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~~~
Danny
~~~

For a very brief moment, Danny thought about his entire life and how the various, mundane events led him to being in the back seat of tourist sky tour helicopter with an active nuclear bomb ticking away at his feet.

First was his dog running away when he six. How his grip on Freeway’s leash just wasn’t enough, and the fear of going back in the house to tell his father he had lost the dog after being trusted with the chore alone for the first time ever. How he sat on the curb and cried and a patrol car pulled up. How the officer took time out of his busy day to help Danny find his dog. (In retrospect, Danny would stop for any six year old alone and crying on a curb.) The cop had sat with Danny, calmed him down, and asked him questions like “where do you usually take him for a walk?” and “What does he like to do?” and putting out a description to a couple other local patrol cars to be on the lookout. Which lead them directly to the park down the street with the pond and a couple dozen ducks and a barking dog happy to see his boy again.

“You’d make a decent detective someday, son,” The officer had said, and that was it.

There was a nuclear bomb at his feet because he couldn’t keep his grip on a little russell terrier’s leash.

Sure, there were lots of other events, but for some reason Danny couldn’t focus on much else than his first childhood dog. Life really did flash before your eyes, he supposed. His whole life, down to a handful of minutes left. No watching Grace graduate, or giving Charlie his bone marrow, or watching him grow up, or teaching him how to shave, or walking Grace down an aisle, or being an old man complaining about Steve’s microwaved eggs and Grace’s smuck of a husband and Danny’s sore back enjoying beers and sunsets on Steve’s beach.

“Well,” Danny started. Talking was always good, always his fall back when he was nervous or anxious, and he didn’t think he had ever been so nervous and anxious in his entire life. “The good news is that dying would be better off than lookin’ at your bald head for the rest of my life.”

~~~
Steve
~~~

“...for the rest of my life.”

Danny and his loud mouth was a comfort he didn’t realize he needed. He was on a mission. Missions were easy. Turn everything off, get the job done, then worry about the emotions later. And “for the rest of my life,” said like it wasn’t going to be three minutes and change was a wonder. It was nice Danny was giving him that much, at least. That half a promise.

“What are you rambling about?” he went with.

“I got a nuke at my foot, okay, ‘what am I rambling about.’” Danny scoffed. “If we don’t die - which is a gigantic ‘if’ - I’m gonna be microwaving eggs with my finger, okay?”

Steve rolled his eyes, “Nobody is going to die, Danny.”

“Oh really? It’s Doctor Strangelove, he’s back!” He rolled his eyes again. The possible last minutes of his life, and he’s rolling his eyes about something Danny said, doing his best to keep the man calm. At least he’d go out the way he lived his life. “Aren’t you the one that said the residual contact isn’t so bad, it’s the direct contact that is?”

Well, crap. So much for keeping him calm. “No, I didn’t say that exactly.”

“Well, you implied it.” “Just listen to me.” “You basically said that.” “Alright, listen to me.” “I’m basically standing on the thing!” “Listen! Alright?”

Oh, how he loved his best friend, and all the good things that he is.

“One kid is one thing, Danny, but two kids is something else, alright? And guess what, you got two kids now. You got two kids now, and one kid really needs you to come home and do something really important for him, alright?”

There was one of his commanding officers, back when he was a baby squid with nerves about combat, who looked him in the eye and told him that he should think of one person. Just one, maybe two if you were lucky, and you protect them. You fight for them. You fight to get back home to them. Not your unit, not your crew, not your country. Those things were too big to worry about. In times of worry and fear, think of those important few, and make everything you do for them.

Steve could do that for Danny, in this moment. And for Grace. And for Charlie, at home, getting sicker and sicker with every minute that passes.

...two minutes and some change…

“So, you don’t get to die today,” He turned around to look at the man, face full of fear and anxiety. He had to fix it, had to fall back on old habits. Something comfortable and easy. “Even though it would make my life a lot quieter.”

