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Steve tapped his foot as he leaned on the wall by the hospital room. He glared at anyone who looked like they might try to ask him if he had a reason to be in the ICU, sticking his hip out just enough to show his badge to ward them off.

The doctor came out of the room, frown deepening as he saw Steve there. "Commander McGarrett, Mr. Lekowski is not going to be able to talk with you any faster by you hovering outside his door."

"Doctor, he's the first witness who can describe our killer. I need to talk with him as soon as possible so we can--"

"You're not going to get anything out of him if he doesn't live," the doctor said shortly. "He's still sedated. When he wakes up, if he's able to speak, I'll have the nurses call you immediately, but only if you promise to stop hovering."

"When will he wake up?"

The doctor made an impatient sound, checking his watch, but he answered, "Hopefully within the next hour, but there's no promise he'll be able to talk to you or remember anything useful."

"I know, but I have to try. Lekowski was supposed to be murder victim number four, but he didn't die. We need to find the killer before he finds an actual victim number four."

"I'm aware of that, Commander, but if we push Mr. Lekowski, he will be victim number four." The doctor checked his watch again. "Please, just go get some food or something and let us do our jobs. We'll call you as soon as Mr. Lekowski is awake, even if it's just to update you that he can't speak."

Steve considered that for a moment. "Okay, but I'm leaving Officer Kokua here," he said, nodding at the policeman on the other side of the door. "Mr. Lekowski is still in danger."

"Fine. But please, do not return to the room until you're called."

Steve nodded, though he was certainly coming back to the floor, at the very least, if he hadn't been called in the next hour. For now, though, he knew when to cut his losses. He stalked off toward the elevators, giving Kokua a 'no one gets in that room' look as he went.

Before he could turn around, Steve ran smack into a someone. "Sorry," he said, automatically, hands moving to the person's shoulders to steady them. He looked down to see a man about his age, blond hair and bright blue eyes highlighted by the red around them. "Uh, sorry," Steve repeated. "I wasn't really looking where I was going."

"It's okay, neither was I." He stepped back, and only then did Steve realize his hands were still on the man's shoulders. He dropped them quickly. "I just, uh...I needed a break from...." He waved back towards one of the other rooms, and Steve understood.

He should go, leave the man to his pain, and check in with Chin and Kono while he waited for Lekowski to wake up. This wasn't his problem, and the guy probably didn't even want him around. "I, uh...I was just going to the cafeteria," Steve said. "Wanna join me?"

"I don't know...."

"Have you had lunch?"

The man shook his head. "No. What time is it?"

"After two. Come on."

Steve started towards the elevators again. He wasn't sure what he was doing, but the guy looked like he'd needed someone, and Steve had some time, so what could it hurt? They got into the line, and Steve refrained from commenting on the extremely unhealthy choices the man made. He got the concept of comfort food--just because he preferred comfort exercise or the occasional comfort weapons practice didn't mean everyone did. Or so he'd been told.

Once they'd found a table to themselves, Steve held out his hand. "Steve," he said.

"Danny," the man said, shaking Steve's hand. His fingers were warm and a little rough, calluses similar to the ones on Steve's.

"What do you do?" Steve asked.

"I'm on leave at the moment," Danny said. "Kind of put everything on hold to take care of--" he waved a hand back towards the ICU.

Steve nodded. "Do you want to talk about it?"

Danny's laugh was a painful sound. "What is there to say? Drunk drivers should be put away for life instead of making me explain to my daughter why mommy isn't waking up?"

Ouch. "How long has she been in the ICU?"

"A month." Danny stared down at his food. "Grace, my daughter, she keeps asking me at least once a day when Mommy's going to wake up. And now...." He took a stuttering breath. "And now I have to figure out how to tell her she's not going to."

"What happened??"

Danny picked at the bread on his hamburger bun, leaving tiny pieces on the plate. "The doctor just told me that there's no sign of brain function," he said after a moment. "She has a living will. She didn't want to live like this."

He glanced up at Steve, the pain there for anyone to see. Steve felt a little guilty for witnessing it. It seemed so private, so intimate, and he didn't even know the guy.

