Danny Williams was having a pretty darn good day. The sun was shining — not that that was uncommon for Hawaii — his one-year anniversary with Steve was coming up, and he was even getting along with his ex-wife, Rachel, who had offered to buy him lunch at one of her husband Stan's hotels while they discussed plans for their daughter's upcoming birthday party.
Yes, things were going pretty well.
As he walked into the hotel he saw Steve there with his former girlfriend, Catherine. They were talking to someone at the registration desk, and Danny knew that Rachel didn't like to be kept waiting, so he and Steve simply exchanged brief nods and smiles before Danny headed into the dining room.
Rachel was in a good mood today, too. The two of them had finally stopped fighting with each other every time they were together. Steve had had to play referee a few times during pick-ups and drop-offs for Grace, and he'd finally demanded that the two of them start acting like the adults they were, because he'd been able to tell that seeing her parents fighting was upsetting Grace tremendously.
Danny had immediately been sorry for letting his daughter see him and Rachel fighting. Rachel had apologized for her own behaviour, for the times she'd tried to keep Grace from Danny out of spite. Things hadn't changed for the better overnight, but they had improved. Danny thought that having Steve in his life had helped; now that he was no longer carrying a torch for his ex-wife, it didn't bother him to see her with her new husband.
He hoped that one day Steve would become his new husband.
The lunch had to be cut short, because Rachel got a call from her job asking her to rush back to work. She insisted on paying the bill, and Danny didn't argue too much over that. Rachel was well aware that her and Stan's combined incomes were well above what Danny made, even though Five-0 paid better than being an HPD cop.
Danny decided to seek out Steve and Catherine, see if they were still in the hotel. He tried not to let his insecurity around Catherine show. Steve and Catherine had broken up even before Steve and Danny had become lovers; now that Steve was based in Hawaii and Catherine was still serving in the Navy, the two of them had agreed that a long-distance relationship simply wasn't what either of them wanted. But Danny still got a little nervous sometimes; it didn't help that Rachel had cheated on him while they were still married.
As he approached the two of them, who were still at the registration desk, Danny heard the front desk agent say, "All right, Commander McGarrett. The honeymoon suite is booked for May 31. If I can just have your credit card...."
Danny couldn't see Steve's face, but he could tell from his partner's body language that Steve seemed to be very happy about something. Catherine looked happy too.
Danny's world imploded. He believed that he literally saw red. It was as if the ground under his feet had suddenly crumbled away. It's happening all over again. Just like it did with Rachel. How do I keep choosing people who are just going to cheat on me? What's wrong with me?
He decided he needed a drink, and he headed for the hotel bar.
After he'd a couple of beers — not Longboards; he associated those too much with Steve — he noticed a cute but sad-looking girl was sitting next to him at the bar. "Hey," he said to her, "why the long face?"
"My boyfriend," she sighed. "He just told me he's moving to the mainland, and he doesn't want me to go with him."
"That's gotta suck," Danny sympathized.
"What makes it worse is the way he told me," the girl continued. She obviously wanted a sympathetic ear to tell her problems to. "He took me out for a nice dinner, and I thought he was actually going to propose. Then, right in the middle of dinner, he told me he was breaking up with me. Then he stuck me with the bill, the bastard."
"Yeah, he's definitely a bastard." Danny saw that her glass was empty. "Want another drink?"
Her name was Janey, he found out. She'd moved to Hawaii to be with the very same man who had just dumped her. She liked Hawaii, though, and she'd found a nice job, so she was planning to stay.
"So what brings you here?" Janey asked.
"Here as in Hawaii, here as in this hotel, or here as in the bar?"
Janey laughed. "Any of the above, or all of the above."
So Danny explained about Rachel and Gracie, about Five-0, about meeting Rachel for lunch and about running into Steve.
"Here I was thinking we might get married one day, and I find out that he's booking the honeymoon suite with the woman I thought was his ex," Danny sighed.
"Men are bastards," Janey commiserated. "Present company excepted, of course."
