Title: Overwhelmed (Part 2 of 2)
Pairing: Steve McGarrett/Danny Williams
Genre: Pre-slash, angst
Word count: 9098
Rating: PG13 (for some language)
Warnings/Spoilers: Everything for episode 2:15 and some mention of 1:23
Summary: Coda for episode 2:15- This is a follow up to the fall out in the wake of the events following Grace's kidnapping. This is also pre-slash as well. Danny's not dealing at all with what happened and Steve only wants to help his partner.
Special thanks to: HCat for a few reasons. This went through a bunch of rewrites and tweaks and a great deal of my bitching and moaning about being on character. She bore up with all of that and then some. She also remains the goddess of betas, of which I could never live without.
Also archived at AO3
Steve knew the only way he would get Danny over to his place was to simply take the decision out of Danny's hands. So he hijacked the keys as he pretty much always did anyway and drove them to his house. Danny said nothing, not a single word. No snarking, no bitching about the fact that it was his car and he never got to drive it, nothing about the weather, or the locals or tourists or even Steve's driving techniques. Instead Danny stared straight ahead out the window, hands fisted where they rested on his thighs.
Steve pulled into the driveway of his house, killing the engine and taking the keys. "Come on in, we need to talk." Steve waited for Danny to tell him he wasn't in the mood, or to make an excuse, anything like he'd been all week—but his friend only looked tired and worn and he simply shrugged.
It seemed he had no fight in him tonight.
Behind him, Steve caught a flash of lightning. One of Hawaii's hit and run storms was barreling in. You could sense it in the charged air.
Steve had been a leader for a good portion of his life, whether he'd wanted the job or not. With that came a certain amount of ability to read people, especially those under his command. As a SEAL, he'd seen some ugliness that took its toll on him and his team. He recognized emotional shock and trauma when he saw it.
And Danny was deep into it at this point.
Everyone dealt with it in their own way. Steve knew Danny's usually involved some shouting and hitting something. It wasn't in his nature to bottle it up and box it away like he'd been doing for the last week. That was Steve's way, but not Danny's. They'd all been on pins and needles waiting for Danny to finally just lose it and let himself come apart.
Yet it hadn't happened.
Today marked one week. One week that Grace had been taken. This had gone on long enough. If Steve knew anything, he knew how to push Danny's buttons. And he wasn't above playing dirty if it finally got Danny to wake up and deal with this.
There were no two ways around this—Danny would deal with this if Steve had any say.
The storm blew in, the skies opening up as the sun dipped below the horizon. It drummed on the roof as Danny wandered out to the lanai and stood, hands shoved in his pockets, staring outside at nothing.
Pulling out his cell phone, Steve sent a quick text and waited for the reply. He didn't have long to wait, nodding his satisfaction before pocketing the phone and joining Danny.
"How's Gracie doing?" Steve leaned against the door frame, arms crossed. Outside the rain spilled off the roof. A damp breeze whispered through the lanai, heavy with the fresh scent of rain.
"She's fine, Steven."
"Is that what Rachel's telling you? Have you returned her calls yet?" There was no point in pussyfooting around this. There'd been more than enough of that already.
Danny turned, raising his head. "Excuse me?"
"I spoke to Rachel a few days ago. When I stopped by to see Grace."
It felt like a hole had opened up under his feet, dark and yawning and he could do nothing but stumble and scramble back from it. It wasn't like Steve to do this to him, to blindside him so coldly.
"You did what?" It was all he say as he stared at the other man. The shakes that kept stealing up on him threatened now, Danny sucking in a ragged breath.
"You weren't telling me anything so I decided to go see her." Steve crossed his arms and stood, head up, eyes dark in the gathering shadows of the evening. "You've made her important to me, Danny. I wanted to see her."
"Sweet Christ." Danny looked away, his chest feeling tight as he swallowed against the acid taste in his mouth. He pushed his hands through his hair, shaking his head, refusing to face Steve. He flinched when thunder boomed over them.
"What the hell, Danny?" Steve's voice was sharp, slicing across Danny's guilt and anguish. "What the fuck's going on with you? Did hell freeze over and I miss it?"
"You don't understand…" Danny shook his head again. Steve rarely swore like that, not that Danny didn't think he could. He was military after all.