Then again, maybe that made it easier for him. Maybe a stranger was what he needed right now. Steve had definitely found the company of strangers easier after his mom had died.

"There's nothing you can tell your daughter that's going to make it any easier," Steve said. "Or that's going to make any sense. She has no way to understand the permanence of it. She won't. Not for months."

"So you're a shrink here?"

Steve gave him a faint smile. "Hardly. Just...been there."

"Your wife?"

Steve shook his head. "My mother."

Danny winced. "How old were you?"

"Fifteen."

"Oh, man...I'm sorry."

Steve shrugged. "It was a long time ago."

"Right. So you're totally over it."

Steve rolled his eyes at the sarcasm. "Part of you never gets over it," he said, after a moment. "But part of you never really understands what you've lost, which makes it a little easier in some ways."

"I just..." Danny shook his head, serious again. "I can't imagine what she's about to go through."

"There's no way to know." Steve took a sip of his coffee. "My sister went off the rails a little. Still is off them, if you ask me."

"That's encouraging," Danny said, frowning. "How did you handle it?"

"By focusing on school and sports." Steve took another drink as he considered how to put his next words. "But our dad," he said slowly, "wasn't really there for us." He met Danny's eyes. "Be there for her. It'll help."

Danny's face shifted, and Steve couldn't take his eyes off it. "I wouldn't dream of being anywhere else," he said with complete sincerity. "Grace is my life. I'd drop everything for her."

A surge of affection completely inappropriate for someone he'd just met went through Steve. "Then you're a good father."

His quiet laugh said he wasn't so sure. "Some people might not agree with you," he said. "But I do what I can."

"If you're there for your kid, you're a good father."

"So then I'll tell anyone who argues with me that the guy with the badge said otherwise." Danny nodded at the table, presumably indicating Steve's badge on his hip. "You a cop?"

"Something like that. Governor's task force." They really needed a name, but so far the three of them hadn't been able to agree on one. "We--"

His phone interrupted him, and he pulled it out to see the hospital number on the screen. "McGarrett," he answered.

"Commander McGarrett," a woman said, "Dr. Mailua asked me to let you know Mr. Lekowski was able to speak with you."

"Great, thank you." Steve ended the call and shoved his phone in his pocket as he stood. "I'm sorry," he said to Danny. "I have to go."

"Duty calls," Danny said. "I'm familiar with the concept."

Steve leaned on the table and eyed him critically. He couldn't do anything to fix what had happened, but he thought Danny looked like he might be a little better. "Don't skip anymore meals, okay?" Steve said. "Your daughter needs you."

Danny nodded. "Hey," he said, his hand landing on Steve's. "Thanks."

"Sure." After a moment, Steve shook himself. "See you around," he said as he stood, breaking the contact as he walked away.

It was a long time before his hand stopped tingling where Danny had touched it.

***

Steve ran full throttle down the sidewalk, dodging everything Keller tried to shove in his path. The guy was an amateur--Steve had had harder stationary obstacle courses at BUD/s. It still took him a two blocks to cover the head start Keller had on him, though, and by the time he had Keller on the ground, face shoved into the concrete, Steve was more than a little pissed.

"You're under arrest," Steve said.

"Oh yeah?" Keller was still struggling. "What for?"

"Being an asshole."

"Ain't no law against that."

"There is if I say there is."

Steve looked up to see Chin and Kono coming from two other directions, smiling as they came to a halt. "Aw, cuz," Kono complained, "he didn't even need us."

Chin shrugged. "I've ruined three shirts in a week--I'm fine with sitting this one out."

Steve got to his feet, dragging Keller up with him. "Then maybe you wouldn't mind taking him over to a squad car?"

"You still ain't told me what I'm under arrest for."

Steve rolled his eyes. He heard Chin listing out the names of the victims Keller had killed as they walked away, and then some discussion of rights. It was the hardest thing to get used to about the new job, the idea that people who were clearly guilty had rights. While their guilt was in doubt, sure. But when there was undeniable proof...well, it wasn't the way he was used to doing things. He was used to being brought in after guilt had been established and things needed to be handled.

But this was the only way he'd be able to continue his father's investigation.

He checked his watch--just after six. He wondered if Danny had eaten. It couldn't hurt to go by just to see. After all, he did have a little girl to take care of. He might not think about it.

