes on anything in the room but Danny. "Wanna come?"

Danny blinked at him. "Steven McGarrett," he said, leaning in to whisper as quietly as possible, "are you taking me to meet your mother?"

He pulled back in time to see Steve's grin. "Are you coming or not, asshole?"

"Wouldn't miss it," Danny replied instantly.

Steve reached out to take Danny's hand in his, and Danny squeezed in return, hopeful for the first time in a while that maybe, just maybe, everything would be okay in the end.

------
END
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