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H50 fic: The Eleventh Hour 9/13

February 21st, 2011 (07:34 am)

A/N: I promise, things are moving steadily toward a climax now, and you can expect some significant action on Steve's part in the coming chapters :) Also, there's a good chance that some of the background I came up with off the cuff for Danny's family will be debunked (possibly tonight!) but it's what I came up with while writing this. Thanks!  Previous parts are here.

 

HOUR NINE

Danny was used to waking up to strange things.

As a kid, he'd had two older sisters, both of whom seemed to think he was their personal doll. When he was very young, sometimes he woke up to hair gel and makeup, as they played dress up for reasons that Danny still couldn't comprehend. His brother had been somewhat less purposefully obtrusive to Danny's sleep, but waking up to the sound of his coming and going from the room they shared was as commonplace as the knockdown fights his brother had with their parents when he got caught.

As a teenager, the guys on the baseball team had been prone to kidnapping him at night, sneaking him out for a night of partying and general rabble rousing. This sometimes led to falling asleep in class, which was just as easy to deal with, and Danny had a knack for opening his eyes with a frown and asking, "Could you maybe rephrase the question?"

It didn't much matter to Danny. Sleeping was just as necessary as being awake, and transitioning from one to the other was simple enough.

When he and Rachel had first been married, she had a weird habit of talking in her sleep. She tried to explain that she'd been that way for years, but Danny never did get used to waking up to the grocery list being recited or a strange rendition of Happy Birthday being sung.

When Grace had been born, he'd become hyper aware at night, listening to hear her cry over the monitor for a midnight feeding or a diaper change at 3 AM. He always heard it first, and even though Rachel never thought he warmed the bottles enough and was too rough with the wet wipe, he always got up. He had to. Rachel was a heavy sleeper, and by the time she stumbled out of bed to do anything, Grace was screaming mad. Danny found it easier to pick her up and talk to her until handing her off to a groggy Rachel to get the real work of the night done.

As Grace got older, it was a weekly occurrence to be roused from sleep to find her big eyes blinking at him at the side of the bed as she requested nothing more than a glass of water and for Danny to double check her closet for the monster rats she heard about on the news.

Danny had concluded that they needed to stop watching local news and simply got better at waking up with a smile.

Even now, he woke up to Grace missing her favorite doll or his phone going off with a personal request from the governor. Danny liked sleep and was prone to it often, but it was a fleeting pleasure, and he was just as ready to see it come as he was to let it go.

So yeah, sometimes he woke up on the couch with an infomercial on TV to realized he'd fallen asleep there once again. Sometimes he came to with an open file on his lap and a can of beer in his hand, still remarkably upright and half full. Even more remarkable was how he was able to focus immediately, pick up reading the same sentence and taking another satisfying sip, as if no time had gone by at all.

All things considered, waking up to strange things was completely normal for Danny and he took some measure of pride in handling all situations with grace and total control.

Which was perhaps why this time it was so unsettling.

First of all, it was unusually hard to wake up. His awareness was distant, hinging on the fringes of his consciousness and no matter what he did, he had no power to rein it in. That was not only a discomforting thing, but damn well frustrating, too, because it meant he wasn't getting any of the benefits of sleep and didn't have any privileges of being awake, which was a complete lose-lose situation.

Second of all, he had no idea what was going on. Part of him thought that maybe he should, but the memory was just as distant as his fledgling awareness. All he knew was that there was some obscure pressing need to wake up and that he simply couldn't quite pull it off.

And third, he felt weird. Not just because he couldn't wake up and didn't know where he was, but because he felt weird. Weak and in pain. And uncomfortable.

None of it made sense.

Of course, a lot of things didn't make sense. It didn't make sense that Rachel had left him for Stan. It didn't make sense that the judge had said it was perfectly legal for Rachel to up and take his daughter across the freakin' world no matter how many custody rights Danny had. It didn't make any sense that he was living in Hawaii, with sun and sand and Steve McGarrett for a partner.

Steve.

This was Steve's fault.

Danny couldn't remember how, but he didn't have to remember. There were few things in his life that were utter constants: his love for Grace and the fact that most things were Steve's fault.

Steve did get him shot his first day on the job and drove him onto a boat during their first week of partnership.

And just like that, Danny remembered.

Coming to, he gasped, his body jolting as he lifted his head.

With awareness, however, came pain.

And lots of it.

He swore.

"Danny?" Steve asked, his voice tinged with something of concern. "You with me?"

Danny groaned, gritting his teeth as he breathed through the pain. "I'm handcuffed to a freakin' chair with you," he grunted. "Where else would I be?"

"You passed out there."

Danny swallowed, attempting to open his eyes without wanting to bite his tongue off. "Thanks for the brilliant observation," he said through a tight throat. "Just in case the coming in and out of awareness slipped my attention."

There was a small hesitation from Steve. "You had me worried."

