Opening the Flood Gates
His mind was racing a mile a minute.
"...maybe you could drop Grace off and come back? It gets pretty lonely here at night and I heard you were great at keeping me company when I first got here."
"So this is what that moment must feel like when you propose to someone and you're waiting for their answer."
The whole way home Danny had been obsessing about what Steve might say to him, why Steve had asked for him to come back, why Steve had been joking around with him. And now, as he was driving back to the hospital, he found himself less curious and more concerned.
Did Steve still think that he had been down in the cellar with him? Would he still have to convince Steve that it wasn't him who had said all those horrible things to him when he was drugged? And even if he did manage to convince Steve, would their relationship ever go back to the way it was?
The last week had taken its toll on not only Steve but Danny as well. Physically, mentally, and emotionally, Danny felt like he was at his breaking point and he feared that if this conversation with Steve didn't go well that he would retreat to a very dark place.
Danny shook his head and took a deep breath. He was running on fumes and had been for a while now. He thought that once they found Steve he would be able to finally breathe, to finally feel a sense of normalcy again, but it had been the opposite. Finding Steve in that condition, both physically and mentally, was the start of a whole new version of hell for Danny. Never in a million years would he have thought that the following days after finding Steve alive would be so mentally and emotionally draining and heartbreaking.
Danny thought back to the last few days of work. He remembered going in, he remembered working on the cases, but it seemed as though he was just going through the motions, not really taking a second to feel anything. Working cases without Steve only reminded him of how royally screwed up everything was, and how much he missed having Steve around. It hurt, everyone could see that Danny was different, that Danny was not happy, but there was nothing they could do about it, and there was nothing Danny could do about it.
But maybe all of that would change today...or maybe not.
Danny didn't want to get his hopes up, these last few days had left him jaded and he was scared to think optimistically, he didn't think he could stand another disappointment.
Danny turned into the parking lot of the hospital and found a spot close to the entrance of the emergency ward.
He turned the ignition off and just sat in the car for a few minutes. Never in a million years would he have thought he would be so nervous to see his partner. From the minute he had met Steve he'd felt a level of comfort with him that he hadn't with anyone else. Sure they didn't start of good terms but even then he had never been nervous or anxious around Steve, not like this. But Danny knew the nerves were due to knowing how important this conversation with his partner was going to be.
Finally, Danny took a deep breath and stepped out of his car and walked into the hospital.
He stood outside Steve's door for what seemed like an eternity. A part of him wanted to go in and see why Steve had asked him to come back and the other part of him wanted to run in the opposite direction and protect his heart from possibly further breaking. But he knew he couldn't turn away now, Steve had asked him to come, pleaded with him to come back and there was no way Danny could ever say no to that. So with shaky hands Danny turned the handle on Steve's door.
The minute Danny walked into Steve's room he froze in horror. Steve was gone. The bed was made, the machines were gone, and Steve...Steve wasn't there.
A sudden wave of nausea hit Danny as he frantically ran out of the room towards a nurse.
"Where's Steve...he was there an hour ago, I was just here, wher- "
"Whoa Detective, calm down, your partner's okay," a petite brunette nurse placed a calming hand on Danny's arm.
All the colour returned to Danny's face.
"Oh thank god," Danny looked up to the ceiling. "Where is he?"
"We moved him out of ICU into a normal room since his condition has improved a lot, he's in room 426 just around that corner," the nurse was pointing behind Danny.
Danny thanked the nurse and headed to Steve's new room.
As he walked into Steve's room he could see that Steve had been taken off of a lot of the machines he had been on in the ICU. He was only hooked to a few now and was sitting up in his bed. Steve's head snapped towards Danny when he heard the door open.
"Hey Danno," Steve had a big smile across his face.
"Hey," Danny forced a smile as he headed towards Steve.
"You came back..."
Danny froze on spot as a sudden wave of panic washed over him.
"Yeah, you asked me to...do you want me to go?"
Wait...did I just imagine Steve asking me to come back?
"What? No of course not Danno, I just wasn't sure if you were actually going to come back."
Oh thank god.
"Why wouldn't I come back?" Danny took a seat in the chair but kept eye contact with Steve.
"I don't know, with everything that's happened, I just...I don't know," Steve didn't know why he felt so nervous.