Chin and Kono came back. "Do we need anything else?" Kono asked.

Steve shook his head. "We'll deal with paperwork tomorrow. Good work, guys."

"Chin and I are gonna go get some dinner," Kono said. "You want to come?"

He should go with them. The last thing he needed as the head of a new task force was for some random stranger to think he was a stalker. Steve checked his watch again and weighed his options. "No, thanks," he said finally. "Go ahead. I have something to do."

***

Danny was sitting alone in his wife's room when Steve arrived. His wife looked frail and wasted, equipment still keeping her going even though she looked like there was nothing left inside. Steve hesitated just outside the door, not sure if he should go in and interrupt. Danny probably didn't even want to see him. He should just go.

He took a step back and ran into a cart beside the door. The rattle got Danny's attention, and he jumped up, a hint of a smile visible. "Hey," he said quietly, looking over his shoulder before stepping out of the room. "Back to talk to someone about a case?"

"I was in the area," Steve lied. "Thought I'd check in and make sure you'd kept your word and had dinner."

Danny frowned down at his watch. "Shit," he said quietly. "I didn't realize how late it had gotten."

"Come on," Steve said, touching Danny's back to turn him towards the elevators down to the cafeteria. "Or do you need to tell someone where you're going first?"

"They have my cell phone to call in case I'm not there and anything happens," Danny said, falling into step beside Steve. "So did you get your guy?"

Steve frowned as they stepped onto the elevator. "Hm?"

"Earlier, you were called away to talk to a victim. Did you get the guy?"

"Oh, yeah, got him. All locked away."

"Good for you." Danny left the elevator first, and Steve couldn't help but notice that the view from the back was just as nice as the view from the front. Really, he wasn't ogling the man. He just happened to notice. That's all.

They were in line when Danny asked, "What did he do?"

Steve blinked. "What?"

"The guy you locked away. What did he do?"

"He killed three people. The victim upstairs was supposed to be number four, but he survived."

"So your vic was able to ID him? That's a lucky break."

Steve smiled. "Watch a lot of police shows?"

"Live them," Danny said as he paid for his food. "I'm a cop."

"You're HPD?"

"Yeah." He frowned. "Or I think so, anyway. We'll see if I still am after the sudden leave of absence I took. I'm kind of new--transferred from Newark when we moved here six months ago."

Steve actually had to think for a moment to place the city. "New Jersey?" At Danny's nod, Steve said, "How'd you end up here?"

"I ask myself that same question every day." Danny took a bite of his sandwich. "So the Governor's task force," he said. "What's that like? Do you just go on special missions the Governor assigns you to?"

"Sometimes. Mostly we're going to be working on more high profile cases, the ones with a lot at stake." Steve grinned. "I kind of have jurisdiction to take on cases I want."

"Sounds a lot more interesting than us regular old policemen," Danny said, and Steve could almost swear there was a faint mocking tone in there somewhere. "We just have to go where we're told and do what we're assigned."

Steve swallowed a bite of salad. "We do what the Governor tells us," he said. Though, really, she hadn't told them to do much so far.

"Still, sounds pretty sweet. What'd you do to rate that, take down a huge drug ring or something?"

"Actually...I'm not a cop."

Danny blinked. "Badge, arresting bad guys...what are you then?"

"A SEAL."

He blinked again, and Steve told himself it was not at all cute. "You look like a human to me."

"No, Navy SEAL."

"Yeah, I got that. I was joking."

Only then did Steve notice the teasing glint in Danny's eyes. It was nice to see it. Steve had no doubt that it would fade again when the situation hit him once more, but he was glad see a little break. "I was here on a case for the Navy," Steve said, deliberately vague, because the last thing Danny needed to hear about, under the circumstances, was Steve's father's recent demise, "and the Governor asked me to head up her new task force."

"So just like that you dropped out of the Navy and became a big wig cop?"

"No, I'm in the Reserves, but--hey, is this you interrogating me?"

Danny raised an eyebrow. "Should I be?"

Steve held his hands out wide, palms up. "Interrogate away. I'm an open book."