Danny wet his lips, nodding his head as he blinked a few times. There were still traces of darkness at the edges of his vision and his mouth felt dry and cottony. "I had you worried?" he asked. "I didn't think you were capable of worry."

"Yeah, well," Steve said. "I just don't want you sleeping on the job."

That was actually a little funny. Danny snorted a laugh and almost cried from the spike of pain. "That's good," he said, sniffling a little as he worked to retain whatever composure he had left. He blinked a few more times, trying to fully regain his bearings. He shook his head, trying not to look at the blood on his side. Instead, he glanced to the office window where Malcolm was still seated and Blaine was on the phone. "How long was I out?"

The pause from Steve said enough. "Not too long," his partner lied.

Normally, Danny would call him on such an obvious falsehood, but at the moment, he wasn't sure he wanted to know the truth. Ignorance wasn't bliss, but for now, it might make the difference between feeling like crap and complete desperation.

Blowing out a breath, Danny rallied whatever strength he could find. The results were less than satisfactory, but he steeled himself. "So what have you been doing while I've been bleeding?"

"Working on our escape," Steve told him.

Danny nodded, trying to feign that he was impressed. "That's always good," he said. "But I've got to say, I'm not sure you've made much progress since we're still handcuffed and I'm still shot."

Steve seemed to motion toward the office with his head. "I've been watching Blaine," he said.

Danny squinted in that direction. "Anything worth noting?"

Steve sighed a little. "I think we're running out of time."

Danny snorted - leave it to Steve to report the totally obvious. "What was your first clue?"

Steve didn't laugh. He didn't even come up with a quip in reply. "I think maybe we should tell them what they want to know," he said.

For a second, Danny thought he'd maybe misheard.

Steve McGarrett, Navy SEAL and cop extraordinaire, the guy who was willing to live and die on his principles, wanted to give up? The same man who went for a swim to handle a hostage situation with a deranged SEAL wanted to tell Blaine what he wanted to know?

The man who had let Danny be beaten and shot in the name of a greater good, wanted to quit now?

"Danny?" Steve pressed. "You there?"

"Of course I'm here," Danny ground out. "I'm just - trying to figure out how you came to that conclusion."

Steve shifted and drew a breath. "Holding out is only useful as long as it keeps you safe. Blaine's already upped the stakes. We can't hold out while you bleed to death."

Part of Danny really agreed with that. He had no desire to day, especially not from a gunshot wound in a crappy warehouse on an island that was overrun with laidback vibes. The irony of that kind of death alone was more than he wanted to deal with. And the idea of moving here to be with Grace just to up and die on her not even a year in - well, it was not exactly what he'd had in mind.

And the pain made a compelling argument - a really compelling argument. He tried not to think about it, but it was impossible not to feel it. The pain was intense, spread through his entire body. How much was from the beating and how much was from the gunshot wound, Danny couldn't really tell anymore, but it all hurt with a persistent vigor. The hole in his side seemed to be in flames, and when he breathed too deeply or shifted just so, he could almost feel the bullet inside of him, digging in and threatening to destroy him from the inside out.

Danny was no hero. He had no delusions of grandeur. He didn't want to give up his life for the greater good, even if he knew that he might be called to do that someday. He was a simple man and the only thing he really wanted in life was to be a father to Grace. Being a cop, that helped him keep her safe - and if it helped other people, that was all for the better, but it was really all about her.

But it was kind of a moot point. Danny was already bound and beaten and shot. If Steve told Blaine now, then it would all be for nothing. Most people had trouble shooting someone for the first time. He knew from experience that it got easier the more you did it. Blaine held out for a few hours before firing his gun once; he didn't want to risk giving him another chance to give it a try.

Swallowing, Danny shook his head. "No," Danny said, between gasps. Gritting his teeth, he fought the urge to swear, sucking in a rallying breath. "I'm not taking a bullet in vain, okay? If it was worth getting us to this point, then we're seeing it through."

"We're running out of time," Steve said, his own voice strained. It was an unusual timbre.

Danny had seen Steve in some tough situations before, but he had never seen him quite this desperate.

Danny laughed, almost bitterly. Closing his eyes, he tried to breathe through the pain. He was keenly aware of the passage of time with each drop of blood that flowed from his body. "You think I don't know that?"

"My primary goal is to get us out of here alive," Steve returned curtly. The vulnerability seemed to fade, almost as if it had been forcibly pushed aside. In its place was cold logic. "If you're losing blood at the rate you're saying, then telling him is our only option."

Danny opened his eyes again, letting his head loll backward a little bit. "So, what, he can off us both?" he asked. He understood Steve's point of view - and it almost made him feel better to know that not only was his partner really and truly human but that he would give up the end game for Danny's benefit - but understanding it didn't make it right. He collected a shaky breath. "Shooting me was a desperate move. He's feeling cornered. The only chance of survival we have left is to ride it out and hope Chin and Kono get here soon."

"That's stupid," Steve said.

