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20 April 2013 @ 10:33 am
The Writing on the Wall 3/3  
Title: The Writing on the Wall part 3/3
Written for: stevedannoslash Spring Fling 2013
Rating: R (Pre-slash Steve/Danny)
Words: ~16,000 (yes, it got out of control, as usual.)
Warnings/Spoilers: Deals with what could be considered domestic abuse. Please see the prompt for more information about the content. No spoilers.
Summary: In retrospect, Danny knew he should have paid attention to the writing on the wall. But he refused to see what was happening to his best friend until the proof was impossible to ignore.
Author's note: Thousand thanks to kaige68 for proofing and for handholding. Her patience and reliability are the reasons this story is seeing the light of day. Thanks also to mcdanno_isa for the amazing cheerleading!
Prompt: (posted anonymously): Abused Steve! Steve shows up to work one day sporting a massive black eye, or a busted lip. The team wouldn't think anything of it, maybe Steve getting hurt during night maneuvers, but something about Steve's demeanor raises Danny's suspicions. As Danny digs deeper into the matter discreetly, his horrified by what he finds out is happening to the man he is secretly in love with.

I tried to adhere to the prompt but my muses took a bit of a left turn. I hope this works for the person who left the excellent prompt.

Part 3
part 2
part 1
Also posted on A03.

~o0o0o0o~

Steve took a deep breath and finally left the car, squaring his shoulders as well as he could. He followed Danny into the building and down the short corridor to the suite of offices occupied by his doctor. Danny hung back as Steve spoke briefly to the receptionist who nodded and asked Steve to have a seat. Steve found a couple of chairs somewhat isolated from the main waiting area, the handful of people waiting paying them no attention. He’d left the ice in the car, Danny not bothering to insist. Getting him inside was the important thing.

Danny talked quietly to Steve, keeping up the running commentary he’d started in the car. At one point, he described the outfit that one of the men in the waiting area was wearing, feeling only slightly guilty about mocking his orange pants and the awful lime green shirt he was wearing. “I mean, seriously. Is he completely colorblind? Does he not own a mirror? How could anyone leave the house wearing that? Even here,” Danny said. He glanced over at Steve when he huffed a low laugh.

“Don’t make me laugh. It hurts too much,” Steve admitted, wrapping an arm around his ribs.

“I’m sorry, babe,” Danny said, resting a warm hand on his shoulder. “What is his name?”

“Don Maxwell,” Steve said very quietly.

“Is he a SEAL?”

Steve nodded. “We had a couple of missions together. He has a temper.”

“I figured that out. He won’t be able to use it on anyone else,” Danny promised.

“I should have told you,” Steve whispered.

“That’s not important right now, babe. We’ll talk about it when you’re ready,” Danny assured him.

Steve nodded, giving a small start when the nurse called his name. He reluctantly stood up and with a last glance at Danny, disappeared behind the wooden door.

Danny went to the parking lot, taking out his cell phone. His first call was to Kono and Chin. “I’m not exactly sure of everything that happened. But we’re going to Pearl from here to press charges.”

“Is he going to be okay?” Kono asked, her fear and love coming through.

“Physically, he’s bruised. He may have dislocated his shoulder. His right eye is swollen shut,” Danny said.

“Was he sexually assaulted?” Chin asked as evenly as he could.

“He said he wasn’t. I think I believe him,” Danny said. “I made him take a shower before we came. I know I should have waited but….”

“Surely he’d tell you the truth,” Kono said.

“I’m pretty sure he did. We won’t be in tomorrow. I’ll keep you posted about Thursday.”

“I’ll call the Governor,” Chin said. “I’ll let him know you’ll be out tomorrow and Thursday. You’re both going to need some time.”

“All right,” Danny agreed. “Do you know who we have to talk to at Pearl?”

Chin looked up the information, fairly sure he had the right name. He gave the information to Danny who said he’d call.

His next call was to Rachel, to tell her that Steve was going through some stuff and Grace was one of the surest cures on his road to recovery. She naturally agreed that Grace could spend the night with them and as Wednesday was a school holiday, Grace should spend the entire day at Steve’s house.

“Thanks, Rachel. It will help,” Danny said.

“Please let me know if there is anything I can do,” Rachel said. “For either of you.”

“I may take you up on that,” Danny said, sounding tired to his own ears.

“Give Steven my love,” she said before disconnecting.

Danny used the information he’d gotten from Chin to call Pearl, connecting with the right office. He explained in brief who he was and what he thought had occurred. The Commander to whom he spoke said he and Steve should come directly to his office as soon as they could.

Danny had just come back inside to the waiting area when one of the nurses approached him.

“Detective Williams?” she asked gently.

“Yes,” Danny said, the bottom of his stomach dropping out.

