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Four Times Nobody Noticed It Was a Date, and One Time There Wasn’t Any Doubt

Chapter Text

Danny doesn't know how it happened exactly, but somehow his crappy studio has turned into the place they all end up when they need to decompress after a case. Five-0 Time, they call it. He doesn't mind--it makes it so he keeps actual food in the fridge, and closes up the bed occasionally, and even if the decompressing part is sometimes code for drinking themselves unconscious, it at least means that nobody's alone while they do it.

Tonight's different, though. Less drinking, more long stares, and nobody with much to say. The bad ones are like that sometimes, but the real weirdness is that McGarrett isn't with them, thanks to the very public, very messy, and very entwined-with-HPD end to the case. For all the aggravation the guy causes Danny, and for all that Danny is damn happy to not be the one who has to finesse the higher-ups--and in this case, there's not just the governor, but a US Senator on the line--Five-0 Time isn't right without him.

"Food?" Danny asks, pulling out the drawer where he keeps the to-go menus, but Chin just shakes his head, and Kono bolts for the bathroom. Danny doesn't blame her; he regrets even suggesting it after a day spent going over coroner's reports and matching body parts to names.

"Sorry," he mutters to Chin. "Wasn't thinking."

"'sokay, brah," Chin answers. "Been a long day."

The door to the bathroom might as well be paper for all the privacy it gives; Danny winces as Kono retches again and again. She has to be into dry heaves by now. He and Chin look at each other for a long minute before Chin nods once and stands.

"Be right back," he says, ducking out the door and angling across the little strip of grass toward the intersection on the corner, disappearing into the darkness. Danny goes and gets a glass of water, digs through the little trunk where he keeps all his travel stuff until he finds a toothbrush that's new and still in the wrapper. It's pink and flowery, with a little hippo on the end of the handle, but he can get another one for Grace.

Kono smiles at him when he hands it to her, and while it's not even close to her usual brilliant standard, it's real and that's about all Danny needs. She disappears back into the bathroom for long enough that Danny calls through the door that most people stop when all the bristles are gone.

She sticks one hand out the door to flip him off, but doesn't otherwise hurt him when she finishes up, just gives him a hug and looks around for Chin. Before Danny can say anything, Chin's back, juggling the door and three little paper cones of shave ice.

"Oh, cuz," Kono says, and her smile is almost normal. "Lychee-green tea?"

"You know it," Chin says, holding one cone out to her and handing another one to Danny. "Went with the basics for you," he says, shrugging. Danny takes an experimental bite and it's fine; cherry, he thinks, though that's based as much on the red color as anything. It's good stuff, though, sweet and light, the cold settling his stomach. Kono curls up in the one chair, while Chin sits back at the table that serves mostly as a desk. Danny sits on the couch and watches the headlights go by out on the street, purposefully not thinking about anything. It's his go-to technique to get the shit out of his head after a case, at least enough that he can get through a night without dreams. When he comes back to himself, both Chin and Kono are asleep; Chin with his head down on the table, Kono curled even tighter into herself, her head pillowed on her hand.

Danny moves quietly through the apartment, trashing the sticky paper cones and corralling all the paperwork into semi-neat stacks that they can work on later. He thinks about a shower, but ends up just brushing his teeth and splashing some water on his face, and then nearly has a stroke when he comes out of the bathroom and almost trips over McGarrett, standing and watching Kono and Chin.

"Did you ever hear of knocking?" Danny demands, and the only reason he's not yelling is because he doesn't want to wake anyone up, nothing to do with the dark circles that are all but etched in Steve's face.

"I saw them through the window," Steve answers, just as quietly. "Didn't want to wake them."

"A light tap is still considered polite," Danny mutters. "Or a 'hey, Danny,' when you get inside. Even just a--"

"Got it," Steve says. "Knock next time."

Danny looks up with something close to alarm, because that was way too easy. Steve not meeting his eyes is another mark in the Not Right column, but before he can start prying whatever it is out of the stubborn bastard, Kono wakes up.

"Hey, boss," she says, sitting up and stretching.

"Hey, yourself," Steve says, with a pretty credible attempt at normality. Danny can see right through it of course, but Kono's still half-asleep, so he doesn't think she notices anything. "You did good today."

"Thanks," Kono says, stretching and standing up. "Lost my dinner here, though."

"Happens to everyone," Steve says, and Danny nods, because that's nothing but the truth, and there's no reason for Kono to feel bad about it. "I don't want to see you tomorrow. Grab your board and hit Ala Moana; show them how it's done." He nods to Chin, who's awake now, as well. "Goes for you, too."

"Sure thing, Steve," Chin says, and Danny's pretty sure Chin's not buying the super-cool act, but Chin Ho and Steve--they've got some weird thing going, what with the old man and who he'd been to the both of them. Danny figures they'll work it out, but it's not gonna be tonight.

"Come on, cuz," Kono says. "I'll give you a ride home so you don't kill yourself on the bike." Chin and Steve do some complicated fist bump thing--Danny figures it's some kind of former-quarterback secret handshake or something--and Kono follows him out the door, shooting Danny a look that tells him in no uncertain terms that not only did she notice the crap face Steve was putting on things, but that Danny was on notice to deal with it.

Danny's not going to argue with the woman; he's seen her roundhouse kick.

"I should probably go, too," Steve says. "I didn't realize it was so late--"

"What's in the bag?" Danny interrupts, pointing to the white paper bag Steve's been holding the whole time. Steve tosses it to him; Danny digs in to find--predictably--malasadas, still warm from the fryer. "I thought you didn't like these things."

"I didn't say I didn't like them, I said I didn't eat them," Steve says. "Figured I shouldn't show up empty-handed."

"Steve McGarrett, thoughtful guest. Who knew?" Danny says, dropping the bag on the table and opening the cupboard over the tiny sink. "The least I can do is reciprocate." He finds his bottle of good Scotch and a couple of glasses that are reasonably clean and adds them to the stash.

"It's a party," Steve says, pouring a couple of fingers into each glass.

"Really?" Danny snorts. "That's what you call a party on the island?"

Steve gives him one of those twitchy eyebrow things but goes back and pours more before he hands one glass to Danny and starts in on the other. He gets one swallow and his eyebrows stop with the glower and go up in a sort of surprised appreciation. Danny settles back on the couch and enjoys the moment. It really is the good stuff.

"So what's the good word from Washington Place and our esteemed governor?"

"She's grateful for our assistance," Steve says, tossing back the rest of what's in his glass. Danny shakes his head--30-year-old, single malt Scotch deserves so much better. Steve starts to pace, four quick steps across the apartment, four back the other way. "She appreciates our hard work."

"Sit down before your Size Elevens wear a path on my floor." Danny's expecting Steve to take the chair, but shifts over willingly enough when he drops down on the couch with him, especially since the Scotch and the donut-things come along for the ride. He motions impatiently and Steve adds a little more to their glasses. Danny takes another belt and swallows hard, lets the smoky burn slide down the back of his throat. "They never get it," he says after a while. "They think they do; they look at the photos, read the forensic reports, but…"

"Yeah," Steve says, and it gets quiet, but comfortable, possibly for the first time since they've met. Steve sips thoughtfully; as soon as he finishes, Danny knows he'll be gone. He thinks about that house, the one Steve grew up in, the one with Jack McGarrett's blood still a faint stain on the floor, the one Steve won't leave. He has his reasons, Danny knows, but tonight's not a good night for ghosts.

Before Steve can gather himself to go, Danny flips on the TV. Somebody must be watching out for him, because the first thing he sees is The Sting, reason enough to stay.

"Dinner?" Danny tilts the bag of malasadas in Steve's direction. "I know you wouldn't be bringing me anything but the best."

Steve looks at the bag for a couple of seconds, which is more indecision than Danny's ever seen from him.

"C'mon, you can swim an extra mile tomorrow," Danny says. "Or does that bit about not needing to see anyone not extend to you?"

"What the hell," Steve says, digging into the bag.

"Jesus," Danny says, when he comes back out with a giant handful. "Leave some for your partner, yeah?"

"Shut up," Steve says, pushing the bag back at Danny and putting his feet up on the coffee table. "Newman's about to start the con."

"Yes, dear," Danny says, settling back for the night.

Chapter Text

"You eat like crap," McGarrett says, opening the driver's side door and sliding in. "Cheeseburger Doritos? Really?"

"Please stop talking." Danny tilts the snack-sized bag up to get the last few crumbs. "Without your voice hammering at me, I can almost get to a place where this isn't the fifth day in a row you've picked me up at dawn and we haven't stopped until you drop me back off at midnight." He crumples up the bag and stuffs it in the traveling trash bag Steve insists on having in the car because he's some kind of neat freak with a fetish that extends to cars. "In this place--the one I was almost at, before you opened your mouth--there were real cheeseburgers. With bacon. And mayo. And just a touch, a hint, of grilled onions."

Steve snorts and Danny throws in the towel at ignoring the guy. "What?"

"I had no idea you were this delusional." Steve tosses the file to Danny and starts the engine. "Didn't you have to pass a psych eval before HPD hired you?"

"Please, don't remind me," Danny says, skimming the phone records in the file. "I had beautiful evals back then. Gorgeous. Perfectly well-adjusted. Now that I've been partnered with you, I'm sure they're all shot to hell."

"Delusional, like I sai--"

"Hey, wasn't one of the phone numbers Chin's been trying to track down a mainland cell?" Danny holds the file out to show Steve, never mind that they're coming down Kalakaua Avenue at about twice the speed limit and blasting into intersections with lights that flash red before they're even halfway through. He must be getting used to the maniac. Maybe he is delusional after all. God knows working with McGarrett is cause enough to lose a few mental health points.

"Here," Danny says, holding it steady until Steve glances over and nods, and Danny reaches for his phone. "Gotcha."

*

"Kono's on her way in with plate lunch for everyone," Chin says, sticking his head in Danny's office. Steve nods without looking up from his laptop; Danny swallows the last bite of his protein bar guiltily. Chin laughs. "Brah, again? Kono's gonna get a complex with you not eating what she brings in, and trust me, you do not want to see her with a complex."

Danny groans; Steve pretends like he's not sitting over there about to start with the you-don't-eat-worth-shit routine, but he's evil and devious and doesn't say anything. Danny knows that tactic--he's a cop, for crying out loud, he's been waiting out suspects for close to a decade--but that doesn't make it any less effective. Plus, the guy is his partner; it's not like Danny's breaking under interrogation.

"You know how it is," Danny says to Chin, with a sigh. "You get caught up in the day and the next thing you know, it's after 3 and you haven't had anything but bad coffee." Chin nods; Danny goes back to looking at the crap he's got spread out on his desk. "Rachel--she hated me coming home and not wanting to eat because I'd grabbed something an hour before I walked out the door. I don't know--it got to be a habit. I don't eat lunch by 2 and I automatically go for one of these." He tosses the wrapper at the trash can. "You know, so I don't ruin my non-existent dinner with my non-existent family."

The last part comes out a little more bitter than Danny intends--okay, a lot more bitter--but it's pathetic that it's taken him this long to notice the habit. Steve's winding up for a speech--probably can't wait to tell Danny what an idiot he is--but lucky for Danny, Kono breezes in right then, bags in both hands, and starts handing around take-out boxes.

"Boss," she says. "Teri beef." Steve takes the box with a grunt that passes for a thank-you. Chin gets something wrapped in what looks like seaweed, but right when Danny's starting to worry--he doesn't want to offend her, but jeez, no way is he eating seaweed--she passes him a box with a pile of crunchy chicken tenders (with some macaroni salad and a weird sauce for dipping, but he's taking whatever he can get.) She keeps the one that has rice and a beef patty and a fried egg and gravy.

"You're gonna eat all that?" Steve asks, before Danny can open his mouth. Kono laughs and shows off her biceps.

"It's North Shore time," she says. "Gotta be ready for the weekend."

