"What have you done?"
Chris looked up from where he was seated at his desk with his head in his arms, feeling sick and miserable. He groaned as Kaleo sank into Danny's vacant seat opposite, wishing the sergeant wasn't so attached to the old ways, believing that sickness resulted from some personal transgression.
"I swear, Kaleo, I haven't done anything. Probably just something I ate."
Kaleo nodded but Chris knew it would take a lot more to convince him that it wasn't heart-sickness but he was unable to summon the energy. Chris dropped his head back onto his arms, closing his eyes and groaning softly.
"Have you exchanged bad words with your partner?"
Chris opened a single eye. Danny was the least of his problems right now, especially as his partner was visiting relatives in California. He knew Kaleo meant well but he refused to accept the opening to discuss the problem, tightening his lips before uttering a single word. "No."
An exaggerated sigh followed. "You should not hold fast to the fault. If you discuss it with the injured party and ask for their forgiveness then the sickness will lift."
Chris sighed. He hoped Kaleo would let it rest but Kaleo treated him like a little brother, and often took it upon himself to mediate between his extended 'cop' family.
"It's not that easy," Chris mumbled.
"Was it a girl?"
Chris raised his head a fraction and opened the other eye, trying to give him a mocking glare but he knew he had failed miserably. Kaleo knew Chris's taste did not run exclusively to the beautiful, curvaceous ladies that swarmed to the beaches of Hawaii looking for holiday fun and romance. That was Danny's territory, and Chris was happy enough to let his partner cavort with as many women as he could manage. Still, Chris understood why Kaleo would ask if it was woman trouble as Chris had made the mistake of trying to hide his preference from his work colleagues by dating women openly but finding his greater needs satisfied in dark alleyways with nameless, faceless men. Snatching pleasure in the darkness behind a bar or nightclub hadn't been an ideal solution and Chris was lucky that it had been Kaleo on patrol the night some felon had raced into the alleyway with Kaleo only a few steps behind. He'd--quite literally--been caught with his pants down and his cock in some other guy's mouth. In truth, he was lucky the guy hadn't bitten down on him in shock. Now that would have taken some explaining.
Strangely, in the early days with Danny as his new partner he had felt worse about feigning interest and pretending that it was the big-breasted blond sunbathing nude on a beach that had caught his eye rather than the perfectly sculptured, naked man lying beside her. He'd hated living a lie and the stress of concealing his true preference had made him feel ill. He had to admit that confessing his homosexuality to Danny and gaining acceptance from his partner--and forgiveness for the lies--had been instrumental in healing him that time. But this time was different. He had never come out to the rest of his colleagues and now he found himself in the unenviable position of having fallen in love with one of them. He was sure nothing could ever come of it as Sean had been married once, and he'd had a kid too.
Holding back on how he felt about the older man was slowly killing Chris.
"Then it's Sean," Kaleo stated, and Chris bolted upright in shock. He thought he'd been discrete with his unrequited love. "You should tell him."
"Not a chance!" Chris glanced around nervously. "And keep it down."
"He'd be flattered."
"I don't want him to be flattered. I want him to--" Chris cut off his own words, afraid of revealing a little too much even to his friend.
"He'd be that too. Go on. Speak to him. Ask for his forgiveness for lying to him, and to yourself, over what you feel for him. Maybe that heart-sickness will go away then."
Chris winced. "It's not that easy," he stated again weakly.
"Then I'll make it easy." He pushed up as Sean and Declan walked into the squad room. "Sean? Chris needs to speak with you in private. Interrogation Room 1 is empty."
Even as Chris buried his face in his arms, he saw Sean looked across the squad room at him in confusion. Moments later, he heard Sean's footsteps and then the rustle of cloth as Sean crouched down beside the desk. The soft voice and a gentle hand on his arm drew Chris's head back up to meet concerned green-hazel eyes.
Chris glanced towards Kaleo and saw the big man nod in encouragement. "Kaleo thinks we need to talk."
Sean smiled reassuringly. "Will the interrogation room do...or some place that really is private?"
Chris gave a tiny smile in return, knowing that both of them were fully aware of the one-way mirror stretching across one wall, and the sound recording facilities and video feed. Chris knew their colleagues would respect their privacy but he was grateful for any reason to escape the station and the inquisitive looks thrown in their direction.
"Want me to come help with the ritual?" Kaleo asked.
"Ritual?" Sean asked and Chris closed his eyes at Sean's confused question.
Kaleo answered, "Ho'oponopono."
"You've got something to make right... with me?"
Chris could sense the intensity of Sean's gaze on him and tried to brush off the uneasy feeling with a flippant wave. It didn't work. The others in the squad room had gone silent and, even without looking, Chris knew they were all staring.
"Come on," Sean stated firmly, drawing Chris up from his seat and leading him out towards the convertible. Sean must have sent out some signal as Kaleo didn't follow and, within minutes, they were heading out towards a secluded beach that was well off the tourist trail. Sean pulled over and climbed out, looking a little more concerned when Chris didn't follow immediately, not exactly eager to air his transgressions and his feelings, and crush the little hope he'd had of seeing those feelings returned.
Chris glanced up, looking at Sean squarely in the face. He hadn't meant to let anything slip but the sudden widening of Sean's eyes told him he'd revealed something, possibly everything he felt for the other man. He swallowed hard, about to pass it off as something else entirely--some sickness induced emotion--but by then shock had turned to awe and curiosity.
"I guess we do need that talk," Sean stated, his voice soft and warm.
Still feeling physically sick at knowing he could no longer avoid the words, Chris was reluctant to leave the comfort of the car but Kaleo had been right--the churning in his gut had nothing to do with food poisoning. It was a sickness of the heart brought on by months of repression as he fell deeper and deeper in love with Sean, and by the lie he was living to hide those feelings. He stumbled out of the car and trailed Sean to a small rocky outcrop. Ahead of them was the Pacific Ocean, seemingly endless as it stretched across the horizon. Sean had sunk down onto a rock smoothed by the sand and tides, and waited for Chris to join him.
"Why didn't you tell me sooner?" Sean tilted his head questioningly. "Did you think I would be upset, or insulted?"
"Me or you?"
"Both of us." Chris scratched at the side of his nose, deliberately avoiding eye contact.
"Not sure why you thought I'd be embarrassed."
Before Chris had the chance to think through Sean's words, he had a different sort of answer as soft lips brushed over his own in a tentative first kiss. The tingling sensation remained after Sean pulled back and Chris couldn't resist licking his lips inquisitively, smiling when he realized Sean was doing the same.
Leaning in until they were seated shoulder to shoulder, hip to hip, staring across the fine volcanic sand to the distant horizon. He felt a warm touch and laced his fingers between Sean's, the heart-sickness slipping away as the tiny flicker of hope for a future with Sean flared stronger. Later he would invite Sean back to his small house near the beach and they would complete the old ritual of Ho'oponopono with a small, private ceremonial feast. And if he was lucky, perhaps afterwards they would celebrate kala--release--more intimately in each other's arms.
A/N: From Wikipedia: The ritual of Ho'oponopono begins with prayer. A statement of the problem is made, and the transgression discussed. Family members are expected to work problems through and cooperate, not 'hold fast to the fault.' One or more periods of silence may be taken for reflection on the entanglement of emotions and injuries. Everyone’s feelings are acknowledged. Then confession, repentance and forgiveness take place. Everyone releases (kala) each other, letting go. They cut off the past, and together they close the event with a ceremonial feast, called pani, which often included eating limu kala or kala seaweed, symbolic of the release.