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Danny kept his grip in Steve’s shirt as he tried to process the last ninety minutes. He was laying sideways against Steve on a hospital bed, waiting for a doctor to come back to speak with them. He had refused to let go of the other man for several reasons but most of all, he was terrified that if he let Steve go he was going to wake up and Steve would be gone.

Steve was running his hand soothingly over Danny’s hair, every now and then stopping to press kisses to his still matted locks. Danny almost wished he would stop. They hadn’t let him shower yet – evidence – although they had given him a gown so he had at least a little of his privacy back. But he knew he smelled all kinds of bad. He hadn’t had access to a shower for months. His captors had given him a bucket of water and a rag every couple of weeks but nothing was as good as an actual shower with running water and liquid soap.

Just then an older man in blue scrubs and a white coat came around the curtain that made up the room they were in, carrying what he assumed was his chart. His name tag read ‘Dr. Jason Holliday’.

“Mr. Williams,” the man said too cheerfully. “Sorry for the wait. We’re a little backed up tonight. If you don’t mind, I’m going to give you a rundown on what we’ll be doing today and then a S.A.F.E. will be by to get started. Okay?”

He flicked through Danny’s chart and Danny nodded faintly, not really taking in the man’s words. As long as no one tried to take Steve away from him he would be okay.

The doctor started talking again and Danny tuned him out, instead watching the blood pumping through the vein in Steve’s neck next to where he had his head laid on his shoulder. It was only because Steve tensed up that Danny realized that something was wrong and decided to pay attention to the conversation.

“Danny?” Steve asked, worry lacing his tone. “Are you going to be okay with that?”

“M’ sorry, what?”

Steve looked back at him sympathetically. “They want to do a rape kit babe, and they need to take pictures to help us build a case against your kidnappers. Okay?”

He started to panic. Steve wanted him to what? He couldn’t. He couldn’t let anyone see what they’d done. He couldn’t let anyone touch him there ever again. He couldn’t stand it. How could Steve think…?

“No, no, no. I can’t. Please, don’t. Steve don’t let them touch me. I don’t- I can’t-“ Danny freaked out, trying to get away from Steve, away from anyone else who would touch him, would violate him.

Steve grabbed him firmly by the shoulders and he froze, eyes filled with the urge to run, to get away from those trying to hurt him.

“Danny? It’s okay. Shhh.” Steve soothed him. “Please calm down. I’m not leaving you. I’ll be there the whole time.” Danny heard his words and knew that Steve had gotten it wrong, had misinterpreted Danny’s fear. He wasn’t panicking because he thought Steve was going to leave him. No, no. While that was a major player on his list of worries, it wasn’t at the top of the list right now.

No, Danny couldn’t stand the thought of anyone touching him intimately right now, which they would need to do for a rape kit as well as to photograph the multitude of lacerations and bruises that were inflicted on him by his captors and covered the majority of his body. No one, not Steve, not the doctors, not the specially trained S.A.F.E.’s. Not anyone.

He turned to tell that to Steve, only his vision swam. Shit. He couldn’t catch his breath and his brain told him he was hyperventilating. Danny tried to slow down his thoughts and take a deep breath, tried to hear what Steve was saying because it looked as though he was telling Danny something, but all he could hear was the sound of his too-fast breathing and the blood rushing in his ears. The last seconds he knew of consciousness were Steve’s strong arms catching him as the world slipped away into blackness.

---------- o ---------- o ---------- o ----------

Steve caught Danny as he slumped forward, nearly face planting off the bed and onto the floor.

“Just ease him back, Commander. He’ll come to in just a few minutes. After what he has been through its not unusual that he would be a little overwhelmed.” Dr. Holliday came forward from where he had taken a step back to let Steve deal with the situation.

Steve did as he was told, leaning Danny back against him in his previous position before taking a deep breath and looking at the doctor.

“Can we sedate him for the rape kit and evidence collection? He knows it needs to be done, he’s a cop. He’s just scared. Do we have to put him through this? No one even knows the extent of the trauma he just came through but after helping him into his gown I can tell you, it was nothing good, doc.” Steve was pleading by the end but he knew, just knew by the look on the doctors face that it was out of their control.

The doctor shook his head. “I’m sorry, Commander. You know much of the evidence collection is patient-driven, and the rape kit is the same. If he is medically able, he needs to be awake. I truly am sorry. Cases like these, I wish…” he trailed off, not needed to voice just what he wanted for all the rape victims.

Steve dropped his head to Danny’s for a minute before looking back at the doctor. “Let me talk to him?”