"Hardcore," Chin says, shaking his head, in between giant bites. Steve's shoveling it down, too; it really is late in the day. Danny's not all that hungry, but he manages to put away half of his, too.

*

Danny's got a dull headache pressing hard behind his eyes; not even keeping his eyes closed is helping against the unnaturally bright, tropical sun. Steve's on the phone non-stop, first Chin, then HPD, back to Chin, and finally Kono. Danny does his best to tune him out; he'd been there while it all went down, he doesn't need to listen to multiple play-by-plays. What he does need is a new shirt; the one he's got on is trashed. Getting knocked ass-over-teakettle into the black, volcanic island mud by his partner putting a flying tackle on the guys they'd interrupted cooking meth--because God fucking forbid they wait for HPD--will do that.

"Danny--" Steve starts, as the car slows and turns.

"Did I say you could talk to me?"

"Do you--"

"Did I say you could talk to me?" Danny repeats, without opening his eyes.

"Fine," Steve huffs. The engine cuts off and the door slams and it is finally, blessedly quiet. Danny takes a deep breath, and another, starts to let go of the general irritation of the day, at least until the clouds that have blown in start dumping the usual afternoon storm, rain drumming fast and hard against the roof of the car, because clearly, he's not sweating enough as it is. His phone rings, though, with Grace's ringtone, and that's good, that's easily the best thing about the day so far.

"Daddy!" Grace chirps, and she's off on what's happened with her day, what she's learned, who's her best friend today, and what she's going to do on the weekend with Rachel and Step-Stan. Danny listens and agrees that boys are weird and disagrees with it being a bad thing that teachers don't like note-passing in class. He promises to tell Kono that Grace says hi, and Chin and Steve, too, and generally ignores everything that isn't the happy voice on the other end of the call. Steve comes back somewhere in the middle, but he doesn't say anything, just starts the car again and takes off.

"I have to go now, Daddy," Gracie says. "Ms. Matsumato gave us ten math problems for homework, but we have to think of something fun for next weekend, okay?"

"Fun is definitely on the menu," Danny says, but Grace is calling Byeee!! before he can remind her that Danno loves her. He drops the phone back in his pocket and looks around to see trees and grass and Steve not driving like a bat out of hell.

"Where are we?"

Steve cuts his eyes over to Danny, but only for a second, and he doesn't say anything.

"Hellooo?" Danny says. "Anybody home? I asked where we were, in case you missed that part of the conversation, and I'd appreciate it if you didn't--"

"Oh, sorry, I'm allowed to talk now?" Steve says, pulling into a parking space and stopping the car with a jerk. He opens his door and reaches into the back to grab a plastic bag. "I did miss that part."

"And I'm the sensitive one," Danny mutters, following Steve out of the car and through the trees. It occurs to him that he's pissed off a Navy SEAL, one who can probably kill him with a paperclip and hide his body forever, but he's going to take it on faith that Steve wouldn't do that to Grace. At least, not without more provocation than Danny being pissy (righteously pissy, but pissy nonetheless, Danny can admit that) over the latest bit of testosterone-fueled insanity.

"Kapiolani Park," Steve says, over his shoulder, and if Danny really wanted to be nasty about it, he'd say that Steve's storming off in a snit, but saying that out loud might actually be enough to push Steve over that fine (exceedingly fine) line and get Danny's body dumped in the middle of Honolulu's largest park.

"Grace says hi," Danny says, as Steve drops the bag on the ground, on a little slope that looks out over a grassy field. There's a soccer game in progress, and what looks like a hula lesson at the other end, and now that the sun's back out, there's a rainbow arching up over the trees. Danny shakes his head at a place where there are rainbows every day. "She has a lot of homework--is that normal? Homework at that age? The school she's going to, you don't think it's too pushy, do you?" Steve slants him a look, and Danny stops and listens to what he's just said, who he's just asked for advice, and shrugs. "Yeah, okay, sorry about that, too."

Danny sits down on the ground next to where Steve's stretched out, and eyes his still dirty hands with sigh. He'd cleaned up as best he could back at the bust, but that's not saying much. Steve digs around in the bag and tosses him a pack of wet wipes, but even once his hands are clean, there's still the matter of his shirt. Steve, of course, looks like nothing went down. His t-shirt's wet, but it's black to start with, so it's not showing much of anything other than body under it. Danny hadn't been surprised at the thorough, if discreet, look the female HPD officer on the scene had shot him, even if Steve hadn't noticed, what with his super-focus thing in high gear.

With a sigh, Danny strips off his filthy shirt and goes with just the white t-shirt he's got under it. Steve pushes a box over to him, which Danny is expecting to be the ever-popular plate lunch (which isn't all that bad, usually.) It's been a long day, one that's left him sitting around in his undershirt, that's his reason for staring stupidly at the contents.

"Bacon-double-cheeseburger, light mayo, and I had them put the onions on the side, because I had no idea what "a hint" of grilled onions even means," Steve says, and Danny transfers the stupid stare to him. "No poison, I swear."

Danny blinks a couple more times, but nothing goes away, not Steve, not the cheeseburger, so he dives in and, okay, maybe he moans around the first bite, but seriously, "Excellent, man. Just, excellent," he says through the second and third mouthfuls. Steve shakes his head at him, but reaches back into the bag and pulls out a couple of beers, and it might not be the worst day Danny's spent on the job.

"Sorry about the tackle," Steve says, staring out at the hula girls. "I thought I had the angle where it wouldn't take you down, too, but--"

"Eh, whatever," Danny says. "We got the son of a bitch; that's what counts."

Steve holds his bottle up and Danny clinks it with his own.

Chapter Text

"Hey, Danno," Steve says, walking into Danny's office without so much as a cursory tap, his eyes on the open file he's carrying. "Have you seen the--" He breaks off with a cough, and it just figures, Danny thinks.

Even if it is a Saturday, he's been working his ass off the entire morning, on a motherfucking roll, thank you very much, blasting through the reams of paperwork Steve leaves in his wake and not even minding much, because it's kind of impressive how fast Steve can make things happen. At least for now, Danny's okay with being the guy who makes sure the i's get dotted and the t's get crossed so nobody can come back and repossess the cars and the computers and every other damn thing that just shows up when they need it. They've been yelling back and forth between offices, and Steve has some stupid thing about texting every goddamn thought that crosses his brain, but it figures that the first time they actually see each other, Danny's down on the floor, packing up the metric fuckton of American Girl-related crap that Grace has brought along with her.

"Sorry to interrupt your special playtime there, big guy," Steve says, with that fucking evil smirk of his. Danny snorts and finally gets the clasp on the little suitcase closed. He's sure Grace will have something to say about how he's just shoved all the clothes in, no folding or anything, but it'll give her something to do for the rest of the day. His knee pops when he stands back up, but he takes the doll, and all her accessories and starts for the door with as much dignity as he can muster.

Steve, he ignores.

"You missed something," Steve says, ignoring how he's being ignored, and pushing a little hair tie or scrunchie or something along with the toe of his boot. "Wouldn't want your outfit to not match."

Danny makes a grab for it, shoving it into his pocket, and really, the whole not-minding having to be in the office doing paperwork on a Saturday? Yeah, it's pretty much gone. It is amazing how quickly that can happen when Steve's in the same room.

Still ignoring how he's being ignored, Steve falls into step with him. "Hey, wait--I didn't think it was your weekend with Grace--what are you doing in here?"

"Eh, it's not," Danny says. "Rachel called this morning--something about some golf outing with Step-Stan and if I wanted, I could go by and pick Grace up for the day."

"Which of course you wanted," Steve says.

"Of course," Danny answers. "She hung out with me for a while," he holds out the doll and the suitcase, "and then Chin was in, so she went off with him. I don't--"

They make the turn into the computer lab, and stop dead at the same second, all but blinded by the trees and flowers and waterfalls and fairies dancing across every screen in the room. Chin Ho has a lot of monitors, Danny thinks, a little dazed.

"Welcome to Pixie Hollow, gentlemen," Chin says. He has one hell of an impressive poker face. Danny's always thought that, but never so much as right now, watching Chin not laugh at the horrified expression on Steve's face.

"Oh, man, she got you, too?" Danny says. There's a little guy on the monitor next to Chin; even with the foofy wings, he looks kind of badass. Danny wonders if they can find him a shotgun, but seeing how it's Disney, he thinks that's probably not gonna happen.

"And Kono," Chin says, finally cracking a smile. Steve still looks like somebody hit him with a two-by-four, but then again, that means he's not running his mouth, so that's not necessarily a bad thing. "Your Grace is very persuasive. Our houses are all in a row and we're all friends now."

"Oh, good," Danny says. "We can talk to each other."

"You're a... a fairy?" Steve says in this strangled voice.

"Technically, Danny and I are sparrow men," Chin says, back to the deadpan. "Kono and Grace are fairies."

"Sparrow men?" Steve says. "Sparr--"

"Speaking of the evil mastermind," Danny says at the same time. "Where is she?"

"She and Kono went down to the gym," Chin says. "I reappropriated one of the laptops and got all those records cross-referenced, so we're on track there. We might even be ahead for once."

"Oh, yeah, we're good," Danny says. Chin bumps fists with him. "You going out to Sid's tonight?"

Chin lets a little of the calm expression slip as he nods. From what Kono's said, the first try at having dinner without throwing insults at each other was kind of rocky; Danny gives Chin--and Sid--a lot of credit for trying again.

"Sparrow men," Steve repeats, with the start of a smirk, and Danny tucks Grace's doll under one arm so he can tow Steve out of the computer room before Chin loses any more of his equilibrium.

"Thanks, man," Danny calls back over his shoulder. "I owe you one."

"Oh, you so do, Williams," Chin answers, with a laugh. It's an evil laugh, one that promises Danny is going to be paying this one off for a long, long time, but given that Danny's kid has Chin set up with a fairy alter-ego and Steve knows about it, Danny doesn't expect much else.

"Shut it," Danny hisses, when Steve turns to him. "No," he repeats, when Steve opens his mouth. "Stop. He's a good guy and a genius with the computer shit, plus, he is one of like, three people I trust with my kid, so do not fuck with that."

Steve settles for a smirk, but even though it that lasts all the way to the gym, he is being quiet. Danny's taking whatever he can get. Grace is out on the mats with Kono, both of them with their hair pulled up in ponytails and barefoot. Grace is bopping around and Kono's holding a sparring pad.

"Hi, Daddy," Grace calls. "Come see what Kono taught me."

"Sure, sweetie--" Danny starts, and then the only thing he can think is that Rachel is going to fucking kill him, because Grace is launching herself with an ear-splitting shriek at Kono.

"She's, uh, got some lungs on her," Steve says. "Good form, though." Danny counts six punches and three kicks in the space of about three seconds before Grace turns and smiles brilliantly at him.

"Gracie," Danny calls, over Kono's whoops, elbowing Steve in the ribs, hissing, "Self-esteem," under his breath. "That's--wow!"

Steve takes the hint and applauds, and Gracie does a little curtsy-bow, just like she's at ballet recital.

"She's a natural," Kono says, and Grace's smile gets so big she practically glows.

"Good teacher," Steve says. Kono ducks her head a little, like she's embarrassed, but her grin turns wicked.

"Wanna see how good?" She bounces on her toes, and Steve's slouch gets a little straighter.

"Hey, hey, hey, no bloodshed in front of my daughter," Danny says. Steve slants him a one of those "chill, brah" looks, but stands down. "McGarrett, I know you have no life, but Kono, don't you have waves to shred or ride or... something?"

"Okay," Kono says, laughing. She gives Grace a hug and holds out her hand for a fist bump from Danny. "Later, boss?"

"Count on it," Steve drawls, and Danny has no idea what he's done in a former life to end up surrounded by adrenaline-junkie freaks but he hopes he enjoyed it.

"Super," Danny says to the maniacs. "I'll put in the req for extra ice packs on Monday." He holds the doll out for Grace to take. "Come on, monkey. Let's go figure out what we can do today."

