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H50 Fic: Sail Away 1/1

February 25th, 2011 (09:17 am)

Title: Sail Away

Disclaimer: Not mine.

A/N: I wrote this on a whim a few months ago but it took me awhile to get it fully typed and polished. So it was written before some of the major plot developments in the midseason. Beta'ed by geminigrl11  with additional help from moogsthewriter . Don't look too closely at the accuracy of the law enforcement or medical facts or, well, anything, LOL. Title borrowed from David Gray's "Sail Away."

Summary: Steve was scared. He was scared the day Hesse called him, the day his father died. He was scared of losing what little he'd gained, scared of failing his partner right when he'd started to figure out what it meant at all.

 

-o-

"Hey, where'd you get this boat?"

Steve's fingers flexed on the wheel and he steeled himself. Danny's question was innocuous enough, but this was Danny. Even simple questions to Danny Williams could lead to the most ridiculous rants Steve had ever heard. There didn't need to be a rhyme or a reason to any of it. If it rubbed Danny wrong, then he was going to let everyone know about it.

For the record, everything rubbed Danny wrong. From pineapple to sand to nontraditional police work, Danny had his quirks, and Steve did not relish reliving them or finding out new ones.

Swallowing, Steve glanced at his partner. Danny was lounging on the deck of the boat, the wind whipping his tie behind him and blowing his manicured hair all out of whack.

Wetting his lips, Steve looked back out at the water, keeping them straight as he lifted his chin and tried to look nonchalant. "HPD has a full fleet of boats."

Danny nodded. "I seem to recall that from my time there," he said, a little snidely.

Steve didn't let himself look at Danny, but he knew the critical gaze his partner was using to pin him down.

"I also know they're like damn Nazis with paperwork on these things," he continued. He held up on hand, using his fingers to accentuate his storytelling. "The one time I really needed one, I had to file the paperwork five days in advance and write two essays about why it was necessary. And that's in addition to the letter of recommendation from my captain and the head detective. By the time I got the approval, I didn't even need the damn thing." He swooped both hands up in a dismissive gesture to punctuate the ending.

Steve stiffened, but refused to show weakness. "They're more cooperative when the governor gives you full discretion."

Danny grinned, but didn't back down. "So you cleared it with her?" he prodded.

Steve stayed perfectly erect, hands still on the wheel. "The governor is a busy woman."

"So you didn't clear it with her," Danny inferred.

Steve resisted the urge to roll his eyes. "She gave us means and immunity."

"To steal boats from HPD?"

Steve's jaw worked. "To use whatever resources needed to stop criminals," he said firmly.

"Oh, okay. Why didn't you just say so?"

"Say what?" Steve asked.

Danny shrugged, sweeping one hand out toward the boat. "Say we stole the boat."

"We didn't steal the boat," Steve said in exasperation.

"We took it without permission," Danny said with a smirk. "I know I'm just some lowly detective, but I'm pretty sure that's stealing, even in a state as messed up as Hawaii."

"We didn't steal it," Steve reiterated, more forcefully.

"Oh, and what do you call the taking of government property without permission?"

Steve squared his shoulders, adjusting their course ever so slightly. "Commandeering."

"Commandeering," Danny repeated. He considered it, nodding. "So we commandeered a boat to chase a pair of criminals somewhere off the coast of Oahu."

"I do have a location," Steve pointed out.

"From your girlfriend, right," Danny said. "I'm still not sold on how legal it is to use Naval equipment for a domestic case."

"It's just a location," Steve said, trying to reassure his partner.

"Of a private boat. You know, as in owned legally by the suspect in question."

"He's a person of interest in a state investigation," Steve said with authority.

Danny, in true Danny fashion, was simply not impressed. "Do we have a warrant for him? Hell, I'd settle for a warrant for the boat at this point."

Steve rolled his shoulders a little, sniffling against the warm breeze. "Probable cause."

Danny laughed outright. "There's liberal interpretations of the law, and trust me, I've been there," he said, shaking his head. He gestured with one finger toward Steve. "But that is something else entirely."

"We've got probable cause that the boat is housing a number of illegal items and we need to bring the perp in as a person of interest for questioning. Going out here to ask him to come in isn't a crime, is it?"

Danny gave him a plaintive look. "You mean, we stole a boat from HPD to go ask him some questions?"

Steve shrugged. "And if he resists, then we've got our probable cause to board and take him into custody."

Danny laughed again, clapping his hands. "Brilliant," he said. "I have to hand it to you, that's brilliant."

Steve smiled a little. "Thank you."

"I just don't know how brilliant it will seem to a prosecutor in court," Danny continued.

Steve shook his head, making a face. "You're worrying too much."

Danny pointed at himself. "I'm worrying to much? In comparison to what? You? The man who never worries?"

Steve glowered a little. "Would you rather just let them get away?"

"No, I would rather make sure that we don't blow our chances at getting a conviction by cutting corners on the law," he said, sitting up now and looking at Steve intently. He threw his arms out. "The arrest is only half the battle. We need to get them squared away and locked up for life, no questions asked. If we cut corners, some big time lawyer is going to come in and get the entire case thrown out on a technicality and then we've got a dealer back on the street feeling like he's got nothing to lose."

"He won't get off," Steve said shortly.

Danny rolled his eyes, sitting back again and shaking his head. "So the governor not only made you super cop, but also judge and jury, too. Might as well just make you the executioner for true all in one justice."

Steve felt his frustrations flare, and he pitched to the right hard to stay with the coordinates. "No," he said, leaning into the turn. "I'm saying we'll have such a strong case, the moron will give us a full confession and make a plea deal before it even gets that far."