The doctor nodded and left the room, pulling the curtain closed behind him.

---------- o ---------- o ---------- o ----------

“Let me talk to him?” Danny heard Steve ask someone as he came back to consciousness, probably whatever doctor had been in there when Danny had passed out; he hoped he hadn’t been out that long.

“S’eve?” he slurred a bit. “Please, no.” he already knew what Steve intended to ‘talk’ to him about. He just didn’t think he could give the man what he was asking for. But then, if he didn’t, Steve would leave him, and he couldn’t have that.

“Shh, shh, shh, babe. Let’s just talk about it first, okay? Let’s do that and then if you still don’t want to go through with it we won’t. Sound good?” Steve asked in a calming tone.

Danny relaxed just a fraction. He might be able to handle this. Maybe talking about it would help him figure out if it was worth going through. He had always encouraged rape victims to go through with the rape kits when they could because the evidence helped, but when the shoe was on the other foot it was a whole different ballgame. But talking about it? He could give Steve that much.

Steve rubbed warm hands up and down Danny’s arm soothingly, closing him inside the safe circle of his embrace. All Danny could smell was the cologne Steve wore, one that Danny had bought him for his birthday right before they’d gotten together. All Danny could see was Steve’s tanned neck, his Adam’s apple right next to where he had his face lodged in the crook of the man’s neck. Above all though, all Danny could hear was Steve. Murmuring soothing words, trying to calm Danny. His heartbeat racing underneath his skin, right underneath Danny’s ear. Every breath he took, inhaling and exhaling from his lungs. At this moment, Danny’s entire world narrowed down to Steve and he wished it could somehow last forever.

And then Steve spoke out loud and the spell was broken. “Danny, we can go as slow as you want, if you’ll agree to this, okay? And we won’t do anything you don’t want to do. I know there are about a hundred steps to a kit, but as soon as you say stop, we stop. If there are pictures you don’t want in the file, then they don’t get taken. This is totally on your terms, okay? I won't let them do anything you don’t want them to do, I promise you, Danny. Would I lie to you?” Steve looked Danny in the eye, pulling back far enough to do it and Danny missed his warmth immediately.

He shook his head no. No, Steve wouldn’t lie to him. Especially not about something of this magnitude.

But all these people. Could he just let all these people touch him, photograph him? Hell, what he’s been through today alone is enough to give anyone nightmares.

Steve is still giving him that earnest look though, and he wants so much to make the man happy. To keep him around just a bit longer before he realizes just how ruined Danny truly is.

“Okay.” He croaks out to Steve.

Steve’s resulting smile is breathtaking, one for the books. Danny’s missed that smile beyond all reason and he can feel tears prickling at his eyes to see it now, over this.

Danny watches as Steve presses the call button for the nurse at the bedside and then they settle in to wait for the doctor to come back. Danny wonders endlessly over the next few minutes if he’s made a mistake until he remembers the smile on Steve’s face.

Then he knows.

This was the right thing to do. This is what Steve needed him to do. He can get through this, for Steve.

---------- o ---------- o ---------- o ----------

Twenty minutes later and Danny is on the verge of tears. He is naked, standing over a white drop-cloth looking thing while the S.A.F.E. in front of him combs through his pubic hair with a comb that looks like it would be better suited for picking fleas from a dog. He is mortified, beyond embarrassed, and he desperately wants Steve to wrap him in a hug and take him home.

For his part, Steve is standing off to the side, trying not to get in the way of the S.A.F.E. He had gently helped Danny out of his hospital issue gown, not making any comment on what Danny looked like now. It had taken a lot of his Navy-instilled self-control for him to bite his tongue when he saw what they had done to his Danno when he had helped him put his gown on the first time; seeing it the second time whilst helping him out of the gown was no better; it was, in fact, worse.

The nurse had Danny lay on a bed then and began to explain the next procedure to him as delicately as possible. She put his feet in stirrups and draped his legs with a warm blanket. Steve finally, finally, came over and grasped his hand, squeezing it once before holding on tight.

“This is going to search for, and take photographs of, any internal damage you may have.” The nurse began, holding up a black probe that was covered in plastic. “It will be uncomfortable, but it’s small enough that you shouldn’t feel any outright pain, so let me know if you do.” She gave him a small smile and then waited to see if Danny wanted to continue, as they had agreed upon.

With a short nod of his head, he lay back and close his eyes, waiting for his next humiliation to start. When he felt the probe, cold with lube, at his anus, he squeezed Steve’s hand for support and started counting back from one thousand. Maybe this procedure at least would be over by then.