"Beach!"

"Yeah, I know that; we just have to decide which one," Danny answers, herding her out the door. What he really means is, he needs suck it up and decide which beach is going to be the least obnoxious.

"Danno," Steve calls, quietly. "Why don't you come out to the house? It's pretty calm in the cove, easy surf, easy to keep an eye on her." His mouth curves up in a lopsided smile that's not quite a smirk. "And, y'know, there's beer in the fridge."

"Seriously?" Danny thinks about how much easier the whole thing would be, no hunting down a parking space, no dragging stuff along the sand, to say nothing of having a bathroom right there. And beer, too. That's enough to sell him right there, but then Steve nods, looking self-conscious, which the freak only does when he's aware that someone might think he's being nice without it being payback on a debt, which definitely settles it for Danny. "That'd be great, thanks."

Grace dances around in excitement at the news; Danny can barely get her to sit still long enough to get her seat belt on. They stop by his apartment so he can change, and then make another stop because Danny is pretty sure Steve has no idea what's decent food for kids, but then go straight out to the house.

"It's open," Steve calls when they knock, and it's a matter of minutes before Grace is splashing in the shallows and Danny has a cold one.

"Come on," Steve says, sprawled out and lounging in the chair next to Danny, the ink on his shoulders dark and crisp against his tan. "Admit it: the beach doesn't totally suck."

"Whatever," Danny grumbles, but he's about to own up to Steve maybe being not entirely wrong, except Grace is calling, "Daddy, Daddy, how deep can I go?" and he needs to psych himself up for everything a day at the beach entails.

"Relax, Danno," Steve says, clapping him on the shoulder. "I got this one." He drops his sunglasses on the chair and jogs down to the water before Danny can say anything, calling out to Grace, "How deep do you want to go?"

"Deeeeeeeeep," Grace yells, and Danny reminds himself that the guy is a SEAL, he can handle it. For all Danny knows, he's been dropped into the ocean from 20 miles up. In the middle of the night. With people shooting at him. One little girl in a sheltered cove is nothing. Of course, it's Danny's little girl, so he's going to keep a sharp eye out, but he can probably lose the death grip he's got on his beer before it shatters in his hands.

They walk out until Grace is bobbing in the small waves, jumping to keep her head above water. Steve gives her an arm to hang onto, and they swim out a little further, Grace practicing her kicks, splashing up a storm. They stop at about shoulder-deep on Steve, and Danny watches him watching Grace as she lets go and holds her arms up so she'll slide down into the water like a torpedo, the way she's always loved. Steve reaches down to pull her up and the breeze blows little snatches of her laughter to Danny.

He sits back and relaxes a little, looking down so he doesn't knock over his beer as he sets it next to the chair, which is of course when the adrenaline junkie in Steve takes over. The next thing Danny knows, he's looking up to find Grace crouched on Steve's shoulders, clinging to his hands as he stands up slowly. Before Danny can even start to process that, Steve's letting go of her hands and holding on to her ankles so she can stand up, too.

She waves to Danny, who waves back, which is proof enough that the human brain can work on auto-pilot, because there is nothing in his brain but panic, and even that's gone in the next second when Steve lets go of one ankle and Grace picks up that foot and puts it back down on top of Steve's hand. They do it again with the other foot, so Grace is standing on Steve's palms, his hands resting on his shoulders, stopping for a second. Steve tilts his head back and says something to Grace, who nods. Danny knows that nod, it's the I'm-gonna-do-it-no-matter-what nod, and there's not anything he can do to stop her. Steve slowly pushes up, doing a press with Danny's beautiful, sweet, gorgeous baby girl, not stopping until he's got both arms extended, and she's all the way up, standing on his hands, her arms up over her head, too. Danny's surprised his heart is still beating, but it is; it's pounding in his chest like it's going to explode.

"Daddy!" Grace calls. "Danno, watch; I'm going to fly!"

Danny's already knee-deep in the surf, with no idea how he's gotten there but they're still too far out for him to do anything but watch as Steve falls forward, keeping his arms straight and giving Grace a little push right before he goes under. She falls with him, a perfect, graceful swan dive ruined only by her unpointed toes at the end. Danny gets two more steps into the water before her head pops up again, Steve's right beside it, the both of them laughing like they've just been to Disneyland. Danny sits down right where he's standing, the waves washing up and over his shoulders, and waits while Grace splashes toward him.

"Did you see?" she asks, and he nods, blindly. "I wasn't scared, not at all."

She keeps right on going, calling back over her shoulder that it's time to build a sandcastle, a real one with towers and a moat, and Danny nods again. Steve's a couple of steps behind her, shaking the water out of his hair, and laughing at Danny. He stops, watching Danny with his hands on his hips, and it occurs to Danny that it might be the first time he's ever seen Steve McGarrett laugh for real, nothing held back, nothing snide or snarky or superior.

That doesn't stop Danny from looking up at him through narrowed eyes and saying, "If you ever do something like that with my kid again, I swear to God I will shoot you in the face."

"Nice," Steve says, laughing again. "Kono teaches her how to throw a punch and you're hissing at me about self-esteem. I take her into the water and you're threatening my life. I see how that works." He holds out a hand. "Come on, Sparrow Man. You've got a moat to dig."

"I am so not kidding," Danny says, but lets Steve haul him to his feet. Grace already has a good start on the castle; Danny settles down next her and takes over the digging part, freeing her up to run around and collect shells and beach glass for the all-important decorating phase. Steve brings Danny his beer and finds the bag with the snacks and the vitamin water Rachel insists Grace drink. When he takes a picture of the two of them and the sandcastle masterpiece without any extraneous comment, Danny re-considers the shooting thing.

Grace is on her best behavior, but after a couple of hours, Danny figures it's about time they take off. The look on her face is tragic, but it's one Danny's seen before and can deal with. "But I don't have to be home until 8 o'clock, Daddy. Mommy said."

"It's almost time for dinner and Commander McGarrett has things he has to do," Danny tells her. "It was nice of him to invite us, but we don't want to overstay our welcome, right?"

"Right," Grace sighs, in the most pitiful little voice in the world, which, again, Danny's heard before and is not swayed by. "Thank you very much for inviting us, Commander McGarrett," she says, and if Danny didn't know better, he'd swear she's on her way back to a bare shack with hot and cold running rats rather than Step-Stan's mansion. "I had a very good time."

Steve stares at her with this helpless expression on his face, and Danny sighs.

"I hope we'll be able to come back sometime," Grace goes on, her voice dropping to a whisper. "If that's all right with you," she finishes. She doesn't sniffle, but there's a hint of tears anyway, and Danny's torn between admiring the delicate precision of her attack and wanting to bang Steve's head against a wall for how easily he's falling for it.

"I don't--we--could order pizza," Steve says, not looking at Danny. "You like pizza, right?"

"I do," Grace says, and now her voice is a little stronger, as though hope is buoying her along. "If it's okay with Daddy." They both turn and look at him, and it's just fucking ridiculous.

"Oh, for the love of God," Danny mutters. Grace, he can handle, but he's not sure he's up for dealing with Steve trying to handle it.

"We can stay for pizza," he says out loud, and catches Grace as she throws herself on him to deliver a blizzard of thank-you kisses. "No fruit," he adds, as Steve reaches for the phone.

While they're waiting for the pizza, he sends Grace to shower, and then, when she comes back, extracts sworn, cross-my-heart-and-hope-to-die, no-take-backs, no-crossed-anything promises from her--and more importantly, his maniac partner--that nothing more dangerous than playing with dolls will happen while he goes to do the same. He does not need to come back and find his daughter at the top of a tree, or whatever else might seem like a good idea to the Dynamic Duo.

"Nothing else, or we're gone," he says, just to be sure everybody gets it. Grace's lower lip wobbles a little--again, nothing Danny can't handle, but she's got the big, bad SEAL wrapped around her pinkie finger like there's no tomorrow, so Danny figures the threat of tears is really working on him. "This isn't the time to be cleaning guns, either, man," he adds to Steve.

He still doesn't trust the two of them, so he makes the shower lightning-fast, just enough to get off the worst of the sand and salt--and yeah, he maybe still hates the beach after all. At least with a pool, you just smell like chlorine until you can shower. Itching isn't really a factor.

He can hear them talking as he comes down the hall; when he gets back to the great room, they're both sitting on the floor, surrounded by dolls and clothes, and Grace is saying, "--but you live here all by yourself now?"

Danny knows Steve has to know he's there--the guy has the freaky Spidey-sense thing going on--but he doesn't acknowledge Danny, only stands up and puts the picture they've been looking at back on the shelf. "Yeah," he says, adjusting the frame minutely. "Just me; my dad... died not too long ago."

"Oh," Grace says. Shit, Danny thinks, taking a step into the room. Shit, shit, shit. So not the thing to be getting into. Before he can say anything, though, Grace puts down her doll and goes over to where Steve's still standing. She tips her head back to look at him, waiting until he crouches down next to her before she says, "I am very sorry to hear that."

She leans in and gives him a little kiss on the cheek, and then goes back to her dolls. Steve looks at her for a long couple of seconds, then looks up at Danny, and seriously, there's just not anything Danny can say.

"Thanks, Grace," Steve says, as the doorbell rings with the pizza and the moment breaks, Steve escaping to the front of the house while Danny sits on the couch behind Grace and combs her hair back off her face with his fingers.

"Hey, monkey," he says.

"Hi, Danno," she answers, very softly, and he knows his Gracie, knows she's thinking about everything. He's not sure how much she remembers about the time when Andy Grant took a shotgun blast point blank when he went to break up a bar fight. She was in kindergarten then, and he and Rachel had already split, but he knows Grace had been on play dates with Andy's kids before it all happened. Even if she doesn't remember specifics, she probably remembers the atmosphere. She stays quiet, focuses her attention on the little doll clothes, taking them out of their suitcase and smoothing them out before repacking them carefully. She smiles at Steve, though, when he comes back into the room, juggling pizza boxes and a six of Coke, and if there's not much being said as the pies get divvied up and they sort out where Grace's vitamin water is, it's not strained.

Grace eats about three bites of her slice before she crawls into Danny's lap and falls asleep, her head on his shoulder. Danny settles her a little more comfortably and eats around her. It's awkward--Danny has no idea when it was that she's gotten so big--but Danny wouldn't trade it for anything, even if he is dripping sauce all over his shirt.

"You're a good father," Steve says, out of the blue, and Danny waits for the comeback, for the even if you're a slob, but Steve just hands him a fistful of napkins. Then again, Steve's almost never given him shit about Grace.

"I try," Danny says. "I don't--we don't have much time together, you know? I don't know how much I count."

"The first thing you said to me--after you got your gun out of my face--"

"Hey, active crime scene and it's not like you're not trigger-happy yourself," Danny says.

"Yeah, whatever," Steve says. "We're a matched set, all right?"

Danny snorts, and Steve rolls his eyes.

"The first thing you said to me," Steve begins again, stubborn bastard that he is, "was that you were sorry for my loss." He takes the balled up napkins out of Danny's hand and adds them to the pile on top of the empty pizza box. "From where I'm sitting, you count for a lot in her life."

"Thanks," Danny says, after a few seconds. "Stan is--I dunno. He seems like an okay enough guy and he's been good to Grace and all, but... There's a shitload of money there, and that, you can't just ignore that, you know? I mean, Stan says Hawaii and here we all are. Hell, just the dolls--Christ, there's like a thousand dollars on your floor right here. A thousand bucks--my first car didn't cost that much. I don't know how I compete with that."

Danny's watch beeps with the 30-minute warning to curfew, and he shifts Grace around to get the leverage to stand up with her.

"Danny," Steve says, about as serious as Danny's ever seen him. "You're not the competition. You're the environment, and Stan knows it." Before Danny can even start to figure out how to answer that, Steve's across the room in two quick strides and bending down to take Grace. "I got her, Danno," he says, and Danny lets him gather her up carefully. She murmurs, soft and unintelligible, but gets her head on his shoulder and goes limp again.

