When Steve wakes on what should be early Friday morning, he feels dizzy and sick all over again. This time, he can place his surroundings. He’s back at the docks where they tracked Rodriguez’s allies to and he’s lying face-up to the sky, his head throbbing like he’s just been hit with a baseball bat. Which, as he strains to recall, is exactly what happened.
“Steve,” Danny – one of three Danny’s – is saying. “Welcome back to the world of living. I’m telling you, you’re crazy lucky our little friend here is no Babe Ruth and that his swing is about as intimidating as Grace’s football offensive maneuvers.”
Steve groans heavily and rubs at the back of his head as he sits up. “Danny,” he gets out, his throat feeling a bit like something had crawled in there and died.
“Yeah? I’m here.”
“Danny,” is all Steve says again as he reaches out and grasps at Danny’s left hand, fingers searching over his palm and fingers, spanning the width of it and rubbing his thumb over the long, lean lines of his bare fingers. Every single one of them is bare.
“You took a mean hit to the head, boss,” Kono says worriedly as she leans over Danny’s shoulder, both her hands on those broad and steady shoulders. Those steady shoulders that Steve had been gripping onto hard enough to bruise when Danny straddled him and Steve got him off – in a reality Steve made up in his mind.
Like he needs this kind of worry about his mental state.
“Rebecka is safe,” Chin says, snapping his phone shut as he joins the fray and peers down over Kono and Danny – Danny, who is still kneeling over him, who hasn’t loosened Steve’s grip on his hand, who is looking at him with kindness and worry and Steve has never wanted to kiss him more than he does in that moment. “HPD has got her in protective custody and she’s thinking about taking a trip home. Apparently, island life doesn’t suit her.”
“Brilliant woman, that one,” Danny says. “Maybe I should follow her example.”
“Don’t,” Steve says, firmly, tightening his grip on Danny’s hand.
“Okay, ow,” Danny says mildly. “First off, ow. And second, what’s gotten into you? It’s a joke. We joke about things and then we laugh. Calm down, Steve, I’m not going anywhere. Grace is here, I’m not leaving until she does.”
“Don’t,” Steve repeats. “Even then.”
“Okay, I’m thinking maybe you got hit harder than we thought. C’mon, Smooth Dog, let’s get you up to the ambulance and get you all checked out by the nice doctors,” Danny says with a smile, tipping his gaze upwards to squint in Kono’s direction. “I got McGarrett, if you two can deal with the perps.”
“On it,” Chin assures, clapping Danny on the shoulder and prying Kono’s hand off at the same time – which is roughly the same moment in which Chin had noticed that Steve has a laser-like focus on Kono’s hands touching Danny.
There are only two Dannys, now, but Steve is still thinking that’s a bad thing. He tries to sit up and he manages, but it’s too fast because now he feels like he’s about to be sick all over Danny.
“Whoa,” Danny says, steadying Steve by the shoulders. “Okay, Superman, I get that you think that you have a higher-than-average healing rate, but I guarantee that you cannot automatically heal from a concussion that quickly. Let the nice doctors tell you that if you don’t trust me, but the last thing I need is you puking all over me.”
Danny slides his arm around Steve’s torso and brings him to his feet, steadying him as they sway in the direction of the ambulance. Steve feels instantly assured.
Danno’s got him.
They make it to the hospital without issue and Steve even convinces Danny to leave him alone while he gets checked out by the ER doctor. It’s not a relative of Chin’s, but Steve experiences the strangest déjà-vu he’s ever had in his life as he receives the very same diagnosis he got before, except then he was heading back to a full home and a waiting caregiver.
As it stands, he heads to the nurse’s desk and arranges for a room to recuperate in. “So long as I can pick up a few things first,” he says. “My partner will drive,” he adds, jutting a thumb over his shoulder in Danny’s direction.
It’s almost like something’s taken root. It’s almost like Steve is being cautious for a Danny that doesn’t exist outside of a hallucination by doing something so simple as not driving when he’s hurt.
The little voice that resides in his mind (and sounds a little like Mary) taunts him by reminding Steve that the Danny he’s trying to be safe for isn’t so different from the one watching him with a suspicious look. Steve excuses himself to head to the washroom just before they leave, rubbing his fingers over the bump on his head and staring at his reflection in the mirror a minute too long, trying to reconcile who he is with who he’d thought he was.
When he can’t merge the two, he gives up and heads back out to the hall to find Danny waiting for him. Steve nods, just the once, in the direction of the parking garage. “You parked up there?”
“Nah, I ran home while you were getting checked out,” Danny says, gesturing to the front doors. “Flashed my badge and told them Steve McGarrett authorized me to park in the emergency lane.”