Not that he was going to be done after this. Steve still had to take pictures of all his major bruises and open wounds and record them on a specialized sheet, and at some point, they would need to get a recorded statement from him.

Danny was so not looking forward to that. He was actually trying not to think about it. Recounting the horror of the last six months – or was it five? – to someone on his team did not sound the least bit appealing to him. He wondered if Steve would still want to be with him after he knew everything that had happened.

He was pulled from his head as the probe was removed by the S.A.F.E. “I’m going to need a few swabs now, and a couple of photographs for the kit. Is that going to be okay, Danny?”

Danny couldn’t think straight and was mildly confused. Swabs? “Swabs?” he asked.

She nodded at him. “They serve the same purpose as combing through your hair did earlier. They help identify any outside DNA.”

Ah, yes. Danny hadn’t been a fan of her combing through the hair on his body. He grimaced thinking about the rest of what she needed. He already knew what she would need pictures of. He had seen his fair share of rape kits, knew the types of graphic photos that were often included in them. He didn’t like it. He was becoming edgier. His nerves were frayed, and he was tired of having his privacy invaded. He nodded anyway.

“Fine.” He gave in. “Just, fine. Steve?” he had no idea what he was asking Steve for. He was still gripping onto the man's hand, but he needed something, was looking for something. Reassurance, maybe, but he was too scared to admit it.

Steve squeezed his hand, silently offering the comfort he seemed to instinctively know Danny needed. “I’m right here, Danny. I’m not going anywhere.” Danny hated being so needy but right now he just couldn’t stand the thought of being alone. “Do you need anything? A break? Some water?”

Danny shook his head rapidly. If they stopped now he didn’t think he would ever be willing to finish this procedure again. “No, no breaks. Maybe some water, yeah?”

Steve nodded and squeezed his hand once more before letting go and ducking out of the room to get him a cup of water.

While he was gone, the S.A.F.E. set up the camera and got prepared for the next part of the kit. Steve came back in a moment later and helped Danny sit up on the bed to drink.

“Just a little bit longer, Danno, and then we can go home. Okay?” Steve said.

Danny lay back on the bed and took Steve’s hand again, using it to ground himself, to keep himself firmly in the present. “The doctor isn’t going to make me stay overnight?”

Steve winced. The thought honestly hadn’t even crossed his mind he had been so focused on getting Danny checked out and getting him home. “I’m actually not sure, Danno. We’re still waiting on x-rays to come back and I know Dr. Holliday wanted to look at your bloodwork before he released you. But it’s only,” Steve looked at the watch on his wrist, “6 in the morning. So I’d say the chances of him keeping you here all day and night are pretty slim.”

Danny didn’t respond, and there was nothing but silence and the sound of the camera shutter while the S.A.F.E. finished taking her photos. He went back to counting in his head.

976, 975, 974, 973…

“All finished with the photographs. Now the swabs I need will take a few minutes at most, and then I will leave you in the hands of Commander McGarrett for case photos, as discussed. Are you doing okay, Danny?” the S.A.F.E. asked, once again checking in.

Danny nodded, eager to be done with these procedures. He was beyond exhausted. He needed a shower and maybe some food if his stomach would cooperate. And he needed Steve and sleep.

The swabs were collected and labelled for the kit in no time at all, and Danny was once again left in the room with Steve, although this time Steve had a camera and Danny was naked, exposed, for Steve to see.

He knew Steve had already seen what the Montoya brothers had done to his body. The cuts, the burns and bruises, the bones showing through his skin. The scars. But that had been by necessity.

Now, Steve was going to be seeing each and every mark up close, photographing it, documenting each one. And Danny didn’t know if he could deal with such scrutiny. Steve was going to be disgusted at his back. Danny hadn’t yet seen it, but it must look awful.

Steve must have sensed his apprehension because he came and stood by Danny, cupping his face with both hands. “Just like before, okay? We’ll go slow, and if you need a break, we will take a break.”

Danny looks at Steve for a long minute, takes a deep breath, and finally nods.

---------------- o ---------------- o --------------------

It takes Steve almost an hour to document all of Danny’s relevant marks via photographs and body charts. Danny can hear Steve grinding his teeth when he uncovers the bite marks on his inner thighs, and he notices the change in Steve’s breathing while he photographs the cigarette burns on his lower back. He wishes he trusted someone else to take these photos so he didn’t have to put Steve through this. Documenting your boyfriends - wait, were they still together, Danny wondered? - rape and torture had to be tough.