Danny grabs all her stuff, the dolls and their clothes and her little pink flower-power backpack and heads out to the car, Steve and Grace right behind him. Steve bends down and gets her into the car, and Danny makes sure she's buckled in tight.

"Thanks," he says, finally. "It's been a great day, even if you did about give me a heart attack."

"Anytime," Steve says. "Really, I mean that. Anytime. In fact," he fumbles in his pockets and comes up with his key ring. "Here," he says, dropping a key in Danny's hand. "Front door, and this one--" Another key clinks in on top of the first, and Danny instinctively closes his hand around them before they fall. "That's the lana'i. That way you guys can come over whenever, even if I'm not around."

"Steve--" Danny's actually kind of speechless.

"Don't argue, you don't have time. Just take them."

He's right; they're going to have to book it to get back across the island as it is, so Danny settles for a quick handshake and figures they can revisit the topic on Monday. Steve smirks at him like he knows exactly what Danny's thinking, but it's not like they're not going to be yapping at each other all day anyway. And seriously, Danny is not going to be showing up unannounced with Grace until he and Steve work out some kind of fail-safe that means Grace isn't going to be getting an eyeful of whatever arm-candy Steve might be occupying his time with.

Danny makes it back to Stan and Rachel's right on time, not that it actually matters seeing as how Rachel isn't home. One of the maids comes out to walk Grace in, but she waits while Grace calls Steve to tell him thank-you. "I had a super-best time," she says, and gives the phone back to Danny. "Good-night, Danno. I love you."

"I love you, too, munchkin," Danny says, and watches her until she and the maid are back inside the house. The call is still connected; when Danny gets back in the car he puts it on speaker and says, "For real, McGarrett, thanks."

"You're welcome, Danno," Steve says. "See you on Monday."

Chapter Text

"I'm just saying," Kono sighs, fixing Danny with a how-can-you-be-so-dense? look. "You need to get out more." She expands the look to include Steve and Chin, too, which Danny absolutely agrees with--they're both at least as bad as he is--but she keeps talking to him, which he finds distinctly unfair. "I mean, when was the last time you did anything that qualifies as social?"

"Um?" Danny leans back in the booth and looks pointedly at the beer in front of him and then around the table, Steve next to him in the circular booth, Kono and Chin and Mary across from them. There are people, and there's booze on the table; it counts as social. Steve's shaking his head before Danny even finishes the thought and Kono sighs.

"A couple of beers after work with the same people you see all day doesn't count," Mary tells him. "Kono's talking nightlife--places to go, people to see."

"It's a Tuesday," Danny says. It's weak, but it's the best he's got at the moment. Chin looks at him with something close to pity in his eyes and Steve is enjoying the whole thing way too fucking much.

"It's Waikiki," Kono answers. "There are five clubs on this block alone."

"Well, you know...I'm not a club person," Danny says. "Really. Not into clubs."

"Really," Steve agrees, shaking his head. "He's not." He's got that sincere look that Danny knows is nothing but the purest form of BS. Kono knows it, too, and Mary probably was sick of it before she ever left home. "Look at the tie."

"Give it a rest, man," Danny mutters. Steve gives him a ghost of a smirk, which means that he's ready to throw Danny to the she-wolves at the table, no surprise there. "You know, I'm more a couple-of-beers-with-the-guys kind of a guy. Neighborhood bar, a little classic rock on the jukebox, maybe some pool..."

"Nothing wrong with that," Chin says, and Danny likes Chin, always has. He's a good guy, going for the deflection like that. It's just too bad Kono is relentless. It's good in a cop; bad in a situation like this.

"And the last time you did that was...?" Kono points at Danny with her beer. "That's what I thought," she says, when Danny can't answer. Well, he could but it's never a good idea to start lying to your team. Having proved her point, she at least she shifts her attention to Steve. "And you, boss?"

"Hey," Steve says. "What about Chin--he's family. You have a moral obligation to hassle him."

"I already know he hasn't gone anywhere for months." Kono dismisses him with a wave. "I see him off-hours; I can deal with him then." Chin sighs and looks like he's in pain. "We're talking about you."

"I..." Steve says, and Danny already knows whatever he's going to say is doomed to failure, but it's not in Steve's make-up not to at least try. "I've been on... dates. Recently."

"Dates? Really--that's what you call them?" Mary arches an eyebrow and smiles with what Danny recognizes as the joy of a little sister who knows the dirt and is going to savor spilling it. Steve recognizes it, too, and there's some intense sibling communication of the wordless kind going on before Mary settles back with a smirk that matches Steve's best. "It's an interesting definition of the word."

"There's more to life than work," Kono says. "That's all I'm saying. Have you even been to a movie lately?"

"I'm guessing The Tooth Fairy doesn't count," Danny mumbles. Chin winces. It should count, Danny thinks. The Rock was in it, but, yeah, no.

"Weak, Danno," Steve says. "Very, very weak."

"Oh, screw you, man," Danny says. "What was the last movie your workaholic ass went to?"

"This should be good," Mary says, smiling sweetly at Steve.

"I've been out of the country," Steve says. "And the house needs work. And--"

Kono dismisses him with another wave of her hand. "Lame," she says to Mary.

"You have no idea," Mary answers.

"And neither would you--" Steve starts.

"Oh, I don't know about that," Mary says, and her smile is pure evil now. "You know, I bet I still know what movie you've seen most often."

"Do tell," Danny says, as Steve eyes her with what Danny would call panic if he really wanted to be a jerk about it.

"Mary--"

"Oh, no, man." Danny grabs Steve as he leans across the table, two hundred pounds of solid muscle intent on keeping Danny from finding out what has to be awesome blackmail material. Steve keeps going for a second, but Danny hangs on. "Go, go," Danny says to Mary.

"Okay, so first, you have to understand that my big brother is the laziest guy in the world when it comes to women," Mary says. Steve throws himself back against the booth, and Danny knows it's unhealthy, how much entertainment he gets from watching Steve McGarrett sulk, but life just is what it is sometimes.

"Do we actually have to have this discussion with me present?" Steve asks.

"Yes," everyone answers, in chorus.

"Oh, I like you people," Mary says, clinking her martini glass against Kono's beer bottle. "I mean, I guess he's okay-looking, even back in high school with the aloha shirts and all, and the whole quarterback thing didn't hurt--"

"It never does," Chin says. He and Steve bump fists, identical smirks in place. Danny shakes his head. Quarterbacks. Gloryhounds, all of them.

"But there I was, this lowly underclassman, and all these senior girls wanted to be my best friend..."

"Like you didn't work that angle for everything you could get," Steve says.

"You have to work with what you have," Mary answers. "Anyway, my point is, he didn't really have to work at girls, but he took it to new heights. Every single girl, same date: teri burgers from W & M, Sleepless in Seattle on tape, and a walk"--she makes air quotes--"on the beach. Every. Single. Date."

"Meg," Danny says, nodding. "Very classic."

"It was my go-to play." Steve shrugs. "Scored every time."

Mary makes a gagging sound and Danny rolls his eyes. Again with the quarterbacks.

"He fell asleep once and I got him started and he practically recited the whole movie." Mary grins. "He did different voices and everything. I got it on videotape; I'll be it's still around somewhere."

"We could convert it to digital," Chin says. "For posterity."

"Thank you," Steve says. "Encouragement is exactly what she needs."

"I'm right, though, aren't I?" Mary asks. "There's no way you've ever seen another movie more than that. Even you have to let things go occasionally."

"That's nothing but an ugly rumor," Danny says. "Mr. Single Track Brain here never lets anything go--"

"God, enough, alright?" Steve holds up his hands in surrender, and Danny high-fives Mary.

"As entertaining as this has been--and that's so much more than I ever expected, I do actually have plans tonight." Kono stands up, digging in her pocket for cash, and shooting Danny one of those I-will-kill-you-where-you-sit looks when he tries to tell her he's got it covered.

"It's a Tuesday," Danny says. "What kind of a lame party is on a Tuesday?"

"It's North Shore time," Kono answers. "Every night is party night."

"Not lame at all, brah," Chin says. "They have to do something while they wait for the big waves."

"You should come," Kono says, and Danny isn't at all excited about the speculative look in her eyes, like she's ready to drag him kicking and screaming into liking life on the islands. "All of you."

"Not a club guy, remember?"

"This is good tonight--it's the Woodshed guys," she adds, looking at Chin. "Real watermen, not the wannabes."

"They do know how to throw a party," Chin says. "No glitz, just the good stuff." He shrugs at Danny's inquiring look. "Somebody had to keep an eye on her when she was underage. Back then, her father still thought I was good enough--"

"Ancient history, cuz," Kono cuts him off smoothly. "We're talking tonight, and I don't need an escort with a license to carry these days. You up for it anyway?

"Sure," Chin answers, after a few seconds. "Why not?"

"What about you?" Kono asks Mary.

"I have a date tonight," Mary says. "With someone who will probably turn out to be horrified every time I open my mouth, but it is a date. That counts for something."

"I'll agree with that," Kono says, turning back to Danny and Steve, and time, her expression is... calculating. Danny would say it's ruthless, except he needs something to call it when there's a gun in front of it. "Which leaves the two of you..."

She smiles at them, and Steve smiles back and that's never a good sign.

"What do you say, Danno?" Steve says. "I'm game if you are."

"What do I say?" Danny sighs. "I say I need to work on you and this insane need you have to never back down when somebody throws a challenge your way."

"Yeah, good luck with that," Mary says, as she stands up.

"Come on," Steve says, dropping a couple of bills on the table and giving Kono the I-don't-care-if-you-don't-like-it-I'm-paying-for-it-anyway look. "I'll even drive."

"Oh, like that's supposed to make things better?" Danny's going to regret this, he knows it, but it's not like he's got big plans for the rest of the night. Or, y'know, any plans. "All right, all right, I'm in."

"Good. Lose the tie," Steve says, and seriously, Danny thinks. What was he thinking?

***

Grace calls Danny's cell while Steve's still getting them out of Honolulu traffic, but Danny doesn't think he's distracted enough to have missed any new entries in the Steve McGarrett Insane Driving Hall of Fame. In fact, Danny doesn't think he's so much as blinked at anything, which is possibly the first time in the history of ever that's happened. He decides to take it as a sign that he's not going to completely hate the rest of the night.

As soon as Grace hears Danny's in the car with Steve, she wants to talk to him, for reasons that are private, Daddy. Danny rolls his eyes, but passes the phone over to Steve, who offers nothing but singularly unhelpful grunts and the occasional yep, probably just to annoy Danny. He hands the phone back so Danny can say good night, and there's enough light left in the sky that Danny can see the little smirk he's wearing like a badge of honor.

"You know I still have veto power over any plans the two of you cook up, right?"

"Relax, Danno," Steve says. "She wanted to go up to Waimea Bay and jump off the rocks, but she knew it wasn't going to fly with you and was just checking to make sure it wasn't going to fly with me either." He slants Danny a look, like he's checking to make sure Danny hasn't had a stroke. "Which, by the way, it won't."

"Jeez," Danny says. "You're turning down an opportunity to freak me out? You sure that last tango with the meth-head didn't rattle your brains around too much, McGarrett?"

"Eh," Steve says. "It's too rough to do what she wants right now; I figure by next summer, when it gets flat again, you'll have chilled some and we'll make a day of it."

Danny can't help laughing at how completely Grace has Steve wrapped up; from the way Steve shakes his head, Steve knows it, too. He doesn't look too torn up about it, though, which is... good, on a level Danny's not sure he's entirely processed, other than it's cool that his partner and his kid are buddies enough to be ganging up on him.

It's almost full night outside the cab of the truck, and they're apparently driving across the entire island because Steve's blasting north along Kamehameha Highway like he's not stopping any time soon. There's some music playing low on the stereo, which is weird enough, because Steve generally likes to drive in silence, to keep his focus or whatever. Not only is there music, but it sounds half-decent; Danny leans over to turn it up, just to verify the anomaly.