“Doctor McKinley would like to have a word with you,” she said kindly.

Danny nodded and numbly followed her. She led him into an office with a huge wooden desk, every inch of which was covered with files. It didn’t take but a minute until Dr. McKinley entered, looking worried.

“I examined Steve,” the doctor said with no preliminaries. “He was reluctant to tell me how he was injured.”

“He would be,” Danny said, watching the doctor who was sitting in the chair next to Danny.

“He was beaten, wasn’t he?” Dr. McKinley asked.

“Yes sir,” Danny had to confirm.

“But it wasn’t work related. If it were, he’d admit it to me.”

“It wasn’t,” Danny said.

“That’s what I was afraid of. You’re going to convince him to press charges?”

“Yes sir,” Danny said. “I told him he has no choice.”

“Good. The officials will require a copy of my report,” the doctor said. “You’ll need to convince Steve to sign the waiver.”

“I will,” Danny assured him. “How is he?”

“I had to give him a shot of cortisone in his right shoulder. It’s been bothering him since North Korea although he won’t admit it. Here is a prescription for pain medication. You may have to hide in his pudding but please make sure he takes it for at least the next two to three days. His body is fighting to heal and it needs the help.”

“Okay,” Danny agreed, accepting the slip of paper. “Is there anything else I need to know?”

“He’s lost nearly 15 pounds,” the doctor said, letting that information hang in the air between them.

“Oh,” Danny said. “I didn’t think it was that much.”

“It’s understandable under the circumstances that he would have lost weight. Try to get him to eat.”

“I will. I promised him my mother’s minestrone soup,” Danny said.

“Excellent,” the doctor said. “Here is the name of a counselor who specializes in survivors of this sort of abuse. It won’t be easy to convince him to go but I trust you will do everything you can.”

“I will,” Danny confirmed. “I’ll mention it to the Governor if it comes to that.”

“He also takes the partners of abuse victims,” the doctor said, the words loaded with meaning.

“We aren’t that sort of partner,” Danny said softly.

“You are his closest friend, Danny. You need help dealing with it as surely as he does.”

Danny nodded reluctantly, looking at the referral.

“You aren’t to blame for what has happened,” Dr. McKinley said, reading Danny’s mind. “Any more than Steve is to blame.”

“I should have known,” Danny said, guilt weighing down his words. In retrospect it was so obvious. How had Danny missed the signs? The very signs he was trained to see in others. But that training didn’t prepare him to see it in his best friend. He supposed he hadn’t wanted to see what was so clearly in front of him, admit that Steve was as vulnerable as the next person.

Dr. McKinley shook his head. “Steve is proud and stubborn and… well, I don’t need to tell you. You aren’t to blame and taking on guilt that is not yours will not help Steve.”

Danny took a deep breath and nodded. “You think I’d be better prepared for this.”

“Helping others through it is much different from going through it yourself. I know you know that,” Dr. McKinley said. The doctor reached over onto his desk for a business card, turning it face down before writing on it. “This is my cell phone number. I want you to promise that you will call me if you or Steve need me. Any time. I’ve known the McGarretts since before the kids were born, before being a doctor was even an idea in my head. This situation is an outrage but at least Steve has you to help him heal.”

“Thank you,” Danny said, nearly overwhelmed by the older man’s kindness and consideration.

“We better go collect Steve before he decides to walk home,” Dr. McKinley said with a knowing smile.

“You’re right about that,” Danny said, following the doctor down the hallway. Dr. McKinley left Danny at the correct door, Danny knocking and opening it at the same time. “Hey babe.”

“Hey,” Steve said from where he was sitting in the single chair. He had on his boots but they remained unlaced. He was frowning down at them as though they had betrayed him.

“Shoes too far away, huh?” Danny asked, kneeling in front of him to secure his laces.

“Yeah,” Steve agreed, watching Danny tie his boots.

“What did the doctor say?” Danny asked. He’d tell Steve about his conversation but not just yet. He needed to know what Steve was thinking first.

“I dislocated my shoulder a couple days ago,” Steve said. “There is residual inflammation. The cortisone shot will help.”

“And the bruising?”

“It’s not serious,” Steve said.

“You need to sign a release so that Dr. McKinley can share your record with Pearl,” Danny said, a warm hand on Steve’s knee.

Steve took a deep breath before slowly nodding. “You talked to him?”

“I did,” Danny said. “He wanted to make sure I knew what to expect. He gave me your prescription for pain meds. And he gave me the number for a counselor.”

“I can’t,” Steve said, shaking his head.

“We’ll discuss it,” Danny said, buttoning Steve’s shirt for him. “You ready to go?”

Steve slowly and painfully left the chair, keeping one hand on the back until he was sure his feet were under him. He stood still for a moment before nodding and following Danny out of the exam room. “I need to pay,” Steve said when Danny went straight to the front entrance.