Finally, Steve set the camera down. “That’s it. We’re all done, babe. How about we get the doctor in here and see about getting you home?”

For the first time since he had been rescued, Danny smiled. Actually full-on smiled. It lasted only a moment, but for Steve, it was beyond worth it. He was beginning to worry Danny was never going to smile his smile again.

He helped Danny get dressed again and pressed the call button for the nurse, asking to speak with the doctor.

Doctor Holliday came sometime later, looking only slightly less cheery. Steve didn’t know how he kept his attitude up on such long nights.

“What can I do for you, Mr. Williams?” the doctor asked happily.

Danny grimaced at his tone. He was way too happy-go-lucky for Danny on a good day.

“I want to be discharged.” He answered

The doctor hummed. “I don’t know. I’d really like to keep you for observation. Your x-rays show you have pneumonia, and you have an infection, likely stemming from one of the cigarette burns on your back. Any other patient I’d be happy to send home with antibiotics but you are severely underweight and with the trauma you have been through recently, I don’t know how you are going to react to them.”

“He needs to be home, with me, where I can take care of him.”

Holliday looked over Danny and Steve for a long minute and then flipped through the chart he had brought in with him. “Okay.” He held a hand up to stop Steve before he could interrupt to thank him. “ I will let you go home, with conditions.”

Danny breathed a sigh of relief. He would willingly follow whatever rules the doctor set out, he just needed to get out of here.

Fifteen minutes later, after setting out a list of rules and extracting promises from Danny to follow them and Steve to enforce them, the doctor left the room to get the discharge papers ready for Danny to sign. Ten more minutes and he’d finally be on his way back home.

Steve stood in front of Danny, a hand on his thigh. “Are you ready to go home?” It was probably a stupid question, but then he thought maybe Danny didn’t want to go home with him. Should he be booking a hotel room?

“Yes. I need a shower, food, and sleep. In that order. Do you need to go into work today? What time is it, by the way?”

“It is 7:47am. I need to go in for about an hour or so later on today, but just to finish some things up and see if I can talk to the governor, then I’ll be home. I’m going to clear some time off while I’m there.”

Danny pulled back and looked up at Steve. “Steve, you don’t have to take time off for me. I’ll be okay.” He said. While he secretly wanted the man to stay with him, possibly need him to, he wouldn’t keep him from his job just because he was weak.

Blue eyes smiled down at him. “Hey. I know you will. But I want to be with you. I want to help take care of you. I love you, you know that?” Steve almost whispered the last bit. Danny felt his eyes well up with tears and he cursed himself for being such a baby.

Steve cupped his face with both hands and wiped the wetness away from Danny’s face with his thumbs. This man right here was more precious to him than anything and he’d be damned if he was going to work the day after he’d been rescued. “Besides, I’ve just promised the doctor I’ll make sure you cooperate.” He said, punctuating his words with a kiss to Danny’s forehead.

---------------- o ---------------- o --------------------

Forty-five minutes and a lot of paperwork and prescriptions later and Steve and Danny were pulling into the driveway in front of the house in Steve’s truck. Danny unbuckled his seatbelt and when the truck came to a stop, opened the door. He waited for Steve to come around to help him down. He may not have any broken bones, but he was sore in places he shouldn’t be and he still had open, healing wounds over a good portion of his body. They made their way silently to the front door and Steve let them in, resetting the alarm behind them.

No sooner was the door shut and the alarm set than Danny was very quickly but very carefully pulled into Steve’s arms.

Steve lowered his face into the crook of Danny’s neck, holding back tears and Danny slowly wrapped his arms around Steve’s body.

Steve didn’t talk for long moments and when he did, he was trembling. “I missed you so much. Sometimes I thought – I thought I was never going to see you again.” He loved this man beyond all reason and the past six months without him had been awful. Danny had been tortured but the worrying, the wondering, getting his hopes up with every tip and every lead - none of that had been a walk in the park for Steve.

“How about you go up and get a shower, and I’ll get you some food. Sound good?” Steve asked him quietly, still embracing him tightly like he never wanted to let go.

Danny hummed and nodded. “That sounds like your best idea all morning, babe.” He said but made no move to pull back.

Danny could hug this man all day. With his firm shoulders and well-defined muscles all across his abs and back, Steve had the most amazing body. And Danny, well Danny had been a tactile person even before he and Steve got together. Always hugging, touching, bumping shoulders, shaking hands. Something. It was even more noticeable now that they were a couple, even though Steve liked to keep the PDA down to a minimum on the job.