The warm wet breeze chased through the lanai, damp against Danny's heated skin. The damn shakes were there, seizing his body and he found himself swaying. He reached out, trying to steady himself with a hand flat against the screen.
The storm was already tapering off, chasing out to sea as quickly as it had come.
"What don't I understand? That you haven't seen your daughter since all this happened? That you've shut all of us out? That for some insane reason you won't even speak to her? Tell me, Danny, tell me what the hell I don't understand here!"
It wasn't a question. Steve's words lashed at Danny, tearing at him. He felt so sick. A small voice nudged at him, told him to turn on Steve and shove right back. What the fuck did he know? How could he know? Maybe she was important to him but Grace wasn't his, she wasn't his entire universe.
None of it made sense anymore.
He just wanted it to stop. The nightmares, the shaking, Rick's voice in his head, the lurid image of his friend's blood smeared all over an airplane bathroom, Grace's tears as she asked to go home, Rachel's calls begging him to come over… So much noise and static in his head that he couldn't escape.
"Danny, I know how much family means to you." Steve must be beside him now, his voice softer, no longer cutting. He touched Danny's shoulder, then rested his hand there. "You fought so hard for this—Grace, Rachel, this is your family—"
Danny flinched and yanked away from him as if scalded. He whirled on Steve, pointing at him, sucking in a sharp breath as he tried to breathe through the tightness in his chest, the burning in his throat. "That's where you're wrong! They aren't MY family, Steve, not anymore! I blew that, not just once, but twice! That's what you don't get, what you don't understand!"
The shattered look in Danny's eyes cut to Steve's soul. There was such raw anguish in his voice, Steve remembering the voice mail, Danny's plea to Rachel for another shot, one he wasn't going to get.
Danny stood, chest heaving, hands fisted, his misery with the whole mess he understood to be his life so tangible it practically danced between them.
Steve wanted to push Danny, to break him down and make him come out swinging but he never meant to hurt him this deeply, not like this. It had always been unsaid between them, a subject neither felt they could touch without being burned—Danny's choosing to stay here for Steve when Rachel and Grace had left for New Jersey.
But the kidnapping and fallout brought it back front and center, forcing not just Danny to face the why, but now Steve too. What could Steve honestly hope to say to that?
"You still have them, Danny—okay, maybe not the way you want and maybe it's not perfect, but you still have Rachel in your life. And you still have Grace and nothing changes that, whether you and Rachel get back together or not!"
"And because of me, Grace could have been killed! A good buddy of mine was!"
"Okay, fine, I get that! And I know exactly what you're thinking, Danny, I know what's going on in your head right now."
"No, you don't, Steven."
"Yeah, I do! You're thinking that staying away from her is the right thing, the best thing for her. That it's somehow keeping her safe and protected."
Steve knew he hit a nerve when Danny turned away from him. He wouldn’t look at Steve now, instead wrapping his arms around himself, shivering with misery and fatigue.
"My dad thought the same thing and he sent Mary and me away because of it." Steve changed his tone, being gentler now, careful, trying to reach his friend.
"I've never told you this, never knew how to without it coming out wrong. But you have no idea how much I envy that little girl and what you have with her." Danny looked up at him with confusion. "What you sacrificed to be in her life. I never had with my father what you have with Grace and damn it, you shouldn't ever give that up. It's priceless, Danny."
"He did it to protect you—"
"He did it to protect himself!" Steve snapped, raising his head. "And I can't ever bring myself to forgive him for it. I understand why, but I can't forgive him for it. I lost my entire family with his decisions, not just my mother. But you don't have to do that, Danny. She's your world, for chrissakes and she is so damn lucky you fight that hard for her!"
"I'm being selfish, don't you understand?"
"Selfish is removing yourself from her life, is turning your back on the most precious thing you have with the mumbled apology of it's the right thing to do. Selfish is what my father did, deciding his vendetta, his principals were more important than his kids. His apology to me when I was sixteen, that he did it to protect us. That it was the right thing to do."
Danny could only stare at him with anguish, his eyes bright with unshed tears. Steve could see how close his friend was to finally falling apart, of letting go of all of it.
"Don't do this, Danny, it'll kill you by inches. It's not who you are."