“You’re abusing your privileges,” Steve says, but he can’t help but be amused at the same time as he feels a tightening in his chest. Danny is doing this for him. This Danny and the other Danny are not that far apart.
Danny just grins at him, like the sun parting through the clouds on a rainy day. “What can I say, I’m learning from your example.” The tightness refuses to vanish and Steve tries not to stare.
Instead, he goes through the motions. He feels a bit ginger again, like all those days of healing never happened. He didn’t miss the heavy ache in his head and now that it’s back, he wants to drug it gone once more.
It’s about halfway through the drive that Steve notices that Danny’s backseat is stuffed to the brim.
Steve spends the entire trip back to his place staring at Danny and the bags in the backseat in turns. It’s admittedly slightly blurry, but he’s pretty sure that he agreed to twenty-four hour supervision in the hospital, but he’s in Danny’s car and they’re going to Steve’s place and Danny has packed the mother of all overnight bags.
“Okay,” Steve bites, when he can’t take it anymore. “I told them I’d check myself in. Why have you packed for the weekend?”
“And after you were finished being a big martyr, I told the doctor I’d give you at-home care so you don’t contribute to the stress-rates of at least a dozen nice nurses and perfectly good doctors,” Danny replies almost instantly, clutching the wheel and watching the road. He almost looks like he’s relishing getting the chance to drive his car again. “Instead, you got me, babe.”
Something hot and heavy settles in Steve’s chest and he doesn’t think it has anything to do with the physical injury.
He’s just spent almost a week in his own head living out some misguided fantasy. It had to be that, or was it something else? His grandparents always taught him to respect culture and tradition, to never spit on lore and legend, but it’s crazy to think that Danny’s off-the-cuff wish in front of Rebecka could be tied to a hallucinatory dream he had while passed out.
Steve’s sticking by that, lest rationality fails him and he really has no idea what to think of the whole thing.
What Danny is saying finally catches up to him and Steve immediately realizes the severity of this bad idea.
“No, you can’t stay with me.” Steve is coping with memories of some alternate time in his life in which he had really felt happy and things hadn’t even been that different. Now, Danny is just going to keep plowing forward like he can force his hand back into that, even if he doesn’t have the slightest idea that it happened. “Danny, just drop me off at home and call a nurse.”
“You got Nurse Williams. Deal,” Danny says, starting to sound really tetchy.
Steve tightens his fist into a frustrated ball, but lets it go when he knows from experience that Danny’s like a dog with a bone and the chances of him giving this up are slim to none. He releases the tension in his fist and sighs heavily.
“Is that you letting it go?”
“Dann-yes, this is me letting it go,” Steve agrees, interrupting Danny before he can go on too much long. “Just drive, okay?” he says bluntly.
It’s not far before they arrive at Steve’s house and he even stubbornly helps Danny with the bags, tersely explaining that a bump to his head does not mean all the functioning muscles in his arms and legs are out of commission.
“I will knock you on the head one more time,” Danny threatens when Steve tries to carry all of them. “Really,” he goes on, a snide tone in his voice. “I will just beat you senseless and tie you down to the bed until you recuperate from this lifelong insanity you seem to be suffering from.”
Steve really wishes that his body didn’t find it promising to imagine Danny tying him down and having his way with him. He’s fairly sure that Danny doesn’t mean it in that way.
He puts his mind to ignoring it and sets Danny’s things in the guest room, taking his time in walking through the house, cataloguing each difference for the second time in a week. He isn’t sure, yet, whether or not to tell Danny about what happened. If he’s going to tell anyone, it’ll be Five-O and it’ll be Danny first, but that’s only if he chooses not to keep it to himself.
He keeps the thought at the back of his mind as he moves from room to room, inspecting each corner with the precision and tactics of an elite Navy SEAL. Everything is methodical and sharp. While he searches, Danny shouts up at him that he’s grilling dinner and Steve is just going to have to live with the results.
It’s the smallest thing that makes Steve falter. It’s when he looks to the mantle and there isn’t a picture of the two of them and Grace and he can only feel as if it’s missing. There’s a part of his life and it’s missing.
“Danny,” Steve calls out, trying to get him back from making dinner. “Can I talk to you for a second?”
He hears swearing in the kitchen, but Danny’s in the living room in seconds, sucking on his thumb.
“What did you do?” Steve asks, vaguely bemused.
“Nothing, your oven is a menace,” is Danny’s instant reply. “What is it, does your head hurt? Are you dizzy? Do you want to go back to the hospital?”
“Danny, breathe,” Steve says, trying to coax calm into his partner, like Danny’s the one that got injured and not Steve. “I’m fine. At least, I think I am.”
“You think you are,” Danny echoes. “That doesn’t inspire the highest of confidences, babe.”