“I took care of it,” Danny assured him, guiding him out with a hand on his lower back. “They’ll file with our insurance for the rest.”

Steve nodded, entering the car when Danny had the door open. “This is so stupid,” Steve said, looking out his window.

“What’s that?” Danny asked as he pulled out of the lot.

“I’ve been shot, stabbed, practically blown up. None of that was as hard,” Steve admitted.

“Those were confined to the physical,” Danny said. “This is emotional damage to go with the physical. That’s why you need to call the counselor.”

“I go, the Governor finds out and fires me,” Steve said in a hard voice.

“We didn’t know Chin was seeing a grief counselor. You are his direct supervisor. There is no reason for the Governor to find out. You and I will be the only ones who know.”

“Chin and Kono,” Steve said. “You tell them?”

“Bits and pieces. Chin is calling the Governor to let him know we won’t be in tomorrow or Thursday.” Danny held up one had when Steve started to protest. “Doctor’s orders. He will call the Governor if you try to go to work before Friday.”

Steve sighed softly but did not respond.

“And guess who has a day off from school tomorrow? Miss Grace-Face herself. I have secured her mother’s permission to have her the entire day. I can’t think of anything that will help you heal faster than the presence of my extremely beautiful and utterly perfect daughter. That and my mother’s minestrone and you’ll be out tipping cows in no time.”

“Tipping cows?” Steve said with an adorably confused face.

Danny waved it away with a laugh.

“You told Rachel?” Steve asked, torn between anger and gratitude.

“Only that you had been injured. Not that it was much of a surprise to her. She asked that I give you her love. And you are welcome to it. It’s like the Trojan horse of affection.”

“I have no idea what that means,” Steve said.

“That’s because you were never married to her. You lucky bastard,” Danny said. He kept up a steady stream of words as he drove them to Pearl, Steve sinking further and further into dark and brooding silence the closer they got. Danny told the guard on duty who they were coming to visit and were waved directly in.

It took a few minutes for Danny to coax Steve out of the car and into the building but as soon as Steve stepped into headquarters, he took on the mantle of Lieutenant Commander. Danny had mixed emotions about the return of the tin-soldier but he couldn’t fault Steve’s reaction. Although Danny tried to argue, Steve insisted he wait in the reception area as Steve talked to the Commander alone.

Danny had read the latest Sports Illustrated cover to cover by the time Steve returned. He looked drained but with an air of satisfaction about him. He nodded to Danny who automatically followed him back out to the car.

“They’re arresting him as we speak,” Steve said after Danny had the car back on the road.

“Good,” Danny said with a nod.

“They suspected him of abusive behavior but no one would press charges. The Commander thanked me for…well… you know.”

“I can imagine,” Danny said. “What happens now?”

“He will face a court martial. I’ll be called to testify. If he’s convicted, he’ll be remanded to Leavenworth,” Steve said.

“It’s what he deserves,” Danny said.

“I guess,” Steve said quietly.

“How long have you known him?” Danny asked, hoping the question wasn’t coming too soon.

“A long time. He’s always flirted with… you know. Even before DADT was repealed, it was pretty clear he played for both teams.”

“He’s here on leave?” Danny asked.

“Temporary assignment,” Steve said, glancing over at Danny before turning to look out his window. “I’m really sorry.”

“You have no reason to be, babe. We’re going to get through this,” Danny said. If it sounded like a promise, he wasn’t going to regret it. “Do you want to come with me to pick up Miss Gracie? Or do I need to take you directly home?”

“Grace,” Steve said with a pained smile.

“You got it,” Danny agreed, taking the exit toward Rachel’s house. It didn’t take especially long to arrive at the house, Danny pulling into the driveway. They were barely out of the car when Grace came sprinting out toward them, Danny catching her easily. “Hey Monkey,” Danny said, kissing her noisily.

“Hey Danno. Hey Uncle Steve,” she said brightly, smiling over at Steve. “I’m staying at your house tonight.”

“You sure are,” Steve agreed with a smile just for her. “You have your clothes?”

“Uh huh,” Grace agreed, turning to show Steve her princess backpack. “I have some movies too.”

“Good,” Steve said. “We need more Disney movies.”

Grace giggled at that, getting into the backseat when Danny had put her down and the door open.

“You buckled in?” Danny asked, looking over his shoulder.

“I’m ready,” Grace said.

Danny nodded in agreement, checking silently with Steve before pulling back into the street. Grace regaled them with everything she had done since the last time they’d seen her. Steve looked a little breathless from all of it, Danny smiling at his reaction.

“All right, Monkey,” Danny said as he was opening the front door. “I have to go to the grocery store. You’re in charge. Steve needs to rest. Not swim. Not run. Rest,” Danny said, pointing at Steve in emphasis.