"I don't know who I am! Hell, I don't even know where I belong anymore!"
"You are that beautiful little girl's father and it's the one thing in your life that will never change, no matter where you are. You belong with her, wherever that is. Right now, that's here in Hawaii."
"I swore that nothing would ever happen to her, and I screwed that up."
"No, you didn't! Peterson did that, he made that choice all on his own. Just as he made the choices he did ten years ago. And now you have the choice to stay in Grace's life or not."
"You think it's an easy decision."
"No, I think when you're a parent there are no easy decisions, Danny. You've shown me that. And I know it's only going to get harder as she gets older." Steve was beside him again. Once more he reached out, touching Danny's shoulder only to feel him tremble under his hand.
"When you came here, to Hawaii, you were alone. Angry, determined and alone. You aren't alone anymore—you have us, you have Chin and Kono." Steve hesitated. "You have me and there isn't anything I wouldn't do for you and Grace," he whispered.
"I came so close to losing her, Steve. Every time I close my eyes, I hear Rick's voice telling me he'd kill her and it's my fault. I can't get away from him." Still shaking, Danny swayed under Steve's hand. "He hated me so much he was willing to kill her. I can't get past it; I can't get away from it." Danny's voice broke as he brushed at tears with the back of his hand.
Steve moved closer. "But we got her back, Danny. I'm sorry, I’m sorry for what you both went through but she's safe now." He eased his arm around Danny's shoulders to steady him. "She's safe. And she needs you." He nudged Danny toward one of the chairs, helping him to sit. Danny buried his face in his hands, body shaking with fine tremors as he started to come apart. Steve knelt beside him, whispering to him it was okay now and it was over, all the while rubbing his hand gently over Danny's back.
Steve lost track of time. At one point he'd gotten up and fetched a bottle of water from the kitchen. But Danny was still so shaky he almost dropped it. Steve asked when was the last time Danny'd eaten or slept but only got a headshake in reply.
Well, that was going to change starting now if Steve had any say in it. There was no way his friend was leaving tonight to go to wherever it was Danny holed up now. Steve swallowed against the shame that he had no idea where Danny stayed, only knowing that the Hilton was the last place. He'd never been happy with Danny leaving in the first place. Maybe it was time to change that.
Steve was back out in the kitchen, downing a bottle of water himself, his mind turning things over. He nearly jumped when his cellphone vibrated in his pocket. He fished it out, glancing at the text message and nodded. Heading for the front door, Steve sidetracked enough to check on Danny, who still sat out on the lanai, head bowed, shoulders rounded in exhaustion.
Danny must have sensed Steve was standing there, watching him.
"I should go." His voice sounded so raw as he drew a ragged breath. Steve was willing to bet that at this moment, Danny had no more strength than a newborn kitten.
"You aren't going anywhere. You're staying here tonight; don't even try to argue with me about it. I'll just bull right over you anyway."
There'd normally be some smart ass remark about Jersey scrap being able to kick SEAL ass, but not tonight. Danny remained where he was, too exhausted for snarky comebacks.
Rachel got out of the car when Steve came out of the house. "Is he here?" She looked worried, her eyes large and dark in the evening shadows.
"He's inside. And Grace?"
Rachel nodded at the car. "She's hardly spoken a word these past couple of days."
"Hopefully we can fix that." Steve had gone around to the far side and opened the door. Grace had already undone her own seatbelt. She looked up at Steve, then wrapped her arms around his neck without a single word. He picked her up and hugged her close, her breath warm against his neck. He came around the front of the car, Rachel joining him.
"Do you need me to stay?" She stroked her hand down Grace's hair.
"No, it's all good. They'll stay here tonight." Steve caught himself rocking his weight gently from foot to foot. Grace had wrapped herself around him so tight, her hands fisted in his shirt, her legs around his waist. "You're okay here, right Gracie?"
He felt her nod.
"You're a good friend, Steven."
"I'll call you tomorrow." He started to turn away but Rachel caught his arm, her fingers cool against his skin.
"Let her stay for as long as they need. Let Danny know that, that he doesn't have to worry about getting her back."
"I will." He waited until Rachel was back in her car and backing out of the driveway before he carried Grace inside, closing the door behind them before bringing her out to the lanai.
Danny was exactly as Steve had left him.