Eventually, though, Danny’s need for a hot shower grew and he pulled back, with Steve releasing him reluctantly. Steve quickly kissed him on the forehead, giving Danny a look that he was far too tired to decipher right now, and then left for the kitchen, leaving Danny standing alone in the entryway.

Danny made his way up the stairs, trying to get the paranoid feeling that his captors were going to jump out at any moment out of his mind. He knew they were both in lock up, probably for the rest of their lives, if Steve got his way.

Once in the bathroom, he shut the door, locking it for good measure. He should be out before Steve came looking and it made him feel better anyways. He shucked the hospital issue scrubs he’d been given and kicked them to the corner of the bathroom. They needed to be trashed or burned, or something equally as satisfying.

A few minutes later after scrubbing his teeth and using the toilet, Danny was finally, thankfully, under the glorious hot spray of a running shower for the first time in far too long. He let the hot water pound down on him, washing away not just the dirt and grime of the last six months, but also the fears that he would never be found. That the Montoya brothers had been telling the truth and Steve had stopped looking. His captors had told him over and over again that Steve had moved on with his life.

Danny braced his arms on the wall. The thought of Steve had his breath hitching. The man was so different to him. It was his Steve, but it wasn’t. He was harder, a bit colder somehow. The man had done his share of hugging, holding Danny, kissing his hair, making sure he was okay. But there was a tone. Something new underneath. And not once had Steve made a move to truly kiss him, to claim him back the way Danny so desperately needed him to right now.

He needed the thoughts, the feelings, the memories (most of all) of the Montoya brothers to be gone, to be taken over, erased, replaced with new ones. And who better to do that than his boyfriend?

Steve, who didn’t want him anymore, just as Danny knew he wouldn’t.

The thought made Danny’s knees give out and he crumpled to the floor, barely catching himself before he hit his face. Tears flowed from his eyes and he had to bite his lip to stifle any noise he might make. He didn’t want Steve to come breaking the door down.

Steve and Grace were all he had, and now he was going to lose Steve. He just couldn’t bear the thought. Before all this had happened, he had been thinking marriage, maybe try adopting a McGarrett baby or two while they were still in their thirties.

But now, now he was damaged goods. And Steve wasn’t. Steve was still perfect. Sweet, kind, devoted, Neanderthal that he was, he deserved better than to be tied down to Danny.

Danny clenched his eyes shut. He and Steve had always been two halves of a whole, but he would be the bigger man and walk away. He would let Steve go, today, before this got any messier than it already was. Steve had done his part and saved him.

The tears renewed themselves and a sob broke free at the soul-deep hurt that Danny felt at losing his other half. He thought he could feel it in his chest, radiating from his heart and spreading through his limbs like a virus, eating away at his soul.

He startled when arms wrapped around him and tugged him to a body. He’d locked the door, hadn’t he?

“Danno, baby, what happened?” Steve brushed his wet hair from his forehead. “I heard you crying.”

Danny tried to stop his tears, preparing himself to tell Steve that he knew he needed to go. He wouldn’t make Steve give him that talk, not when he’d already done so much.

He cleared his throat but kept his head down, not able to meet Steve’s eyes. “It’s okay, Steve. You don’t have to be here for me. I know, okay?”

“You know what? Danny, what are you talking about? What do you know?”

Danny closed his eyes and willed himself to breathe through the pain this was causing. “I know.” As soon as he started talking though, he couldn’t hold back the sobs. “I k-know that you don’t w-want me here anym-more. That I’m damaged g-goods now. You shouldn’t have to take c-care of me. What they did to m-me, I’m broken now. I know you deserve b-better. I just, can I ask a favor, p-please?” He half stuttered, half cried. He sounded pathetic and he hated it but he couldn’t hold himself together.

“What?” Steve asked.

Danny winced. “Can I please just s-stay today. I need, I just-“

Danny finally looked up at Steve, who was in the shower fully clothed, still holding onto Danny like he was his lifeline. Danny was pleading with his eyes.

“Daniel. I don’t know what happened between us getting home and you getting in the shower, but nothing has changed. You are not broken, or damaged goods. I love you. I still want to be with you. I will always want to be with you. So whoever or whatever has gotten into that beautiful little head of yours, it’s wrong.”

Danny started at Steve, uncomprehending.

“Danny?” Steve asked, rubbing his back.

“Hmm?”

“It’s wrong. Do you hear me? I love you, baby. I’m not going anywhere.” Steve leaned forward and captured his lips in a kiss. Danny melted into it, trying to put things together in his head.