“Okay, Danno. I’ll make sure he stays put,” Grace said, channeling her mother. Steve rubbed the back of his hand over his mouth to disguise his laugh.

“I know you will,” Danny said with a serious nod. “I’ll be gone for about an hour. You two behave.”

“Yes, Danno,” they said together, giggling at their own cleverness. Steve deliberately sat on the couch, his feet on the coffee table. “We’ll be right here.”

“Good,” Danny said. “You want something to drink?”

“I’ll get us some tea,” Grace said.

“Call if you need me,” Danny said, impulsively kissing Steve on the head after kissing Grace, then leaving the house. His retreat meant he missed Steve’s pleased expression although he did feel his eyes following him until he was on the other side of the door.

~0~

Danny was on his way back to the house when Grace called. “Hey Monkey,” he said as he always did.

“Hey Danno,” she said in a quiet voice. “Uncle Steve is sleeping.”

“All right. Is he inside the house? Warm and safe?”

“Uh huh,” she whispered into the phone. “He’s on the couch. Does he need a blanket?”

“He might,” Danny said. “There’s one on the back of the couch, right?”

“Uh huh,” she repeated. “It’s too small to cover all of him.”

“That’s all right. Put it over his legs. If his arms get cold, he’ll pull it up.”

“Okay,” she acknowledged. Danny could hear her moving, the phone no doubt laying on the table. “Okay.”

“Good. I’ll be there in 5 minutes,” he promised.

“Okay,” she said. “Should I turn off the movie?”

“No, baby. He went to sleep with it on so it’s not bothering him.”

“Okay.”

“Thank you for letting me know,” Danny said, a smile in his voice.

“Is he going to be okay, Danno?”

“Is he going to be okay,” Danny repeated with a laugh. “He’s Uncle Steve. Of course he’s going to be okay. Especially with you helping him.”

“Okay,” she repeated, sounding more convinced.

“Do you want to go swimming when I get there?”

“We can’t leave Uncle Steve,” she said, nearly scandalized by the idea of it.

“All right, baby,” he said with a smile. “I’ll be there in just a minute.”

“Bye,” she said, disconnecting.

Danny had to smile at the perfection that resulted from his far-from-perfect marriage. Grace was his angel on Earth and he knew better than to ever take that for granted.

He quietly entered the house, the bags from the grocery store in his hands. Grace put a finger over her lips, reminding him that he needed to be quiet to avoid waking Uncle Steve. He nodded and went directly into the kitchen to put the groceries away. He was still working on it when Grace came into the kitchen.

“Hey, Monkey,” he said, kissing her head. “You doing okay?”

“Uh huh. I think Uncle Steve is having a bad dream,” she said, chewing on her bottom lip. Danny listened carefully, hearing the signs that confirmed her guess.

“Let’s go tell him we’re here for him. That will help,” Danny said, taking Grace’s hand to go back to the living room with her. Steve was talking and shaking his head.

“No…no…that’s not it…no….”

“Steve,” Danny said, sitting on the coffee table to face him but not close enough that Steve could reach him. He stationed Grace on the opposite side of the table, just in case the worst happened. “Steve, babe. You’re having a bad dream. Wake up for us.”

“That’s not…no…what?” He wasn’t talking to them but rather addressing the demons in his sleep. He was wrestling with the blanket, trying to subdue it. “Stop…no…stop.”

“Steve,” Danny said more sharply, finally waking him with a start. “It’s okay, babe. You were having a bad dream. Gracie and I are here.”

“Danny,” Steve sighed, focusing on him before turning to smile weakly at Grace. “I’m sorry I scared you.”

She shook her head, sitting on the couch in the curve made by his drawn up knees. “I wasn’t scared. You’d never hurt me,” she said. Her words were so certain and so firm, Steve had no choice but agree.

“No, I wouldn’t,” he said, reaching up for her. She allowed him to pull her down so she was laying stretched out in front of him, the blanket over their legs.

“We’re okay, Danno. You can put the groceries away,” Grace said from the cocoon of Steve’s arms.

“So I see,” Danny said with a smile. “I’ll be in the kitchen if you need me.”

He got twin nods of approval before he went back to the kitchen. Once all the groceries were put away, he started the nearly-world famous Williams minestrone.

“Danno,” Grace called after he’d been working for half an hour.

“Yes, my lady,” he said when he appeared in the living room. Grace and Steve were still stretched out on the couch, watching for him. Steve was smiling so that Grace couldn’t see.

“The movie finished. We need a new one,” she said as though it was the most natural thing in the world.

“So I see,” Danny said, looking over at the TV with the boring credits. “What does my lady wish to watch next?”