Danny had to laugh again, but it was short, breathless. "Isn't that my line?"

"Well, isn't it my job to be stupid?"

Danny perked up a bit at that. He tilted his head thoughtfully. "Are you admitting that most of your plans are stupid?"

"No," Steve replied, wrists twisting in vain again. "I'm saying that usually I'm the one with the plan that involves risking life and limb while you're the one in the passenger seat ranting."

That was true, and Danny had no desire to deny it. And really, there was a lot about this situation that pissed him off. From the beating to the handcuffs to the general lack of respect to the hole in his side which was inconveniently leaking blood, it all sucked.

But - and this was a big but - Danny knew there were some things worth dying for. This was where being partners really came back to bite him in the ass, because if he was going to call Steve out for not backing him, then Danny couldn't pull the same punches when the situation was reversed. Steve had asked Danny to trust him, and that was what Danny had to do. Whether or not Steve's informant was worth this, Danny couldn't be sure, but Steve was sticking both their lives on the line for it, and Danny couldn't afford to doubt Steve now.

It was about trust. Trusting that Steve had his reasons for protecting the intel. Trusting that Steve was doing everything he could to get them out of there alive. Trust was the make it or break it point of any partnership, and Danny wasn't about to forfeit it now.

More than that - and it pissed Danny off just to admit it - there was logic to consider here. Danny had been expendable since the second he'd walked into the warehouse. Now that he was a bleeding mess, his value had just gone down considerably. The chances of him walking out of here alive were getting less and less, and there wasn't a damn thing he could do about it except hope that Steve could pull a freakin' miracle out of his bag of tricks.

And the only way Steve could do that was if he was alive. The only way he was going to stay alive was if he stayed valuable. The moment he told Blaine what he wanted to know, Steve was a goner, even more than Danny already was.

Danny wanted to get out of this mess alive, but not at the expense of signing his partner's death warrant.

Danny shook his head again, grimly through the pain. "I'll rant later, like when you're waiting on me hand and foot in the hospital," he said.

"Aren't we missing a few key steps there?" Steve asked quizzically.

Closing his eyes, Danny let his head drop forward again, feeling the weight of exhaustion bearing down on him. "You mean the part where Blaine comes back and starts throwing a hissy fit? Or maybe the part where Chin and Kono make their dramatic arrival?" He shook his head, looking up again wearily at the warehouse around him. "As fun as both of those sound, I think I'd prefer to just pass out and wake up when there are things like pain medication on hand. Preferably, the good stuff."

"You do know that we have government health insurance, right?" Steve asked dryly.

Danny groaned. "You're going to torture me now? When I've got a hole in my side? Really?"

Steve shrugged in what Danny could only presume was an apologetic gesture. "I just don't want you to get your hopes up too high."

Danny grunted at that. "Tell you what, as long as you get us out of this thing alive, I'll be happy."

"You'll be happy?" Steve asked, sounding genuinely surprised.

Danny had to reconsider that. "Well, I won't put in for an automatic transfer back to Jersey," he conceded.

Steve laughed a little. "Fair enough," he agreed.

Swallowing, Danny steeled himself once again. "But that means you say nothing, you got that?" he asked pointedly, adding as much of his no-nonsense inflection as he could.

Steve drew a sharp breath. "Danny-"

But Danny shook his head, because if he was going to bleed to death, he was going to do it on his terms. No matter what. "I'm not asking you to commit treason or even give up your ridiculous interrogation methods," Danny said with force. "Just don't tell him what he wants to know, or we're both screwed, and that'll piss me off. You don't want to piss of the guy who's bleeding, do you?"

Danny could only hope that Steve would concede that point because, for starters, Danny was still handcuffed to a chair, so it wasn't like he could do much about it. More than that, Steve had ridiculous training and, even though Danny would never admit it and continued to resent it, he was pretty sure that if Steve wanted to, he could probably take Danny down with one hand if he were really so inclined. And really, even if Danny were looking to fight Steve for it, he was currently bleeding. Copiously. Which did not fare well for his ability to make Steve do anything.

Especially since Steve rarely did anything Danny told him to do because Steve was a psycho hard ass like that, at least when he wanted to be, which, as far as Danny could tell, was about 96 percent of the time.

The other four percent he was either smiling because he got laid or he was trying to convince Danny to like Hawaii.

"Fine," Steve said finally, his words a little stiff. "But you have to promise me something in return."

Danny made a face. "What, the blood isn't enough for you?"

"You hold on, okay?" he said. "I know it probably hurts like hell and you're getting tired, but as long as you're awake, this deal holds. The second you pass out, all bets are off."

The entire fact that Steve was negotiating sort of irked Danny, though part of that was probably the blood loss taking its toll. "Fine, fine," he snapped. "Figures that you would make me stay awake. As if I have been sufficiently tortured enough for one day."

"It hasn't even been a day yet," Steve replied.