"Yeah..." Danny's heart sank. Everything that's happened. Danny sat there staring at the ground as everything came rushing back to him.
Steve looked at Danny and his heart broke. For the first time since he had woken up he actually took a proper look at his partner. Danny looked terrible. The bruises on his face from his fight with Wo Fat were starting to heal but Danny's entire face seemed to have sunk in a bit. He looked exhausted and frail like he hadn't eaten in days, his eyes had dark circles around them, his hands were shaky, and his posture was that of someone who had been mentally and emotionally beaten down.
Steve thought back to everything Danny had been through in the last week: finding out Matt had set a trap for him, having to leave him at Wo Fat's mercy, finding him in that cellar alive, killing Wo Fat, seeing him hooked up to all those machines in the hospital, arresting Matt, watching him flat-line, not leaving his side when he was placed in a medically induced coma, and then finally waking up only to be rejected by him.
Steve could see the emotional scars of the last week etched all over Danny's face, and he cursed himself for being the cause of a lot of it.
"Danny...I'm so sorry." Sorry didn't even seem enough, sorry seemed like a poor excuse of an apology, but it was all he could think of at the moment.
Danny looked up at Steve not believing what he just heard, had Steve really just apologized to him?
"Steve you have nothing to be sorry for, I should be the one apologizing to you."
"For what? You did nothing wrong Danny."
"Really Steve? Well let's see here, my brother was the one who set you up, I left you in the hands of Wo Fat, and my voice is the one you think you heard in that cellar saying all those awful things to you..."
Steve looked at him incredulously.
"How is ANY of that your fault? You're not responsible for Matt's actions, those are his and his alone, you left me with Wo Fat because you didn't have a choice he was going to kill Matt and I told you to go because I didn't want Matt's blood on my hands, and those things I thought I heard you saying, I know now it wasn't you, it was Wo Fat."
This caught Danny's attention as his eyes shot to Steve.
"It was Wo Fat? Because he gave you the drugs that made you hallucinate?"
Steve shook his head.
"No Danny, I didn't hallucinate you there, well I did, I hallucinated your face and voice but Wo Fat was egging me on."
Steve could see that Danny was more confused than ever so he continued.
"When I was down in that cellar all I kept thinking about, all I kept hoping for, was that you were going to find me. After Wo Fat drugged me, I was messed up man, and at some point when I had regained consciousness I heard someone open the door and come into the cellar, and I thought it was you."
Danny could see the pain in Steve's eyes; he was reliving a moment Danny didn't want him to relive. As much as he wanted an explanation, wanted to know what had happened down there, he didn't want Steve to go through any more pain.
"Steve, it's okay, we don't have to do this right now..."
After a brief moment, Steve composed himself and continued.
"I want to...I need to..."
Danny looked into Steve's eyes and he understood, he understood perfectly. So he just nodded his head and let Steve continue.
"Wo Fat walked in front of me and I didn't see him, I saw you. I'm sure he was coming back to torture me some more..."
Danny flinched at that thought.
"...but I guess when he heard the next words out of my mouth he decided to torture me in another way."
Danny couldn't move, he felt like he couldn't breathe, he knew the next few minutes were going to be gut-wrenching and he almost wished he could just cover his ears and not hear it, but he had to, he had to know what happened down there that made Steve act the way he did.
Steve started to tell Danny exactly what had happened after that.
"D-anny...you found me."
"Yes I found you."
"How? How d-id you k-now to look here?"
"Wo Fat told me..."
"W-hat...w-hy would he,"
"You don't think Matt set you up on his own do you?"
"Y-you set me up..."
"Matt could never pull something like this off on his own, he needed my help"
"B-but why...why would you set me up?"
"I needed to help him Steve, he's my baby brother, I couldn't let those goons kill him, he needed the money that Wo Fat was going to give him for turning you over."
"I didn't want to do it Steve, I didn't want to turn you over, but I didn't have a choice, it was either you or Matt."
"You told me in the warehouse that it wasn't worth it to save you over Matt, and you were right, it wasn't, Matt's family, he'll always come first."
"You understand right Steve, you know how important family is...not that you really have one seeing as your dad's dead, your mom is god knows where, and your sister lives in another state."
"Steve I'm really sorry, but I had to, just like Jenna had to, even though her fiancé ended up being dead. But regardless, it was for the same reason, to save someone we love. At the end of the day, Matt is my family, you're just my partner."