"Vedder? For real?" Danny pops the CD out and reads the handwritten tracks. "Plus, we've got the Waterboys, the Hives, Screamin' Jay Hawkins... This is actual music--what the hell's gotten into you?"

"What? I can't have good taste in music?"

"In a word? No."

"Kono left it the last time she rode out to the house," Steve admits.

"Well, that answers where the cool-factor came from," Danny says, sliding the CD back in and kicking back a little, watching the headlights of the truck pick up the road as it twists north through the valley. "I was startin' to worry that they'd replaced you with a pod person."

"Coming from a guy who worships at the altar of Springsteen, I'm gonna take that as a compliment."

"Hey, hey, watch the chatter about the Boss," Danny says, and it's almost like a normal conversation, shooting the breeze about music and concerts and shows. Steve has the address to wherever the hell it is they're going plugged into the GPS, so it's a relatively uneventful trip, even though they end up at somebody's house, spilling out onto the beach. Kono's there, which at least verifies that they're at the right place, and she's only a little bit smug when Danny tells her she was right, it's a great party.

He loses track of Steve about 10 minutes in, but finds Chin talking to a guy who turns out to be a former world champion, and another guy who apparently owned the break at Pipeline before there was such a thing as a world championship of surfing, and a tiny woman who doesn't surf, but snowboards at some level that Danny doesn't even want to think about.

"You look a little shell-shocked there, Danno," Steve murmurs, appearing out of nowhere in full ninja mode. He hands over a beer, though, so Danny doesn't bitch at him about scaring the crap out of people.

"Just trying to figure out how a nice Jersey boy ends up talking to somebody people actually call Mr. Pipeline," Danny says, shaking his head.

"It's Hawaii," Steve says, like that's supposed to explain things, then nods at the the big, open plan room on the other side of the half-wall. "C'mon--there's a pool table waiting for us. Nineball," he adds. "If you're up for it."

"Oh, you are so schooled, bitch," Danny says, giving him a push toward the door. Steve grins back over his shoulder at Danny, a grin that lasts until Danny sinks the nine on his first break and goes up 1-0. He gets serious after that, competitive freak that he is, but it's not like Danny's backing down any either. The crowd eddies and swirls around them; at one point, Danny looks up from watching Steve work the angles on the all-but-impossible shot Danny's left for him to find Kono leaning against the wall, shaking her head at them.

"Hey," Danny says. "Don't look at me in that tone of voice--this was your bright idea, remember?"

"Trust me, I can't wait to remind myself of that when I'm hearing the tenth replay of this tomorrow," she says, before she heads off with a guy whose skin is deeply tanned in between the ink, someone who's definitely somebody from the way people gravitate toward him. Danny's pretty sure he sees a second guy with them, too, but he's not touching that topic with the proverbial ten-foot pole. Chin disappears with the snowboarding girl, which leaves Danny and Steve and the death match currently in progress. With the way they're trading games, Danny figures they'll be there all night, which is not something he actually minds, not when he stops to think about it.

Steve surprises the hell out of him, though, letting go of what Danny knows is a bone-deep need to win to call the whole match a draw at 15-15 and give up the table to the next group. Well, he actually calls the match suspended and says he'll finish with Danny at a later date, but hey, semantics.

"Outside?" Steve says. "Can't hear myself think in here."

The crowd's gotten bigger--and noisier--while they've been playing; getting through the rooms is an exercise in ducking people talking with their hands and trying not to end up with a drink flying. Danny smiles and nods and slides between a couple dozen hook-ups in the making, Steve pressed up solid behind him, as though he's drafting off Danny's wake. They get about halfway through the great room when somebody latches on to Steve, holding him up long enough that Danny's four steps ahead of him before he can stop. He catches Steve's eye and nods toward the door, rolling his own eyes when Steve throws him a little smirk over the head of the very nice, if very drunk, young lady who is apparently transfixed by the tattoos on Steve's biceps, to the point of tracing over the pattern with an expensively manicured fingernail.

"That's, like, so gorgeous," Danny hears her say. "Where did you have it done?"

"Chinhae," Steve says, with what Danny's taken to calling Charming Smile #3, the one Steve uses when he just wants to get his own way. It never reaches his eyes, but Danny doesn't think Little Miss Clingy is in any shape to notice. "Korea."

Danny makes to the door, finally, thankfully missing the rest of the mysterious world traveler speech that always reels in the chicks. He wonders how she could possibly have time to investigate all the ink on display in the room inside, but that sounds bitchy even in his own head, so he lets it go and heads outside, promptly running smack into a woman who's standing on the edge of the lana'i, head tipped back to look at the sky.

"Sorry, sorry," Danny says, catching her before she goes down. "Completely my fault; I wasn't looking where I was going--"

"Oh, I'm fine," she answers, a little breathless. "And please don't take this the wrong way, but you're not from around here, are you?"

"What gave me away?" Danny sets her back on her feet and smiles at her laugh. It's a nice laugh, quiet but sincere. "I mean, I left my tie in the truck and everything."

"I hear your voice and I'm right back on the boardwalk," she says.

"I'm more a clubs-at-Asbury-Park guy, but close enough," Danny says, and introduces himself. Her name is Carolyn, and it turns out that she's originally from Paramus, in Hawaii by way of a doctorate at Cal Tech and a fellowship at the telescope on the Big Island that includes some guest lectures at the university in Honolulu.

"I have no idea what I'm doing here," she says, motioning to house behind them and the waves breaking under the moonlight in front of them. "It's not exactly how I usually spend my nights, but it's my last week in the islands and one of the grad students had an invitation, and… the next thing I know, here I am, trying desperately not to let anyone know I don't even swim, much less surf."

Danny laughs and gives her his version of kidnapped-by-coworkers story, and realizes, somewhere in the middle of it all, that she's flirting with him, and he's flirting back, and it's been a long time since that's happened.

She's right in the middle of showing him how to find the Southern Cross--she's a little horrified that he's lived here for a year and has no idea where it is, but sounds understanding when he admits it's too damn freaky to look up in the sky and not actually recognize anything--when Steve comes stalking out of the house and announces they need to head back to Honolulu.

"My partner," Danny says, with a sigh. "Mr. Congeniality." He digs in his pockets and finds a card, and manages to suggest that maybe they can have coffee or something if she has time before she heads back to the mainland, all without sounding like too much of a divorced, out-of-practice-with-dating moron, all of which he is.

Steve is actually in the truck, engine running by the time Danny gets there; he throws the transmission in gear and pulls out without a word.

"Do I even want to know what your problem is now?" Danny asks, and gets nothing but a grunt in reply, which is about what he expects. He could push it, or he could outwait the stubborn bastard, both of which have their advantages, but it's been a long day, and he's not really in the mood for the yelling match that pushing it will inevitably bring on. He closes his eyes and leans his head back and lets the hum of the tires on the pavement lull him into a doze. It's the right call, Danny thinks, as Steve slowly relaxes next to him.

They're past Pearl City and Halawa, looping around Hickam when Danny's phone chimes with an incoming text. Not being pushy or anything, just making sure you have my number, too, it reads; Danny grins and texts back, I like the way you think.

"Grace?" Steve asks, and he's all wound up again.

"No, no, no," Danny answers, and he probably looks like an idiot, grinning like he's a kid scoring his first phone number, but what the hell. "You, my friend, were not the only one to have had a close encounter with a lovely lady this evening, and with any luck there will be more encountering happening."

Steve doesn't say anything, not until they're into the suburbs, and then he says, so quietly Danny can barely hear him, "Lose her number, Danno."

Danny can't help it; he stares at Steve for a full ten seconds before he can find his voice. "Are you actively insane or am I hearing things?"

They're in the city now; there's enough light that he can see Steve's jaw tighten.

"You heard me," Steve says, flicking a glance at Danny and going back to driving with complete concentration, which is such utter bullshit Danny can barely see straight. "Lose her number."

"Seriously, man--what the hell? Not all of us have a Lieutenant Catherine waiting in the wings--and just for the record, most of us don't walk through a room and get groped--"

"Fuck that, Danny. This isn't about--"

"No, you fuck that, and you're right, this isn't about Steve McGarrett, Superstud, it's about an attractive, intelligent woman, to whom I gave my number, offering me hers. How that's a problem is beyond me but--"

"You know what? Forget it, okay?" Steve slams around a corner, barely slowing at all. "You're right; it's not a problem."

"Hell, no," Danny answers, bracing one hand on the roof of the cab automatically. "You don't get to play that game."

"Drop it."

"Yeah, like that's going to happen, McGarrett." Danny glares across the cab, and the way Steve won't even look at him is like gasoline on a fire. "Give me one good reason I should lose her number."

"We're here," Steve says, pulling into the parking lot at Danny's apartment and all but standing on the brakes. "Conversation over; see you in the morning."

"I don't think so," Danny says. "One good reason."

"Get out of my truck."

"One. Good. Reason," Danny grits out, and he's beyond the point where he cares about whatever the actual reason might be and so far into the battle of wills this partnership has always been that there's nothing beyond the cab of the truck and the two of them in it.

"Danny," Steve says, back to the almost inaudible voice. "Let it go." He finally turns his head and looks at Danny, and for a second, there's so much in his eyes Danny can't look away. It's there and gone in a flash, too short for Steve to have intended for Danny to see it, much less understand it, except Danny's somehow gotten crazy-good at reading everything about Steve McGarrett. "Please."

"No," Danny answers, equally as quiet. It might be the first time Steve's ever actually asked him to do something, not just assumed or yelled or demanded, but every single instinct Danny has is telling him to sit tight. "Not this time."

"Fuck," Steve chokes out, and Danny hears him break, has a split-second to figure out what's coming before Steve's reaching for Danny, pulling him across the seat and into a hard kiss, hot and hungry and so fucking desperate Danny almost drowns in it, almost goes under from the sheer rush of having all that under his hands. Steve backs off nearly as quickly as he'd moved in, nothing in his eyes but the thousand-yard stare that makes Danny crazy in the best of times.

"Danno," Steve whispers. Danny can hear him breathing in quick, sharp pants even over the blood pounding hard in his own veins, but they're back to Square One, Steve not looking at him. Danny needs to be sure about this, needs to be one hundred percent behind it or there won't be a chance in hell of either one of them making it through in one piece, so he nods once and slides out of the truck.

Steve doesn't move for a long few seconds after Danny slams the door, but finally puts the truck in reverse and backs out of the lot. Danny stays where he's standing until he can't see the taillights any longer, stays there for a long time after, in case Steve changes his mind, and then drags himself up to his crappy apartment and tries to figure out what the hell is supposed to happen next.

Chapter Text

"Okay," Danny says, walking into Steve's office. "We need to talk."

"Shouldn't you be helping Chin?" Steve glances up from his laptop, and then looks right back down, managing to do the whole not-meet-Danny's-eyes thing, that thing that's been so popular in recent days, in record time.

"Chin?" Danny snorts. "Chin Ho Kelly--the one with fifteen years on the force? That Chin? I'm thinking he can handle cross-checking alibis without my assistance." He closes the door behind him and leans against it. He doesn't actually think Chin or Kono is going to walk in and interrupt them but he's not taking any chances. "So, that would be a no, I don't need to be helping Chin."

Steve gives him the short, curt, I'm-listening-to-you-but-not-really-because-the-fate-of-the-free-world-hangs-on-my-glaring-at-my-laptop nod.

"So," Danny says. "Talking."

"About?"

"Oh, we're going to play it like that, are we?" Danny smiles, mostly to mess with Steve's shit a little, because he's right on the borderline of fucking pissed and he knows Steve knows it. "Okay, sure. Talking about you--" Danny points to Steve--"and me--" he points to himself-- "and kissing."