The clarification was not helpful. Danny rolled his eyes. "You really are impossible, aren't you?"

"I'm just saying," Steve said, shrugging a little.

"Yeah, well, don't," Danny muttered. "Consider it practice for when Blaine gets back with his little lackey." He looked up, squinting toward the office. He could still barely make out Blaine's figure talking animatedly to Malcolm. "What do you think they're talking about in there anyway?"

Steve renewed his struggles with the handcuffs. "Whatever it is, it doesn't look friendly."

"Yeah, since Blaine struck me as such a friendly guy," Danny quipped. He shifted a little, trying not to wince at the pain. "Maybe another partner? Did he have anyone else who was implicated in the crimes?"

"No one else on the inside," Steve said, jerking his shoulders upward. The jostling made Danny swallow hard against bile, but he didn't say anything. "But I always figured he had an outside backer, someone with money."

That made sense. "So maybe Blaine's not the only one who wants to know who gave him up," he said. He paused, wetting his lips and taking a moment to breath through the throbbing. "Is it possible, what he said? That the informant snagged some for himself?"

Steve was suspiciously quiet for a moment, and then he shook his head. "No," he said flatly.

Danny waited for more. "No? Just like that?" he asked. "So where's Blaine's missing money?"

"It's not important," Steve said decidedly.

Danny groaned again, letting his head drop back a little. "I'm just bleeding to death, but it's not important."

"As long as Blaine doesn't have the money, it doesn't matter where it is," Steve reiterated.

There was some sense to that, and since Danny seemed to be dying on this sword slowly but surely, he liked to think that it was a principle worth his life.

Still, it would be nice to know. Just in case he really didn't make it through this, he would like to slip into oblivion with the satisfaction of knowing who his blood paid to keep safe.

Steve rattled him again. "Hey, remember what I said about staying awake?"

Danny's face scrunched up and he tried to hold back the pain in his side. "You're really going to be a pain in the ass about this, aren't you?"

Steve twisted his arms and shrugged a little. "It's worked for me so far," he said.

Danny had to snort, almost laughing. "Yeah, it's worked so well."

Steve shook his head. "More or less," he said, a hint of sheepishness in his voice.

Danny nodded drowsily. "More or less," he repeated. "You get the more and I seem to be stuck with the less."

"Yeah, well, not for much longer," Steve said resolutely. "I promise."

Steve meant it. But Steve always meant it. So far, his partner's persistence had always been enough. Part of Danny wanted to believe it always would be, but the pain in his side was a powerful counter-argument.

Grimly, he looked down, noting the blood and the puddle on the floor.

Today really was not his day. In fact, in all the horrible days since he'd moved to Hawaii, this probably was the worst. Because he hated sun and sand, but he hated bleeding even more. To think, he'd actually rather be surfing.

Hell, he'd rather watch Grace surfing.

His brow furrowed at the thought, and he shook his head, looking up from the pool, eyes trailing along the warehouse floor.

This was worse than he thought, if watching Grace in a bikini swimming near sharks while getting a case of skin cancer looked appealing.

Suddenly, the chair jostled, sending a fresh wave of pain down his side. His stomach roiled with it, and he had to swallow hard against impending nausea. When he finally got it under control, he hissed. "What the hell are you doing back there?"

"Trying to keep you awake," came Steve's reply.

Danny grunted of pain, shifting in vain to find a more comfortable position. "By torturing me?"

"You need to stay awake," Steve said, ever persistent in his pursuit to not only inflict pain but total frustration as well. The son of a bitch didn't even have the decency to sound sorry.

"That would be easier to do if I wasn't about ready to pass out from the pain each time you decide to rattle your hands back there," Danny snapped back. He squeezed his eyes shut, breathing heavily through the fire in his side.

"You were drifting," Steve said.

Danny's teeth gritted and he opened his eyes. "I was thinking," he countered angrily. "I was thinking and trying to distract myself from the fact that I've been shot and that I'm handcuffed to a chair. Is that so wrong?"

"Less thinking, more talking," Steve said.

Danny snorted. "Can I get that in writing, please?"

"Sure, no problem," Steve shot back sarcastically. "Let me just get my pen-"

"Well, we can always use my blood," Danny pointed out.

"Are you done whining yet?"

Danny balked a little. "Are you done belittling my pain?"

"I never belittled your pain."

"You shook me so as to induce more pain in my side," Danny reminded him hotly. "I think that's belittlement, don't you?"

"I'm trying to keep you alive."

Danny lifted his chin, a little indignant. If he was acting like a child, he didn't actually care. "That would be a first."

"You're awake, aren't you?" Steve quipped back.

Just like that, Danny's hatred of his partner reached a new level. The asshole was getting cheeky at Danny's expense. Part of him wanted to die just to prove him wrong.

The thought made him feel queasy, and Danny's angered was tempered by the reality. Wishing for death while bleeding during a hostage situation might not be the smartest way to go.