"J-just your partner?
"Yea Steve, you're just my partner, I can get a new partner but I can't get a new brother, I really am sorry."
"Dan-danny, please...don't leave me here"
Danny's heart broke, everything Steve had just told him and the anguish in Steve's eyes were too much for him to handle. He felt like someone had just sucker-punched him.
"God Steve...I don't even know what to say." He understood now, he understood why Steve had looked so hurt whenever he looked at him, why Steve couldn't bear to look at him, Danny knew if the roles were reversed he would have had the same reaction. He knew how strong mescaline was, especially in high doses, and after everything Steve had gone through up until that point, to think that Steve saw him and heard him say all those terrible things to him, his heart shattered even thinking about it.
Not just partners?
It was all starting to make sense now, why Steve had asked him that; he needed affirmation that Danny cared about him, that he meant more to Danny than just being his partner.
Danny ran a shaky hand over his face and stopped when his hand was over his mouth. He shook his head in disgust.
"I can't even imagine what that was like, I just –" Danny couldn't find the words.
"That's why I acted the way I did Danno, I was confused, the drugs messed me up real bad and I didn't know what to believe. I remembered you in the warehouse, I remembered you when you saved me, but then I would remember "you" in the cellar and man...I couldn't shake it, I'm sorry Danny..."
"Don't apologize Steve, please don't apologize, I don't blame you for the way you reacted, after everything you went through..."
Danny and Steve sat there in silence for a few minutes. Steve knew that Danny needed some time to process everything, as hard as it was for Steve to tell Danny what happened in the cellar, he knew it was equally as hard, if not harder for Danny to hear it.
"How did you remember? When did you realize it wasn't me?" Danny looked back up at Steve.
"Right before you and Gracie came in, I was actually about to pick up my phone to call you to tell you to come to the hospital cause I had remembered everything but then you walked in with Gracie."
"I wanted to talk to you before I even remembered though, I felt bad for the way I had been treating you, I had known deep down that it hadn't been you saying all that stuff but I was confused as to why I would hallucinate that, why I hallucinated you saying all those things to me. But the doc and Chin both told me what you had been going through for the past week and I felt terrible Danny, you had gone through hell and I was making it worse."
Danny shook his head.
"It's not on you to make me feel better Steve, you have enough going on..."
"Of course it's on me Danny, you're my best friend, and I think that simple fact that you're more than my partner finally broke through all the confusion and pain. Before I even remembered that it was Wo Fat in that cellar I wanted to make things right with you, I knew that in time I would be able to realize that what happened in the cellar was just a hallucination and we would work past it."
Danny smiled; he was relieved that even if Steve hadn't remembered exactly what had happened that he had wanted to fix things with him.
Now that the cellar mystery was out of the way he had an important question to ask Steve, one that he needed to know the answer to.
Danny looked up at Steve.
"Leaving you in that warehouse was the hardest thing I've ever had to do...you know that right..." Danny prayed that Steve knew, prayed that he didn't think Danny had abandoned him in any way.
Steve's eyes went wide.
"Danny of course I know that! You didn't want to leave me there anymore than I would've wanted to leave you."
Danny breathed a sigh of relief and nodded his head but Steve continued.
"You forget how well I know you Danno; I can read you like a book, it was written all over your face. You know, when Wo Fat gave you that ultimatum my heart broke and not because Matt had betrayed me or because I knew you were going to have to leave me there, but because I knew that no matter what was about to happen to me, it wouldn't even compare to hell you were going to go through having to leave me there. I haven't been where you were but I can't even imagine having to choose between you and Mary."
Danny choked up, he was grateful that Steve understood, but all the feelings of that day came rushing back.
"It killed me Steve; walking away from you...leaving you with him" he looked up at Steve with tears in his eyes and then quickly shook his head and covered his face with his hands to stop the tears from pooling over.
"It's okay Danno, let it out man," Steve reached over and squeezed Danny's shoulder.
Danny felt stupid, Steve was the one who had gone through an ordeal, he did not need to be taking care of Danny right now.
Danny wiped his hands down his face.
"I'm good Steve, really." Danny tried to sound convincing but Steve didn't buy it for a second.