That gets a flicker of Steve's eyes, which confirms what Danny's been thinking: that Steve's been counting on Danny not wanting to talk about it. To be honest, it's not on the top of Danny's list of wants, but it sure as hell is topping the list of needs.

"It should have happened a couple of days ago, but things got busy and I'll own up to letting that side-track me." It was easy enough to do that, Danny thinks, but that still doesn't mean it's what he should have done. "My fault," he admits. "Surprisingly enough, as much as I want to, I don't really think you engineered an art heist that's like something out of The Thomas Crowne Affair complete with us running all over the island and you taking calls from the goddamned White House so you could avoid the subject. I wouldn't put it past you, mind you; I just don't think even you could pull off something this fucked up on no notice. Anyway. We're mostly done with that now, so. Talking."

"Danny," Steve sighs, after a while, but not nearly as long as Danny had been prepared to wait him out. "There's not--anything to talk about."

"You know," Danny says. "That would seriously piss me off except I know that on some completely incomprehensible level, you actually believe that saying it makes it be that way."

"No, I'm saying it because it's the tr--"

"No," Danny says, and if it's a little--okay, a lot--too loud, too damn bad. "It is not the truth."

"Fine," Steve's yelling back, before the echoes of Danny's voice even settle. "Why don't you just go ahead and tell me what you want me to say."

"Let's start with something honest," Danny snaps. "Because, this," he gestures between Steve and himself, "whatever this is, it's between partners, and I shouldn't have to be standing here pointing out how that doesn't work without some trust."

There's a long silence, complete with zero eye contact, with the icing on the cake of Steve's phone ringing and him saying, "It's Jameson."

He has to take it, Danny knows that, but there's an unmistakable relief in his eyes. It's fast, there and gone, but Danny sees it and if he's been pissed, now he's just tired.

"Don't do this," Danny says, as he opens the office door. "Do not treat this partnership like it's disposable, because whatever else does or does not happen, that has never been true."

He turns and gets his ass out of Steve's office after that. It's not what he meant to say--hell, he's not even sure where it even came from--but fuck it, it's the truth. He ends up back in the war room, throwing himself in a chair and pretending like he's fascinated with the background information on the stolen-but-now-recovered Imperial Jade dragons they've been chasing after. Steve's office door stays pointedly closed.

"The random stuff you pick up on this job," Danny says, when he looks up to find Chin watching him. "Two days ago, I'd have said it was a green rock, but now, hey, I know there's jadeite and nephrite, and if I ever win the lottery I should go straight for the Burmese stuff."

Chin nods and goes back to working his way through the notes--they all know it's the ambassador's son who's engineered the whole thing, and they've got him dead-to-rights, but even getting face-time for questioning provoked an international incident--hence the calls from the White House--so there's no room for any slip-ups. Danny knows Chin's not going to stop until everything's triple-checked and verified.

"John McGarrett was very good to me," Chin says, after a few minutes. He doesn't look up from where he's making notes on the interview forms. Danny isn't surprised Chin hasn't missed any of the dancing around each other that's been going on; subtlety isn't exactly his and Steve's strong suit even at the best of times. "But I don't know that I would have wanted to be his son."

Danny thinks about a lot of things, from the way Steve and Mary have almost perfected the opposite sibling maneuver, as though neither one of them could figure out which might get more attention, flying perfect or flying wild; to that goddamned shrine of a house Steve won't leave; and how his own dad never missed a single game of his in high school, even though Danny never came close to breaking records.

"I'm guessing the genius in there doesn't think there was room for anything but textbook perfection," he says, half to Chin, half to himself. Chin shrugs and nods, and Danny sighs. From where he's sitting, he can see into Steve's office at an angle, enough to know that the idiot's still in there, on his feet and pacing, still with the phone pressed to his ear. Maybe it's good to play it low-key, Danny thinks. Work a little at a time; chip away at everything standing in the way.

"Gimme half that," Danny says to Chin. Patience is a virtue and all that, but if he's going to outwait McGarrett, he might as well be getting something constructive done. Kono comes in right as they're finishing up with a breezy "How is it?" and news that HPD has their annoying kid under observation. Danny can hear Steve on the phone with the governor now, even through the closed office door, his voice taking on that extra-special edge that says the SEAL is itching to break lose and do some serious damage.

All of which is going to make any conversation Danny wants to have with him even more problematic, but the job is what it is, whatever the hell else is going on between the two of them, so when Steve yanks the door open and comes out to join the rest of them, Danny says, "And the word is…?"

"Officially? We should have full cooperation from the State Department by tomorrow morning, but we better have our act together on this one, or there will be, and I quote, 'a shitstorm' coming down on us, and not just from the embassy."

"And unofficially?"

"Unofficially--" Steve stops and shakes his head, as though he can't believe what he's about to say. "Unofficially--if it's not too much trouble--the governor would like commemorative photos of us deporting his ass, and if we can get one or two shots of his obstructionist parents enjoying the moment, so much the better."

There's a second or two of silence as everybody processes, and then Chin's mouth twitches up into a half-smile, and Kono smothers a laugh behind the back of her hand. Steve relaxes enough to almost smile, but then shoots Danny a sidelong glance, like he's remembering they're only barely speaking to each other.

"All right, then," Danny says, ignoring the look, partially because it'll mess with Steve if he does, and partially because he'd kind of forgotten, too. He shoves a page of names at Kono and another one at Steve. "This would be where we make sure we have our act together."

They go round-robin, everyone checking on everyone else, and if it takes less time than Danny expects, it's still late by the time they finish up. Chin and Danny take up all the notes, Danny filing under Chin's direct supervision--he is not going to fuck with the system in the middle of a case, even if he doesn't understand it and plans to talk Chin around to something more normal later--while Kono runs back-ups of everything, and Steve paces in front of the board and goes over the plan for the next morning for the fiftieth time.

"Hang loose," Chin says to Steve, which is a nice thought, but more-or-less useless, what with the go-go-go Steve's all but radiating. Still, Danny thinks. Good for Chin, giving it the old college try. "He thinks he's free and clear on this one; he's not going anywhere. And if he does, HPD's watching him."

"Yeah," Steve answers. "Sure. Hanging loose."

Danny sighs inwardly, because it's better than laughing at how crazed having to sit around makes Steve. He's about to suggest that Steve go perpetrate some violence in a marginally appropriate way--say, go pick up this week's favorite weapon and blast the hell out of an unsuspecting target--when Steve's tossing the whiteboard markers at Kono, catching her attention as she comes back into the war room.

"Spar?" he asks, with a slow smile that she matches.

"You got it, boss," she says, cracking her knuckles and shaking out her wrists. Chin rolls his eyes as she bounces up onto her toes, then follows Steve out of the room. "Pads or full contact?" Danny hears her say as they disappear in the direction of the gym.

"I'm thinking there's only one answer to that," Danny says to Chin. "What about you?"

"I don't think either one of them even knows where the pads are," Chin answers, heading into the computer lab to put the systems to sleep. "All right, I am gone. See you in the morning."

"Don't forget fresh batteries for the camera," Danny says. "We wouldn't want to disappoint Madam Governor."

"Already on my list," Chin says, slinging his backpack over his shoulder and giving Danny the 'hang loose' waggle of his hand as he heads out. Danny takes one last look to make sure they've gotten everything out of the war room, then goes along and kills the lights, until the only one on is the one in his office, so there's no way Steve can accidentally miss that Danny's still around. He can choose to ignore the fact, but Danny wants to know that's what he's done, and he wants Steve to know that he'll know.

Danny cleans up his notes, and clears off his desk, and empties his trash, and reminds himself about a thousand times that patience is what's required here. He talks to Grace and hears all about her day and the plans for the weekend, and even checks in with Rachel about some science project he's helping Grace with that Rachel's sure he's going to forget about. He's down to sharpening pencils and thinking about getting a plant just so he can water it when he looks up to find Steve hovering in his door, sweaty and rumpled, his boots and socks in one hand, a bottle of water in the other.

"You two have a nice, violent altercation?" Danny asks, going for casual and pretty pleased with how it comes out. "I'm not seeing any blood, but I get the feeling Kono likes to go for body blows. Any internal bleeding I should be aware of?"

"The woman does have some nasty moves," Steve admits, rolling his shoulder and wincing. "And she is quick… Swear to God, all she needs is a quarter-second opening."

"Good," Danny says. "As often as she goes in UC, that's exactly what I want to hear."

"Yeah, me, too" Steve says, and Danny knows that's at least part of the reason he and Kono go at it as often as they do. The other part is that they both really like beating the shit out of people, but, hey, to each their own. The silence stretches out, Danny watching as Steve leans against the door, then stands back up, shifting his weight from foot to foot, all of which is pretty fascinating in a guy who Danny seen be so still Danny's been tempted to check him for a pulse.

"I didn't--" Steve stops and swallows hard; Danny makes himself stay quiet. "I never meant any disrespect to our partnership, Danno. You have to know that. I--it just--happened, and I won't let--"

"Whoa, hang on," Danny interrupts. "Let's try not to fuck this up any more than we already have, yeah?" He waits until Steve looks at him, because this is getting out of hand and Danny needs to stop this shit right now. "What I said earlier--I only meant the part where we were dancing around ignoring the, the gorilla in the pink tutu, not the tutu itself."

Steve looks at him for a long time before he comes all the way in and takes the chair in front of Danny's desk. Danny's not too proud to admit that it's suddenly a hell of a lot easier to breathe.

"Okay," Steve says, setting his boots and the water bottle on the floor.

"Okay," Danny answers, and the silence descends again. It's not exactly strained, but still. "All right, look," Danny finally says. "I'll talk. You answer. We can keep it simple: yes or no, or, you know, the occasional grunt. Good by you?"

"Yeah," Steve says, and Danny can tell he was considering grunting, but Danny can rise above that kind of shit.

"So, to summarize: you kissed me; I left; we have done nothing but bitch at each other for the last three days. Correct?"

"Yeah," Steve says again.

"New fact for you: I got out of your truck because I needed to be absolutely sure of what was going on in my head, not because I had to go throw up, okay?"

Danny makes sure he keeps eye contact, waiting until Steve nods once.

"Okay," Danny says, taking a deep breath. "And this is beyond the agreed-upon yes/no/grunt but… This is where I need a new fact from you. In actual words."

"It's okay, coach; I think I can handle the pressure." Steve leans forward and braces both forearms on his thighs--not exactly a relaxed body posture, but not fight or flight either. "Go for it."

"I--need to know what that was," Danny says, with as much calm as he can find, which isn't much, but he's in too far to back out now. "Was it blowing off steam, something easy and convenient or--"

"No," Steve says, jerking his head up and staring at Danny. "No. Nothing like that."

He says it fast and serious and a little horrified that Danny could even think that, and it's like all the shit that's been rattling around in Danny's head for the last few days just up and leaves. He doesn't even try to keep any of it off his face, and that, it turns out, is absolutely and definitely the best thing he's done all week.

"Okay," he says. "That's--yeah, good."

Steve's half-smiling at him, that not-quite-smirk that usually comes out when Danny's missed some giant, island-way-of-life tradition and Steve can't decide whether to laugh at him outright or pat him on the head. It usually annoys the fuck out of Danny, but since he's apparently been missing things here for a while, he's going to let it slide, just this once, even before Steve takes a deep breath of his own and says, "Look, tomorrow, after we deal with this idiot kid, you should--if you want, you could come out to the house and I'll make dinner."

"I could do that," Danny says, and it's kind of ridiculous how easy it is to say that, given all the crap that's been flying between them for the last few days. Then again, from the way the smirk on Steve's face morphs into an honest-to-God smile, with more than a touch of relief, maybe he's not the only one who's feeling the same way.

*

Danny pulls over in a strip shopping center that's right before the turn into Steve's neighborhood for one last gut-check and a couple minutes of deep-breathing. He's not going to bail, but he'd caught Steve looking at him more than once during the day with an expression that said Steve wasn't sure that Danny wouldn't do exactly that, and worse, that Steve was getting himself set to deal with it. Whatever else happens tonight, Danny feels like he should acknowledge the very real need he feels to find whoever's responsible for that and beat them senseless.