Steve knelt, letting Grace down. "It's okay, sweetheart, go see your father," he whispered to her.
She hesitated though, remaining by Steve, her hand in his, her eyes dark and filled with sadness. Then she pulled away, taking a few steps toward her father.
Danny's head shot up, his mind blanking for a split second as he centered on his daughter. She stood between him and Steve in shorts and sandals, her eyes bright with unshed tears. She looked so fragile and pale, like she could break into a million pieces if he so much as breathed on her.
"Come here, Monkey," Danny slid to his knees, opening his arms. She didn't hesitate, practically throwing herself at him and Danny hugged her close, whispering he loved her, and he was so sorry, over and over. She burst into tears, soaking his shirt, crying how much she missed him.
He stood, arms tight around her, rubbing his cheek over her hair, not caring about his own tears. He'd been a complete fool to think he could walk away from her, telling himself it was for her own good. Holding her now, rocking and swaying with her in his arms, whispering and humming to her, promising her it was okay now, he understood where he belonged.
Peterson had rocked that belief, left Danny twisting and broken but all it took was the love of a little girl, his little girl, to bring it all back home to Danny. This was who he was and he'd be damned if he let anyone take that from him again.
He glanced over her shoulder to Steve. He'd backed up as far as the doorway, where he stood now, understanding and watchful. Danny gave him a weak smile and mouthed a silent "Thank you" to him. Steve quirked one of those loopy grins back at him before turning and going back into the house, giving Danny and Grace space and privacy.
Steve checked the locks one more time, flipping off lights as he moved from room to room. Another storm had moved in, the rain drumming on the roof and spilling off the eaves of the old house. In the distance, thunder grumbled and muttered. He'd changed into sweat pants and a sleeveless tank a few hours ago, but hadn't been ready to go to bed.
Soundless, he came into the shadows of his living room. Danny and Grace were asleep on the couch, Grace sprawled over Danny's chest, her head tucked under his chin, one hand fisted into his white T-shirt. Danny had both arms wrapped securely around her.
Being careful not to wake them, Steve took a blanket and gently draped it over them. Grace shifted a little, Danny instinctively moving with her before they both resettled. This was likely the first decent night of sleep either of them had had since the kidnapping. Steve settled into the nearby recliner, watchful and determined nothing would wake either of them. It was a sign just how exhausted Danny had to be since the TV wasn't on.
In the morning Steve would take them to breakfast at a local place away from the tourists. It was time to get things back to normal.
He sighed softly, stretching out his legs and closed his eyes. He had a perfectly nice bed upstairs but tonight, he was more comfortable here, keeping watch over the two people who had come to matter the most to him.
He missed having Danny here, for all the bitching they did at each other. The house was too big and too damned quiet without Danny's energy spilling into every room, chasing back the ghosts of Steve's past. He didn't like admitting it, but he'd been hurt when Danny suddenly left with no explanation.
There was a lot unsaid between them. Maybe it was time Steve stepped up to the plate and put it out there.
Steve glanced over to find Danny looking at him with sleepy eyes. He kissed Grace on the top of her head and shifted her a bit before resettling.
"I didn't mean to wake you."
"You didn't." Danny yawned. "You should go to bed."
"I'm fine right where I am." Steve gave him a soft smile.
"Uh huh." Danny shifted again and Grace mumbled and sighed until Danny soothed her back to sleep. He then glanced at Steve with those clear blue eyes that sometimes made Steve's breath hitch. "Thank you."
Steve felt something catch in his throat before he glanced away for a moment, then looked back at Danny. "Sleep, Danno. I'm not going anywhere."
Danny didn't reply, only closed his eyes, already drifting off. After a few minutes, when he was sure that Danny had indeed fallen back asleep, he sat up and leaned over, placing his hand over Danny's where it rested on Grace.
This is what it meant to be family, he understood that now. It didn't frighten him with the realization, not like it would have a year ago. He'd come home to Hawaii, feeling he didn't have that anymore. He never dreamed that a pushy New Jersey native would change all that and give back to him what he'd lost so many years ago.
Steve had long since convinced himself that he didn't need family, that the military was his life. But coming here, to Hawaii and Five-O, to Danny and Grace, showed him that he could come home again. And that family was what you made of it.