"No you're not Danno, dude you look terrible – "
"Gee thanks," Danny smiled
"You know what I mean," Steve smiled back. "You need to talk to someone Danny, from everything I've heard, you've been running on fumes and if you don't let it out you're going to crash and burn man, I don't want to see that."
Danny knew Steve was right. He could feel everything inside threatening to boil over, but Steve was in no condition to play therapist.
"We can talk later Steve, you need to rest..."
"Danny all I've been doing is resting man, I'm fine...doctor say I'm recovering faster than they expected."
Danny let out a little laugh, "Why does that not surprise me?"
Steve smiled, "Cause I'm awesome and you know it?"
Danny laughed and shook his head. Steve was awesome, and he had come that close to losing him.
Steve saw the immediate change in Danny's demeanor and knew he needed to get Danny to talk.
"Danny...talk to me man, please, this isn't healthy, you can't keep this all bottled inside," Steve was looking at Danny with pleading eyes.
Danny could hear the desperation in Steve's voice, and as much as he wanted to save this conversation for another day, he knew Steve wasn't going to drop it and if Danny was being honest with himself, he didn't know how much longer he could carry the weight of the last week.
He finally cracked.
"This last week sucked," he looked like he was staring a hole through Steve's mattress; he couldn't make eye contact with Steve because he knew he would break down.
"I know Danno..." Steve felt for the man, the tone in those four little words said it all, Danny was spent.
"I honestly think it was the worst week of my life, the only other time I can remember feeling that broken was when Grace was kidnapped."
Steve nodded remembering what Chin had told him,
Danny was a mess the entire time you were missing. The only other time we had seen him like that was when Gracie was kidnapped.
Steve had remembered what Danny had been like during that time, and it broke his heart that he went through the same despair while Steve had been missing.
Steve stayed silent knowing that Danny just needed to get this all off his chest.
"I can't believe that Matt set you up, that he set a trap for you for money...money," Danny shook his head. "God Steve, you had already been betrayed and set up by Jenna, and now Matt...if it was anybody else I would've let them get shot and taken you out of there, hell I even considered it with Matt."
Steve noticed how Danny wasn't calling his brother "Matty" anymore.
"Leaving you there..." Danny choked up and Steve wanted to tell him that it was okay, that he didn't need to continue, but he knew that Danny needed this, needed to finally talk to someone.
"...it broke something in me. When we locked eyes before I walked out of the warehouse...I honestly thought that that might be the last time I ever saw you..."
Danny swallowed the lump in his throat.
"And then when we were outside, all I wanted to do was turn around and run back in there, and then I heard..." Danny choked up as he remembered hearing Steve scream from inside the warehouse.
Steve knew exactly what Danny had heard, when it had happened he had been afraid that Danny was going to hear it, he tried his best not to scream out in pain for that reason alone.
"It wasn't so bad Danny, he just kicked me in the ribs and they were already bruised and the scream just kind of came out, I've had way worse."
Danny shook his head. He knew Steve was trying to make him feel better, and as much as he appreciated it, it just reminded him of how much pain Steve had already endured during his short life.
"Wo Fat's goons were standing outside with guns, and they were going to kill us if we didn't leave so we got in the car and drove just out of their eyesight and I called for backup. I wanted to leave Matt there and come back for you right away but I knew I wouldn't stand a chance against all of them, and I couldn't risk getting you killed, so I waited for back up."
"That was a good choice, I'd never be able to live with myself if I had lost you because you came back to save me."
"I completely lost it on Matt in the car, while we were waiting for backup. I don't think I've ever hated someone so much in my life, besides Peterson and Wo Fat."
Steve couldn't believe that Danny was comparing his little brother to the psycho who had kidnapped Grace and the evil that was Wo Fat.
"Danny, you don't mean that, he's your little brother," surely Danny was just speaking out of anger.
Danny shook his head.
"As far as I'm concerned, you're the only brother I have now."
Steve looked at Danny and the look in Danny's eyes almost took his breath away...he knew right then and there that Danny meant every word.
"Don't Steve, don't defend him or make excuses, he doesn't deserve it," Danny raised his voice as his anger was boiling over. "He was going to hand you over to Wo Fat and never mention anything to anybody about it! I would've been going insane looking for you and he would've let me, just so he could keep the money," Danny shook his head in disgust.