The way Danny studied him should've been annoying. Or unnerving. Instead, it made Steve feel like his skin was prickling, and he had to adjust his cargo pants. But he met Danny's eyes, refusing to look away.

"Why leave the Navy to be a cop?"

"Are you saying there's something wrong with being a cop?"

Danny shook his head. "Not a thing. Just seems like an odd choice for someone who was a SEAL."

"Not that odd if you look at the situation."

He didn't look completely convinced. "If you say so."

"Is it my turn to interrogate yet?"

Danny thought about it for a moment as he ate. "Sure," he said. "Why not?"

"Tell me about your daughter."

"Oh, that's not an interrogation, that's a joy!" The smile that lit up Danny's face was so beautiful that Steve couldn't help staring. They ate as Danny, in between bites, told Steve about Grace, who was "eight going on sixteen," and apparently the most perfect child ever to exist.

He'd met Danny filled with sadness and grief, but watching him talk about his daughter showed a range of emotions that Steve had to focus to keep up with, between the expressions and the hand waving. Steve remained mesmerized until Danny stopped suddenly, dropping his eyes to his plate. "Sorry, " he said, glancing up at Steve, "once I get started talking about Grace...."

"Don't apologize," Steve said. "She sounds amazing."

"She is." Danny took a bite of his sandwich. "So what about you?" he asked. "You have kids?"

Steve shook his head. "No wife, no kids. I was married to the Navy until a couple of weeks ago."

"You never did tell me why you suddenly dropped out of the Navy."

Steve thought about a phone call that changed his life. About a toolbox, and a life that had been orderly for so many years, suddenly thrown into chaos. "It's a long story."

Danny waved a hand around. "I got time."

Steve stacked his trash on his tray in a very neat, orderly pile. "I mentioned I was here on a case," he said after a moment. "The case I was working turned out to have local connections to something here."

"Something big?"

"I don't know yet," Steve said.

Danny studied him for a moment. "It can't be that small," he said. "You left the Navy for it."

"I didn't really leave," he said. "I can go back. I just...there were things about the case that I needed to follow up on, things I didn't think the Navy would let me investigate. Jameson would. So here I am."

"Here you are," Danny said softly. "Saving the world from unknown threats. And sad cases like me from going crazy sitting around a hospital."

"You're hardly a sad case," Steve said quietly. "Just sad. Understandably."

Danny shrugged. "You haven't heard the rest of my life's story."

The degree to which Steve wanted to hear it was a little surprising. "I--"

His phone cut him off. "Sorry," Steve said, pulling out the phone and seeing the Governor's number. He answered to find that apparently he wasn't going home just yet. He promised her his team would be on the scene shortly and hung up. "Sorry," he said again, getting up and picking up his tray. "The criminal element has terrible timing."

Danny's soft laugh did things to Steve it really shouldn't. "And that," Danny said, "is the story of my life." He waved a hand towards the door. "Go save the world, Captain America."

"Get some sleep," Steve said as he gave Danny a mock salute before turning toward the door.

"I will if you will," Danny called out.

Steve shook his head, but found himself smiling all the way to the scene.

***

"So then the guy takes off," Steve said, leaning on the table, bringing him a couple inches closer to Danny, "and his friend is calling after him, 'Dude, you forgot your pants,' as the guy runs naked out into the street."

Danny's laughter, real laughter, was like a little victory every time Steve managed to coax it out of him. "Please, for the love of God, tell me you had to tackle him naked."

"No way," Steve said, "we made the rookie do it."

Danny threw his head back laughing, and Steve dug his nails into his palms. He'd given up lying to himself that he didn't want Danny after the first day. But it wasn't the reason he was here, and he sure as hell wasn't going to act on it.

Didn't stop him from wanting, though, especially when Danny did stuff like that.

The laughter subsided, and Danny grew serious, studying Steve until he had to force himself not to squirm under the scrutiny. "Why do you come here?" Danny asked finally.

Steve decided to go for flip. "I like the food."

"Don't do that," Danny said. "Don't shrug it off like it's nothing. It's not." Danny leaned forward, elbows on the table, lowering his voice. "You bring me coffee every morning, and you're here for lunch and dinner every day, like it's your own personal mission to make sure I eat. And don't get me wrong, I'm not complaining, but I just...I don't know why."