Danny stared at him, his expression somewhere between incredulity and disgust. "You do know that you don't live in the real world, don't you?"

Straightening the boat out, Steve looked at his partner and smiled. "Thank you."

"It wasn't a compliment," Danny said sullenly, looking out at the water.

Steve gestured to his ears. "I can't hear you!" he called out. "The water is too loud!"

Danny turned back to make a face before sliding down sulkily. Then, abruptly, he sat up, getting to his feet and nodding off the port bow. "I think we've got our runaway boat."

Steve squinted, and it was only a speck bobbing out on the horizon, but it was clear enough. The position was a little west of where Steve had figured based on Catherine's intel, but it was certainly within the margin of error.

Redirecting their boat, Steve roughly plotted an intercept course, keeping his eyes keenly on the horizon as he try to ascertain if they had the right boat. This far out, it was less likely that they'd cross another boat of this size and nature, but it wasn't likely.

Danny braced himself on the deck as they sped forward.

"You know," Danny called back to him. "You drive boats worse than you drive cars!"

Steve narrowed his eyes, fingers tightening on the wheel and he gave it some more gas, just for good measure. "You're not in the water, so I wouldn't complain," Steve retorted.

"And that makes me feel so much better?" Danny asked.

Steve snickered a little. "Let me guess," he said. "You're rationally concerned?"

"I would just prefer not to die on the open water!"

"It's called swimming."

"With you, it's called suicide."

That warranted a comeback, but as strong as his impulse was to snark Danny into submission, the entire effort was cut short as they approached the vessel. Not that they necessarily needed to worry about stealth - such things were rather difficult in a boat on the open water - but because there was something off about it entirely.

They'd closed the gap far quicker than Steve had anticipated, and it wasn't hard to see why. He had been expecting a pursuit, which was why he'd opted for a smaller boat to begin with, but this boat wasn't fleeing. It didn't even seem to be running, though he couldn't even see if it was anchored. From a distance, it simply appeared to be drifting.

That would readily explain the disparity in coordinates. Steve had calculated for a moving target, not a drifting one.

But that didn't answer the question of why. If the man on board was guilty, as Steve did not doubt he was, fleeing was of the utmost importance. Why else would he have taken a boat this far out if not to get away?

The uncertainty of it left Steve feeling uneasy, and he pulled off the gas and slowed as he maneuvered them in closer. He circled them around to the bow, hoping to at least slow down any attempt at escape, and left the engine idling as he scanned the deck for any sign of movement.

Danny was standing now, his complaints gone. Even if Steve hadn't explained his misgivings, his partner clearly shared them. He nodded toward the boat. "Seem a little quiet to you?" he asked.

Steve moved forward, pulling out his gun with one hand.

Danny muttered something behind him, but followed suit.

Lifting his gun slightly, Steve stepped cautiously across the deck. Danny wasn't right about much, but he was right about this. It was quiet. Too quiet. Either they had the wrong boat or the suspect had had some kind of other complication or...

Or it was a set up.

But before Steve had a chance to fully weigh any of those options, there was a flash of movement and the sound of a gunshot.

The woodwork behind him splintered and Steve ducked out of instinct. There was a volley of gunfire and when Steve got eyes on the scene again, he saw his partner kneeling behind the edge of the boat, a strained look on his face. "So is now the wrong time to ask if this is how you thought it would go?"

Steve lifted himself up, firing off a few shots across the open water. There was movement from the inside of the cabin on the other boat, but it was too well protected to hit without appropriate cover.

Ducking back down, Steve looked back at Danny as another round of gunfire hit above his head. "Could be worse," he said.

Danny took a turn, firing off two shots before getting safely under the line of fire. "Could be worse?" he asked without missing a beat. "Could be worse? We're taking fire on the open water, miles from any kind of backup. If we die out here, all the evidence will get eaten by sharks and they'll be burying empty caskets and putting 'Lost at Sea' on our headstones. Would you care to explain to me how this could possibly be worse?"

Steve stood, finishing his cartridge and dropping back with a smile. "At least we know we've got the right boat," he said. Then he shrugged. "And trust me, boarding a moving boat is a lot harder than one that's standing still."

Danny took another shot before getting low to reload. He shook his head, his fingers making short work of the new cartridge. "Right, right, and the whole getting shot at thing?"

Steve cocked his newly loaded gun, standing and popping off a shot. He came back down hard and shook his head. "A minor inconvenience," he said. "Once I board them, it won't be hard."

Danny snorted incredulously. "You're serious? Board them? Who are you now, Jack Sparrow?" he asked. Then he shrugged. "Of course you're serious. The stupider the idea, the more serious you are about it."

Steve couldn't help but grin as more gunfire destroyed the panel over his head. "Something like that," he said, meeting Danny's eyes with a nod. "Cover me."

The protests were evident on Danny's face, but before his partner had a chance to verbalize anything, Steve was on his feet. He didn't have to look to see Danny focus his aim and fire, his shots measured and precise. Because Danny would bitch and moan, but he'd never leave Steve out to dry when it counted.

Still, Steve knew his time was limited. Danny only had so many shots and their mark would only buy the cover fire for so long. Steve had to get on the other ship and find cover before either of those things happened or he really was in trouble.

Steve scaled the edge, balancing just for a moment as he fully gauged the situation. The boats were close, not side by side, but Steve had still positioned it well. The gunfire was concentrated from the cabin and was clearly defensive at this point.