“It’s Uncle Steve’s turn to pick,” Grace said, looking over her shoulder at him.

“Hmmm…that’s a tough one,” Steve said. “Is there something with dogs in it?”

“Dogs,” Danny said, pretending to consider it. “Here’s one. Goofy’s Big Adventure. Does that suit my lady, my lord?”

“You want to watch it?” Grace asked Steve.

“Is Goofy really a dog?” Steve asked with a frown.

“Uncle Steve,” Grace said with a world of exasperation. “Of course he’s a dog.”

“All right. Goofy’s Big Adventure it is,” Steve confirmed.

Danny tried very hard not to laugh as he put it on to play, checking to see if there was anything more required of him. He was summarily dismissed with all assurances that he would be notified when they next required him. He quickly returned without being summoned, carrying two fresh glasses of ice tea. He put down Grace’s within easy reach, offering Steve the second glass. In his hand was also a pain pill, Steve frowning at it. Danny simply stared at him until Steve accepted it, swallowing it under Danny’s watchful eye. After kissing them both on the head, he returned to the kitchen.

As soon as the minestrone was done, he dished out three bowls, taking them into the living room on a tray and setting them on the coffee table. It didn’t take long for all three bowls to be emptied, Steve asking for a second helping which Danny was more than happy to get for him.

After they finished watching one more movie following Goofy’s Big Adventure, Danny announced that it was bed time for all Monkeys and all SEALs. The Monkey and the SEAL laughed at him but dutifully went up the stairs, Danny following. He made sure Grace brushed her teeth and had on her pajamas before kissing her and tucking her in.

He peeped into Steve’s bedroom, finding him in the middle of changing the sheets. Danny wordlessly helped him, not needing to ask the reason.

Steve climbed between the fresh sheets, his left eye barely open. His right was a dark, angry purple, still swollen completely shut.

“Let me know if you need me,” Danny said, turning on the bedside lamp before turning off the overhead light.

“You could stay,” Steve said softly.

“Babe,” Danny said.

“Just to sleep, Danno,” Steve said. “Please.”

“Do you think that’s a good idea?” Danny asked from the safe distance by the door.

“Yes. Please,” he repeated.

It was the second please that did Danny in. “All right,” he sighed. “Let the record show that I stated this was a bad idea.”

“So noted,” Steve agreed. “There are clean tee shirts in the top drawer.”

Danny retrieved one before going to the bathroom. He wasn’t at all surprised that Steve had left out a new toothbrush, still in the wrapper. Once he had traded his clothes for Steve’s tee shirt, he returned to the bedroom, Steve watching the door, his hands full of the sheet.

“I’m right here,” Danny assured him. Without any fuss, he entered the bed to lay beside Steve, turning his head to study him. “Do you need another pain pill?”

“Not yet,” Steve said, turning onto his left side to look over at Danny. “Thank you. Not just for staying but…for all of it.”

“You don’t have to thank me. It’s what friends do,” Danny assured him.

Steve closed his eye, relaxing slightly. “Grace okay?”

“She’s perfect,” Danny said with a smile. “Worried about you.”

“I’m sorry.”

“You don’t need to be. Her heart is as big as the outdoors,” Danny said.

“Like her father,” Steve said.

“I guess,” Danny said with a shrug.

“It’s true. You never give yourself enough credit,” Steve said softly.

“Pot. Kettle,” Danny said with a smile.

Steve shook his head at that.

“Go to sleep, you goof,” Danny said, affection in his words.

“You too,” Steve said, relaxing the rest of the way.

Danny’s paternal instinct required he stay awake until he was sure Steve was actually asleep. It didn’t take as long as Danny expected and once Steve’s breathing evened out, Danny allowed sleep to overtake him as well.

~0~

Danny didn’t know how long he’d slept but it didn’t feel like long enough. He knew Steve was watching him and wasn’t surprised to find the room nearly pitch black when he opened his eyes.

“Hey,” he said when he’d turned on his side to face Steve.

“Hey,” Steve whispered.

“Let me get you a pain pill,” Danny requested. He felt more than saw Steve nod and eased out of bed. He didn’t bother turning on any of the lights, the nightlight in the bathroom bright enough for him to find the bottle. He returned to the bedroom with a pill and a glass of water, sitting on Steve’s side of the bed to hand them to him. Steve didn’t hesitate to swallow the pill, draining the glass.

“You need more water?” Danny asked, smoothing down a few of the tufts of dark hair that were standing straight up from Steve’s head.

“No,” Steve said, laying down. “Come back to bed.”

Danny nodded, placing the glass on the dresser before returning to bed. Steve was facing him, both eyes closed. If it hadn’t been so dark, Danny would have been sure that the faint lines down Steve’s cheeks were tears.