Still, Steve's attitude sucked. "I think I'd rather be passed out," Danny muttered. Because it did sound kind of nice. To just sleep through the pain. Let Steve do his superhero bit, let Blaine and Malcolm pull their last punches and let Chin and Kono storm in to save the day. Danny didn't need to see it. He didn't need to see any of it: not the posturing, not the threats, not the pool of his own blood collecting on the floor.

Hell, he could do without the inevitable ambulance ride and hospital stay. And the surgery - he didn't even want to think about the surgery and all that would go into that. The hospital gown and the wires and he'd probably need a damn catheter and if he was going to pee in a bag, then unconsciousness was definitely the way to go.

Sleep, nice and warm and pain free. He wouldn't have to feel the bullet lodged uncomfortably in his side. He wouldn't have to feel the handcuffs digging into his wrist. He wouldn't have to feel the throbbing in his swollen eye. He wouldn't have to feel anything...

He was assaulted with a new wave of pain as his body jerked again, totally against his will. It caught him by surprise, and the pain was even worse, returning with a vigor that had Danny's vision black around the edges.

"Hey," Steve was saying. "I told you to stay awake. Damn it, Danny. Stay awake."

It was an order - which wasn't so surprising - but Danny heard the plea in there. Steve wasn't just trying to torture him. Steve really was trying to save his life.

That made it easier to accept, but not any easier to endure.

"I'm awake, I'm awake," he muttered, although he couldn't find the energy to life his head. The thought of movement made his stomach turn and the thought of retching all over himself while handcuffed and shot was somewhat less than appealing.

Steve seemed to relax, but only marginally. Danny could feel his muscles tight with tension as his back. "You're still on the job," Steve reminded him, and his voice made an attempt at being lighter. "I need you on your game."

"Check that," Danny said with as much vigor as he could muster. "I'm totally, one hundred percent on my game." He paused, panting. "You know, besides the concussion and the blood loss."

"I've had worse," Steve told him.

Danny laughed a little. "Of course you have," he said, shaking his head. Reality became a little clearer and he took a few more deep breaths to control the pain and nausea. "So tell, me what's the plan now?"

That seemed to be the right question. Steve's back loosened a little and his voice lifted sincerely with new focus. "I've been working on the cuffs," he reported.

Danny closed his eyes, snorting a giggle. "And how's that working for you."

"I think if I could just put enough pressure on the latch, I could have something to work with," Steve said. "But it's hard to get the right leverage."

Danny opened his eyes again and lifted his head to look around blearily. "Go figure," he said. "Who would have thought that the inventor of handcuffs would want to discourage people from breaking out of them?"

It was a rather brilliant rhetorical question, especially given Danny's current state.

Steve didn't seem to acknowledge his brilliance. "Every pair has its weakness," he reiterated.

Danny sighed, letting his head roll back a little. "Why don't you just break your thumbs, Superman? Isn't that what a bad-ass Navy SEAL would do?"

Steve's voice was clipped. "I'd have no way to defend us with broken thumbs," he said. "Beside, that's no guarantee."

Danny snorted. "As if that's stopped you before."

Steve didn't seem to notice. "I'm going to keep working at it and see what angles I can use," he said. "But there's also action in the office. I think Blaine's getting ready to make a move."

For many reasons, that didn't sound like good news to Danny. The last time Blaine had decided to do something dramatic, Danny had ended up with a hole in his side. Danny didn't like holes in his side and he didn't like dramatic turns of events. He liked to keep things simple, by the book.

Of course, he wasn't entirely sure what a by the book hostage situation would look like, at least not for the hostage or the hostage taker. He could quote procedure for someone on the outside, but for some reason the police code didn't get very specific about what to do when you found yourself handcuffed to your partner in a warehouse with a bleeding gunshot wound and a psycho criminal who wanted answers you didn't have but your partner did have.

And that didn't even begin to cover how to handle making decisions while compromised with a concussion and a gunshot wound.

Right then, he really missed New Jersey.

Something shook him and the pain brought him back suddenly.

Danny straightened, blinking his eyes rapidly to fend off the spots as he tried to focus on the approaching figures.

It wasn't hard to figure out that it was Blaine and Malcolm, but if Danny were honest, that was mostly because there was no one else that it was likely to be.

Still, Danny wasn't one to put on airs, but keeping up the illusion that he wasn't about ready to pass out or hurl probably would work in their favor.

They came close and stopped short, Malcolm clutching his gun a little desperately. Blaine was smiling. "Well, gentlemen," Blaine said with a genteel tone. "How are we faring?"

Danny mustered something resembling a smile and a sneer. "Fantastic," he muttered.

Behind him, Steve was stiff, head held high. "This isn't going to get you anywhere," he said. Danny had to give him credit; despite the doubts his partner had expressed, he showed no signs of weakness. This was the plan. For better and for worse, this was the plan, and if it was worth dying for, it was worth dying for.