All of which were factors that worked in his favor.

The jump was easy, but he still landed hard. Rolling through it, he was on his feet quickly, keeping low with his gun up. His first task was to find cover - and he wasn't about to be picky. The closest thing was a crate, wooden but thick, and it wouldn't hold up indefinitely, but it would serve as a stopgap now that Danny's cover fire had paused to reload.

Just in time, and Steve flinched just slightly as fresh gunfire rattled the crate.

Fortunately, the shooter paused - to reload, Steve could only figure - and Steve had time to turn his attention to finding an avenue of approach. He didn't have unlimited ammunition, and neither did Danny, and finishing this off before either of them got shot would be preferable, if only because he did not want to hear Danny's ranting if some alternative came to pass.

It wasn't a big boat, which was both an asset and a detriment. There wasn't a lot of room to hide, but the distance between him and the cabin was short and the shooter had isolated himself either in a stunning display of overconfidence or a last ditch attempt to get off free and clear.

Neither would turn out to be correct.

One quick charge, and Steve could overtake him and end this once and for all.

Without hesitation, Steve got to his feet, firing at the cabin window and shattering the glass. A few more feet, and Steve would have him in sight and the chase would be over. Even well-backed criminals who had the firepower rarely had the brains to pull off this kind of getaway. If he'd really wanted a set up, he should have holed up from above.

And just like that, Steve looked up and saw what he'd been missing. The roof of the cabin wasn't big, but it had just enough space to hide a second shooter.

That was why the suspect had set up an ambush. Equal firepower, the element of surprise, and the perfect location to scope out threats. It was smart, and Steve hadn't even seen it coming.

As if on cue, a new wave of gunfire broke out, splitting the deck next to him. Steve stifled a curse and ducked with new desperation. If there was slim cover from the cabin, there was virtually nothing from the roof.

In short, Steve was screwed. Danny was the one with the penchant for overstating the obvious, but that didn't keep Steve from feeling appropriately chagrined. When he got off this boat, he knew he was due a long rant about following procedure and proper backup, and this time, Steve might just have to take it without a single complaint.

Of course, all of that hinged on getting out of there alive, which was Steve's new priority number one.

Moving quickly, Steve ducked but didn't slow as the trail of bullets followed him, almost close enough to feel.

Then, mercifully, the shooter paused, and Steve thanked God for semiautomatic weapons.

The reprieve was short lived and Steve barely had time to move as a new round of gunfire came from the cabin.

He was like a sitting duck. Or a dead duck, as Danny would surely want to quip.

Gunfire started again, but not at him this time. The volley of bullets splintered the cabin door, and Steve made a mental note to thank Danny for his impeccable aim and his perfect timing.

The shooter in the cabin returned it, and Steve dared to hope. But then a bullet brushed by his head, and he had face the fact that the situation was still more than a bit dire.

But not hopeless.

Steve maneuvered quickly, relying on movement to make him harder to hit while he searched for anything resembling stable cover. He needed a plan if he was going to scrape through this, and he needed a plan fast. Starting with a hiding place, a distraction-

There was more gunfire away from him. It erupted from behind and above, with a new level of intensity. At this proximity, Steve doubted he could survive, but it wasn't aimed at him. Danny had suitable cover, but he knew his partner had limited ammunition. He needed to make this fast - for both their sakes.

Panting, Steve pressed himself to the side of the boat, daring a peek back to the boat he'd borrowed. It was riddled with bullets and even if the damage was superficial, he was going to have a hell of a time explaining this one to HPD.

And to Danny, for that matter, especially since his partner was still holed up there, drawing double the gunfire on Steve's behalf. Steve was going to be in for a nice, long rant when this was over, complete with wild hand gestures and colorful metaphors. A comparison to Jersey was expected and a commentary on Steve's lack of detective skills was probably in order as well, whether or not it was relevant to the issue at hand.

Still, for the ire that was undoubtedly building in Danny's head, Steve couldn't deny that Danny made the best backup he'd ever had. Danny had turned his attention from the cabin, focusing it entirely on the shooter above, keeping his aim steady.

A bullet pinged off the antenna on the roof, and Steve had to duck to protect himself.

Danny was getting closer, but it was a dangerous gamble. In order to get a shot trajectory to do any damage, Danny had to expose himself a little more. It wasn't the safest move, but it was the most aggressive option. Tactically, such risk wouldn't always be prudent, except as a means of defending someone else who was vulnerable. Steve knew that, because that was what he would do. Risk himself for the team. Give the bad guys the motivation to divide their attention and a target too ripe not to shoot at.

The realization was cold in Steve's gut, but there was no time to dwell on it. Danny was going to run out of ammo soon, and if Steve didn't get a better position before then, they were both dead.

Steve had gotten Danny shot once, and he really didn't want to endure that again. Danny was difficult on most days, but he was downright insufferable in the face of mortal danger.

With nothing to lose, Steve got to his feet and charged. By the time the shooter in the cabin saw him, it was too late, and Steve downed him with a shot to the shoulder. Ducking inside, Steve the gun away, sparing only a moment to pull out of his cuffs and slap them on, shackling one wrist to the wheel as the guy moaned pathetically.

There'd be time to assess his condition later, but there was still one perp at large and a firefight that Steve needed to get under control. Situating himself in his new position, he crouched low, getting a better grip on the scene in front of him.

The newfound safety gave him time to think and the cover let him take the time to plan.

A rapid series of shots fired from above, and Steve crouched lower instinctively. Maybe he didn't have as much time as he wanted to think.

