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The Vertical Challenge

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So, Danny’s not a big guy. Not lanky, towering or statuesque. No, those terms are relegated to his partner. There are a lot of other adjectives Danny has set aside for his partner too – lunatic, masochist, batshit SEAL robot with a few too many screws loose – oh yes, Danny has a running list going. But in general, Danny knows his shortcomings, so to speak. He may not be tall, but he’s stout, strong and bulldoggish. Those are descriptions Danny’s never minded hearing from his colleagues. Being vertically challenged never bothered him much… until he came to Hawaii. Until he met him.

The most obvious instance of his “shortness” causing a problem is the car. Or rather the car seats… and how they’re always a foot and a half too far back when Danny gets in. And every time, after Steve ‘Long, Lean Danger Machine’ McGarrett has lounged behind the wheel of Danny’s precious Camaro, Danny curses him. Every single time.

He can’t even reach the fucking pedals and for a second he feels like he’s five years old again, sitting behind the wheel of his dad’s old Chevy, his feet dangling ineffectually in the space above the gas and brakes. The mirrors are always screwed up too; when Danny checks the rearview, all he can see is the goddamn ceiling, and oh, he hates Steve. Hates him so very much. 

He’s never letting the man drive his car again. And on one particularly shitty day, Danny tells Steve this.

It’s raining, because this stupid island has schizophrenic weather, oscillating between blazing sun and hellish heat, to downpours so hard he can barely see ten feet in front of him in the span of an hour, and they’re in the middle of a case. He and Steve pull up to a 7-11; Danny’s tired and wants a beer so damn bad because the man he’s partnered with can’t grasp procedure when approaching a drug dealer’s house. And Steve has caused an explosion. Again.

A meth head’s house is sometimes booby-trapped and Rambo thinks he can disarm it without bomb squad backup. Of course the pressure plate on the front porch has other ideas and he and Danny are forced into some sort of flailing swan-dive behind the Camaro just before the whole house explodes in one big fireball. Typical fucking Steve, he isn’t the least bit sorry he nearly blew his partner up into tiny pieces.

“Danny, c’mon... really? You’re going to pout over this? No one was hurt.”

Danny raises his hand in a stop gesture as they enter the store. He then gestures to his soiled shirt and to Steve’s sweaty, wet, ripped-up tee. “You. Do not speak to me. You tried to blow me up today, Steven. I need a drink.”

Steve follows behind his partner, looking mulish. “Not my fault the guy had a pressure plate hooked to claymores under his welcome mat.”

Danny sighs. He very much wants a beer but he’s still on duty. Throwing a hand out, he turns on Steve. “The concept of waiting is really beyond you, isn’t it? Wait, Steve, I said. Get the bomb squad, Steve, I said. But nooo….you just had to resurrect Rambo and Be all you can be!”

“That’s the Army, Danny.” Steve hooks his thumb back toward his own soot-covered chest. “Navy. Naavyyy!”

“Oh for the love-what the fuck ever, Steve. I don’t know if the military made you nuts, or if you went in that way.” Because really, Danny thinks Steve might have come out the womb in a fighting stance, ready do baby-ninja and take on any shit that might be going down in the nursery. Danny’s about to grab a six pack of Longboards for later when he sees something in the mirror above the aisle. 

Dithering around the check-out counter is Bing – one of the dealers they’d been after in this meth ring. He was supposed to be at the house that Steve just blew to hell. The small, wiry Asian kid looks like hell, jonesing, and Danny can see the outline of a gun stuffed in the back of his pants. Aw, hell.

Steve sees it too and is already pulling his piece, giving Danny some hand signals like he’s fucking auditioning for some B-movie war flick, and heading down the aisle in full stealth mode. Danny wants to object, but Steve’s already gone, so he pulls his gun and rolls his eyes as he takes a path down another aisle.

It would’ve gone down great: make the arrest, go out for beers. Except the cashier blows their cover. Bing whips around, looking like a rabid dog, and fires a spray of bullets, sending chips and candy raining down all over Danny’s head. Steve unloads half a clip, but the kid is already on his way out and into a little compact car, peeling out of the parking lot. 

Steve and Danny take off after him into the pouring rain.

“Here!” Steve calls over the storm, tossing the keys to Danny as he heads to the passenger side. “You drive! Gotta reload!”

Danny slides into his car, already dripping wet and thoroughly pissed at the state of his life so far… and then he grabs for the steering column.

Which he can’t reach. His feet are a good twelve inches from the pedals and fuck it all to hell, the kid is getting away.

“Hey asshole,” Danny growls, fumbling with the seat release under him, “You are NEVER driving my car again.”

Steve’s busy fishing a clip out of those stupid cargo pants. His face has a sheen of sweat and rain, and the thrill of the chase has lit his eyes in an almost scary way. He is a hound on the scent now. “What? Danny c’mon man! What’re you waiting—”

“What am I waiting for?! What am I – I’m not waiting for anything you psycho prick, I’m trying to fix the damn seat! Because you never ever put it back. How hard it is to move a fucking seat forward, Steven? How hard is it?”