He wasn’t damaged goods? Steve swore he wasn’t leaving and since he trusted Steve, it had to be true. He could almost feel his heart repairing itself.

The water was still pelting down on them and Danny broke the kiss, resting his forehead against Steve’s. “Thank you, babe. I needed that. I need you. Just, please, don’t leave me.” Danny knew he was showing a really vulnerable side right now, but he couldn’t hold it back. He needed to get these thoughts and feelings out before they just exploded from him.

“Danno, I will do whatever it takes to convince you I am not going anywhere. But, let’s get up off this floor okay? Take a proper shower and then I’ll feed you and get your medication so you can get some sleep.”

Steve stood with a grace Danny would never possess and then pulled him up from the floor. After stripping out of his wet clothes and tossing them out of the shower door, Danny and Steve soaped up and Steve took his time washing Danny’s hair for him. Both men rinsed and got out before wrapping towels around their waists.

Steve grabbed another fluffy towel from under the sink and started to dry Danny off. “Let me take care of you,” Steve said, drying his chest and then moving to his arms.

“Steve – ” Danny started to protest before Steve stopped him with a kiss. Pulling away he looked at Danny.

“I know you can do it, but I want to. I’ve missed taking care of you.”

Danny studies Steve’s face and then nodded. Steve needed this, and he had the ability to give it to him.

Steve finished drying Danny carefully, both men lost in their thoughts. While Steve dried off Danny moved into the adjoining bedroom and dressed in sweats and one of Steve’s Navy t-shirt’s. Steve dressed in his own muscle tee and shorts.

Danny sat on the edge of the bed and ran his hands over the comforter laying across the top. There had been a point where he thought he might not have this again.

Steve watched him from his place by the dresser, where he’d been standing since he’d gotten dressed. “Danno? Are you okay?”

Danny managed a small smile. “I missed this, you know. I just – ”

Steve walked over to Danny then, crouching down in front of him and putting a hand on his knee. “Just what, baby?”

Danny took a deep breath. “Just – they kept telling me you stopped looking for me, that you moved on, and a small part of me believed them. A part of me never thought I’d be back here in this room, in this house, with you. I thought ugh maybe you’d forgotten me.” A tear slipped down his face unbidden. Jesus! He needed to get his emotions under control. He knew it was the adrenaline and relief at being rescued, but he’d feel a lot better when he wasn’t crying at the drop of a hat.

Steve wiped the tear away and kissed Danny. “Danny. Danny look at me. Do you think I would forget about you in a measly six months? Think again. I’ve known you for five years and I’ve loved you for almost half of that. It would take a lifetime for me to even begin to forget you. Okay?” Danny sniffed and nodded. Steve nodded back. “Okay. Now I’m going to go downstairs and get you something to eat. I’ll be right back, alright?”

He waited for Danny to nod before planting one last chaste kiss on his lips and heading downstairs to make Danny a sandwich. He grabbed the ham and cheese, along with some lettuce, mayonnaise, and the jar of Danny’s favorite applesauce from the fridge to make them plates, and a bowl of the applesauce for his partner.

He had no idea what Danny had been eating for the last six months, but for now, he didn’t want to give him anything that might be too hard on his stomach.

He went back up to the bedroom and found Danny tucked into the bed, leaned against the headboard, head lolled to the side and dozing. Steve set the plate with the sandwich down on the nightstand, intending to wake Danny, but the man jolted awake, instantly alert.

“Hey, shh, it’s just me,” Steve said, putting a hand up. “I brought you a sandwich and your favorite. Applesauce. I don’t know what they- I mean, I don’t know what you’ve been eating so I didn’t want to bring you anything too heavy.”

Danny nodded and took the plate from where Steve was now holding it out to him. “This is fine,” was all he said in reply. He didn’t think Steve was deliberately fishing for details but either way, he wasn’t ready to talk about his time spent in that God-awful basement.

Steve moved around to the other side of the bed, grabbing the other plate from the dresser as he passed and ate his own food, casting furtive glances at Danny every so often. For a man that normally loved his food, he wasn’t eating much, and it had Steve slightly worried. He would let it go for now and pray that Danny just needed time to readjust.

Danny managed half of the sandwich and a few bites of the applesauce before he was full. Putting the plate on the side table, he snuggled down into the bed. Steve finished a few minutes after him and got up to get Danny’s medication. After giving them to the other man with a glass of water from the bathroom, he laid down next to his partner.

He went to pull Danny close to him like he usually would when he thought better of it and aborted the attempt.

“Danno?”

“Hmm?”