There was a flicker of disgust on Blaine's face, and Danny took some pleasure in the fact that he wasn't the only one who didn't particularly like the way the proceedings were going.

Blaine's smile turned cold. "I'm afraid that's not quite true," he said. "I have many places to go and you are only one avenue to get there."

"Only one?" Danny couldn't help but ask. "Next time, I vote you take another one. It might be less messy."

Blaine checked his watch, regarding him blandly. "The mess is unfortunate, but sometimes necessary."

"You don't want to add murder to your list of crimes," Steve said. "Trust me."

Blaine raised his eyebrows. "Trust you? Now that's cute, McGarrett. And you can prevent the blight on my record and your partner's untimely demise if you just tell me what you know."

"There's nothing to tell," Steve said forcefully, and Danny could feel the tension mounting in his partner's shoulders.

Blaine shrugged. "Then there's nothing to be done for this situation," he said.

Steve cursed, jarring the chair. Danny's vision went hazy with a sudden burst of pain.

"Watch them, please, Malcolm," Blaine said, as if they were about to go somewhere or try to do something besides sit there and bleed. "Get me if McGarrett feels like playing the game after all."

Malcolm's eyes went wide, and he shook his head imperceptibly.

Blaine's humor faded and he stepped closer to the younger man. "You are paid to follow orders," he said, low and deadly.

Malcolm swallowed. "You didn't say anything about anyone getting shot," he hissed back, and his tone was more afraid than angry.

Blaine's stance didn't waver, and even though the effect seemed to terrify the kid, it really just made Danny want to laugh. "You knew I wasn't a Boy Scout," he said. "Your cut isn't pocket change, and if you would like me to keep my gun where it is, I would strongly suggest you support me on this new part of the plan."

The threat wasn't idle, and Danny had the hole in his side to prove it. Malcolm considered his options before nodding his assent, eyes down and jaw quivering. Danny was too busy thinking about what merit badge could be earned by shooting innocent cops to care too much.

Blaine nodded. "Good," he said shortly. Then he looked purposefully back at Steve, which was just as well, because Danny probably would have stuck his tongue out at him on sheer principle alone. "I'm no medic, but I can read a wound as well as you can. Your partner has a few hours to bleed. That's some time for you to think while he suffers. You can hedge your bets on how long he'll make it before it's just too late, but that's entirely up to you."

Danny snorted wetly, as if the assessment somehow made things any better or worse. He could see the blood and he could feel it leaving his body and worse, he could feel air actually flowing through a hole in his side, so he was pretty sure that he already knew that he was pretty well screwed at this point.

So it wasn't the grim prognosis that really irked him, but the fact that he was sitting right there bleeding and no one had the courtesy to even address him. "Thanks for that," he said. "I really love it when people talk about me when I'm sitting right here. Gunshot or no gunshot, I'm still here, bleeding to death, thank you very much, so if you could just acknowledge my presence, I think I'd feel much better!"

Blaine gave a smile that was probably supposed to placate it him, but really just pissed him off. "My apologies, Detective Williams," he said. "But I've taken everything from you that I can possibly want. My business with you is done. Your life is nothing more than a timepiece for me now."

Insult to injury. Literally. And they both just hurt. "Oh, what, so you shoot me and now you want to deny me my dignity?"

"Frankly, Detective," Blaine said coolly. "I don't give a damn about your dignity. I want answers, and if McGarrett doesn't give them to me, I will take you and your dignity and chop you up into small pieces and dump them all off the coast and let the sharks take care of it for me. Now, if you don't mind, this unseemly business is leaving me parched and I do have other business to attend to." He nodded with a trite air of cordiality. "Gentlemen."

It was a polished cue to exit, and common sense would dictate that now, maybe even more than before, was a good time to just shut the hell up.

But really, at this point, what did Danny have to lose? He was already losing blood and he already had a nice hole in his side. His shirt was ruined and so was the tie and he'd probably have to get rid of the pants and the belt, too. Not to mention the boxers and the undershirt. He might get to keep his socks and his beloved shoes, which was a small feat, since he wasn't sure that he'd find replacements anyplace else on this craphole of an island.

So common sense? Could take a long walk of a short pier because he'd been shot and he was bleeding and he was handcuffed to a chair and that was about all the good times he could handle for one day.

Therefore, when the rant came to mind, Danny didn't fight it, but just let it come. "Sharks? Really? Sharks? Can't we just work out something a little less Animal Planet? Isn't dumping my body in a shallow grave sufficient? Maybe a volcano? I mean, even acid. Find a vat, dump me in. It's just as effective and won't encourage the top of the food chain to overpopulate this hell hole!"

Blaine didn't listen to him.

Which seemed pretty normal. It wasn't like anyone ever listened to him. Danny was well versed in the art of talking loudly and passionately and having no one give a damn.

Though, in truth, part of him had hoped that the blood gushing from his side might lend him a little credibility, all things considered.