Things like that are what make Steve falter. He can clearly see Danny and sees the lack of a ring. He sees no evidence to support a belief in his being with Danny, but the way they act hasn’t changed except for a distinct lack of a sex life.
And yes, okay, so Steve doesn’t like it.
“When I first got hit, before I came around,” Steve starts to explain very slowly. “I had a brief…experience.”
“Experience?” Danny says. “Are we talking white light here or born again?”
“I’m talking the world was exactly like it was supposed to be except that you and I stopped dancing around the pink elephant that’s sitting between us.” Steve’s not an idiot. He’s caught the way Danny looks at him sometimes. He hears the fondness in his tone, he knows that Danny doesn’t have to keep letting him drive his car.
Steve’s just never seen fit to talk about it because the risk was too high.
The keen tightness in his chest and the itch under his skin is convincing him very quickly that it’s well-worth the risk. “Danny, I woke up and we were married.”
That seems to be funny. It seems to be very funny if the way Danny is practically bent over laughing is any indication.
“I’m glad this is funny for you!” Steve almost shouts, his patience already burning on a short fuse.
Danny rights himself and he’s still grinning like a maniac. “You woke up and we were married. Jesus, McGarrett, what else is new?”
“No, I mean,” Steve says heatedly, taking a deep breath to calm himself down. “I mean, really, actually together. Pictures of you and Grace all over the house, shared bed, rings,” he says. “It was all a crazy hallucination, I know,” he hurries to add, so Danny doesn’t think he’s gone off the deep end. “But it got me to thinking.”
“Are you about to get down on one knee?” Danny asks, deadpan.
Sometimes, Steve wonders how he came to be half in love with this idiot, he really does.
“Danny,” Steve announces with a long look at the man, “I’m surprised my other self hadn’t killed you yet.” Somehow, Danny is grinning broader than before at all this, as if Steve isn’t insulting him to his face, “And you’re lucky that you were good in bed in my head…”
“Because otherwise, I might strangle you. Again.”
“Steven, your hallucinatory state sounds like it was a real party,” Danny says, now with a hefty amount of appreciation inherent in the words. “What exactly were you doing to me in there?” he asks, tapping Steve on the temple with two fingers.
Steve remains stoic and silent.
“Ah,” Danny says helpfully. “I see.”
“Danny, we had a life,” is what Steve tries to get back to. All he knows is that sometimes he catches Danny looking at him. It might not mean anything, but if they don’t talk about it, then they’ll never know. “And sometimes, here, I think about the same thing. I mean, then you do something like get crumbs everywhere or you mock the Navy…”
“Topic,” Danny cuts him off.
“Look, Danny, I’m saying that I have a thing for you,” Steve says bluntly. “And I was happy to let it go to the grave until I got hit on the head and my mind concocted up a life that I wanted. And turns out, it’s the kind of life that would make me just perfectly content. So here’s what I’m asking. Are you in or are you out?”
“Am I in or am I…”
“Yeah,” Steve agrees.
“Okay, let me explain something for you,” Danny says, crossing his arms over his torso. He’s got a pinched look on his face, like he’s having one of Steve’s aneurysms for him. “You do not get to just bulldoze over a guy with ‘are you in or are you out’ before even listening to his side of the story. Huh? Huh! What if I didn’t have a thing for you back, huh?”
Steve can practically feel the hope lifting the corners of his lips upwards.
“Oh, sweet merciful Lord…” Danny sighs.
“You have a thing for me back,” Steve says, like this is it – evidence is in, case closed. He might even be feeling just slightly smug and he’s sure that Danny, perceptive as the man is, might have noticed that.
Danny is pinching the bridge of his nose. “Let it be known that I am not yet sure whether my thing for you is entirely devoid of Stockholm Syndrome influences.”
“Danny,” Steve says, still smiling away like an idiot.
“Steven,” Danny replies back, really forming that gorgeous mouth around the words. “Yes, fine, I have a…thing for your crazy ass. But I’m not the one dreaming up wedding color arrangements!” he accuses.
“In my concussion dream, Grace did it for us,” is Steve’s helpful reply.
He’s almost entirely sure that’s the right thing to say when Danny closes the distance between them and slides his palm around Steve’s neck to bring him close. “You’re a goof,” is what Danny breathes out quietly, “but I’ve come to accept that at least you’re my goof.” He proceeds to kiss Steve and it’s like a first kiss all over, except this time Steve knows that he’s both in his right mind and in the rightful place.
Danny pulls back and they share something of a dazed and – dare he say it – dopey grin.
“Come on, you’re injured and I’m making you dinner. The doctor says rest, you rest!” Danny orders, his voice already ascending the scales to higher frustration and further anger. “Don’t make me pull out all the tricks.”
