what_we_dream: (5-O)
[personal profile] what_we_dream
Title: Implosion (4/4 + e)
Series: Hawaii Five-O
Pairing: None
Rating: PG-13

Summary: Danny's apparent death leaves Five-O struggling to solve the murder without falling to pieces. Because every fandom needs a crazy stalker fic.

Prologue
Chapter 1
Chapter 2
Chapter 3
Chapter 4


Steve rings the doorbell at Danno’s apartment, and when it isn’t answered immediately has to force himself to wait rather than ring it again. It’s nearly a minute before the lock clicks, and the door swings open just slightly too fast to indicate trepidation.

Danno looks far better than he did in the hospital even yesterday evening. He’s already regained a healthy colouring, and the bruising on his face has softened from vivid purple to a less obvious yellow. But there are new shadows under his eyes, and wariness in the way he carries himself. And, beneath the long sleeves of his shirt, the white tips of the bandages are peeking out.

Still, when he sees Steve, the nervousness goes out of his eyes and he smiles widely. “Steve.”

Warmed by Danno’s reaction, Steve smiles in return and steps inside. “How’re you doing, Danno?”

“Good,” answers Danno, as they step into the living room. The apartment’s not very big, but Steve’s immediate sense of it is that it’s larger than it has seemed in the past. A glance at the carpets reveal that the furniture has been pushed back closer to the walls, creating a more open space. The soft, tropical breeze wafting through the room tells Steve that most, if not all, of the windows are open.

“My folks came by this morning to get me settled in. Mom wanted to stay and keep an eye on me – practically had to throw her out.” Danno rubs at the back of his head, embarrassed. “Guess I gave them a bit of a scare.”

“You gave us all a bit of a scare. Probably did us some good, though – it sure got butts off chairs down at HPD,” he says, making a joke of it. Danno laughs and heads for the kitchen. “Want something to drink? I’ve got fresh everything.”

Steve has a brief image of Irene in the grocery store, filling a cart with anything she can imagine her son might possible want, and turns away. “Whatever you’re having,” he says, walking in slow strides to the couch. There are a few copies of the Honolulu Advertiser lying on one of the seats; the headline of the top issue reads:

5-O DETECTIVE WILLIAMS ALIVE
KIDNAPPER DIES AFTER STAND-OFF WITH 5-O

Steve sits down on the opposite end of the couch from it, frowning. But a moment later Danno appears with two glasses of POG, and he wipes the concern off his face and accepts the drink. Danno seats himself in a recliner across from the couch, taking a sip from his drink – Steve sees that his left arm is still stiff.

“I spoke to the doctor this morning,” says Steve, after taking a sip of the tart drink. “He said you weren’t the most cooperative patient he’s had.”

Danno frowns, almost sulkily. “I waited for his okay to check out. It was ridiculous, Steve – he kept me in there for 48 hours, even though there’s nothing wrong with me.”

“Except for dehydration, serious abrasions, possible blood-borne infection, and morphine withdrawal,” says Steve, dryly. Danno gives him an unimpressed look.

“You’re starting to sound like the doc. And anyway, the tests came back negative. I’m fine apart from the shakes, and they’ll be gone by tomorrow.”

Steve nods. “I know. Doc says you can come back to work in three days, if you want to.”

“I do.” There’s not even an instant of hesitation. Steve puts his drink down on a coffee table and leans forward.

“Danno, maybe you should take a couple of days off. Have a break. Relax, surf, spend some time on the beach.”

“You saying I need to work on my tan, Steve?” He’s still smiling, but there’s steel at the edges now. Beneath the loose shirt, his frame is tense.

“I’m saying you’ve had a rough time, and you deserve a break,” replies Steve, evenly.

Danno gets up abruptly and walks over to stand at the door to the balcony, looks out at the city beyond. The glass door is open, wind ruffling the floor-length curtains and the un-tucked hem of Danno’s shirt.

“I appreciate the concern,” he says after a minute, “but I just want things to be normal, and normal for me is working. Besides, if we’re talking about rough times, you guys’ve got me beat hands down. Investigating a Five-O detective’s murder with everyone breathing down the backs of your necks?” Danno’s trying for carefree, but even with his back turned he’s not quite managing it. The thing that worries Steve is that – as always – there’s no sarcasm in his voice. He means what he’s saying.

But even more immediate is the issue of the murder investigation. No one talked to Danno about his falsified death at the hospital. To begin with, they’d been too concerned for his health to bring up the incident at all. And then, once they realised he had no idea Lowe had faked his death, the idea of dropping the potential guilt and empathetic pain on him while he was still fighting off the morphine and dehydration had been inconceivable.

“I was going to tell you about it this morning,” says Steve, resting his elbows on his legs, “but when I got there, you’d been released.”

Danno turns. There’s no anger on his face, just distress. “Then tell me now. I’m sick of all this top-toeing And the papers are worse – they just hint with no facts. ‘HPD under investigation for assault,’ ‘McGarrett cautioned by the Governor’…” Danno clenches his fists briefly, winces, and crosses his arms instead. For an instant, Steve can see the young man Danno was when he joined Five-O, so eager to please and simultaneously so concerned not to reflect badly on the unit. That intrinsic need to protect his unit’s reputation has never disappeared; he’s just learned how to represent Five-O without having to worry about it.