And even if it wasn't gushing, it might as well have been, because he felt like crap.

Malcolm was looking at him, a little green around the gills himself.

Danny glared back. The kid's reluctant partner routine had scored him minimal sympathy with Danny earlier, but now that there was a significant amount of bloodshed, Danny was fresh out of compassion for accomplices to his would-be murder. "What?" he asked pointedly. "You want to insult me, too?"

"Take it easy," Steve said from behind him.

Danny couldn't see his face, but his voice sounded funny. Too restrained. Like he was trying to keep himself under control.

Which was silly, of course, because this was Steve McGarrett. The man who didn't believe in self-control when the endgame was in sight. If only the bad guys would let Steve drive right now, then they'd all see how much of a freak Steve really was.

The thought made him laugh.

"Danny?" Steve asked, voice spiked with concern. "You okay over there?"

Danny laughed again, a short, bark. "I'm peachy, what do you think?" he sniped.

"You staying with me here?" he prodded.

Danny rolled his eyes, dropping his head back in the only gesture of melodrama he was still able to complete. "Seriously, I'm still handcuffed to a chair," he said. "As much as I'd like to, I still don't have anywhere else to go."

"I mean mentally," Steve amended, shifting in his bonds. "You're sounding a little stressed."

Danny couldn't have controlled the laugh of incredulity, even if he wanted to. Which, for the record, he did not. Not now. Not ever as far as he was concerned. "Stressed," he repeated. "And why do you think I may be a little stressed? The handcuffs? The idiots with guns? Or the hole in my side? Or the copious blood leaving my body?"

"I was sort of thinking all of it," Steve admitted. He paused, seeming to swallow. "Seriously. I need you to tell me how you are."

Seriously. Steve was often serious, but usually that seriousness was about how to catch a bad guy or how to almost get killed but not quite. But seriously, Steve wanted to know how he was.

Danny closed his eyes and let himself breathe for a moment, trying to regain some semblance of control. His side was throbbing still, almost pulsating in time with the pounding in his head. He was most definitely concussed and if the clammy hands and fluttery heartbeat were any indication, he was probably in shock now, too.

"Danny?" Steve's voice came again. Then, he jostled them both. "Danny."

Danny jerked, pulling his head up and blinking rapidly. "I'm fine," he said, a little too quickly.

"Now is not the time to lie to me," Steve said.

It made him laugh - he really couldn't help it. "So you're saying there is a time to lie to you?"

"Danny," Steve said, almost growling now. "Keep it together. Tell me how you are."

There was concern there, and Danny knew that, he really did. And that meant something to him. It was nice to know that when the crap really hit the fan, Steve McGarrett actually did worry about something. Of course, such concern didn't do him much good in preventing such things, but there was some consolation in knowing that Steve was at least aware of how bad things really were.

Because it was a dumb question, and they both knew it. Because they also both knew that Danny was losing blood and that they were still handcuffed with no way out and Danny could try to stay awake all he wanted, but sooner or later, it wasn't going to be enough.

The thought made Danny's throat constrict. He wouldn't have a choice in it. No positive vibes, no clinging to the idea of Grace - none of it would make a difference when his blood volume got too low and he'd just pass out.

Then, whatever happened, happened, and Danny wouldn't know one way or the other.

That sucked, that sucked a lot, and it sort of made Danny want to cry.

In a manly way, of course, because he was a manly kind of guy, but damn it, he wanted to cry. Because it hurt and he was tired and he wanted to see Grace again. He really, really did.

Steve shook them again. "Danny, come on," he implored now. "You have to stay with me. That was part of the deal, remember?"

Danny blinked, noticing for the first time just how dim the world was around the edges. It was getting hard to see Malcolm anymore. It was getting hard to keep his eyes open at all.

"Say something," Steve said. "Anything. Maybe about New Jersey. Or why you hate Hawaii so much."

It was tempting. An open invitation to rant? Was hard to pass up.

But he couldn't remember much about New Jersey. He could remember even less about Hawaii and why he hated it.

It was even a little hard to remember why they were here or how they thought they might get out.

But he remembered Grace. He remembered Gracie - the smell of her shampoo, the curve of her smile, the way her eyes lit up when she laughed.

He loved her. He loved her so freakin' much.

Somewhere, Steve was swearing, and Danny remembered his partner.

Remembered the day they met, getting shot outside a gunrunner's house. Remembered screaming on the roof of a building and ranting in a car.

"I was right, you know," Danny said, and his own voice would have surprised him, if he were sure it was his at all.

"Yeah?" Steve asked, almost hopeful. "About what?"

Danny blinked, slower now, cocking his head while he tried to make sense of the fuzzy shapes in the warehouse. "About everything," he said. "I'm sorry."

"Sorry? About what?" Steve asked, and if he was trying to sound annoyed, he was failing. "For scratching the car up when you drove in front of a plane?"

Funny, Danny didn't really remember it that way. "You apologize," he said, trying to make his mouth work. "When you get someone shot, you apologize."