Steve turned the question over in his head. "I've been here several times a day for the last four days, and I've never seen anyone in there but you," he said after a minute, meeting Danny's eyes. "I've lost people. No one should have to go through that alone."

Danny frowned, his nose wrinkling a little, an odd face that Steve had figured out was a kind of sympathy from him. "Your mom, right?"

Steve nodded. Danny studied him for a long moment. "You said people."

"Hm?"

"People. Who else have you lost?"

Steve piled his trash onto his tray carefully. "My dad."

"Man, that's tough. How long ago?"

Steve glanced up at him. "Two weeks."

Danny's mouth popped open just a little. "Two weeks? And here I've been--I mean..." He scrubbed a hand over his face. "I'm sorry."

"It's okay," Steve said, shaking his head.

"It's not. You're dealing with that, and here I've been complaining and just...."

"Dealing with death? Wondering how you're going to help your daughter through losing her mother?" Steve tilted his head, giving Danny a half-grin. "Yeah, you're a real whiner."

"You know what I mean."

"I do. And the sentiment is appreciated, but it's not needed." Steve leaned back in his chair. "Have you considered that maybe this is helping me?"

Danny looked a little sad at that thought, which made Steve wonder what was going through his head. "Who helped you through your Dad's death?"

You. But he couldn't say that. Like everything with Danny, it was too soon. But that didn't make it untrue. "I'm dealing."

"Right." Danny frowned. "Hang on...McGarrett? As in John McGarrett?" Steve nodded, and Danny's frown deepened. "Man, I'm really sorry. I heard about what happened, but I was in here dealing with all this and wasn't paying much attention."

"You've had your own stuff to deal with."

"Still...." Danny's mouth quirked up at the corner. "I met your dad a couple of times. He seemed like a great guy."

"He was," Steve said. The fact that his father had sent them away didn't negate that.

He could see the question forming in Danny's eyes, but before he could ask, Steve's phone rang. "I don't think I've ever seen a cop as in demand as you," Danny said.

"I'm a special kind of cop," Steve teased as he answered the phone. "Chin, what have you got?"

"Reports are in from the four other crime scenes."

"I'll be right there." He hung up the phone and stood. "Sorry--"

"Duty calls, I know."

Steve gave him a small smile. "See you for dinner?" he said, having given up any pretense that he wasn't coming back for every meal.

"Yeah."

He started to leave, but Danny called his name, and he turned back. "Yeah?"

"Thanks."

"Don't mention it."

***

"Earth to Steve."

Steve blinked, realizing he'd missed Danny's last couple sentences. "Sorry, what?"

"Am I boring you?"

The light in Danny's eyes was teasing, but Steve answered seriously nonetheless. "I'm sorry. It's this case. I know I'm missing something, but I can't figure out what it is, and it's driving me crazy."

"Wanna tell me about it?"

He felt bad bugging Danny with it when he had other things on his mind, but then the work had helped Steve cope. Maybe that was what Danny was looking for. "It's a string of robberies. Five in the last three weeks, which is why we got called in, all people with a money, but not all super wealthy. And in each one only one thing was taken, like they knew exactly what was there, and where to find it. But we can't find a connection between the victims."

"Did the alarms go off?"

Steve frowned. "No, there was no mention in any of the cases of the alarm going off."

"I worked a case back in Jersey where someone at the alarm company was working with the thieves. We found out they were letting the thieves know when people were gone and shutting off the alarm."

Steve thought about the case files for a moment. "There were two different alarm companies."

"But some of the monitoring is outsourced, so it could still be a link."

"How would they know exactly where to look, though? All the evidence shows they went right to it. One was in a safe and they knew the keycode and everything."

Danny thought for a moment. "Are there cameras?"

"Yes, but we're waiting on the video."

"I'd bet you money the video is either corrupt, missing, or doctored, and your guy works in video monitoring."

Which should have occurred to Steve. "I can't believe I missed that."

"You knew it was there. You'd probably have made the connection when the video had problems. I just had some past experience that made it quicker." Danny's slightly smug look was justified, Steve supposed. "It helps to have a partner to bounce these things off of, someone with different experiences. You haven't mentioned your partner."