He gets himself settled and heads back out for the final few miles, and by the time he's pulling into the driveway, he's as cool as he's going to get. He grabs the bottle of scotch that's his contribution to the evening and breathes a wordless prayer to St. Jude--because this thing is way beyond St. Michael--that this thing won't blow up in their faces as he heads for the door.

Steve's back on the lana'i; he waves Danny in and comes in from the back to meet him halfway. It's really only been a couple of hours since Danny's seen him--dealing with the U.S. Department of State and their paperwork is not something Danny's looking forward to repeating, like, ever, and their definition of 'full cooperation' leaves a lot to be desired in Danny's book--but Steve's showered and changed, and even if it's only a variation on the daily cargoes and t-shirt, black on black this time, there still was some effort put into the whole thing, which Danny appreciates. From the way Steve's eyes move over Danny's untucked button-down and khakis, that quick sweep that never misses anything, Danny's pretty sure they're on the same page.

"A bottle in a brown paper bag?" Steve nods at the Scotch Danny's still holding. "Classy, Danno."

"I thought about getting one of those fancy wrapping bags, but I figured you'd rather I spent the extra money on the booze itself," Danny answers.

"I'm not going to argue with Glenlivet," Steve says, as he pulls the bottle out of the bag.

"Okay, two things," Danny says, before it can get quiet and awkward and he loses his nerve. "One--I am so out of practice with the whole dating thing you don't even want to know."

"Gotcha--resetting expectations to low," Steve says with that half-smile, the one that always tempts Danny to smack his face. "That's one; what's two?"

"This," Danny says, taking the bottle of Scotch out of Steve's hands and putting it on the sideboard next to them before he draws Steve down and into a kiss. It's not supposed to be anything big, just an easy way to start the night, but then Steve's breath hitches right as Danny's about to pull away, and Danny has to go back for more. By the time they stop, which is only because oxygen is necessary for life, Steve's backed up against the sideboard, half-sitting on it, legs spread wide enough that Danny fits between them, his hands tight on Danny's hips, and Danny's skin is too small for the rest of him.

"Right," Danny says, sucking air into his lungs like his brain's forgotten how to breathe. He drags his tongue over his lower lip; it's swollen and tender and he can't stay away from where Steve had bitten down. "That--I figured we should get that out of the way early." His heart is slamming in his chest, the blood roaring in his ears so loudly he has no idea if he's whispering or yelling or what. "Be done with it, so there's no wondering when or if or..."

"Yeah," Steve says, his eyes on Danny's mouth. He's breathing as hard as Danny is, which is kind of a relief, as well as being hot as hell. At least Danny's not the only one losing his mind here. "Good thinking." They're close enough that Danny can see the pulse under his jaw and knows that when he puts his mouth there, Steve makes a needy, desperate sound. Something hisses and clatters in the kitchen and Steve blinks twice before he turns to look in that direction. "Dinner," he says, finally.

"Okay. Yeah." Danny works on getting his hands out from where they're under Steve's shirt, halfway up his back, dragging them away from the unexpectedly soft skin layered over hard, shifting muscle, and makes himself take a step back. Steve moves with him, though, so that the only thing that happens is they're standing up, still close enough that Danny can practically feel Steve's heart beating against him; and this time it's Danny's breath that catches somewhere deep in his chest. Steve lets go of Danny's hips, but only to catch his face in both of his hands and bring him back for another kiss, harder this time, rougher and more desperate, as though Steve's not sure he's getting another chance, more like the kiss in the truck, hot as hell, yeah, but not how Danny wants Steve.

Danny hauls himself back from the brink, eases them both down a notch or two, until it's less desperation and more appreciation, Steve's mouth still on his, but only barely, more of a touch than a kiss. When whatever it is in the kitchen hisses again, accompanied by a definite scorched smell, Danny says, against Steve's mouth, "I distinctly heard you promise me dinner, bitch."

Steve huffs out a laugh, and lets Danny go, stepping back and scrubbing his hand hard over his head as he disappears into the kitchen. Danny takes a step back of his own, not thinking about how easy it would be to be moving right along with Steve and the hell with eating.

"Yeah, so, about dinner," Steve calls, reappearing with two beers. He hands one to Danny, and tips the other one up, drinking half of it in one long swallow and Danny can barely tear his eyes off how the muscles in his throat flex and relax. He takes a long drink himself, for distraction, if nothing else. "We can, uh, go with the ahi alone, or there's a half of a pizza in the fridge."

"I clearly heard you say you'd make me dinner," Danny says. "Cold pizza does not cut it, even before I add in the distinct possibility that there is pineapple on it."

"Jesus, you're high-maintenance," Steve says. "Not that this is coming as any kind of a surprise but--"

"See, that's half your problem right there, McGarrett: nobody to hold you accountable," Danny cracks back. "Do I need to explain about fruit and pizza again, maybe break it down into words of a syllable or less--?"

"Fine, okay, we're going with the ahi," Steve says, throwing up his hands in surrender. "Give me two minutes."

He disappears back into the kitchen, coming right back out juggling a platter and some plates. Danny's in charge of opening doors out to the lana'i and the grill, and bringing along the beers and the forks and knives. Steve hadn't been kidding: he slaps the tuna on the grill for next to no time, flipping it once and then off and onto the plates in the promised two minutes.

"Really?" Danny pokes at the fish on his plate dubiously. "This is cooked?"

"Danno." Steve sets his beer down on the table with a thump. "I will let you miss out on ham and pineapple on your pizza, because it's a matter of taste--you're still wrong, but I'll let it go--but that tuna was swimming this morning and it does not get cooked beyond rare."

Steve's got the appalled look going, and the twitchy eyebrow thing, and Danny's not sure how he manages to keep a straight face as he says, "Well, back in Jersey, you don't grill tuna; you just open the--"

"If you tell me tuna is supposed to come in a can, Danny, so help me God, I will--"

Danny finally cracks and grins at the outrage, and Steve looks like he can't decide whether he wants to strangle Danny or possibly slit his throat with the knife he's using to cut the tuna. All in all, an excellent pay-off, Danny thinks. Plus, the fish itself is outstanding so it's a win all around.

He kicks Steve under the table and pushes his beer a little closer to him. Steve kicks him back, but drinks the damn thing and relaxes. It's a good look on him; Danny doesn't think he'll see it much on the job, but he can damn sure work on it when they're not on the clock.

The sun is down and it's almost full night by the time they collect everything and take it back inside, and Danny's not exactly sure how it happens, but one second he's drying dishes, his sleeves rolled halfway up his arms and Steve bitching at him because he's not doing it the Navy way, and the next second, Steve's got him pinned against the counter and they're kissing again. It probably had something to do with him telling Steve to fuck off and Steve taking it literally, but Danny'll work it out later.

"Danny," Steve's saying. "Danny, Jesus--" He breaks off in a ragged gasp as Danny finds that spot, the one under his jaw, right over the artery, and bites down on it, sharper than he means to, but goddamn, how is he supposed to resist the noises Steve's making? Steve's hands are back on Danny's hips; every time Danny shifts his mouth to another part of Steve's neck, they dig in a little harder. By the time Danny's working on marking up Steve's collarbone, he can feel the bruises forming under them, and shit, that's--Danny wants that, wants it enough to push into Steve's hands that much harder.

"Yeah," he says, into Steve's skin. "Like that, come on--you know we're going to be at work in a couple of days, and you're gonna do something stupid and reckless, and I'll--"

"Not reckless," Steve gasps. "I know--fuck, yeah, again--know what I can do, how much I can push it--"

"Shut up," Danny growls, biting down again, until Steve hisses under him. "You'll be an idiot and I'll be ready to beat you senseless, and underneath it all, you're gonna know this--" He mouths over the mark he's left, red now, but it'll darken up before long; Steve shudders against him, long, slow, helpless, and Danny drags his mouth against his skin so he can feel it happen again. "Know it's there; know I know it, too--"

"Danny, fuck," Steve swears, low and vicious, and then they're moving, Steve dragging him away from the counter and out of the kitchen, down the hall toward the bedrooms, a crazy, staggering path, every step punctuated by another kiss, another bite, another growl. They miss the door to the bedroom, Danny ending up slammed into the wall next to it, hard enough that he'd be bitching Steve out except that it gives him a chance to get his hands back on skin. He's greedy for it, wants it like he hasn't wanted anything for longer than he can remember. He goes where Steve wants him to, moving wherever Steve steers them, ignoring anything that's not the way his thumbs settle into the hollow of Steve's hips, or the low, almost noiseless whine that he can feel when he slides them along and under his waistband.

Steve manhandles him through the doorway, two steps, then three and Danny's backed into the mattress and falling onto the bed, Steve coming with him, the two of them managing somehow to twist enough that they land side-by-side, Steve's mouth finding his again, solid and sure, and as good as that is--and it is fucking hotter than hell to have Steve McGarrett tongue-fucking him like it's as necessary as breathing--it's even better that Danny still hasn't had to take his hands off Steve. He lets Steve roll them, lets his legs fall open so he can cradle Steve between them and rocks up into him, swallowing down the desperate sound Steve makes at the hard rub of his dick against Danny's. Steve grinds down onto him, and Danny gets his hands up under his t-shirt, still craving skin, and they get a rhythm going, not smooth at all, but nasty and fucking perfect, at least until Steve pulls back and away.

"Danny, hey," he says, flushed and panting, and Danny would kill him except Steve comes right back in for more, and Danny uses the opportunity to get one leg wrapped around his waist. "God," Steve mutters. "Wait, just… wait."

"Seriously?" Danny asks, not letting go, because he's figured out enough to know that physical contact is a million times better than words no matter how much Steve might argue the point. "We're gonna have a… a conversation? Now?"

"Shut up," Steve tells him. "Just, what…" Steve stops and takes a deep breath, draws it in slow and lets it out in out even slower, and when he looks back at Danny, his eyes are dark and intense, and it's a fucking power trip, Danny thinks, being the focus of all that. "What do you want?"

Jesus Christ, anything, Danny thinks, but he manages not to blurt it out. Instead, he lays his hands flat on Steve's back and draws them slowly up along his spine. Steve's eyes darken and there's the smallest catch in his breathing. Danny smiles.

"That," he says, leaning up enough that he can flick his tongue over the marks he's left on Steve's neck. "And that," he adds, as Steve tenses against him. Steve takes another breath, but it's shaky this time. "Yeah, like that," Danny murmurs. "I want to know what makes you come apart and then I want to watch it happen."

Steve goes absolutely still on top of him, and Danny thinks he might have crossed a line, gone too far into the places that might as well have barbed wire and guard dogs stationed to keep everyone out.

"Your turn." Danny keeps his hands on Steve, skin to skin, and makes himself breathe as easily as he can, even when Steve pulls away again. He's about to bail and go with the hey, but anything's fine, no, really no matter how not cool it makes him sound when Steve leans over and yanks the drawer out of the bedside table, dumping the contents across the comforter, picking through them with quick, abrupt movements until he finds what he's looking for, dropping a condom and little bottle of slick next to Danny. Everything else, he knocks off the bed with a sweep of his arm, and then his attention is back on Danny.

"This," he says. "I want you to--" He breaks off and looks at Danny, that quick, half-desperate look from the night in the truck, the one that Danny's going to get rid of if it's the last thing he does.

"Okay," he manages to answer, his voice stuck somewhere in his throat, and his brain almost completely off-line. Steve sits back on his heels and reaches behind his shoulder to pull his shirt up and off, taking his eyes off Danny's only when the shirt's in the way. Danny leans up on one elbow and traces the backs of his fingers along the skin right above Steve's pants. He could probably find some wisecrack to break the tension--like he's been doing all night--but every nerve in his body is informing him that he likes the tension; from the way the control freak in front of him is barely breathing, Danny thinks he likes it, too.