"I'll drink to that." Danny clicked glasses with Janey. "But don't leave me out so quickly. I can be a bastard sometimes. Well, I used to be. Before I had my daughter, and before I met Steve." Then he scolded himself: stop thinking about Steve!
After another drink, Janey turned thoughtful. "So Danny," she said, "do you like girls better, or guys?"
Danny shrugged. "Doesn't really matter to me, guy or girl. Depends on the person, really. I like good-looking men, and I like good-looking women."
"Do you think I'm good-looking?" Janey asked.
"You, my dear, are very good-looking." Suddenly he realized where this conversation was going. "Do you want to go home with me tonight?"
"I thought you'd never ask."
Danny paid his tab and Janey's. After thinking about how many beers he'd had, he decided it was best to call a cab to take them to his place. He'd pick up his car tomorrow, after he'd had it out with Steve. Then he reminded himself again to stop thinking about Steve.
He liked spending time with Janey. They ordered a pizza and agreed on no pineapple. They talked about the culture shock of moving to Hawaii. Danny talked about New Jersey, while Janey talked about California, where she was from.
After Danny had sobered up enough to be sure that all his body parts worked, he took Janey to bed.
The next morning the two of them agreed that while they had enjoyed their time together, they weren't going to make this a long-term arrangement. They had been there for each other at a hard time for both of them, and now it was time to go their separate ways and heal on their own. Danny knew this would be difficult for him, because he still had to work with Steve. He figured he'd have to ask for reassignment with the HPD and hope they took him back.
He offered to call a cab for Janey, but she told him she could walk to her apartment. He asked her to wait until Steve arrived to pick him up, and when he did, Danny walked Janey outside and made a show of kissing her goodbye in front of Steve.
Steve's expression was like aneurysm face times a thousand. This gave Danny a certain amount of satisfaction. He got in Steve's truck with a smug expression on his face.
"Mind explaining what that was about?" Steve's tone was one of hurt and anger.
"Explaining what what was about?" Danny asked faux-innocently.
"That little display with the girl coming out of your apartment and you sucking face with her."
"That, babe, was payback," Danny replied.
"Payback?" Now Steve was hurt, angry and confused. "Payback for what? What the fuck do you think I did?"
"I saw you in the hotel yesterday, remember? You and Catherine."
"Me and.... Yeah, I was there. So was she. It was a coincidence. We weren't together."
"Sure looked like it to me," Danny answered, feeling a little less sure of himself. "Standing at the registration desk, booking the honeymoon suite."
"It's not like I'm going to ignore her just because she's my ex, Danny. She was there to meet her fiancÚ and his parents."
"FiancÚ? But you're her fiancÚ — aren't you?"
"Me? What have you been smoking, Danny? In case you're forgotten in the last 24 hours, you and I are together — or were."
"But you were reserving the honeymoon suite," Danny pointed out again, suddenly frightened at the use of the word 'were.'
"Oh for fuck's sake, Danno. That was supposed to be a surprise for you, for our anniversary. I was going to ask you to marry me! I don't know why you're so suspicious of my behaviour — maybe I can blame Rachel for that — but I can tell you I don't like it, not one bit."
"Steve, I.... I'm sorry. I'm so sorry. I was wrong. I saw you with her, and I heard you talking about the honeymoon suite, and I went nuts. I couldn't think clearly. I guess the fact that I'd just come from seeing Rachel didn't help. I went to the bar, I got drunk, and I picked up a girl. She doesn't mean anything to me. It was just a stupid one-night stand. I'm sorry."
"That's not good enough, Danny," Steve answered. "I have never cheated on you the entire time we've been together. I don't like that you jumped to conclusions just because you saw me with Catherine. I don't like that you couldn't just come and ask me what was up instead of making up your mind to get some sort of twisted payback by fucking some girl you met in a bar.
"I don't know where you left your car, but you're not riding to work with me. In fact, when you get to work, you can pack up your office and get out of Five-0, and get out of my life, because I don't want to work with someone, or be in a relationship with someone, who can't trust me."