"I don't have one." He'd never really needed one-- in the Navy he'd worked with other people in the field, paired up for different missions based on their skill sets. But he'd never had a constant partner.

"There's your problem."

He might have a point. Not that Steve could think of anyone he'd worked with so far, other than Chin and Kono, that he was really interested in bringing onto their team, let alone making his partner.

Except, he thought, eyeing Danny, possibly the man sitting across from him.

"What?"

"Hm?"

"You're studying me like a bug under a magnifying glass."

Steve shook his head. Now wasn't the time to bring up any ideas he might be having about the future. "Nothing."

Danny clearly knew he was lying, but he let it go. Steve could see the change in him as his mind went back to the room upstairs. "I suppose I should get back."

"You okay?" Stupid question, but here wasn't an easier way to ask.

"I have to tell Grace tonight," Danny said after a moment. "She needs a chance to say goodbye, and there's, uh...not much time left."

"I'm sorry, man."

Danny gave him a sad kind of smile. "I just feel like I'm about to destroy her childhood forever," he said. "What if she hates me for it?"

"She won't hate you for it," Steve said softly. "You're her dad. She'll love you for being there for her." When Danny still looked doubtful, Steve added, "Trust me. She might be upset with you at first, because you're the one telling her, but she won't hate you. I know a little something about this."

Danny's faced softened. "I guess you do."

"Give me your phone," Steve said, holding out his hand. Danny didn't question the request, he just handed his phone over. Steve programmed his number into it. "If you need a friend, call me."

He handed the phone back, and Danny looked at it for a moment before putting it back in his pocket. "Thanks."

"Don't mention it." Steve cleared his throat as he picked up his tray. "Come on. You need to get upstairs and I need to go have a little chat with some alarm companies."

"I am suddenly very glad not to be those alarm companies."

"All I'm going to do is ask them a few questions."

"It's not the questions I'm worried about," Danny said. "It's the method of getting them to answer."

Steve gave Danny his most innocent smile. "I don't know what you're talking about."

"Well, A, you told me about the interrogation last week, and B, I recognize that face."

"What face? I don't have a face."

"You do, my friend. And it's your 'someone's going to pay for almost putting one over on me' face."

Steve blinked at him. That had been exactly his mood, but no one had ever mentioned he was that easy to read. He wasn't sure if they hadn't noticed, or had been intimidated by his rank and hadn't said. He found that he liked someone being able to read him that well more than he'd have thought. Or at least he liked Danny being able to read him.

It was definitely time to think about offering Danny a job when this was over.

***

"Is that the last one?" Steve asked Chin.

Chin consulted the list on his phone. "Yup. All rounded up."

"Nice of that alarm guy to sing so sweetly," Kono said. "How'd you make that connection anyway, boss?"

Steve saw the opening to at least introduce the idea of Danny joining their team in the future. "I had a little help. I--"

His phone rang and he pulled it out to see an unfamiliar number on the screen. "McGarrett," he answered.

"Is this a bad time?" Danny asked.

"Not at all." He held up a finger to let Chin and Kono he'd be a minute and walked away just enough to make the conversation private. "Everything okay?"

"Yeah. Grace is coming a little later. My mom took her to the zoo to distract her for a bit before we tell her."

Steve glanced at Chin and Kono, who were watching him curiously. "Nice for her to get a break, I'm sure. Oh, by the way, you were right about the alarm guy. We just finished arresting the whole gang. So thank you."

"Good to know I've still got it," Danny said. "And speaking of figuring things out...I was wondering...."

"Yeah?" Steve prompted when he didn't finish.

"That case you were working on here and your dad dying...they're related, aren't they?"

Wow. He was good. "Yeah," Steve said softly.

"Sorry, I wouldn't have brought it up, but I was curious, so I had my partner at HPD send me the files, and I saw a couple of things that might not have flagged for anyone else. I only made the connection because of another case I worked here."

Steve tried to process the fact that, even with everything Danny was dealing with, he'd taken the time to try to help. When silence stretched across the line, Danny said, "I'm sorry if I overstepped--"

"No, it's not that," Steve said quickly. "I was just...surprised. You didn't overstep. I appreciate it." With anyone else he'd have been annoyed, at least. But not Danny.