Still, the shots weren't fired at him, and from the cabin he had the perfect view. He could see HPD's boat clearly, Danny's retreating form backing up again for better cover. He had almost found it, pulled back behind the steering counsel, when suddenly it didn't matter.

It happened so fast that Steve almost missed it. The first shot was close enough that Danny had to duck to the side. The next, not even a second later, caught his head, sending him bonelessly backward. The momentum from the bullet alone was enough to take him over the low railing, and Danny made no move to stop himself as he fell into the water.

Just like that, Danny was gone.

Steve was no stranger to combat. He had seen men die in far more violent spectacles. Men he fought with, brothers in arms.

But Danny wasn't a soldier. He wasn't just a cop. He wasn't even just a member of Steve's team. He was Steve's partner.

Steve's friend.

He'd just watched his partner - his friend - take a shot and fall into the ocean.

For a second, it was numbing. A surreal feeling, a strange disconnection from reality. It didn't compute; he couldn't make it parse.

But then, emotion washed over him, hot and cold at the same time.

He'd just watched Danny get shot and fall into the ocean. He didn't know if Danny was dead or alive or drowning or swimming, but there wasn't time to think about it. There wasn't even time to think about a rescue - not yet.

It went against Steve's instincts, but rescuing Danny couldn't be his first priority. He couldn't do anything for Danny if he was full of holes, so Steve harnessed his emotions, pulling them painfully into check. Channeling his mounting rage, Steve didn't stop to plan, he simply acted.

No hesitations.

No thoughts of safety or strategy.

Just a job to do and no time to do it.

Pulling back, Steve put himself in the open. His vulnerability was also his strength, because as the second perp wheeled his arm back toward Steve, Steve had his first and only clean shot.

It would only take one shot.

And Steve was aiming to kill. He didn't have the time or position to risk anything else. One shot, square to the forehead, and the perp went down, gun clattering to the roof of the cabin.

Steve didn't have time to secure him, just in case, and given the blood spatter, there wasn't any need. Besides, the son of a bitch wasn't worth his time, and Steve couldn't think about anything except Danny.

The image of his partner jerking from the bullet, falling backward, disappearing over the railing - it was still in his head. Replaying with vivid clarity, reminded Steve of what he still had left to do.

Breaking into a run, he leaped back to their borrowed boat. Stowing the gun on the deck, he crossed it quickly, pausing just long enough to kick off his holsters and his shoes, before plunging into the vast ocean.

He went in with an easy dive, but there was still a moment of disorientation as he righted himself and popped his head above water. In front of him, the waves were vast and choppy against the blue backdrop of the Hawaii sky. Steve paused, just for a moment, collecting a breath before diving down in earnest.

Going down, it took his eyes a moment to acclimate to the water. This close to the surface, visibility was still acceptable, but much deeper and he'd be searching blind.

Which meant that if Danny had sunk quickly, Steve's makeshift search and rescue would be a lost cause.

But even unconscious, it wasn't likely that Danny would sink too far. Not that much time had passed and even unconscious, it took time for a body to sink with oxygen in the lungs.

Even dead, Danny would still be close to the surface.

It was clinical reasoning and it left Steve cold, but he clung to it for what it was worth. Because failing in this task was not acceptable. Danny could still be alive and even if he wasn't, Steve didn't have to let this end in tragedy.

Going to the surface again, Steve gasped, sucking in air greedily. He paused only for a moment, considering Danny's trajectory from the boat. He estimated the fall zone and considered Danny's backward momentum. Assuming Danny had been unconscious in the water, he would have drifted outward.

The approximation was enough, and Steve dove again, kicking to increase his distance from the boat, going deeper than he had before. The muffled sounds of the ocean roared in his ears, the pressure in his chest not just from the countless gallons of water around him.

He needed this dive to count. He was running out of time.

More accurately, Danny was running out of time.

That thought spurred Steve on, and he kicked again, going even deeper. The light from the surface seemed to dim, fading away, as Steve searched for any sign of life.

It was like looking for a needle in a haystack. One man in miles of ocean.

Steve didn't have any equipment. He didn't have any proper search gear. He didn't even have a light, and Danny could have been dead before he even hit the water.

As a Naval officer, Steve had been trained to make strategic decisions. Some losses had to be accepted.

But there was a reason he'd given up on the Navy to join the governor's task force. Because Steve had listened to his father die and that was a loss he could not live with, not even a little.

Some losses couldn't be endured.

Failure was not acceptable. Not for Steve. Not for Danny.

Danny's life wasn't negotiable. Because Danny was his partner, his friend, and there was a little girl counting on her father coming home and Steve was not going to be the one to tell her otherwise.

Not now. Not ever.

He was highly trained, with a keen eye to overcoming any and all obstacles in his way. He practiced law as if the only barriers that existed were the ones he created. Means and immunity gave him the leverage he needed to catch criminals at any cost.

At any cost.

Steve's lungs burned, his vision dimming around the edges, but still he pressed on. There had to be a sign of Danny - and it had to be close. Steve couldn't accept anything less. He pushed his limits, holding the remnants of oxygen tightly in his chest and willing his eyes to focus in the growing fog.

If he passed out, then it was over - for him and for Danny.

But if he went up without Danny, he'd probably never find him. There was a slim margin of error here, and Steve's window for a successful rescue was diminishing by the second. Every moment Steve held his breath was a moment Danny probably wasn't breathing at all, and Steve needed to fix that.

Now.