“Is it okay- can I hold you?” he asked, voice hesitant. He knew he had already held and hugged the man but after what Danny had been through he knew the bed might hold different connotations.

Danny, thankfully, reached out for Steve and scooted himself closer until he was tucked into the space next to Steve’s body. He inhaled deeply, drawing in the scent that was all Steve.

“Thank you,” Danny told him sleepily, already drifting off, safe in Steve’s arms.

“Steve frowned though. “For what, baby?”

“For saving me,” Danny mumbled, before dropping off into sleep.

Steve held him close and closed his eyes.

---------------- o ---------------- o --------------------

Steve woke up on high alert, immediately tense. He looked over Danny’s shape at the bedside clock. 7pm. Damn, they’d slept through lunch and dinner. He glanced around the room, looking and listening for what had woken him.

He had just decided to ignore it and cuddle back up to Danny when the man started speaking and Steve instantly knew that’s what had woken him.

“I’m a whore, I want this.” Danny murmured.

Steve was horrified. They had very few details on what went down the last six months but he had known it wasn’t anything good.

Danny started to talk again, but before he could get anything out Steve put a hand on his shoulder and shook him gently to wake him.

He should have just left well enough alone.

Danny cracked his eyes open and upon registering another person in the room with him, he retreated into his head for safety, the way he had been doing for months. Become a mindless lump; follow the routine so as not to get beaten; stay alive.

He scrambled off the bed, shucking his clothes when he was upright. His captors didn’t like to wait and they had threatened to keep his clothes more than once.

That done, he got on the floor by the end of the bed on his knees, where he ‘belonged’, and waited for his orders, head down.

Only, none came.

Steve stood by the bed in horror, at a complete loss of what to do. Was Danny sleepwalking? Having a flashback? What was he supposed to do?

Kicking his brain into action he crept around the bed to where Danny sat, careful not to startle him. He crouched down in front of the naked man and saw him trembling, clearly trying to hide it. Fuck.

"Danny? Danny, can you hear me?” He thought he first better establish what Danny was experiencing.

A nod from Danny. Okay, not sleepwalking then. That was least likely anyhow.

“Danny, what’s my name? Who am I?”

“Montoya.” Danny whispered, then flinched as though he expected to be hit for his answer.

“Danny, look at me.” He coaxed. “It’s me, Steve. Not Montoya. You aren’t there anymore, you’re home, safe, with me. Steve.” He reiterated his name, hoping to pull Danny out of the hell he was experiencing.

Danny started mumbling under his breath, words too fast and too quiet for Steve to make out.

“Danno, please. Please look at me. It’s me, Steve. Your partner.” Steve tried.

Danny looked up slowly. When he locked eyes with Steve his expression was lost. Like he had woken up in a different world. Steve’s heart broke for him.

“S-steve?” Danny said quietly.

Steve nodded. “I’m right here, babe.”

Danny moved towards Steve then, hesitantly crawling until he was planted in his lap and completely wrapped around the taller man. Steve sat cross-legged and wrapped his arms around a still trembling Danny. “I got you, baby.” Steve soothed. “It’s okay now.”

Danny held on tightly, with Steve’s arms wrapping him in a safe embrace. “I don’t want to go back, Steve, please. Don’t make me go back. I want to stay with you.” He said, voice more like a small child than a grown man.

Steve had no idea what he was talking about. Why would Danny think he was going to make him go back? The last thing he wanted to do was let Danny go. All he could do was comfort him.

“It’s okay, Danny. You don’t ever have to go back there again. You’re gonna stay right here with me. I’m not ever letting you go.” He carded a hand through Danny’s hair, doing his best to calm the man down. He was still shaking.

They sat like that for what seemed like hours. By the time Danny calmed down, Steve’s legs were both asleep, but he didn’t dare move before he made sure Danny was okay and back in the present for good.

Danny said something so quietly that Steve couldn’t decipher it.

“What’s that?” he asked.

Danny turned his face into Steve’s chest and didn’t speak for long minutes. Finally, he pulled back with a sigh. “I’m sorry.”

Steve cupped Danny’s face with his hand and looked him in the eye.

“There’s nothing to be sorry for, Danny. Nothing. It’s going to take you some time to recover, you know. This kinda thing doesn’t just go away overnight. Whatever happens, we’ll handle it together. I’ll be here for you, okay?”

Danny turned back into Steve. “I love you.”

Steve wrapped his arms around Danny once more, trying to warm his naked body. “I love you, too. Now, what do you say we get up and get you dressed? Maybe call Grace and the team? I’ve been holding them off for now but I know they would like to hear from you if you’re ready.”