"Wait a minute. Are you telling me...? You're breaking up with me?" Danny was shocked. He felt as if Steve had just dumped cold water over him.
"What the fuck does it sound like? You're the one who picked up a girl in a bar. You're the one who made sure I saw her."
"Steve, I.... I love you. I did a stupid thing. I'm not a perfect person. I wish I could take it back. I love you," he repeated.
Before Steve could respond, his and Danny's cell phones rang simultaneously. There had been a bank robbery at a nearby shopping centre, and the robbers had taken hostages. Steve and Danny happened to be closer than Chin and Kono, so their two teammates had called to ask them to get over to the centre as soon as possible and would meet them there.
"I guess you're riding with me after all," Steve sighed. They didn't talk as they drove to the scene of the robbery.
When the two of them arrived, HPD filled them in on the situation. The reason Five-0 had been called was that one of the hostages was the wife of some big-shot local politician. The officers on the scene had tried to negotiate with the robbers, whom they suspected hadn't even meant to take hostages — just to commit robbery — but the criminals weren't talking.
Steve tried calling them on the phone, but sure enough, there was no response.
"I'm going in there. Danny, you cover me."
"What the...? Are you serious? You're just going to walk in there, with no vest or anything, and do what, exactly?"
"If they won't talk to me on the phone, maybe they'll talk to me in person."
"Or maybe they'll blow your fool head off," Danny responded.
"Well, I don't see us having a lot of choice here."
"Oh, so you're just going to walk in there, completely vulnerable, and just ask them nicely to surrender?"
"Are you going to cover me or not, Danno?" Steve asked.
Danny sighed and followed his partner as he strode into the bank.
At first things appeared to actually be going well, and Danny began to think that maybe this hadn't been such a bad idea after all. But one of the men started to get a bit twitchy.
And then all hell broke loose.
One of the criminals pulled a gun and fired at Steve. Danny pushed his partner away and took the full force of the bullet. Everything happened so fast, Danny wasn't entirely sure what was going on, but he did know that he couldn't let anything happen to Steve, even if Steve had just broken up with him an hour ago.
When they realized that one of them had shot a cop, the crooks dropped their guns and surrendered before Steve could shoot them. Having heard the shots, the HPD came running into the bank. Steve ignored them as he crouched on the floor beside Danny, who was bleeding heavily.
"Steve..." Danny's voice was barely above a whisper.
"Don't talk, Danno. Save your strength. I called the paramedics. They'll be here any minute."
Chin and Kono had arrived at some point and were taking charge of the situation. Steve didn't even acknowledge their presence.
"Steve, I need to tell you something." He could tell he had been hurt badly, and he wanted to make things right with Steve if he didn't survive.
Steve gripped one of Danny's hands in his. "What? What do you want to tell me?"
"I love you. And I'm sorry." It was very important to him that he tell Steve how sorry he was, and how much he loved him.
"You don't need to say that. I heard you the first time." Steve was almost in tears.
"I never meant to do those things to you," Danny continued. "I'm sorry that I hurt you. If I'm going to die, I need to say these things before I go."
"You're not going to die, Danno. I won't let you."
Danny laughed, an action that made him cough. "Afraid you don't have much say in it, babe. Listen, I just want you to know.... When I met you, I found a reason to change, to start over, to actually live in Hawaii instead of acting like I was on some sort of long-term visit. That reason is you."
The paramedics finally arrived, and Steve had to give up his position at his partner's side. He kissed Danny gently. "I love you, and I am not giving up on you. I won't let you go."
But Danny had already slipped into unconsciousness.
Steve wasn't permitted to ride in the ambulance with Danny, so Chin drove him to the hospital. He didn't think Steve should be driving in the state he was in. Kono followed them.
While Danny was rushed into surgery, Steve paced. He didn't say anything to his teammates. Chin tried to get him to talk a few times, but didn't have any success. Kono got them some lousy coffee from the vending machines, and they waited.