"You don't know that Danny, he may have changed his mind once he saw how upset you were, once he saw – " Steve stopped mid sentence as he saw the look Danny was giving him, and he knew now was not the time to try and repair Danny and Matt's relationship. To be honest Steve wasn't Matt's biggest fan either, but he knew how close Danny and Matt had been their entire lives, and he didn't want Danny to have to lose that. However, he knew that no one was as loyal as Danny, which meant that the damage Matt caused by setting him up may be something Danny could never forgive or forget.
"You're too good of a person you know that? And people like Jenna, like Matt, they have no problem taking advantage of that for their own personal gain, and I'm sick of it," Danny was angry but Steve could see the pain laced underneath as well. Danny took a deep breath and Steve gave him a few moments to collect his thoughts.
"We had so many leads within those 3 days that you were gone, and every single time I'd get my hopes up only to be crushed when the lead fell through. I slept at the office, working around the clock trying to find anything to point us in the right direction, most of the time we were literally working off nothing,"
"I can't imagine how frustrating that must've been," Steve empathized.
"It sucked, every minute we went without a clue was a minute you were probably being tortured, it was the worst feeling in the world," Danny shook his head remembering exactly how he felt during those days.
"By day two Chin made me go home and sleep. I was a wreck and he said I was no good to them the way I was. He was right, I could barely see straight, or even stand straight at that point."
Steve cringed at the mental picture.
"So I went home and...well...Grace filled you in on the rest of that night," he looked at the ground feeling guilty for listening in on their conversation earlier.
"You heard all that?" Steve had no idea that Danny had been anywhere close to them.
"Yeah, I was outside the room, I lied about getting food, I just didn't think you wanted me around so I left the room."
"Danny I'm sor-"
"Would you please stop apologizing?" Danny let a small smile appear on his face. Steve returned the sentiment, but his smile soon faded as he remembered Grace's words.
...I heard Danno crying and not just a little cry, it was the loud really sad kind.
I had only heard him cry once before and that was when him and mommy got a divorce, but he didn't cry as much then as he did this time around.
It made me really sad Uncle Steve, Danno was really really sad, he couldn't stop crying.
"That was the first night I actually let everything sink in, I completely lost it Steve," Steve was brought back to the present as Danny spoke. "It felt like I had crawled into a dark hole that I wasn't going to be able to crawl out of. Everything hurt, I just wanted to turn my mind off, I kept thinking about what I would do if we never found you, and let's just say you'd definitely lecture me if you knew the things I came up with. I couldn't cope, I could think straight, I just couldn't handle it. I always knew how important you were to me, but I think it really hit me then how much a part of my life you are. Ever since I moved to this island, you and Grace have been the constants in my life, no matter what else happened around me, you two were always there, you two were always my family, and the thought of losing you..." Danny choked up unable to finish that thought.
Steve was speechless. He didn't know how his heart could be so filled with joy and love and so filled with pain and sorrow at the same time. Hearing how important he was to Danny made him happier than he could ever put into words but hearing how deep into a depression Danny fell, broke his heart.
"Danny...you and Grace mean the world to me too. I've never had that consistent happiness or love in my life, not from family or friends or even girlfriends, it was always a rollercoaster and I never knew where I really stood or what having a constant thing in my life meant, until you and Gracie came along. You guys are the best part of my life, you two mean everything to me and I'm so sorry that you had to go through all of that alone Danny, I wish I was there..."
Danny smiled, even though he knew how much him and Grace meant to Steve, it was always nice to hear, especially after the last few days.
"Yeah, I wish you were too cause that would've meant that you weren't with Wo Fat being ..." Danny couldn't finish that sentence as he immediately looked at the ground.
"But you found me Danno, just like Grace said you would," Steve smiled as Danny looked back at him. "Chin told me everything, how they all wanted to leave because they didn't think I was there but you wouldn't listen, you had a feeling I was there, and you were right."
"Yeah...uh Steve, what else did he tell you?" Danny need to know how much of that night Steve knew.
"That you killed Wo Fat..."
"So you know..."
"Yeah and Danny...I can't even...I can't even tell you what that means to me. At first when he told me I was shocked that Wo Fat was actually dead, I didn't believe it. And then when it started to sink in a part of me was a little disappointed that I hadn't killed him, that I hadn't been the one to finally end him...as crazy as that sounds..."
Danny's heart stopped, he was afraid of this, "That doesn't sound crazy at all, I'm sor-".