Steve goes willingly to the couch and allows Danny to fully mother-hen him under the knowledge and good news that Danny Williams wants him right back.
“Hey, Danny,” Steve murmurs groggily when dinner has hit the spot and he’s on the verge of falling asleep. “About this morning…”
They’re sprawled out on the sofa with Danny’s arm slung comfortably over Steve’s shoulders as they watch baseball on Steve’s satellite television.
“What? What about this morning? Was it the part you were an idiot or the part where some guy with a bat brained you?”
“The first part,” Steve says, fighting past the cotton-mouthed feeling the drugs are giving him. “I have,” he struggles to get out, “a remarkable amount of respect and consideration for you. Just so you know. I always consider you before my actions.”
“And you’re a maniac anyway,” Danny laments with a shake of his head. “Well, I guess beggars can’t be choosers and someone’s gotta keep you from going the whole nine yards off the edge.” He rubs his thumb idly at Steve’s shoulder and it’s like magic in releasing pent-up tension. Steve relaxes into Danny’s good hands and smiles as Danny starts in on yet another rant.
He closes his eyes and lets the constancy of Danny’s voice lull him to sleep, aware that he’ll pay for it in the morning, but finding that he’s almost looking forward to it.
It takes weeks before Steve comes back to the Rodriguez case files. Since then, they’ve put away smugglers, murderers, and dealt with a particularly gruesome arson case. They’ve all been good distractions, but Steve can’t ignore the one that set his world askew any longer.
“Did you ever ask her what the dolls were?” Steve asks distractedly as he brushes his thumb against the computer screen and takes his time looking through the pictures.
Danny is hovering nearby with a cup of coffee. It’s before ten and Danny’s belief is that the day doesn’t start until coffee is had and his brain cells perk up. He drifts past Steve like a phantom presence, fingers brushing Steve’s back every now and then.
“Earth to Danny,” Steve summons. “I know it’s still coffee time, but in the civilized world, people are awake by this time of day.”
“I’m not the fucker who kept me up all night doing lewd things to my person,” Danny says with a grumble.
“You’re doing the words thing again,” Steve says. “Danny, the dolls. What did Rebecka say about them?” Steve had watched them for days and it would’ve been impossible to miss the way Danny took to the witness. Of course he would’ve asked about the dolls. He’s a good detective and a better man. Of course he would have asked.
“They’re supposed to be some personification of a wishing thing. You know, like shooting stars or whatever,” Danny says, perching his ass on the edge of the table. “You buy a doll, you make a wish, you cherish it tight and it’s supposed to come true. I don’t know, I think it’s almost sweet.”
“She gave you one.” It’s not a question.
“She gave you one.”
“Two,” Danny says after a long pause is drawn out. “She gave me two. I gave one to Grace and I maybe kept one, but it’s a memento,” Danny says, pointing his finger in Steve’s face. “It is not a chick thing.”
Steve holds up both hands to protest innocence. “I didn’t say anything.”
“Yes, but I can hear you. I can hear that brain of yours,” Danny accuses.
There’s another long pause as Steve goes through the photos and indulges in the sound of Danny drinking his coffee. Chin and Kono aren’t in yet, taking a late morning because Steve had suggested they deserved more time off.
“What’d you wish for?”
Danny arches his brow and regards Steve over his mug. “What are you, new?” he says in disbelief. “Birthday candles, shooting stars, and goodwill from suspects who were exonerated,” he lists on his fingers. “These are things you wish on and don’t tell people about, because then they don’t come true.”
Steve, who maybe has held a wish in his heart to feel something that he saw his parents share with someone he trusts unconditionally, says nothing. He suppresses his smile and watches Danny for a long moment.
Long enough that it seems to get Danny twitchy.
“What? What is it? What, do I have something on my face?” he asks, turning his face back and forth. “Don’t gimme that look, McGarrett, or I’ll wipe it off.”
“Danny,” Steve says, letting loose the smile he’s been holding in. “I just wanted you to know that my wish came true.”
Danny grins at him and sets his coffee back on a table that won’t earn Chin Ho’s wrath (one coffee ring on the monitor is all it takes to learn). It looks like the morning is ready and raring to go because Danny Williams is awake as anything.
“You’re such a goof,” Danny announces. “Honestly. I sense that you were abused in high school for being a gigantic dork. How off the money am I? I mean, I’m pretty close, right? You were terrorized.”
“Danny,” Steve says, looming over the other man and grasping onto his hips forcibly enough to leave fingerprint marks. “Shut up.”
“Babe, this time you’re gonna have to make me.”
Steve has never backed down from a challenge. Today is not the day he starts.