He leans up further, and Steve takes the hint, bending down to meet Danny halfway. Danny keeps the kisses simple--quick brushes against Steve's mouth, no rush, no hurry, lazy and easy, even as Steve's working on the buttons to Danny's shirt, even when it's off and Danny smooths his free hand down, hooking his fingers under Steve's waistband and tugging.

"Take these off for me," Danny says, against Steve's mouth, and lazy and easy pretty much evaporate, Steve skinning out of the cargoes in nothing flat, every move quick and efficient, no time wasted at all. He crawls back up over Danny, stripping him of his khakis and straddling him without slowing down, ducking his head to hide his eyes as he reaches for the lube.

Danny doesn't like that, not being able to see what's going on with Steve, but he keeps his hands on him the whole time, and if it's a little unclear in his head who needs it more, he doesn't think it matters much.

"Come on," Danny breathes. "Show me." Steve looks up at that, finds Danny's eyes and holds them as he opens the bottle and lets it spill over his hand, and fuck if Danny's ever seen anything hotter than watching Steve's eyes as he fucks himself open on his own hand, at least not until he's got the condom on Danny and it's Danny's dick that he's fucking himself on, going in slow, relentless, deep. Danny groans and digs his hands hard into where he's holding Steve steady.

"God," Danny grits out, jaw set, fighting off everything, everything screaming at him to move, because he's already so close and he's a hundred percent sure he's not anywhere near ready for it to end. He blinks the sweat out of his eyes, not willing to let go even for the couple of seconds it might take to clear them and focuses back on Steve's face. "So good, so good," he says, and presses up carefully, angling his hips so that he's, fuck, deeper, and he's not sure how that's even possible.

"Danny, I need--fuck," Steve says, and he sounds wrecked, needy, but he's not moving, he's waiting for Danny's okay, and that really is the hottest thing ever. "Please."

"Yeah," Danny says, easing off the death grip he's got on Steve's hips. "Go, go."

Steve exhales in a long, drawn-out shudder and starts to rock on Danny, nothing more than tiny shifts of his hips, but it's enough to make Danny see double, leave them both breathless and shaky. Danny works with him, finds the right angle, the one that coaxes fucking incredible noises out of Steve, soft and raw, every one a tiny bit more desperate, a little closer to the edge, every one bringing Danny right along with him.

"Yeah," Danny tells him. "That's it, come on, just like that, so fucking good, come on, come on." He wants to see Steve come apart, wants to see everything that's behind the walls Steve surrounds himself with, not just the bits and pieces he's used to getting, but all of it, all of it. "Tell me, come on, tell me--"

"Danny," Steve says, his voice gone, noting but grating sand. "You--fuck--want your hand, Danny, want it from you--"

Danny's moving before Steve even finishes, one hand wrapped around around Steve's dick, thumb rubbing rough and nasty over the head, and when he drags his nails along the length of it, now, now, now, Steve comes for him, his body arching helplessly in a long, lean curve of skin and muscle, comes so hard around Danny that he can't do anything but slam up into him and follow.

*

"So, what's wrong with this picture?" Danny says into the night. The blinds are still open and the moon is full, reflecting off the water outside, so it's not very dark, definitely light enough to see the ripple of muscles across Steve's back as he shrugs.

"Nothing?" His voice is muffled; he doesn't bother to pick his head up off the pillow.

"Wrong answer," Danny says. It's not a particularly big bed they're on, Danny on his back, Steve sprawled out face-down next to him, so even if they're not, say, cuddling, they're touching across multiple points, more than enough places for Danny to assess the completely unrelaxed state Steve is in.

"Seriously, we just had sex, and at the risk of adding to your over-inflated ego, it was pretty awesome sex, and you--" Danny's not sure if the just-having-sex thing means he can poke and prod at Steve, but he does it anyway, on the theory that they're in Steve's bed, so having to remove Danny's dead body would be more trouble than shutting him up is worth. Steve bats at Danny's hand, but otherwise does not attempt murder. "And you, I've seen you more relaxed catching a nap on the floor of the war room." Danny pokes him again. "The concrete floor of the war room."

"I know it's concrete; I've slept on the damn thing," Steve says, in that we-are-not-having-this-discussion voice, as though he thinks Danny's actually going to take the hint.

"My point, exactly, because here you are, in your bed, and you might think you're radiating serenity, but I am here to tell you how wrong you are."

"Danny." Steve turns his head. "Shut up."

"The yes/no/grunt thing worked out pretty well last time; so, same deal here. I'll talk; you answer, and we can both get some sleep."

"Danny--"

"All right, so let's confirm: awesome sex, yes?"

"If I say 'no', will you take enough offense to be quiet?"

"Yes, no, grunt."

"Yes," Steve says, after a while, and Danny knows he's a smug bastard but he has to admit it's kind of impressive the way Steve manages it without moving beyond opening one eye and arching an eyebrow.

"You're welcome," Danny says, because, hey, it takes two, right? Steve snorts and goes back to pretending he's trying to sleep, but Danny thinks he's the tiniest bit less tense. Point in Danny's favor. "That leaves us with the oh-shit-what-have-I-done part of the equation."

Steve grunts, which is more of a response than Danny expects, and the plan is to keep going, except Danny's suddenly not sure he's ready to hear the answer, enough that he can't quite make himself ask the question. After a couple of seconds of silence, Steve lifts his head up; he doesn't say anything, but he's watching Danny carefully.

"So," Danny makes himself say. "Is that what we're dealing with here?"

"Not on my side," Steve says, and it's such a relief Danny almost misses the rest of what he's saying under the words, at least until he catches on to how everything's gotten all tense again.

"Not on your side," Danny repeats. "But you're waiting for it on my side, is that it?"

"You tell me, Danny."

"Jesus, you're such an idiot," Danny says. "Do I look like--" He sighs and shakes his head and goes with simple words. "No, okay? No buyer's remorse in sight."

"You sure about that?" Steve rolls up onto his side; Danny figures the fact that he's still facing Danny is a major win, so he refrains from smacking the guy upside the head. "You sure about all this?"

"You mean sleeping with my partner?" Danny says. "Granted, it's frowned upon in most situations, but it happens and we're such a weird case anyway that--"

"No," Steve says. "I mean sleeping with your partner who's a guy."

"Oh," Danny says, and sometimes he really can be as stupid as Rachel likes to call him. In his defense, he thinks he might have just lost half his functioning brain cells, but yeah, stupid sometimes.

"Yeah. Oh."

"Funny thing about that," Danny says. "It did actually cross my mind, but I figured since it wasn't until I'd spent the whole night going round and round about what a stupid idea getting involved with you personally is, the fact that you were a guy wasn't going to be a deal-breaker."

"Come on, Danny--"

"Come on, and what, McGarrett? Jesus, you get an idea in your head and there is no getting it out, is there?" Danny takes a deep breath and counts to ten, though, for real, with McGarrett, the practice probably should be counting to a hundred. "I get it, okay? I'm not stupid or naïve or--"

"I never said you were," Steve says, and he's halfway back to that thousand yard stare, but at least Danny knows some of where it's coming from now.

"No," Danny says, keeping at least a tiny grip on his temper, which he'd like some credit for, but doesn't think he's going to get. "You're just sitting around, waiting for it all to blow up in your face."

Steve doesn't say anything, but he stays right where he is, which, Danny figures, is at least another half-point in his favor.

"If this thing blows up--in our faces, thank you very much--it's not going to be because I forgot to notice I was screwing around with a guy." Danny pokes at Steve's shoulder, as much to gauge how tight he is as anything. "You're good, McGarrett, but you're not that good."

Steve looks at him for another long couple of seconds before he nods once, and then drops back down onto the mattress. "Quit jabbing me."

"Quit being stupid." Danny takes a couple of slow, even breaths and thinks he maybe didn't handle that too badly. "And, you know, we couldn't have talked about this, oh, say, five hours ago, when I first got here?"

"Five hours ago, I was still figuring we were in first date territory and you weren't that kind of a girl."

"I would tell you to fuck off, but the last time I did, you took it as a challenge, so assume the sentiment applies."

"Duly noted," Steve says. "Can we go to sleep now?"

"I don't know; are you done being an idiot?"

Steve doesn't bother lifting his head from where he's burrowed into the pillows, so his voice is muffled when he answers, "I swear, Danno, if you don't shut up, I am going to smother you with your own pillow."

"Wow, we didn't even make it through the first night before you start with the death threats. The honeymoon is so over."

Steve makes a noise like he's grinding all the enamel off his teeth, but it doesn't escape Danny's notice that he's about a thousand times less tense, even if he still has a ways to go before he'd qualify as boneless. Good thing he's not the only one who doesn't ever back down from a challenge. Danny's just more subtle about it.

"Say goodnight, Danny."

"Good night, Danny," Danny says, and grins when Steve can't help laughing. Seriously, he didn't actually expect Danny to leave that one by the wayside, did he? He lets himself relax and closes his eyes against the moonlight and surprises himself by dropping off almost instantly.

What's not surprising is that Steve sleeps like shit. It might only be that there's somebody else in bed with him, but Danny gets the feeling it's way more commonplace than that. He thinks he comes awake every time Steve does, but there's no way to know for sure, of course. Still, by Danny's count, they're up four times before Steve's making to get out of bed at 5:39. The only reason he stays then is because Danny rolls over and dares him to sleep past sunrise, so Danny lets it go at a little past seven when Steve's padding around, looking for a bathing suit.

"Don't drown," Danny manages to mumble, and Steve pauses on the way out the door to ask him if he knows how insulting it is to imply that a SEAL might not make it back from an early morning swim in non-hostile waters.

"Mostly I was implying that I might want to see you again and expressing an interest in your welfare, but fine, be that way," Danny says to the empty room before rolling back over and pulling a pillow over his head to block out the light. It doesn't work; it's late enough that he can't get back to sleep, so he wanders out to the kitchen and figures out the coffee-maker.

It's old, and from the look of it, it's going to take a while to make an entire pot, so he hits the shower quickly and stares in bemusement at the toothbrush still in its wrapper sitting by the sink. "Hostess with the mostest," he tells his reflection.

The coffee's ready when he comes back out, and upon further investigation, he finds eggs and bacon and a frying pan. He walks out and down to the water and decides the tiny dot on the other side of the cove is probably Steve, who doesn't look to be finishing up any time soon, so he puts the idea of breakfast on hold and ends up fiddling with the old TV. The Giants are the early game; they're in the second quarter when he finds them. It's sleeting at the Meadowlands, he notices. Good times.

Steve comes back in right at halftime, rubbing a towel over his hair and stealing Danny's coffee, making a face at the cream and sugar in it.

"Jesus," Danny says, hauling himself off the couch and getting him a cup that's black, no sugar. "Shut up and quit dripping on the floor." Steve mutters something about bitchy, over-caffeinated divas, but disappears into the bathroom without further comment.

"If you can wait 'til this drive's done, I'll make some eggs," Danny says, when he comes back out.

"Sure," Steve says, throwing himself on the couch next to Danny and eying the score critically. "It's awesome out there this morning; you're really going to waste it on this bad of a game?"

"Hey, like you always tell me, it's Hawaii. It's probably still going to be awesome out there in an hour, and it'll probably be awesome again tomorrow. It's weird like that," Danny says. "And yes, the Giants are getting the shit kicked out of them, but please notice how I have yet to bring up yesterday's Notre Dame-Navy score."

Steve grunts but it had been an ugly, ugly game, so he keeps his mouth shut. The Giants grind it out but fumble on the two, which basically seals their doom; when Danny elbows Steve to ask whether he wants his eggs scrambled or fried, the only answer he gets is some heavy breathing and a half-asleep grumble.

"Okay," Danny says to no one in particular. "I guess that answers the is-this-gonna-be-awkward question." He mutes the sound on the game and settles back to watch the fourth quarter, Steve pressed warm and heavy along his side.