Eventually a nurse told them that Danny was out of surgery but that his condition would be critical for the next 24 to 48 hours. Steve asked to see him. The nurse was going to refuse, but Steve pulled out his badge and threatened to call the governor. After some negotiation with the head nurse and Danny's surgeon, Steve was allowed to see Danny, with a warning that he'd be kicked out if Danny's condition worsened.
"Don't worry if he doesn't wake up for a while," the doctor told Steve. "He's still under the effects of anesthesia from the surgery, and the rest will help his body heal."
For the rest of the the night and the next day Steve sat at Danny's beside, holding his hand and sometimes talking to him. Occasionally Chin or Kono would drop in, ask about Danny's condition, and try to persuade Steve to go home for a couple of hours or to at least have something to eat. Each time, Steve refused, until Kono pulled a trump card. "If you get sick from not eating and not sleeping, who's going to take care of Danny?" she asked.
Steve agreed to take a nap in the room's other bed, and Kono promised to wake him if Danny woke up. As Steve fell asleep, he heard Kono talking to Danny in Hawaiian. He got the impression from the few words he recognized that she was telling him Hawaiian children's stories.
When Steve finally woke, Kono was gone and Chin was there. From the way Chin shook his head, Steve knew that Danny wasn't awake yet. "The doctor says it's normal for him to still be asleep," Chin tried to reassure him.
"It's been what, two days?" Steve asked. "Surely he should be awake by now."
"I don't know, brah," Chin answered. He produced a bag with some containers in it. "Here, I brought you some food. It's real food, not from the hospital cafeteria. Kono's mother made it when she heard somebody we work with got hurt."
Steve was going to refuse the food, but then he remembered what Kono had said to him when she had been there, about his needing to take care of himself so that he could take care of Danny. He told Chin Ho to thank his auntie, and he forced himself to eat.
In the early hours of the next morning, Danny finally opened his eyes. He smiled when he saw Steve there next to his bed. "Hey," he said softly.
"Hey yourself," Steve replied. "How are you feeling?"
"Like I got shot," Danny answered. "How long have you been here? What day is it, anyway?" He struggled to sit up, but Steve gently pushed him back on to the bed.
"I've been here since I threatened to call the Governor if they wouldn't let me in to see you. What day it is... Two days after you got shot, minus a few hours."
"Two days, huh? Guess I needed the sleep." He yawned. He felt more tired than he had in a long time.
"Should I go find the doctor?" Steve asked worriedly.
Danny fumbled for his watch on the bedside table. "It's five a.m. The doctor's not going to be here for a few hours yet. I'm sure he'll come check on me when he arrives. Why don't you sit down and stop acting like a mother hen."
Steve sat and took Danny's hand again. "How about you get some more sleep. I'll be here when you wake up. When the doctor comes I'll tell him that you were awake."
Danny yawned again. "That sounds like a good idea." He smiled at Steve. "I'm glad you're here."
"I wouldn't be anywhere else," Steve answered as Danny drifted off to sleep, clutching tightly to Steve's hand.
Danny woke up again when the doctor arrived. Steve was sent out of the room while the doctor examined Danny. The doctor asked about his pain levels and adjusted his medication and told the nurses to make sure he got something to eat.
The problem with talking about his pain was that while his bullet wound hurt plenty, that pain could be helped with medication. The pain he felt over what had happened with Steve hurt a lot more than the bullet, and there was no medication that could help that pain. He'd already tried alcohol, and that had caused him to make one of the most stupid decisions of his entire life.
Sure, Steve was being nice to him right now. That was because Steve was still his partner, and his boss, and it had been Steve's idea to confront a gang of armed robbers with no backup and no bulletproof vests. Steve probably blamed himself for Danny getting shot.
Meanwhile, Danny blamed himself for jumping to completely unwarranted conclusions about, and cheating on, the man he loved.
When Steve came back, Danny decided it was time to let him know that he didn't have to stay.
"Have you been here ever since I was admitted?" Danny asked him.
"Yeah, of course," Steve said, as if his spending two days away from his job and his home to be with the man who had hurt him so badly was a completely normal thing to do.
"You should go back to the office. The place is probably falling apart without you."