“I’m so sorry this happened,” Steve said quietly.

“Me too, babe,” Danny said, sensing that Steve needed to talk. He tried to sound sympathetic and encouraging. It wasn’t going to be easy for either of them but the dark would help Steve tell him all of it, if that’s what he wanted.

“We called him Bullseye,” Steve said into the dark. “Whatever he went after, he got. Snipers, targets, extractions. Women. Men. He was one of the best of the best.” He stopped, taking a deep breath and searching for Danny’s hand. When their fingers were entwined, Steve continued in the same soft voice. “He’d been at Pearl for a week when he called me. Said we should have dinner. Catch up. I knew it was a bad idea but Catherine had…well. That’s not a good excuse for poor judgment. We had dinner and some drinks, went our separate ways. He called me a couple of days later, telling me how much he enjoyed seeing me and we should do it again. I invited him over. Offered to make him dinner – give him a home cooked meal. He brought beer. We ate, had a few laughs, talked about people we knew in common. The next day was when we were in the fire fight down at the harbor.”

Steve knew he didn’t have to tell Danny which one. It had been a clusterfuck, a near miracle that none of them had been injured, or worse, killed. The report from HPD was flawed, their informant had flat-out lied, SWAT arrived 45 minutes after they were expected.

“You went to Grace’s play about recycling. I’d just gotten out of the shower when he rang the doorbell, two six-packs in his hand. He’d seen the reports on TV and thought I could use some company. I didn’t really need…him….” Steve’s voice trailed off, Danny waiting patiently. He could imagine how Steve was feeling, still buzzing from the adrenaline high. The cousins had a wedding rehearsal they were already late getting to. Danny was not going to disappoint Grace. That left Steve to his own devices, never the best case scenario after he’d come so close to losing the entire team.

“He said we’d drink a couple of beers until I was on a more even keel. I agreed, mostly so he wouldn’t linger. One thing led to another and before I could stop him, he was kissing me. Like he meant business. I thought about stopping him, but…he’s called Bullseye for a reason.”

“Did he force you?” Danny asked very gently.

“No. Persuaded me,” Steve said. “I was missing you. And Catherine. Feeling sorry for myself. I thought he was what I needed. To take the edge off. To fill up some of the spaces.”

“I’m sorry,” Danny felt compelled to say.

“You aren’t to blame, Danno. None of this. None of it is your fault. You hold no responsibility. My choices were mine,” Steve said firmly.

“I know. But….”

“There is no but,” Steve told him. “I enjoyed going to bed with him. It was an outlet. And he’s… well… he knows what he’s doing.”

“Have you slept with other men?” Danny said.

“Yes,” Steve whispered. “Does that surprise you?”

“It would surprise me more if you hadn’t,” Danny said.

“Hmm…” Steve responded, closing his left eye. “He started coming over after work. A couple of times when I got home, he was already inside. I didn’t give him a key or the code, but… well….”

“I can imagine,” Danny said.

“It was good. At first. He was an outlet. Then things shifted, changed. He started demanding that I do as I was told. I guess all those years in the Navy worked to my disservice this time. I obeyed,” Steve admitted softly.

“Do you want to tell me?” Danny asked, leaving the decision entirely to Steve. He wasn’t going to pry nor was he going to shy away from the truth if Steve needed to share it.

“You can imagine. You’ve seen the bruises,” Steve said. “Most of them were not intentional. Happened while we were…doing it. Some… are….”

“Like your eye,” Danny said.

Steve nodded. “I was still angry, at myself, about the fight you and I had. When I got home, I tried to tell him. How much it hurt me that we had fought. But he hated it when I mentioned you. ‘Danny, Danny, Danny. That’s all you ever talk about,’ he said. I made an effort not to bring you up but…” Steve shrugged.

“We are married after all,” Danny teased, Steve huffing a laugh.

“I asked him how I had missed your phone calls. I never turn off my phone. He’d turned it off when he got here Friday night and didn’t tell me. If the Governor had called. Or something had happened to you.” Steve’s voice broke, silence filling the room.

“Nothing happened to me, babe. I’m right here. I’m fine. Grace is fine. You know she’s forgiven you.”

Steve nodded, taking another cleansing breath. “I told him he cannot turn off my phone. He said it was because I wanted to talk to you.”

“How can someone in the service not understand the basics of being on call 24 hours a day?” Danny asked softly.

“I know,” Steve said. “He tried to tell me I deserved some time off, time away from everything. And everyone.”

“Me mostly,” Danny said.

“I think…yeah. He was jealous. But that’s…ridiculous. I mean. You’re my best friend. I would never let anything change that.”

“I know that, babe,” Danny assured him.

“He asked me if you are a good fuck,” Steve admitted. “I’m pretty sure he didn’t believe me when I said I had no idea. I was afraid he’d find out where you live.”