Steve swore again. "I know," he said. "And I'm sorry, Danny. Okay? I'm sorry, and you can ream me out when we get out of here, I promise, okay? I promise."

He hadn't been looking for an apology, though. He wasn't sure what he was looking for. "The plan was good," he murmured. "Nothing you could do."

"It's not over yet," Steve said and he pulled again at the restraints. "It's not over yet."

It felt over. Danny's body felt almost numb now, a pervasive cold, long and leaching like a New Jersey winter.

"I'm sorry," Danny said again, because when you got someone shot, you apologized. When you had their back, you had it until the end, but Danny couldn't hold out for the end. He wanted to, but he couldn't. He could move cross country for his daughter, he could tolerate Steve's antics in a bust, but he couldn't hold on long enough to finish the job.

Danny had quit a lot of things in his life, so he wasn't sure why this one bothered him so much.

But it did. Leaving Steve here. Leaving Grace.

He swallowed with effort, but couldn't find the energy to lift his head. "Tell Grace," he said, trying to know what to say. "Tell Grace."

"You can tell her yourself," Steve replied immediately. "You hear me, Danny? You can tell her yourself. Father-daughter commiseration. Hell, I'll pay for another weekend with the dolphins if it helps."

It was a nice idea, but it didn't help.

Nothing helped.

Because Danny was bleeding and Danny was tired and Danny couldn't lift his head and he couldn't open his eyes and he was going to leave Steve without any options or backup and he was going to leave Grace with nothing but a Step Stan where there should be a father.

Danny took a ragged breath, and for a second the pain eclipsed his awareness, but it fled faster than before, retreating deeper into his mind.

Promises and pledges and rants and raves and, in the end, none of it mattered. Danny could move cross country and he could ride shotgun to Steve's escapades but sometimes the choice wasn't his to make.

Sometimes it wasn't a choice at all.

And the blackness came, and Danny had nothing left to fight it as it consumed him whole.

HOUR TEN

Comments

(Deleted comment)
Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: February 23rd, 2011 03:21 pm (UTC)
danny steve walk

It's interesting because Steve is such the obvious hero, but I think Danny's reluctance is often just as impressive. Because whereas Steve seems to be willing to charge in regardless of consequences, Danny is always keenly aware of what's at stake and still decides to move anyway.

Thanks!

Posted by: hbfan2608 (hbfan2608)
Posted at: February 21st, 2011 03:00 pm (UTC)
OMG

Seriously OMG. I can hardly breathe here. Poor Danny, poor Steve.. did i mention OMG. Is it Thurs yet?????????

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: February 23rd, 2011 03:21 pm (UTC)
Re: OMG
danny doesn't get fired

They are in a tight spot :) Update will be tomorrow. Thanks!

Posted by: Kathy (kitmerlot1213)
Posted at: February 21st, 2011 04:02 pm (UTC)
Danny's office

I loved how we got Danny's POV as he weaved in and out of consciousness and I especially liked how worried Steve got when Danny mentioned talking to Grace.

Damn, but what is going to happen next?

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: February 23rd, 2011 03:22 pm (UTC)
danny and steve work together

I'm glad you liked Danny's wavering POV here. I seem to enjoy writing such things :) Thanks!

Posted by: Flute (sgflutegirl)
Posted at: February 21st, 2011 07:51 pm (UTC)
H50 - Partners

Wow! That was some powerful stuff, especially the last little bit with Danny, and him eventually passing out.

Seriously can't wait for more.

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: February 23rd, 2011 03:23 pm (UTC)
danny makes a point

And more will be up tomorrow :) Thanks!

Posted by: Jill (gunslingaaahhh)
Posted at: February 22nd, 2011 01:13 am (UTC)

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: February 23rd, 2011 03:23 pm (UTC)
danny steve partners

LOL. Thanks :)

Posted by: Rosalita (iamrosalita)
Posted at: February 22nd, 2011 01:29 am (UTC)

I was going to wait until the end of the story to leave feedback, but I can't. OMG! This is an amazing and you're an amazing writer and this is just killing me. I admit to tearing up just a little. Poor Danny. Poor Steve. I can't wait for the next part.

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: February 23rd, 2011 03:23 pm (UTC)
danny steve walk

Thank you! I'm glad you're enjoying it so much :)

Posted by: ratherastory (ratherastory)
Posted at: February 22nd, 2011 05:11 am (UTC)
Danno & Grace

Holy crap. I am seriously stressed out, here! Oh, man.

*twists in her chair*

Gaaah.

Maybe one day I'll be able to leave coherent feedback.

I love Danny's inner monologue (and outer monologue, for that matter!) and his unwavering loyalty and his thoughts about Grace and oh, God, my HEART.

*waits for Thursday*

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: February 23rd, 2011 03:24 pm (UTC)
steve

I always find coherency to be overrated :)

Thanks!

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