If he went up now, if he wasted this time, Danny would get further away and the chances of finding his partner in time slipped away entirely. Either he went up with Danny or he didn't come up at all. In the end, it was that simple, and Steve refused to think otherwise.

He pushed deeper, kicking with his fledgling reserves. The water darkened even more, but Steve's vision adjusted quickly, spurred by barely controlled desperation. He was riding a fine line of adrenaline, fueled by a growing panic that he could harness to keep him going. Much more, though, and it'd fall apart to complete hysteria.

Because he was searching the ocean for his partner. Steve was not prone to panic, but the slow unraveling of the situation was hard to combat. He was at the end of it, and he knew it. He couldn't breathe and he could barely see and this was the only chance he had, the only chance he had left. He'd dragged Danny out here, and he would bring him home. He had to.

Failure was not an option.

Danny would call him stupid. Danny would rant about oxygen and drowning and sharks and probably depressurization and how islands were stranded in water for a reason and the mainland was more populated because humans had the instinct to be smart and anything surrounded by this much water just wasn't smart.

And Steve wanted to hear it. Wanted to hear every last word, every inflection of Danny's speech. Needed to see every hand movement, each one larger and more ridiculous than the last.

Wanted...

Needed...

Lights exploded behind Steve's eyes before dimness settled over his vision. The need to breathe was almost paralyzing, nearly eclipsing his awareness and overtaking his self-control. The powerful urge to surface almost defied his consciousness, his survival instincts flaring up in one last desperate bid.

Sometimes failure happened, like a gunshot on a phone that changed everything.

An ocean full of water and not enough air.

Not enough.

Then, Steve saw it.

The dark shape of something.

At first, he thought it was a hallucination or maybe Danny was right about the sharks.

Or it was his partner.

The thought sparked in his mind with a sudden clarity. Danny was there, not ten feet to his right. He was drifting, limbs limp in the water, hair wafting in the eerie stillness.

The need for oxygen was pressing, but the pull of his partner's life trumped everything else.

With new motivation, Steve closed the distance with a powerful kick, pulling at the water with his hands. When he got close enough, he pulled back, wrapping his arms around Danny's chest and pulling them both upward toward the surface.

Eyesight blurring, lungs aching, Steve's world narrowed, his focus on the weight in his arms and the approaching light.

Almost.

Danny's body was slack, head bobbing forward, blond hair still floating free. Steve didn't have time to check on him, not yet.

Almost...

Suddenly, Steve was greeted by air and sunlight. In the shock of it all, he almost forgot to breathe. Instinct took over, and he gasped, flailing as his body fought for the much needed air.

He blinked with another railing breath, the effort shaking his entire body. His limbs felt tingly and his ears rang. For a second, the sun blinding him, but with another gasp, oxygen flooded his body, heightening his senses with a painful clarity. This was far from over.

Very far.

Getting to the surface may have saved his own life, but given the stillness of Danny's body, Steve was far too aware that it wasn't enough for Danny.

Desperate, he maneuvered his partner's body up higher, resting Danny's head against his shoulder and searching his partner's face for some sign of life.

Nothing was enough for Danny. His partner was difficult and impossible and Steve could hear the rant...

What did I tell you, huh? Like suicide, only of the worst kind. Because this isn't just dying, it's drowning, which is slow and usually preventable and just stupid. No way you can convince me that all this water is worthwhile. And if you hadn't stolen - sorry, commandeered - this boat, then maybe we wouldn't be here without backup!

But there was no rant. Danny was still, features lax and tinged blue. There was a streak of blood running down the right side of his face and Steve couldn't tell how bad it was in the lapping salt water.

When you get someone shot, you apologize!

And Steve would. As soon as he saved Danny's life, he'd apologize. He'd write a whole freakin' poem if Danny wanted once the annoying son of a bitch was breathing again.

The fear was almost paralyzing, but Steve had come too far to give up now. Instinct kicking in with fresh vigor, Steve kicked his legs, using his free arm to propel them through the water. He moved deftly, because he was a gifted swimmer, but it was slow with Danny's weight in tow. The ache of exhaustion was pressing as well, building in his muscles, still clouding his head, but it didn't matter.

Focus on the mission.

Focus on Danny.

Focus.

He had swum farther than he thought in his search, and the toll was more apparent to him than ever. The water was harsh in his face, and he spit it out, trying to keep Danny's airway clear as he continued to close the distance to their boat. He knew he had swum in far more treacherous conditions, but he couldn't think of a time that had pushed him to the limits to this extent.

Because it wasn't just the need for air and the mouthfuls of water he got instead. It wasn't just the tired muscles or the need for rest. It was Danny, his partner, and the ever-pressing question of how he ended up here at all.

A commandeered boat. A good lead. The chance to make a difference, warrants and backup and protocol be damned. He was hired to do a job.

Kicking hard, he shut his mouth against the waves.

Steve always did his job.

The determination steeled him, and he tightened his grip, pushing the water hard with his legs to close the final distance to the boat.

The waves lapped against him with a consistent force, and as he grappled to anchor himself, he drifted hard against the boat's hull. It was all he could do to keep Danny's body from enduring any of the brunt while he maneuvered to the ladder.

If getting to the boat was hard, getting on board was almost impossible. The weight of his waterlogged clothes was a force to be reckoned with in and of itself, and even if hoisting Danny's weight wouldn't normally be a problem, his heavy burden was loose and uncooperative as he tried to pull them out of the water with one hand and keep Danny secured against him with the other.