“I have a gun. I would have used it. I threatened him when I came in and found him here. I’m sorry now I didn’t shoot him.”

“Killing’s too good for him,” Steve said. “He deserves prison.”

“I agree,” Danny said, watching Steve struggle to stay awake. “Go to sleep. I’ll be right here when you wake up.”

“I’m sorry,” Steve whispered as he drifted off, the two words nearly enough to shatter Danny’s heart.

Danny would have liked to fall asleep after he was sure Steve had succumbed but there were too many thoughts chasing around in a dizzying circle. He should have seen the writing on the wall. It was there the entire time, if he’d taken the trouble to read it. Was it his own wounded pride that had made him ignore those warning signs? Was it that he didn’t want to see them, to have confirmation that Steve wasn’t an invincible Super SEAL after all?

Steve said he bore no responsibility for what had occurred.

On the one hand, Danny believed that. On the other hand, the hand that held onto Steve’s as he slept, Danny thought he should have been brave enough or smart enough to toss Steve the rope when he suspected he was drowning. Could he have rescued Steve when Steve didn’t know he was in need of it? Danny had seen enough cases of domestic violence to know that only the victim could rescue themselves. They needed help to get out of the situation, but no one was going to convince them to leave until they decided for themselves. That knowledge helped give Danny some peace of mind but he still felt like there was more he should have done.

The signs had been there the entire time, neon bright it’s out of control. Danny couldn’t help but berate himself for ignoring that huge, flashing message.

~o~

The next morning, Danny woke when Grace slowly opened the door to the bedroom, peeking around to see if he was there.

“Hey Monkey,” Danny whispered, leaving the bed to cross over to her.

“Uncle Steve still asleep?” she asked quietly.

“Yeah. We’ll let him wake up when he’s ready,” he said, guiding her out into the hallway. “I need to visit the bathroom then I’ll come down and make us breakfast.”

“Okay,” Grace agreed, going down to the living room. Danny could hear her turning on the TV to search for the cartoon network.

It didn’t take him long to go down into the kitchen to put on the coffee.

“Danno,” Grace said when she joined him.

“Yeah baby?” Danny asked, turning from the window to smile at her.

“Did Uncle Steve really get hurt at work?” she asked, her brown eyes wide and worried.

“Why are you asking?” Danny responded, wondering where this question had come from.

“Usually when he’s hurt, you are too,” Grace pointed out. “He looks like Andy did after Jason punched him on the playground. Did someone punch Uncle Steve?”

Danny sighed quietly. His daughter was sometimes too smart for his peace of mind. “Yes, baby, someone hit Uncle Steve.”

“Why?”

“It’s complicated. It was someone who was angry.”

“Uncle Steve shouldn’t be hit like that,” she said with a frown of disapproval.

“No, he shouldn’t. But the important thing is that he’s going to be okay,” he assured her.

“Did he have bad dreams last night? Is that why you slept with him?”

“He didn’t have bad dreams,” Danny said. “And that is why I slept with him. To help fight them off.”

“Good,” she said in approval, turning to go back to her cartoons. He sighed again, hoping that their chat was enough to satisfy her natural curiosity. “Uncle Steve,” he heard her chirp. “Watch cartoons with me.”

“I would love to,” Steve agreed. Danny could hear the smile in his voice.

He went into the living room to find them bundled up on the couch, Grace sitting as close to Steve as she could, his right arm around her. Danny handed her a glass of orange juice and Steve a steaming cup of coffee. “My lady. My lord,” he said with a sweeping bow. “What do you desire for breakfast?”

They both giggled, whispering to each other. “Waffles,” Grace announced with a pleased smile.

“Waffles it is,” Danny agreed, returning to the kitchen. Steve looked better than he had in a while, more light in his eyes. And Danny was relieved that he could see them both, the swelling in his right eye diminishing. “Hey,” he said when Steve came into the kitchen as he was mixing the batter. “How are you doing?”

“Better,” Steve said with a nod. “Thank you for last night. Talking about it seems to have helped.”

“I know you said I’m not to blame,” Danny said quietly, hoping little ears couldn’t pick up the words. “But I should have known.”

“No, Danno. I wouldn’t admit it to myself, much less to you,” Steve said, shaking his head. “I meant it when I said I have no one to blame but myself.”

“I know,” Danny sighed. “You need to take a pain pill.”

“I’m feeling much better,” Steve tried.

“I know you are. I can see it. But Dr. McKinley said you need to take them for a couple of days. To give your body a chance to recharge.”

Steve frowned at that, considering his words of protest. “Half a pill?” he finally bargained.

“Fine,” Danny said, turning to get the small container out of one of the top cabinets. “But if you start to feel overwhelmed, you are to tell me. Immediately. And no triathlons today!”

