Oct. 24, 2011: So I watched the entire first season a week ago, and this is a one-shot that the plot bunny's been bouncing around inside my skull since then. I wasn't entirely sure how to bring it about, but tonight's episode "Ka Hakaka Maika'i" gave me that opening. This was written quickly, but with love. None of the characters are mine, more's the pity.
Until the moment it wasn't, the day was perfect.
There had been no new cases, giving the five team members the chance to catch up on some backed up paperwork. For once a welcome occupation. There was coffee that morning, courtesy of Danny, and Malasadas, courtesy of Chin. Music filled the office from the radio, and Kono hummed along to all the songs she knew as the day progressed. Lori was regaled at lunchtime and during their afternoon break with tales of Five-0's escapades, with Chin and Kono telling the stories, interspersed with Danny's comments and waving hand motions as he stressed certain points or reenacted memorable moments. In fact, the day of paperwork was going spectacularly well until Danny came to notice that there was a very curious absence to the merriment. His laughter at one of the cousins' tales faded as he glanced back at the glass walled office and the lonely occupant within, bent over the desk with single-minded purpose and efficiency.
That was the moment. The moment when the perfect day was no longer so.
A twinge of sadness and concern tweaked in Danny's chest. This last case had not been easy for him; a divorced father, murdered, whose kid lived with his Mom most of the time? How could it not become personal after that? Steve had checked in with him afterwards, made sure he was okay, showing his support and understanding in a very Steve-way by inviting him over for beers and steaks. They had watched a baseball game on tv and Danny had yelled for the better part of an hour before Steve told him what had happened. Wo Fat. Mokoto's death. Joe's warning. They had briefly discussed what it could all mean before Steve abruptly stopped talking and turned up the volume on the game, his expression closing and the walls going up in his eyes. Normally Danny would have pushed, but there was something… something so indefinably off that he had quieted instead, and then returned to yelling at the tv. If quiet and normal was what his partner needed right then, then quiet and normal it was.
Now however, he wasn't so sure.
The afternoon dragged on to early evening, and Steve called an end to the day. There were smiles and waves and "See you tomorrow" 's, and the offices suddenly grew impossibly quiet.
Danny stood at his shut-down desk, quietly observing his tall partner, watching as Steve returned to his own office with a weary walk, running his hands through his hair and dropping his head. He paused by the wide desk, and then slowly picked up a picture frame. Danny knew what was being looked at. He had seen that photo so many times he could recall every detail.
He knocked gently on the open glass door. Steve's eyes were tired as they lifted and saw him, quickly masked by a small smile and a "Hey."
"Hey." Danny leaned on the door frame, arms crossed. "You okay?"
Steve blinked. "Yeah," he said, rounding his desk and straightening the last folder of papers he'd been working on. "I'm fine. Why?"
Danny chewed his lip. "Really?" He nodded, then lifted one hand in a Danny-like gesture. "You're not thinking about yesterday? 'Bout a boy who lost his dad? 'Bout Wo Fat, or Joe, or Mokoto…"
Steve sighed and closed his eyes. Danny paused. For a moment he thought Steve might fly apart from the sudden coiling and uncoiling of tension, but then Steve opened his eyes and there was so much sadness and weariness there that Danny wondered if he should worry more about Steve 'giving up the ghost' than about spontaneous combustion.
"I just want it to be over, you know?" Steve said quietly. He tossed the folder onto the desk, dropping into his chair. Danny walked in and sat down in the chair across, leaning forward with his elbows on his knees, hands clasped. Steve leaned back, looking at him. "Drunk driver. Accident. I buried my Mom 19 years ago, Danny. I'd made my peace. My Dad was shot because I couldn't deliver what Hesse wanted, and then Victor Hesse went to jail." He closed his eyes and shook his head slightly, the only indication a slight movement of his chin. "Why couldn't it have stayed that simple?" He looked at Danny, as if Danny would have the answer, and then he laughed quietly at some inner thought. "You know, I actually envied that family yesterday."
"You envied them?" Danny's eyebrows rose, and he motioned with his hand. "What… when the boy lost his father, or the part where she lost her husband?"
"Because yesterday we caught the guy who did it, tomorrow they get to bury their dead, and a year from now they will have moved on, and this will be a part of the past."
Danny was quiet. He was beginning to see what his partner was saying; what he meant. And it sucked, but he understood. Understood all too well.
Steve's eyes were beginning to burn now, his hands beginning to move almost as much as Danny's, his voice rising. "Why can't it be that simple, Danny? Every time I thought I could move on something happened to rip it all open again, and now this thing has exploded around me and I'm not sure what we're dealing with anymore! People are being tortured and killed, and I don't know why!"
There was pause of silence where Steve attempted to collect himself. Closing his eyes, running his hands through his hair yet again, breathing in deeply through his nose. Danny didn't say anything, knew that there was nothing he could say that would make this better, because the situation was just as messed up as Steve said it was. Besides, it wasn't even the question of a next step that was on the table here. It was the emotional toll on Steve, the reaction to all that had happened and was happening. For a man of action, someone in control at all times, someone with a protective streak as big as Mt. Everest, this situation was even worse to deal with.
So Danny was silent.
Steve stared at the photo of his father, and then stood, and walked slowly over to the window, rubbing a hand over his face. The golden light of evening shone over him as he stood there, his back tense, and as hard as granite.
Then, in a voice so small he almost didn't catch it, Danny heard: "I just want it to be over."
With his hands shoved in to his pockets, Danny joined him, standing in the light and warmth of the setting sun. He pulled a hand free, and his touch was solid and steady against the back of Steve's shoulder. Glancing at his partner, Danny wasn't sure if he was surprised or not to see a telltale glisten in a trail down the hard cheek.
For a long minute, they just stood there.
"I'm not even sure if I'll know how to… you know, when this is over. It's been with me so long."
Danny did know. With the pain kept fresh for such a long time, how would he even begin to finally mourn and let go? Danny wasn't sure; but he would make sure it happened. He would make sure that Steve would finally, one day, be able to move on.
Tossing his head slightly, Danny squeezed the broad shoulder. "Come on." He said, and smiled slightly. "I'm pretty sure dinner and beers are on me tonight. My turn, right?"
Steve wiped a hand down his face, and then nodded.
Danny was rewarded with a smile.
"You're actually offering to buy me dinner?"
"Hey, never look a gift horse in the mouth, or question good luck when it somehow loses its way to some honest, innocent person and happens to somehow find you." Danny flapped his hand as he strode through the room to the door. "Come on, while the generous mood still graces me."
Danny smiled when he heard the sound of movement and then quick footsteps behind him, passing him on their way out the door, the keys plucked effortlessly from his hand.