Danny’s livid now, because his hands keep slipping on the seat bar, and he has to scoot it forward like a damn idiot, and Steve is just staring at him, all goldfish face and confusion.

Steve’s mouth bobs open as he watches Danny scoot the seat forward with his ass and wrench the key in the ignition. He looks back at the road and then says, all calm, like he’s placating a mental patient. “Daniel. The bad guy is getting away. Do you think you could…” and he motions toward the street with a hand.

“Oh God, I fucking hate you.”

Finally, with the seats fixed, the Camaro fishtails onto the wet street, Danny taking great delight in Steve ‘Stunt Driver’ McGarrett grabbing onto the sissy bar above his door and leaning into the turn.

Lights flashing, Danny maneuvers through the traffic, squinting into the rain to see the compact and Bing the Meth Head in front of him. Once they’re in sight, Steve leans forward, completely lasered in on his prey.

“Speed up, Danny,” he says, and holy God, he’s actually looking at the speedometer, as if willing it to inch toward the red zone. “Danny, you’re... you’re gonna have to gun it. He’s pulling away...”

“Hey! The side-seat driving? Shutup!” Hell if he’s going to take driving advice from SuperSEAL.

He goes to change lanes and realizes, a little too late, that Steve had moved his side-view mirrors too and his blind spot has changed.

There’s a cacophony of squealing tires and honking horns as Danny nearly sideswipes a defenseless minivan.

“Shit, shit , shit!” Danny screams, and overcorrects. He ends up clipping the back corner of Bing’s compact, sending the smaller car into a spin which ends in a retaining wall on the side of the highway.

Danny manages to get the car under control and stops near Bing’s car. The meth head, however, is out cold against his steering wheel and Danny can’t bring himself to care whether it’s life threatening or not.

Steve’s breathing hard and grinning like a fucking loon. There’s exhilaration in his eyes, like the time Danny strapped that guy to the hood of the car with bungies, and Danny half expects Steve to ask “let’s do that again!” because his maturity equals his shoe size most days.

“Bingo!” Steve says, looking at Bing’s stalled car.

Danny’s mouth hangs open. “You did not just say that. Really? You actually said that? After you nearly get me killed twice – twice – in the same fucking day? You’re going to say something that idiotic?”

Steve merely shrugs, water dripping from his hair and running down his cheeks, and for a second, Danny’s focus is lost on one drop sliding down Steve’s long, defined throat. “We caught him didn’t we?”

“You drive like a maniac. You put grenades in my car – and don’t look at me like that, because this reminds me, I need to have a bomb dog sniff over my car once a month to make sure you haven’t stashed any more goodies in here...” his hands are flicking through the air, flinging water, and they still haven’t secured the suspect. “You nearly get me blown up…and…”

Steve makes a move to say something, but Danny slaps his hand over Steve’s mouth. Ignores the way Steve’s breath is warm as it puffs over Danny’s wet, chilled skin.

Doesn’t even give a shit about the softening around Steve’s eyes as he looks down at the hand over his mouth, then back at Danny.

“You don’t speak, got it?”

A nod. More breathing. Get to the point already, Danny. You’re still pissed at him, remember…?

“… And you never put my seat back. I don’t have giraffe legs like you, you freak. We can’t all be built like a fucking Calvin Klein model.”

Steve grins against his hand, and there’s…what’s that? Is that…  pink… along his cheek bones?

Danny frowns again. “Stop grinning.” And definitely stop blushing…

The lines around Steve’s eyes crinkle, and dammit, Danny’s about to start smiling too.

He takes his hand away from Steve’s mouth, trying not to think too much about the way Steve follows his movement with a hint of regret in his eyes.

“Put my seat back where it was. Put the mirrors back where they’re supposed to be for normal sized people like me, Steve. That’s all I ask.”

 “What about me? I bang my knees on the dashboard every time I get in this car after you drive!” Steve’s perfect white smile nearly lights up the cab.  “Besides, we could always get you some blocks to put on you shoes. Extend your reach a little.”

“Okay. That’s it. You’re fucking walking home.”

“Can we arrest the criminal now, Danny? Because he’s starting to wake up.” Steve nods toward the stirring form of Bing the Meth Dealer.

“Yes. Go,” Danny waves him off.

Steve opens the car door before looking back at him as if remembering something and, holy lord, Danny knows what he’s going to say....

“Or would you rather book’em—”

Don’t! For the love of God and all that is holy, don’t. Just…” Danny shoos his partner away as he gets his phone out to call for a bus.

And then he starts fixing his mirrors.

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Then there are the “short jokes.” It’s not like he’s afraid of some bastard sneering down his nose at the so called “midget cop” in front of him. Danny’s always made up for his lack in height with his breadth of attitude. Not to mention, he’s a scrappy fighter and he’s not at all concerned with Fair Play rules. He knows he’s got a mean right hook. But being the butt of all the ‘short’ insults is getting very old.