Steve didn't let Danny to finish that sentence.
"But, sitting here right now, with you, I can honestly say that you killing him feels just as good as if I had done it. I almost feel like I was there with you, and I'm so glad that you did it. If anyone else had killed him, a part of me would probably still be a little disappointed, but knowing that it was you, I can't tell you how good that feels. He's put you through hell too. He'll never make you go through all of this again, he'll never torture me again, and that's all thanks to you Danno," Steve smiled as he placed his hand on Danny's shoulder.
Danny didn't know what to say, as a flood of emotions washed over him.
"You flat-lined you know," Danny didn't know where that came from.
Steve was taken aback by Danny's sudden change in demeanor. It seemed like the flood gates were opened and Danny just needed to get it all off his chest.
"I know Danny, the doctor told me. He told me that when he was trying to revive me he felt like he was trying to save two lives instead of one." Steve smiled, he knew it wasn't a smiling matter but the fact that it was so evident to people how close him and Danny were warmed his heart.
"He said that?" Danny looked up at Steve.
"Yeah, seems like you really scared a lot of people," Steve smiled at Danny but his smile disappeared when he heard how broken Danny sounded.
"You really scared me..." Danny said it so quietly that if Steve hadn't been listening intently he would've probably missed it, but he was, and his heart broke at how young Danny sounded.
"I know buddy, I'm sorry."
"I'm so sick of you having to pay the price for being a good person, first it was North Korea, then Afghanistan, and now this...it's not fair..."
Steve agreed, it wasn't fair, but what hurt him more than anything was how much Danny was hurt by him being hurt, but he knew if the roles were reversed he would react the exact same way.
"You're right, it's not fair Danny, but that's life...my life especially, I'm just sorry that you always get caught in the middle of it, it's not fun seeing you like this."
"It's not fun seeing me like this? Have you looked at yourself lately? You've been through hell Steve."
"Danny we both know physical scars heal, but the mental ones, the emotional ones...those take time."
Danny shook his head in agreement, knowing that him and Steve both had a lot of mental and emotional scars that they would have to work through.
As Danny was about to say something they heard a knock on the door and both men turned their heads as Dr. Connor walked in.
"Danny, it's nice to see you back next to your partner," Dr. Connor smiled as he walked over to the foot of the bed.
"Yeah, it's nice to be back too," he looked at Steve and Steve smiled.
Dr. Connor smiled and looked from Danny to Steve.
"How are you feeling Commander?"
"Good, a lot better actually, head hurts a bit and my ribs and back are a little sore, but I feel pretty good compared to the last few days."
"Good, the pain you're feeling is completely normal, and it actually looks like we'll most likely be able to discharge you in a few days. We have a few tests to run in the next couple days but if all goes well and you don't have any setbacks, you'll be able to go home on one condition."
"Anything!" Steve was itching to get out of the hospital bed; he had never been good at being a patient.
"Someone needs to be with you at all times for the first week at least."
"Done. He'll stay with me," Danny spoke up before Steve even had a chance to argue with the doctor.
"I had a feeling you would say that Detective," Dr. Connor smiled.
"But Danny all my stuff is at home, I don't want to pack everything up," Steve was so close to whining it almost made Danny laugh.
"Fine, you Neanderthal, I'll move in with you for the week, not like I haven't stayed there before."
Steve smiled. To his surprise he was actually glad that the doctor had ordered this, he needed time with Danny, they still had a lot to talk about, like Danny arresting Matt.
"Great! If all goes well, you guys can be out of here first thing Monday morning."
"Thanks doc," Steve smiled as Dr. Connor headed towards the door.
Danny looked at Steve, "Well, looks like we'll have plenty of time to heal those scars huh," referring to the mental and emotional scars Steve had mentioned right before the doctor had walked in.
Steve smiled, "Yeah, looks like it."
Dr. Connor saw the exchange between the two partners and knew that he had done the right thing. Steve didn't really need someone to be with him at all times for a week straight, but when he had walked into the room and saw that Danny was back he knew that the two of them needed, and deserved, some quality time outside of the hospital. He knew that Steve wasn't the type to ask for help so he just nudged them in the right direction knowing that Danny would take the bait.
He smiled as he turned around and left the room; Steve and Danny were going to be back to their normal selves in no time, he would bet his life on it.