He had come this far, however, and Steve wasn't about to let a few feet keep him from the refuge of the deck. With one hand, he clutched the rungs with a death grip, his other arm wrapped unyieldingly under Danny's armpits. It was slow, but he made steady progress. When he got to the top, he hoisted Danny up further, pushing his partner's body in front of him.

The inertia of the Danny's falling weight threw him off balance, and it was all Steve could do to keep from dropping his partner hard to the deck. As it was, the only other option was to fall with him, and Steve propelled himself over the top, maneuvering as best he could to avoid landing on top of Danny's already damaged form.

He grunted as he hit the deck, his elbow jarring painfully and a fresh array of pain spreading throughout him. But he didn't have time for the pain. He didn't have time for anything. His injuries were minor and the only thing Steve could let himself focus on was Danny.

Because the refuge of the boat was all well and good, but it didn't change the fact that Danny hadn't moved.

But this time, Steve had solid ground on his side to help remedy that problem.

Breathless, Steve scrambled out, repositioning himself so he was squatting by Danny's side. Carefully, he moved his hands to Danny's shoulder and neck, gingerly rolling his partner until he was flat on his back. Dropping to his knees, he kneeled closer, blinking against the salt water still stinging his eyes.

And he got his first chance to look at his partner.

Danny was limp on the deck, one arm sprawled at his side, the other resting on his stomach. Water was still dripping down his face, running in rivulets toward his hair. His mouth was open just slightly, his lips blue. In the vast Hawaiian sun, Danny's complexion was sallow and translucent, marred by running trails of red from the right side of his forehead, along the temple. There was a nick in his dress shirt, stained also with red, but it didn't seem to be bleeding.

The visual assessment left him numb, but it wasn't comprehensive enough to form a plan of action. Leaning forward, Steve used his fingers to wipe away the blood at Danny's temple, looking for some kind of entrance wound. The blood cleared, but filled again, but it had still given Steve a glimpse of what he was looking at. It was a deep scrape, but it hadn't broken the bone. Despite the blood still seeping, it was a graze. A damned graze. Painful, scary, but not fatal.

It was the best news Steve had had all day. The relief almost made him collapse.

Because the shot hadn't killed Danny. Pulling Danny back from a near drowning was doable; a shot to the head, not so much. Drowning, Steve could do.

He could.

He had to.

Steve hadn't accepted failure under the surface, and he sure as hell wasn't going to succumb to it the plain light of day, especially not with someone's life on the line. Especially not with Danny.

You're not some superhero, Danny's voice came caustically in his mind.

Steve steeled himself. Danny was wrong about that. He had to be. And Steve would prove it. If it was the last thing he did, he would prove it.

Tilting Danny's head, Steve opened the airway, leaning close to check for breathing. It took all his self-control to wait for one beat, two.

Nothing.

Danny wasn't breathing.

Sitting up again, Steve pressed his fingers into the cold wet skin at Danny's throat. With his own breath tight in his chest, he closed his eyes, waiting, feeling.

No pulse. No breathing.

The emotion threatened to overwhelm him, but Steve shook it off. He had a job to do. When all else failed, Steve could always fall back on that.

Pulling himself up tall, he repositioned his arms, finding the spot on Danny's chest intuitively. Without hesitation, he pressed down hard and fast. He had to circulate the blood, keep Danny's organs functioning. 100 beats per minute. Keep it fast, keep it going.

Steve's arms ached with stiffness, but he didn't let himself slow down. Didn't let himself do anything but press, again and again and again. To save Danny's life.

That was all that mattered.

It didn't matter how pale Danny was. It didn't matter how lifeless he looked. Because Steve could fix this. He could.

I'm so glad you're not scared of anything.

But Steve was scared. He was scared the day Hesse called him, the day his father died. He was scared the day he came back and found a crime scene with more questions than answers. He was scared of losing what little he'd gained, scared of failing his partner right when he'd started to figure out what it meant at all.

People will tell you anything under fear of death, that doesn't make it true.

Maybe, but this was true. This fear was true. This paralyzing fear, this irrational terror, it was all true for Steve.

When I agreed to serve and protect, this wasn't what I had in mind.

It wasn't what Steve had in mind either. Serving on the governor's task force, avenging his father's death. It wasn't part of the plan. 5-0, Danny, it had all been means to an end, until it became more. Became everything. It was an accidental life, but he couldn't lose it now.

He couldn't lose Danny now. Not like this.

Steve pressed harder, faster. His muscles burned, and tears blurred his vision.

Do you miss me?

Steve didn't want to find out.

And then - a movement. Not just the rocking of the boat on the sea, but a small jerk, just enough to startle Steve into stilling.

Stopping, Steve stared down, eyes wide. "Danny?" he asked, and if it was a pointless gesture, he didn't have the ability to worry about that right now.

Danny didn't respond, but he twitched again, twisting this time with a weak cough, followed by a rattling breath.

It was almost too much to take in. From the unexpected firefight, to watching Danny go overboard, to dragging him out of the water - Steve had been fighting so hard against failure that the notion of success genuinely caught him off guard.

Danny was alive.

For a second, that truth was all there was, cycling through his head with growing veracity. It was a relief so powerful, that it left him giddy, smiling and crying all at once.

Danny hacked again, this time with water coming up, his brow furrowed as he labored for air. He sucked in, choking a bit as more water came up, and then Steve remembered that this mission wasn't over yet.

Training kicking back in, Steve sniffled hard, wiping his cheeks briefly before leaning forward, using a steady hand to roll Danny to his side. His partner flailed for a moment as he coughed up more water, eyes still closed, but after a few seconds, his grating breaths deepened as he started to relax.