Danny nodded slowly. “Gracie first.”

“Whatever you need, babe.” Steve moved to get up as soon as Danny did, stumbling a bit on his still asleep legs. He shook them out while Danny got dressed in sweatpants and a tee, trying to get rid of the pins and needles feeling.

His stomach grumbled and he turned to Danny. “Are you hungry?” We slept through lunch and dinner. I can make us something to eat?”

Danny glanced at him before sitting on the bed with Steve’s phone. He shook his head slightly. He was too used to having very little food. “I’m good,” he said, unlocking the phone.

Steve frowned at him. He wanted to get Danny used to eating again, but he would have to do it slowly, slower than he thought. “How about just a granola bar, to get something in your stomach?” he asked hopefully.

Danny looked up at him before dialling Grace’s phone number and studied Steve’s face, noting the obvious concern there. He nodded. He could probably stomach a granola bar. Steve’s resulting smile was blinding, and the man left the room to head down to the kitchen.

He finally dialled Grace and pressed the green call button. It only rang twice before she answered it.

“Uncle Steve?” Grace’s voice came over the line.

“No, Monkey, it’s Danno.” He had never been happier to hear his baby girls voice.

“Daddy!” Grace squealed and Danny winced. “Uncle Steve said you wouldn’t be able to call until tomorrow. Are you okay, Danno? Can I come to see you? I miss you so much, Daddy.” She was crying by the time she stopped firing questions at him, and Danny had to clear his throat before he answered. He hated the sound of his daughter upset, for any reason, but especially over him.

“Monkey, don’t cry baby.” He told her. “Mommy can bring you over here first thing in the morning so you can see me before you go to school. How does that sound?”

Grace sniffled. “Okay, Danno.”

“I’m okay. Steve is here and he is taking really good care of me, I promise.” He reassured her.

Steve walked back into the room then with his granola bar and a glass of water and set them on the bedside table next to him. He dropped a kiss on Danny’s head and then grabbed a pair of trunks and shut himself in the bathroom while Danny finished his call.

When he came out, the man was leaned against the headboard once more, munching slowly on the granola bar.

“Going for a swim?” Danny gestured at Steve’s bottoms.

“Steve nodded. “Just a quick one. Wanna join me?”

“Maybe next time.” Danny declined. He was still tired; he would probably end up drowning.

Steve smiled. “I’m gonna hold you to that.” He walked over to Danny’s side of the bed and kissed him sweetly. “I’ll be back shortly.”

Danny gave him a slight smile, nibbling on his granola bar again. Maybe he would call the rest of the team and let them know he was okay.

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Steve came in from his swim an hour later and found Danny asleep in the bed, back underneath the covers. He made his way to the bathroom as quiet as he could to rinse off, coming out minutes later and slipping into a pair of briefs.

He pulled back the blankets on his side and climbed in next to Danny, doing his level best not to wake him. He felt like the man probably needed all the sleep he could get to recover from his ordeal, and Steve wouldn’t be the one to keep him from that.

Steve lay there facing Danny, watching him sleep, relishing having him home safe. He knew it would be a long while before things went completely back to normal for them – if they ever truly did – and as he traced Danny’s face with his eyes he thought about where they would go from here.

It was going to be a long road to recovery. Danny may not have very many physical hurts but he’d been through a lot. And not very many people knew it, but Danny held onto guilt just as much as Steve did with most things. Along with that guilt, he had low self-esteem, didn’t think he was worthy of love, and some days he was consumed by negative thoughts – be it about life or himself.

Before Danny had been kidnapped, Steve had been researching therapists in the area who utilized cognitive behavioral therapy. Now, he thought, Danny would need to see someone to help him cope and get back into daily life more than ever. Steve himself just wasn’t qualified.

He didn’t know what, if anything, Danny was going to wind up with from this experience. It was only day one and he was already suffering PTSD, anxiety and panic attacks. Any of those were normal for a survivor like Danny to have long-term.

Even so, Steve was thankful, because Danny was a survivor. He –

“You’re thinking too loud, Steven. What is it?” Danny interrupted his thoughts.

“It’s nothing. Just random thoughts. Go to sleep, babe. I love you.” Steve pulled him into his arms and Danny snuggled in close, head resting on Steve’s bicep. Steve knew his arm would fall asleep in the night but he wouldn’t trade this for anything.

Danny sighed. “Mm. I love you, too.”

Steve listened as Danny’s breathing evened out as he fell asleep and let the sound of his breaths lull him into sleep as well.

 

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