Steve sits up, and is careful to speak unequivocally. “First off, no one’s under investigation, and no one’s been cautioned or reprimanded. Not everything was handled as smoothly as it could have been, but no one did anything outside the boundaries of defensible action. There will be no lasting repercussions of this incident.” At least, not formally. Steve waits to see that Danno’s understood, before taking a deep breath and continuing.

“As to what happened… Around 6:30 on Friday night, I said goodbye to you in the parking lot. A couple of minutes later, your car exploded. We learned later that Lowe must have jumped you in the lot and then set off the explosion remotely. At the time, all we knew was that your car exploded with someone in it, just after I’d seen you going to it.” It hurts much less now, so much less. But it still hurts. Steve can’t help the surge of relief when Danno lets out his breath in a low sigh and interrupts his line of thought.

“Who was in it?”

“We’re still waiting on confirmation, but probably a homeless man who lived in the alley beside Lowe’s building. We need to get a full name for him before we can match the dentals, if there are any. Odds are we’ll never get a formal ID.”

Danno shakes his head. “Ha – Lowe never even mentioned him. He hated you so much it scared me, but he never even talked about anyone other than you, me and his brother. It was like the three of us were the only things that existed.”

“We got his medical records with a subpoena – Lowe saw a therapist for a while a few years back. She flagged a tendency for fixation and the possibility of violent escalation. But when the parents died, the brother couldn’t afford her fees, and Lowe dropped off the radar.”

Danno rubs his arms, scratching softly at the bandages beneath his sleeves. “So Matthew did the only thing he could think of to keep his brother out of trouble – moved in with him and kept an eye on him himself. And when it got to be too much he got into morphine. Poor guy.”

This, they had talked about at the hospital. The wheels of justice don’t slow for a cop with mild dehydration and bust-up wrists; Danno had been asked for and given his statement from his bed the day before. Afterwards, he got a short run-down on Lowe’s motives, although not his actions.

Danno re-seats himself, and looks to Steve to continue. Steve shrugs.

“There’s not a lot to tell, Danno. The investigation stalled – we didn’t have any clues, and no one knew anything. Then that boy showed up. If he hadn’t…” It’s a lingering void he’s been avoiding, and he tries to side-step it now without full success.

“You’d have found me,” says Danno, with absolute confidence. Steve smiles sadly.

“I hope so – we sure as hell wouldn’t have given up. We did get the report back on the body that proved it couldn’t have been you, just as we were leaving for Lowe’s address. It backed up the kid’s story and really got us in gear. The rest you know.”

Danno picks up his glass, but puts it down again without drinking. Whether his restlessness comes from days of lying in a bed, or the morphine, or both, Steve doesn’t know. His hands are trembling slightly, and he looks down at them. “It must’ve been really tough for you guys. I’m sorry, I –”

“There’s nothing to apologize for,” breaks in Steve immediately, so intensely that Danno looks up. Steve continues more evenly, but with the same intensity. “You were attacked, held captive against your will, and still managed to lead us to you. You’ve done absolutely nothing to be sorry about – or ashamed of,” he adds, as a burst of insight strikes him.

Danno blinks, then shakes his head and laughs. “Ashamed? Steve, I was jumped in my own parking lot by a shut-in I had 20 pounds on – not to mention my gun – couldn’t break out of his pathetic holding cell even though he let me come up for air, and then almost got dragged off a damn cliff along with him in front of half the Force. What the hell kind of cop does that make me?” He stands, arms spread wide in demand. Steve looks up but doesn’t stand, trying to remain a calming presence.

“One of the most brave and resourceful ones I know,” he answers, earnestly. “I mean it, Danno. You kept your head, even when he was trying to keep you from thinking, and you found a way to get yourself out of there. That, and the fact that they’re glad you’re back, is all anyone’s going to think.”

“You weren’t there, you didn’t see him. He was practically breaking up, a total basket-case, and I still couldn’t get away on my own.”

“You and I both know it’s not rational men who are the most dangerous. It’s the ones you can’t predict, can’t influence, can’t control. And Lowe was a gold medalist in all three categories.” Steve sees Danno open his mouth to reply, and turns up the heat a bit. “And if we’re trying to play the blame game here, Danno, why not take some shots at me?”

Danno pauses, and Steve charges on, determined to derail Danno’s self-shaming. “I was the one who didn’t order the tests run on the body immediately; I was the one who couldn’t find you, I was the one who was almost too late. It’s my fault you were kept there as long as you were, my fault you were drugged and injured, my fault you almost went over that cliff.”

“That’s not –”

“You’re worried about perception, Danno, but I made genuine mistakes that could have cost you your life. Because I was too pig-headed to give up the case, and too hurt to handle it.”

“But it was you who figured out where I was,” says Danno, quietly. “Ben told me. Said you took off like a bat out of hell, even though you had no evidence. If you’d waited for an APB to find the car, we’d have both been on the rocks.”