Wary, Steve kept a hand on Danny's shoulder, watching him intently, mentally considering all the possible complications for a near-drowning. "That's good," he coached. "You're doing great, Danny."

Danny's only response was a twitch in his brow and another deep breath.

It sent the message well enough. Steve gave Danny's shoulder a grateful squeeze. "That's it," he said, and a little more tension drained from Danny's body. "That's it. You're doing great."

"Really?" Danny's voice came, strained between heavy breaths. His eyes slitted open, looking tiredly up at Steve. "This is great?"

Steve's face broke into a smile. "Relatively speaking."

Danny's face was still pale, lips still dark with a messy trail of blood streaking his hairline. "I feel like crap," he groaned, squeezing his eyes shut again as he broke into a fresh round of coughing. There was more water, but less than before.

Steve used his other hand to stabilize Danny, whose body shook with the effort. When the coughs tapered off, Danny flopped on his back, opening his eyes bleakly at Steve. "Why do I feel like crap?"

It was a legitimate question, but Danny looked so pathetic asking it that Steve could hardly take it seriously. "Could be that we're at sea," he suggested wryly.

Danny's expression tightened. "I think this is more than sea sickness," he said tersely with a wheezing vehemence. "And why am I wet?"

Steve shrugged coyly. "You felt like a swim."

Danny frowned. "I went overboard, didn't I?" he asked. He hacked some more water, and one hand flailed to his head. It came away bloody and Danny did a double take. "And I'm bleeding? Why am I bleeding?"

Steve worked to control his smile. "It's nothing."

"It's not nothing," Danny said, fingering the gash on his head again as he continued to pant. He paused, coughing up another mouthful of water. "I feel like someone just shot me in the head."

The humor faded and Steve's jaw tightened ever so slightly.

Danny, the observant cop that he was, saw it, eyes widening and body tensing. "I got shot in the head? How the hell am I alive if I got shot in the head?"

"It's a graze," Steve assured him, strong facade in place again.

Danny would not be so easily placated. "I got shot in the head!" he repeated, both hands on the move now. "I got shot in the head and I went overboard and..." His voice trailed off, his expression paling. He coughed again, spitting water for a moment before settling back into a grating pant. He shook his head, a little desperate. "I drowned, didn't I? That's why my chest hurts and I keep coughing. I drowned, and-" His face went blank and he scrambled to sit up, pulling away from Steve. He glared, looking at Steve with hints of betrayal. "You did CPR?"

Steve watched his partner, aware that Danny was still panting and needed medical attention. Still, the realization on Danny's face was more than a bit amusing. The shock, the surprise, the sheer incredulity as he put all the pieces together.

To Steve's credit, he had not intended on telling Danny most of these things - at least not here and not until his partner was properly looked at and comfortable. It wasn't his fault that Danny's deductive reasoning skills never shut off or that his propensity for exaggeration made for exquisite displays of ridiculousness. This situation wasn't funny - and no one knew that better than Steve - but his partner's response was hilarious.

In short, Steve would have to be superman not to take advantage of that, and as the events of the past hour had proven, Steve was far from that.

And besides, if Danny was ranting, then Danny was going to be okay. Pissed off, offended, but ultimately okay. This was how they coped. This was how they communicated. This was normal.

This was good.

After seeing his partner go down and dragging his lifeless body out of the water, this was good.

The relief of that was damn near intoxicating, and Steve didn't want to avoid smiling.

He shrugged, as casually as he could. "You weren't breathing."

Danny's hands fluttered, and he blinked rapidly. He brushed his hair back with one hand, taking a rasping breath. "Great. I wasn't breathing. So I'm stuck on a boat in the middle of nowhere, took a bullet to the head, and I wasn't breathing. That's awesome. Anything else you'd care to confess?"

Steve pondered that. "We got the bad guys," he offered helpfully.

Danny did not look amused or remotely impressed. "Is that supposed to make me feel better? As though my lack of breathing wasn't entirely in vain?" he asked angrily. He choked on another breath, hacking for a moment. Then he shook his head, forehead scrunching pleadingly. "CPR?"

"Unless you would have preferred to stay dead."

Danny's expression was desperate. "Maybe, yes. Death might be preferable to making out with my partner."

"It's called mouth to mouth," Steve corrected him.

"It's called wrong, and I don't want to know."

Steve shook his head. "Updated protocol recommends forgoing rescue breathing for more vigorous chest compressions anyway."

Danny adjusted himself stiffly, easing back a little against the side of the boat. He looked marginally mollified, his breathing easing slightly. "So no kissing?" he asked, looking cautiously up at Steve.

Steve shook his head with resolve. "No kissing."

"But I did drown?" Danny clarified with another whistling breath.

"And took a graze to the head," Steve confirmed.

"A shot," Danny interjected stubbornly. He coughed shortly. "I took a shot to the head."

"A shot," Steve agreed with a hint of bemusement. "Which is why we've got to get you back to shore. I'll have to radio for backup, but we should be able to take off as soon as I get a few things in order." He paused, fixing Danny with a critical look. "You good?"

"I've been shot and I drowned," Danny said with an indignant tilt of his head as he gestured to himself.

"So you're good," Steve said decidedly.

Danny scowled. "This is what we get for commandeering a boat."

Steve considered that. "Yeah, but since they shot first, we totally had the right to board."

"Great," Danny said. "I'm so glad you found the silver lining in this disaster."

"We got them," Steve said.

"Yeah, and did you read them their rights or just shoot them?"

"Well, I would have taken the time but you were already overboard."