"Kono and Chin Ho are handling things fine. They'll let me know what's happening the next time they come to visit you."
"Steve, you are a control freak. You want to control every single minute detail of everything that happens at Five-0. Being away must be driving you round the bend. You don't have to be here."
"Yes, I do," Steve answered. "You took a bullet for me. That makes me responsible for you."
"Then I absolve you of your responsibility. Go home, get some sleep, or go to the office."
"Don't you want me here?" Steve asked. He looked and sounded hurt. Had he already forgotten telling Danny that he didn't want him in his life anymore?
Of course I want you to be here, Danny wanted to answer. I want you to be right here at my side for the rest of my life. But having Steve here now would just make it harder when Steve left for good.
He was too tired to argue right now, though. "All right. Do whatever you want." And he went back to sleep.
It wasn't long before he woke again. What woke him was a sound he didn't immediately recognize. He opened his eyes and saw Steve with his head resting on his arms, and Steve was crying.
Steve was crying.
Danny reached his hand out to touch Steve's arm. "Steve," he said. "What's wrong? Why are you crying?" He grabbed some tissues from the side of the bed and handed them to Steve.
Steve looked at him, just looked at him, for a long time. "I don't want to lose you, Danno," he finally said. "When you got shot, when you went down, and you were bleeding so much, I completely forgot everything that either of us had said or done that morning. All I could think of was that you were going to die because of me, because I asked you to go into that stupid bank without a vest, and I couldn't bear that.
"Even after I told you I didn't want you to be part of Five-0 anymore, even after I told you I didn't want you to be part of my life anymore, you still went along with me and did what I asked. What makes it worse is that I did that because I was mad at you. I was so angry that I couldn't sit still and wait for backup or wait for someone to find us some vests. I had to move. I had to do something. And that something almost got you killed."
At that moment Danny wanted to take Steve in his arms and hold him tightly. But he was still hooked up to tubes and wires. So he settled for raising the head of his bead so that he was in a sitting position, and he took Steve's hand. "Look at me, babe," he said. "And listen. I chose to follow you. You didn't force me to do anything. I am responsible for my own actions. I followed you because I couldn't let you go in there by yourself without backup. You said we had no backup, but we did. We had each other. That's what partners are for."
"But..." Steve started to say.
"No. Don't talk. Listen. I would follow you anywhere, anytime. I would take another bullet for you. I would do that because I love you. I'm sorry that I hurt you, and that's something I have to live with. I wish I could take away all the pain I put you through, but I can't. I understand why you want to break up with me. All I can say is, the time we were together, both as partners and as lovers.... I'll treasure that time. If I go back to working for HPD, I'll do my best to support Five-0 any way I can. If you find a new partner, I hope that he or she watches your back real good, because I don't want anything to happen to you."
"Can I talk now?" Steve asked.
"What, you tired of the sound of my voice already? Okay, talk."
"I don't want to break up with you. I don't want you to leave Five-0. I want you to be the one to watch my back. I want you to be my partner on the job, and in life. When I told you I wanted to break up with you, I was mad. Hell, I was pissed. I hated that you slept with that girl. I hated even more that you thought I would betray your trust. But when I thought you were going to die, none of that mattered. The only thing that mattered, and the only thing that still matters, is that I love you."
"So what you're saying," Danny mused, "is that you have anger issues, and I have trust issues."
Steve smiled a little. "I guess."
"So what can we do about that?"
"Maybe we could use some marriage counselling," Steve suggested. "But we would have to get married first."
Danny raised an eyebrow at him. "Is that a proposal?"
Steve laughed. "Yeah, it is. Kind of a clumsy one. But I mean it. I want us to get married."
"So ask me, then."
"I just did," Steve protested.
"No, that was not a proposal, babe. You didn't actually ask me a question. A proposal is, 'Will you marry me?'"
"Yes," Steve said.
"You just proposed to me, and I said yes," Steve informed him with a huge smile on his face.
"You're a bastard sometimes. You know that?"
Steve stood up, leaned over Danny's bed and kissed him. "But you love me anyway."
"Damn right I do."