"Oh good. So I was thinking, maybe you could stop by, and we could talk about what I saw in the files?"

Steve wondered if perhaps Danny needed the distraction as much as his daughter. Not that Steve was sorry for a reason to see Danny again--breakfast tomorrow had seemed a long way away. "Sure. I just have to wrap up here and I'll be over."

"Great. See you soon."

Steve hung up and stuffed the phone in his pocket as he walked back over to Chin and Kono, who were watching him like he was suddenly a suspect. "Important call?" Chin asked with a hint of a smirk.

"A friend who had some leads on a case."

"A friend?" Chin looked at Kono, who raised an eyebrow, the two of them turning remarkably similar expressions on him.

"A friend," Steve repeated. "One I need to go talk to, so let's get these guys into cells so I can go find out what he has."

They exchanged another look that Steve couldn't figure out, then Kono said, "Chin and I can take Atkins if you'll take Dwyer."

"Sounds good. See you at the precinct."

***

Booking them took longer than Steve had hoped, so it was over an hour before Steve could get to the hospital. He could hear the shouting when he got close to the room, but only when he was close enough to see in did he realize it was Danny's daughter, yelling at Danny. He only caught "hate you!" before an older woman--Danny's mom, Steve assumed--pulled her into her arms and Grace began sobbing against her shoulder.

Silent communication passed between Danny and his mother before Danny hurried out of the room. He turned before he saw Steve and headed for the men's room.

Steve followed, catching the door just before it closed completely. Danny was leaning on the sink with both hands, looking down into the drain like he wanted to drown himself in it. "Hey," Steve said softly.

Danny looked up. His eyes were red and wet, but he wasn't crying, not yet. "Hey," Danny said hoarsely. "Sorry, I don't think I can talk about the case right now--"

"Of course. I mean, I saw--" Steve waved a hand toward the room. "I'm sorry."

"She hates me."

"She doesn't." Steve moved over to lean against the wall right beside the sink. "When Dad told us about Mom," he said, "my sister screamed at him. She hated him, she never wanted to see him again. But the next day, she apologized. And didn't want to leave his side. Grace just needs a little time to process it all. She doesn't hate you."

"I hope not."

"She doesn't."

Danny pushed off the sink, folding his arms over his chest. "That little girl is my life," he said slowly. "If she hates me...."

"Hey." Steve took the few steps between them and pulled Danny into his arms. "It'll be okay," he said into Danny's hair, noticing that it smelled faintly like coconuts. "It'll be fine."

Danny put his arms around Steve, holding tight, and Steve wanted to stay there, just like that, for as long as Danny would let him. Danny fit perfectly against him, as if they were made to go together. A stupid, ridiculous thought, but one he couldn't get out of his head regardless.

After a minute, Danny sniffed and pulled back, but not completely out of Steve's embrace, his hands on Steve's waist. "Thanks," he said, looking up at Steve, his eyes bright.

Steve searched his face, finding something there that made him lean in without thinking. Danny's lips were warm and inviting, his hands hot and sure as they slipped around Steve's back to pull him closer against Danny's body. Steve let his hands roam up Danny's back, mapping the solid muscle Danny's shirts had promised were underneath.

His hand was making its way up to Danny's hair when sanity caught up with him. Danny's wife was in a hospital room a hundred feet away, dying, and here Steve was hitting on the guy. It wasn't just stupid, it was wrong on so many levels he didn't know where to start. Steve stepped back quickly, clasping his hands behind his back. "Shit, Danny, I'm so sorry, that was just...I mean, I don't....out of line doesn't begin to cover it. Your wife is in that hospital bed, and I--"

"Steve--"

Danny's phone rang, and he fished it out of his pocket quickly. Steve saw "Mom" on the screen as Danny swiped it to accept the call.

Before Danny could even get out a hello, Steve's phone rang. A quick look at his screen told him it was Chin, two quick sentences were all he needed to find out they had a case. "Hang on," Steve told Chin. He gave Danny a squeeze on his shoulder and held up his phone, nodding towards the door. Danny nodded even as he kept talking to his mother, so Steve turned around and walked out of the bathroom.