~~~
Danny
~~~

“...a lot quieter.”

Danny had to straighten himself out at that. Steve had a point. He couldn’t let himself freeze up now, he had people that counted on him, and there was still a chance. Steve, ever the optimist to Danny’s pessimist. Oh, how he was thankful he had found someone in his lifetime that met him blow for blow. Someone who balanced him out.

He gave the nuke another glance. This was it.

“We got two minutes, almost two minutes.”

“Alright,” Steve said, “We’re almost where we need to be, Danny, you ready?”

“Just say when.”

There was a tense few seconds, and Danny couldn’t take his eyes off the clock. How did his life come down to waiting on Steve McGarrett? He always seemed to be waiting on the man, and now he was trusting him, their life literally in his hands.

“Alright, now Danny, now, now!”

The next bit became a blur. Opening the door, dropping the nuke, climbing in the front seat - closer to Steve, as far away from the thing as possible - and relying on a combination of a used helicopter he helped Kamekona buy at a discount and Steve’s hands on the wheel.

‘It’s called a yoke, Danny,’ Steve’s voice rang in his head, randomly.

It felt like forever, waiting for something to happen. Like maybe it never would… like maybe all this build-up and tension and all those ridiculous mundane events like losing grip on a leash, and fighting his family’s expectations, and a summer job at a casino, and being Mr. March on a charity calendar, and Grace always driving his damn car, and Stan getting a job that meant he’d move to Hawaii, and going to yet another crime scene to find a trespasser… it was all for a completely unsatisfying ending of being alone the rest of his life.

Well, not completely alone. He’d have Steve’s bald head. And the jerk probably wouldn’t even lose hair, just forever dye his grays dark and pretending like he wasn’t getting older.

“What happened?” They were both ansty with expectation. “Maybe it’s a dud, huh?”

And then it happened. An explosion behind them, the force of it throwing the very sea into the air, causing the helicopter to beep frantically, Danny’s heart to jump into his chest, his hand to grip Steve’s arm, and Danny to trust Steve to get them through it.

~~~
Steve
~~~

“You alright?” He asked, looking over to Danny, who had his eyes shut tight, shaking his head. The grip he had on his arm was tight, but Steve welcomed it. “You alright?” He asked again. It turned into “You’re alright” and he couldn’t help the smile and the relief. “We’re going home, Danny. We’re going home.”

The flight back home was full of steadying breaths and easy smiles and excited laughing. Steve had moved to pull the hand on his arm to his hands and they laced their fingers together, and laughed, shared looks of thanks and relief all the way home.

All Steve wanted to do was celebrate, Kono’s wedding was just convenient. Danny was alone on a dance floor so Steve slid up to him and took him in his arms and they rolled their eyes and laughed and it was good.

Several hours, and a couple vows, and too many drinks later, Steve and Danny were swaying next to each other to a slow beat just off the dance floor. Danny fumbled with an easy step - the alcohol, no doubt - but Steve wasn’t letting that be an excuse for stepping on his feet.

He laughed, “No, no, like this.” He stepped forward, Danny taking the side step, and they circled each other, arms around each other, with easy grins.

Danny turned his focus to their feet as they spun, and he misstepped a few times again, Steve’s shoes scuffed up, but it was the joy of surviving rolling around with them that made him not care about the state of his shoes. He could probably guilt Danny into shining them later, he thought with a glint in his eye.

“That’s with you leading though,” Danny complained after they were done with another spin.

“Then take the lead, Danno,” Steve told him, and it was like a switch on Danny’s face.

It was a moment of hearing something in Steve’s simple words that Steve didn’t realize he meant. Then he felt the switch on his own face. Something had shifted, and their feet had slowed, and they stared at one another, the anxiety and tension from the day returned.

A new clock had begun to countdown and they had only just noticed.

The song changed, something upbeat and quick, forcing them both to drop their hands and step away from one another. Catherine bounded in and stole Steve, but Steve watched over her shoulder as Danny stood still, the same (and it was new, and exciting, and terrifying) look on his face as he met Steve’s eyes. Then Danny had Grace in his arms and they made their way to the dancefloor too and the moment was gone, fleeting, and Steve tried to blame the adrenaline and alcohol.

An explosion had gone off that day sure, but looking back… the nuclear warhead was only the trigger. Tick, tick, tick. All Steve could do was keep his hands steady, and trust Danny to open that door to let it all fall.