“Half triathlon?” Steve joked, washing down the half a pill with his coffee.

“Uncle Steve. The best part is starting,” Grace called from the living room.

“You are being summoned,” Danny reminded him with a laugh, pointing toward the door.

“I’m coming, my lady,” Steve called before returning to watch the best part.

~o0o~

Steve looked resplendent in his dress uniform. Danny had on a suit and tie, debating about wearing his Newark uniform. Ultimately he decided a suit was fine.

He had come to Steve’s house to pick him up, not wanting him to go to Pearl alone to testify. It was going to be hard enough to answer the questions of the JAG officer. Danny didn’t want him to be alone as he did it.

“Thanks again for coming,” Steve said as he tied his black shoes.

“I’m just sorry you have to go through this,” Danny said from where he sat on the couch watching.

“I’m prepared. I talked to JAG yesterday. There won’t be any surprises,” Steve assured him, straightening. They had just gotten to Steve’s front door when his phone rang. He frowned when he saw the Pearl exchange, answering before it rang again. “McGarrett…I see. That is surprising…yes, I understand…thank you for informing me.” With that, he hung up, smiling at Danny. It was relieved and bittersweet. “Maxwell changed his plea. I don’t have to testify.”

“He copped to the charges?” Danny asked, somewhat breathless at the news.

“When they showed him the entire list of witnesses, he agreed to change his plea,” Steve confirmed.

“Well,” Danny said, sitting heavily on the couch. “Then it’s really over.”

“Looks that way,” Steve said with a smile.

“You’ll still need to keep your appointments with Dr. E'lpaen,” Danny told him firmly.

“I will. He is helping. But you know that,” Steve said. “Change into jeans. I’ll take you out to breakfast to celebrate.”

“You are on,” Danny agreed, following Steve up. Danny went into the spare bedroom where he was keeping some of his clothes. Most nights he slept at his own place. Some nights, Steve asked him to stay, to help chase away phantoms that emerged in the dark.

Danny was changed first, taking out his phone to call Kono and Chin. He relayed everything he knew, letting them know that since he and Steve already had the day off and nothing was going on at the office, they were going to take advantage of the down time. Chin and Kono agreed that was an excellent idea and they would all go out to celebrate tomorrow night.

“Give Steve a hug for us,” Kono requested.

“I will,” Danny confirmed as Steve came down the steps. “We’ll see you tomorrow.”

“Right,” Chin agreed. Danny could hear the relief in his voice as well.

“Chin and Kono are thrilled,” Danny said with a smile. Steve was wearing white jeans that conformed to his body like they were painted on, his blue tee shirt tight in all the right places. He looked like sex on legs and Danny thought he would finally be able to share those thoughts with Steve.

“Danno,” Steve said sharply.

“Huh?” Danny finally said, focusing on Steve’s face.

“You were a million miles away,” Steve said.

“No, no. I was right here,” Danny said, reaching a tentative hand out to rest it on Steve’s hip.

“Oh yeah?” Steve asked, swaying toward Danny.

“Yeah. Have been for a while. I didn’t want to go where I wasn’t wanted,” Danny said, looking up at Steve for confirmation.

“You are most definitely wanted,” Steve whispered. “I’m damaged goods.”

“No. You are perfect,” Danny whispered back. “And I want to make love to you so badly I can’t stand it.”

“Oh yeah?” Steve asked again.

“Are you okay? I admit I still worry.”

Steve shook his head at that. “I’m damaged but I know what I want. And I know that’s you.”

“Stop calling yourself damaged. That’s my best friend you are insulting.”

Steve had to laugh at those words. “Okay. I’m sorry I insulted your BFF.”

“I forgive you. Just don’t do it again,” Danny requested, looking up at Steve and thinking this is it. This is when I get what I want.

“What do you want?” Steve whispered.

“I’m not really hungry. At least not for food,” Danny said in the same quiet voice.

“That is an idea I fully support,” Steve said with a nod.

“One ground rule,” Danny said, his finger raised and resting on Steve’s chest. “You are to tell me if I hit any of your triggers. If you don’t like something, say so. Honesty – complete and total honesty.”

“I promise,” Steve vowed. “You too. Have you ever been with a man?”

“No. But the idea doesn’t worry me like I thought it might. Because it’s you and only you that I want. You’ll have to drive. But that’s a given anyway.”

Steve laughed, taking him by the hand and pulling him up the stairs. “I have the keys. And no insurance claim will need to be filed.”

“Done. And done,” Danny agreed, laughing in pure delight.
 
 
 
kaige68: Happy Dancekaige68 on April 22nd, 2013 02:27 pm (UTC)
YOU ARE SO FREAKING AWESOME!!!!!