"What's the address?" he asked Chin on the way to the elevator.

***

By the time Steve left for work the next morning, he'd had very little sleep, but a lot of self-recrimination. Hitting on a guy whose wife was dying had to be on the list of top ten most asshole moves of the century. There was no way he was going to the hospital. Danny deserved the right to tell him off, but Steve wasn't going to make it worse by making him face up to what happened there.

Because, for all that it was a dick move on Steve's part, Danny had kissed him back. He'd pulled Steve in closer, and he'd been a willing participant. Not that it was his fault--he'd been vulnerable and looking for comfort, but if Danny was feeling guilty, Steve sure as hell wasn't going to make it worse by showing up there.

And if it made things easier on him, well, he wasn't thinking too much about that.

He bought an extra coffee for Danny without thinking about it. He left the coffee on the corner of his desk when he got to the office and blocked the little Freud voice in the back of his head out. HPD had sent them information about the murderer they'd picked up the night before. It had been a quick case, one Steve didn't have to think about to work, which was good, considering his brain had been a little occupied.

He suspected they'd been called in out of spite, since the detective who'd greeted them had made noises about wanting to join the task force and Steve had refused. He'd seen the guy's personnel file, but even if it hadn't been full of red flags, Steve had known instinctively the guy was wrong for their team.

Just as he'd known Danny would be right for them.

Which was something else he'd screwed up with his stupidity the night before. He'd had the perfect opportunity for the perfect partner, and he'd fucked it up with one kiss.

As life-altering fuck ups went, it was very well done.

He heard his door open and looked up, his heart nearly stopping as Danny walked over to the desk. Steve cleared his throat. "Hey."

"Hi." Danny shoved his hands in his pockets, his eyes trained somewhere around Steve's shoulder. "I, uh, I didn't know if you'd been by the hospital," he said. "Rachel died last night."

"I'm so sorry, Danny." Because even though they'd known what the outcome was going to be, it didn't suck any less.

"Thanks." Danny finally met Steve's eyes. "I also wanted to clear something up about last night."

Steve braced himself. "Okay."

"It didn't occur to me until after you, uh, left last night that I never told you the whole story about what happened with Rachel. Why she was in the hospital."

"You told me it was a drunk driver."

Danny nodded. "But what I apparently neglected to ever tell you was that her husband was driving. When the drunk driver hit them, he was killed instantly."

Steve wasn't sure he'd heard right. "Her...husband?"

"Rachel and I divorced a few years ago. She got remarried. It was her husband's job that brought them here, and I followed because I go where Grace goes."

Now it all made sense. It didn't totally let Steve off the hook for his behavior, but at least he hadn't been misreading signals. At least he hoped he hadn't. "So you were by Rachel's side, even though you were divorced?"

"There wasn't anyone else," Danny said with a shrug. "Grace needed me there. I mean, I still cared about Rachel--she gave me Grace. And we were happy once." He took a deep breath. "But last night, you and I...I didn't want you to think I was some kind of louse who would cheat on my wife while she was dying in the hospital."

"As opposed to the kind of louse who would hit on a guy while he thought his wife was in the hospital?"

"You're not a louse," Danny said quickly. "And it wasn't like I wasn't...I mean, I didn't exactly..." Danny ran a hand through his hair. "Sorry, it's been a long night," he said, then took another deep breath. "Another three seconds and I'd have kissed you," he said. "So don't blame yourself because your reaction time is faster than mine."

"Oh."

That got a quiet huff of something close to laughter out of Danny. "Oh? That's all you got?"

Steve stood up, moving around to the corner of the desk, close enough he could smell that coconut shampoo Danny used. Steve picked up the coffee cup and held it out. "I got you coffee."

Danny laughed as he took the cup. He took a sip, then wrinkled his nose. "It's cold."

"Sorry. I kind of...I wasn't sure about going to the hospital after..."

"I know." Danny put the coffee on the desk. "I don't have to go, uh, make arrangements until noon. How about I take you out for fresh coffee?"

Steve studied Danny's face, seeing the promise of more than just coffee, or at least the possibility of it. He hesitated for only a second before nodding. "I'd like that."

-----

END