“And if I’d been wrong? If he’d taken you somewhere else, and I wasted 20 minutes getting out to Diamond Head?” The magnitude of that possible mistake haunts him now. What haunts him even more is the fact that he was so sure he was right that he didn’t even recognize it at the time.

“But he didn’t. No one else would’ve found us in time.”

“And no one else would’ve made sure I did. Double-edged sword, Danno. You blame yourself, you blame me.” He does stand now, walks over to drop a careful hand on Danno’s shoulder. “If it had been anyone else – if it had been Chin – and we’d just got him back, what would you think? He hadn’t tried hard enough to escape? He’d been a klutz to let someone grab him?”

Danno shakes his head, slightly ashamed by his guilt. “No. You’re right. I’d just be glad he was back. And…”

Steve raises an eyebrow. “And?”

Danno looks up, and the flash of intensity in his eyes sends Steve slightly off balance. “And I’d be mad as hell with whoever grabbed him. Steve –” there’s a questioning in his voice that makes Steve smile, darkly.

“I didn’t push him, Danno.”

Danno’s eyes widen, and Steve kicks himself. Because that’s Danny Williams too. No opinion of himself, and no room for doubting Steve McGarrett.

“Of course you didn’t,” Danno says, stung, and Steve isn’t sure whether he should be thankful Danno was too out of it to see him almost take the shot. Faith in a commander is essential, but absolute faith is just dangerous. “I meant… I guess… you guys were okay, right? No one did anything stupid, did they?”

Steve can’t help but smile, especially since the only other alternative to joking would be to tear strips out of himself. “Where to begin, Danno? Where to begin? But no, we didn’t completely ruin our good name. Mostly thanks to Chin.” He tries to start a laugh, but Danno doesn’t buy in.

“And you?” Danno breaks free of Steve’s arm and turns to stand in the breeze from the balcony. “It’s a dangerous job, Steve. If I died, I wouldn’t want to think… I’d want you to be okay.”

For a moment, Steve stands, too off-balance to answer. And then, too used to its recent freedom, his heart twists loose and answers before rationality can clamp down on it.

“Well, that’s a monumental load of crap, Danno.”

Danno’s staring at him like he’s gone mad, but he doesn’t stop – can’t stop. It feels like there’s a steel ball in his throat, like all the fear and pain and guilt from the past few days has been compressed like coal by the pressure of his emotions, ready to choke him.

“I wouldn’t be okay – how could I be? You’re my second in command, and you’re the closest thing to a brother I have. Losing you – I don’t even want to talk about it.” He picks up Danno’s glass and takes a deep drink, trying to erode the lump in his throat. “If you want to know if I can survive it, Danno, then yes. I think I can. But that’s just about all you can ask of me, so don’t go throwing your life on the line for nothing.”

“Steve…” Danno’s staring at him like he’s been shot in the gut, eyes wide and face too pale. Steve lets out his breath in a deep sigh, and runs a hand over his face. When he looks back, Danno’s trying to cover his shock. Steve puts the glass down, and lets his frame loosen.

“Buck up, Danno. We pulled through. It’s enough for now. If you want more time, or need to talk, the option’s open. I’m there when you need me. Same’s true of the rest of Five-O.”

Danno gives a faint smile, still slightly spooked, and nods. “Sure, I know. And I’ll remember it,” he adds, and Steve knows he’s not just talking about the offer of vacation days.

They stand there for a moment, listening to the traffic down below, before Steve remembers the weight in his jacket pocket, and clears his throat self-consciously. “We were supposed to have a party today, but Jenny thought we should postpone for a couple of days. Alcohol’s probably not cleared by the Doc.”

Danno shakes his head. “Definitely not. He was pretty emphatic about it.”

“Imagine that.” Steve grins briefly, sees the answering grin from his detective, and continues, “So we’ll have it when you get back. But I wanted to drop this off for now. I know it’s not exactly what you wanted; if you don’t want it, you can just toss it.” He pulls out a small, unwrapped box and hands it over. Danno takes it with a surprised look, turning it to feel the weight and nature of the contents. “Happy birthday,” he adds.

The look Danno gives him makes it apparent he hadn’t realised what day it is. Not entirely surprising; with all the morphine, he’d be lucky to know what day of the week it is without someone having told him. He opens the box slowly, and stares down at the contents.

“I had the battery replaced, and the mechanism cleaned. They said it’ll be good for another couple of decades. But if you don’t want it, that’s fine.”

“No,” says Danno, immediately, and pulls out his old watch. It looks new after the professional cleaning, and glints in his hand. “You’re right. It keeps good time. And you know how often –” he pulls up short of finishing, glancing up at Steve, who can feel the hairs rising on the back of his neck.

“Déjà vu?” he asks lightly.

“Yeah. Well. You know what I was going to say. Thanks a lot. Really.”

Steve presses his shoulder, and feels the tension slip out of Danno. “You’re welcome. Now how ‘bout we investigate the contents of your refrigerator? I could eat a horse.” He's surprised to find he means it.

Danno laughs, and follows him into the kitchen. And Steve knows that, when he plays over the last week in his mind, this will make everything worth it.

END
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