Fandom: “Hawaii Five-0 (2010)”
Characters / Pairing: Steve McGarrett/Danny Williams
Genre: AU Futurefic
Word Count: 1710
Spoilers: None; ‘verse diverges from canon after 1.24.
Warnings: Angst, mentions of past imprisonment
Challenge/Prompt: Written for shoot_the_curl in response to grnidshrk‘s prompt “soothing the scars left behind.”
A/N #1: Unbeta’d and I’m posting from my phone while attending a conference, so any mistakes and glaring errors are my own. If you spot something, let me know.
A/N #2: This is an AU futurefic in the same ‘verse as Love Letters from the Eleventh Hour, which you may want to check out. Basically it took Steve and Danny a really long time to clear Steve’s name. The beginning is a bit angsty, but I tried to make up for it with as much schmoop and snuggling as possible towards the end!
A/N #3: The title is a line from a Welsh lullaby, “All Through the Night”
Summary: Steve’s scars aren’t all physical, and sometimes the demons that haunt his dreams are the hardest scars to bear, but Danny’s there to make it better.
Danny awoke for the third time that night. What woke him wasn’t a cry or a thump—nothing so dramatic as thrashing or screaming. Steve was never that unsubtle, even in sleep he was restrained, contained. No, this time it was a quiet whimper. Last time it was a twitch, the time before that a grunt. A year and a half since his release, and Steve still dreamt he was back there. He still didn’t talk about his dreams—not to Danny, and probably very little with his therapist. Prison, and more specifically Death Row and the length of time he’d spent there had changed a lot about Steve. But underneath it all, he was still Steve. And that meant he still bottled everything up. Steve didn’t know how to talk about his feelings, how to ask for help.
Danny had been willing to let it slide, let Steve work it out on his own, providing a constant supportive presence Danny hoped would work its way into Steve’s stubborn psyche through osmosis. But in the five months since they’d moved back to Hawaii, the dreams had gotten worse and more frequent. It was time for Danny to try a different tack.
“Babe.” Danny’s voice was just above a whisper, but it broke the soothing pattern of rolling waves on the beach outside.
Beside him, Steve stilled, and the steady pattern of his breaths stopped, submerging their bedroom in eerie silence. After a moment, Steve’s breathing resumed, almost as regular, but not quite—it was the only sign as Steve flipped from sleep to wakefulness. There was never any in-between, never sleepy disorientation, nor half-dreamy bliss. He was either awake or asleep.
Danny sometimes thought Steve clung to awareness with every fiber of his being, surrendering to sleep only after losing a long and arduous battle, and when he lost, it was all at once. His awareness just switched off. At the first opportunity, Steve would leave sleep behind, surging to awareness again. Danny was pretty sure Steve distrusted sleep, and he had a pretty good idea why. Sleep left Steve vulnerable—to physical attack and to his psychological demons. Sleep brought with it dreams. Dreams could deceive. They could make Steve believe he was back in prison, that he’d never gotten out, was facing execution, that he and Danny had never been able to act on their feelings or consummate their relationship. Dreams could put Steve back into hell. They blurred the outlines of reality, could make Steve doubt what was real.
Danny shuddered. He didn’t want Steve to doubt that he was real or that they were together.
Couple those demons with nearly a decade of conditioning reminding Steve time was limited—every moment was precious. Danny knew Steve still feared sleep as lost moments he didn’t have left to live. Every time he had a nightmare, it reinforced Steve’s fears.
But logical, understandable as Steve’s behavior was, it had to stop. It was taking a toll too costly for Steve to bear. He was losing weight again, and the lack of peaceful sleep was starting to bring back the haunted, hollow look he’d had when he was released. Being back in Hawaii was good for them—good for Steve on so many levels, and Danny couldn’t let the bad undermine the good. Since they’d moved back, Steve was swimming again, even surfing a little. Danny had been able to extend his job out here too, taking what he’d learned and working with a new clinic at the University staffed by eager law students and professors and a few volunteer attorneys who had been… sobered when the truth about Steve and his convictions had come out.
The exoneration and full pardon for any and all crimes Steve had committed while trying to exonerate himself (hindsight was definitely working in his favor there) had helped. The state legislature had passed a special compensation bill to “repay” Steve for the years he’d spent wrongly convicted, too. It wasn’t much, but that and returning his property to him (including his house) had gone a long way toward giving Steve and Danny the social and financial breathing room to begin to build a new life together. Steve was even starting to help out with the clinic.
On the good days, Danny felt like the last decade hadn’t happened. Things had changed, they were older, but it was more like everything had been on pause and suddenly someone pushed “play.”