Danny's eyebrows shot up. "So it's my fault?"

Steve shrugged. "I'm just saying."

"Just don't," Danny snapped, drawing his arms sulkily over his chest. His breathing had died down from a grating pitch to a squeaky whine. It was still strained, punctuated every so often with a cough.

Steve opened his mouth to reply.

Danny held up one hand. "Really, don't," he said, hacking once for good measure. "I think I've endured enough trauma for one day."

Steve nodded, getting to his feet. Joking aside, that much was true - for both of them. "Just take it easy," he said. "We'll be out of here in no time."

"Not soon enough," Danny grumbled. He cleared his throat heavily.

Steve lingered, just for a moment. It was suddenly hard to believe just how close they'd come. Not five minutes ago, Danny hadn't been breathing. But here his partner was, ranting and raving when he should still be hacking and coughing.

Some things would never change, Steve supposed. And Steve was pretty sure he didn't want them to.

Danny's color was improving, his breathing evening out. The head wound was still bloody, but Danny was awake, coherent. He was going to be okay.

They were going to be okay.

"Something else you want to torture me with?" Danny asked, shifting uneasily under Steve's eyes.

Steve shook his head, then paused. "I'm glad you're okay," he said.

"Yeah, well, I'm stuck on a boat with a headache and it feels like an elephant sat on my chest,' he groused. Then he stopped, looking at Steve through hooded eyes. He sighed, shrugging one shoulder. "Thanks, though. I mean, it's your fault we're here, but you did save my life."

Steve smiled knowingly. "Nothing you wouldn't do."

Danny nodded, his expression a little wry. "Yeah," he agreed. "Except I wouldn't have commandeered the boat."

Steve nodded. "Point taken."

"You agree with me?" Danny asked in genuine surprise, clearing his throat with force.

"Oh, no," Steve said quickly. "I was totally right about the boat."

Danny's eyes darkened into a glare. "Just go. Do your sketchy police work and I"ll be here trying to hold in my blood and draining water out of my lungs."

"Wow, you really are slacking today," Steve said.

Danny's hands went wide, his jaw fully open as he sucked in a rough and disbelieving breath.

Steve nodded with as much seriousness as he could muster. "It's really a good thing I'm here to get things done."

"It's a good thing I've been shot and drowned or I'd be on my feet, throwing you overboard."

To that, Steve only smiled; proud, relieved, content. Because this was what was worth saving. If Steve would commandeer a boat for a case, he hoped Danny understood just how far he'd go for his partner. It wasn't that Steve thought he was a superhero or lacked fear, he had just lost too much already to let failure be an option.

He'd had no choice when Hesse had a gun to his father's head, but that didn't stop it from feeling like Steve's fault. Steve had no greater fear than this: making the right decisions and coming to the wrong outcomes. If he'd lost Danny today...

But he hadn't. He wouldn't.

Behind him, Danny was still ranting, going off about warrants and backup protocol and male codes for dying with dignity, and if Steve could still hear the sound of the shot that took Danny down, the roar of the ocean in his ears, he let his partner's voice cover it.

It was funny, because Steve had never thought twice about picking Danny as his partner. It was a rash decision with implications he'd never cared to consider. That was how Steve operated - anything for the goal.

But Danny had changed the goal. It was entirely possible to Steve that he had taken the trouble to commandeer this partnership just like this boat, but that Danny was the one who was at the wheel now.

Partnership. Friendship.

The things that made it easy to jump in after Danny when he was drowning.

The things that made it easy to turn around and grin at him, throw his hands in the air, and say, "What? I can't hear you while I'm doing all the work!"

And the things that made it easy to laugh when Danny's rants started up again.

 

Comments

(Deleted comment)
Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: February 27th, 2011 02:05 am (UTC)
danny steve bust

It seems fluffy to me sometimes to keep writing fic about what these two guys think of each other, but it never ceases to entertain me while I do it )

Thanks!

Posted by: gemspegasus (gemspegasus)
Posted at: February 25th, 2011 05:28 pm (UTC)

Hi Faye,

This is another fabulous story. :)

I love Steve's charactrization and thoughts during the entire story. I adore the way you capture the characters so well. And I am thrilled you write fanfiction in this fandom because it i a joy to read your storis.

take care
hugs
Angela

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: February 27th, 2011 02:06 am (UTC)
danny thoughtful

I find it to be so much fun to take Steve to his emotion brink--he works so hard to be in control and show no fear, but you know there has to be doubts hiding in there.

Thanks!

Posted by: gemspegasus (gemspegasus)
Posted at: March 31st, 2011 05:57 pm (UTC)
H50partners

LJ was being wonky again, so I just got notice of the reply. I do love how you take Sreve to an emotional brink and show those doubts and fears. I enjoy how you flesh out Steve and show not only hiss strong side but his vulnerable one as well. You do write the boys and Kono and Chin beautifully.

take care
hugs
Angela

Posted by: folie_lex (folie_lex)
Posted at: February 27th, 2011 03:36 am (UTC)

This was beautiful!!!

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: March 3rd, 2011 03:58 am (UTC)
danny makes a point

Thanks so much :)

Posted by: dame_pythia (dame_pythia)
Posted at: April 22nd, 2011 05:40 am (UTC)

Yay! I just love Steve's characterization in this one! You just know he's got a marshmellow center when it comes to his partner! ;D

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: May 1st, 2011 08:20 pm (UTC)
danny and steve work together

The best thing about having a tough guy on screen is getting to know the soft side underneath :)

Thanks!

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