On the bad days… Steve’s life had been spared and both their reputations largely rehabilitated, but that didn’t erase the past. They both bore the scars of the past. Some physical, tangible, visible (especially with Steve), but many more invisible, psychological wounds in various stages of healing. Some of those wounds might never fully heal…
But Danny could do his best to soothe the scars left behind.
“Babe,” he said again, louder this time. “Babe, I know you’re awake. I’m here. You’re here. We’re both here in this pineapple-infested hell hole, that’s really starting to grow on me.” He rolled onto his left side, bracing himself on his elbow, unsurprised to find Steve staring back at him, still lying on his back with his head turned towards Danny. Danny reached over and stroked Steve’s cheek. “I love you,” he said with matter-of-fact sincerity before leaning forward and pressing a chaste kiss to Steve’s forehead.
“Sorry I woke you,” Steve murmured, his tone chastened.
“You didn’t wake me, Babe.”
Steve smiled a little. The familiar endearment always seemed to pull him out of the darker corners of his mind and help him focus on the good things. Good times. Good people—like Danny.
“I was already awake, thinking.” He ran his right hand up and down Steve’s side, brushing gently over his arm, flank, leg, fingers taking in the contrast of sweat-slick skin; smooth cotton jersey; and crisp, woven boxers. “You were dreaming again, babe. I didn’t want to leave you there. Wanted you here with me.”
Steve leaned into Danny’s touch, rolling closer—just a little, but enough to make Danny’s heart leap to see Steve actively taking comfort from his touch. “I know; I’m a goof,” Steve replied, self-deprecating.
“No, not a goof,” Danny answered.
Steve started to pull back.
“Well, you’re always my goof,” he added with a chuckle and grin, breathing a little sigh of relief when Steve stopped pulling away. “But you’ve got every right and reason to be having those nightmares. I know you don’t want to talk about them. I know you don’t want to talk about what happened when you were inside. I know you don’t want to admit this place gets to you sometimes. I gotta admit,” he shrugged, “it brings back a lot of memories. Some of them are really, really good, but some of them—”
Steve shuddered under his hand.
“Exactly. And I know you don’t want to talk—”
“Dan—” Steve started to protest.
“I’m not gonna make you talk. No, I’m gonna tell you how much I love you and everything about you anyway. I’m gonna remind you, you’re here with me and they can’t hurt you anymore. I got your back, Steve. I got you. And all you need to do is listen and let me touch you, and remember that you’re here with me. I know you can do that.” He slid down onto the mattress, wrapping both arms around Steve, pulling him closer.
Steve went willingly, and Danny smiled. Good, this would be a lot easier with Steve’s cooperation.
When Steve was secure in his arms, his larger frame folded up and seemingly enveloped by Danny’s smaller body, Danny continued, kissing the crown of Steve’s head. “You, my friend, are a remarkable person.”
Danny let his fingers trail over the familiar old scar near Steve’s collar bone, rubbing gently.
“I know you, and I love you, and every day I am more and more impressed by what a remarkable and resilient man you are.”
His fingers drifted to the twisted scar of a jagged knife wound low on Steve’s side. He knew it was the result of some terrifyingly life-threatening incident while Steve was in prison, but Danny didn’t know the story. Steve had never told him. He suppressed the shudder that came with the reminder of how close he’d come to losing Steve and not even knowing it.
“You don’t have to say anything, but I need you to know, I will always be here to listen. And when you start to feel lost, reach out for me. I’ll be there, and I’ll help you know what’s real.”
He continued stroking Steve’s side, letting his fingers trace the lines of Steve’s body, mapping the physical scars, following the patterns of ink etched in his skin, feeling the hard edge of muscle and the knobbiness of bone. All the while he kept talking. He lost track of what he was saying, just let the words of comfort, love, and reassurance flow. Little by little he felt Steve relax against him. His breathing began to slow and his body began to go limp. For the first time since their reunion, Danny got the sense Steve was falling asleep willingly rather than switching off after losing his struggle to stay awake.
Later, it could have been five minutes or fifty, Danny had lost track of time, Steve snuggled a little closer.
“You talk too much,” Steve mumbled sleepily, swallowing around a yawn.
Danny looked down on his partner, beaming with pride and relief. “Yeah, yeah I do, and you love it, babe.”
Steve made a contented half-sigh Danny took as an affirmation and slid even closer.
“Just go to sleep,” Danny whispered, patting Steve’s head affectionately. “I’ll be here the whole time, and I’ll be here when you wake up.”
Quiet fell over their bedroom again, but it wasn’t pained or haunted. It was a peaceful quiet filled with the surf outside and the gentle, even rhythm of Steve’s somnolent breathing.
Danny couldn’t solve all their problems. He couldn’t erase the past. But he could offer comfort, solace, and acceptance, and together he and Steve could—would—heal and forge a new life together with an ever brighter future.