Shit. Danny thought he was done with those insults in grade school.

He’s heard them all from one criminal dumb-shit or another: small fry, short-stack, and all various forms of “stupid little man.” Danny doesn’t mind those so much, they rarely get more than a “Really? That’s what you’re going with here?” and a smirk out of him.

Call him an Oompa-loompa and Danny’ll make sure your forehead gets introduced to the doorframe of the police cruiser. One misfortunate asshole called him “little dick” and well, Danny’s patience does have limits.

The guy ended up missing a couple teeth and had to be wheeled to jail, then Danny had to endure Steve’s stupid, gooftastic grin for the entire ride back to the office, but really, it was kinda worth it to see the piece of shit spit teeth as an apology. Besides, it was justified. The guy lunged at Danny after all.

But Danny never lets the slurs get too far under his skin. So he never expected that they would get under his partner’s Super SEAL hide.

Five-0 may be an autonomous, governor-sanctioned, super elite task force but they do have to rely on the local HPD as back-up during cases. Not that his partner can get that simple fact through his head, oh no. Steve ‘I’m goin’ In! One Man Weapon of Mass Destruction’ McGarrett doesn’t need backup. Danny’s his back up. Bastard.

But when the cases they solve get ready to go to court, the ‘t’s’ need to be crossed and the multitude of ‘i’s’ dotted, and everything…everything has to be filled out in triplicate. Which means at least two or three trips down to HPD headquarters to get the witness statements, booking forms and officers’ DD-5 accounts of whatever clusterfuck Steven has flung himself into on a daily basis.

It’s not a fun visit, however. With the exception of Meka, Danny has virtually zero friends on the HPD roster. His family might be Five-0, but amongst the detective’s desks and the break rooms of Hawaii’s Finest, Danny is still very much the hoale.

His partner is trailing after him as they enter HPD, since Danny promised lunch after he gets the DD-5’s from Officer Mitsuka regarding the Wallis kidnapping, and because Danny was tired of hearing Steve’s stomach growling. Danny strolls through the lines of desks, giving a short nod here a smile there to those who still acted like he was alive.

Steve hangs back, crossing his arms over his chest, standing like a sentry in the bullpen, and Danny smirks at the looks his partner is getting. Steve’s still holding a grudge from the way Danny was treated during Meka’s case, and the steely-eyed glare he’s sending anyone who looks his way is evidence of that. No one’s gonna start anything with him though, of that, Danny is sure.

He and Officer Mitsuka are standing in the Captain’s office, just putting the finishing signatures on the case files when Danny hears raised voices. Pissed-off voices.

Steve’s pissed off voice.

Shit on a stick, what had the man gotten himself into now?

Mitsuka, thumbs hooked in his gun belt, smirks. “Sounds like your partner’s got a bug up his o’kole about somethin’, brah.”

“What else is new,” says Danny. “The man is a magnet for trouble.”

Danny’s about to shrug it off, if Steve brought a grenade into HPD and got in trouble, that’s his damn problem, but then he hears a threat come out of his partner’s mouth. And when Steve threatens someone, especially this early in the day, it’s not to be taken lightly.

“C’mon man, you can’t take a little joke or what?” says a high pitched voice.

“Okay, so how about I put my little fist in your face, whatdaya think about that?” Steve growls, as Danny exits the Captain’s office.

He nearly rubs his eyes because he’s got to be dreaming. There’s just no way. No fucking way Steve has a detective (Danny doesn’t know the guy well, but he’s seen him around, Kaipo?) by the shirt, free hand jabbing in the large Hawaiian’s face, before balling into a fist.

Detective Kaipo’s face is beet red with fury as he tried to stand his ground, but fails miserably under the crushing weight of a pissed-off SEAL. “Yo, hoale! You better get your fucking hands off me or—”

“Or what?” Steve asks, and oh, the steel in his voice makes Danny shudder. “You gonna call in backup because you’re not man enough to finish this yourself? What? You all talk, and that’s it?” And he must be wearing his “scary face” because the few officers who look like they are about to intervene put their hands up and step back.

Some part of Danny’s mind congratulates the smart cops for knowing when to leave a fucking lunatic alone. He, however, doesn’t have that option. His curse in life, really.

Taking a deep breath, Danny’s hands fly up to either side of his head indignantly and he yells, “Have you finally lost what’s left of your mind? You have, haven’t you? It’s finally gone completely and now I have to deal with a brainless Neanderthal for the rest of my sentence here on this pineapple infested hellhole.”

At that, Steve’s head whips around, and damn, the fire in his gaze nearly makes Danny take a step back. Rabid bear, that’s a fucking good description.

“I got this, Danny.” Steve says, as if that’s supposed to make it all alright.

As Danny walks over, Steve glances once more at his irate partner and shoves Detective Kaipo away. The man, who probably outweighs Steve by a hundred pounds, stumbles back into a desk. Papers and files flutter to the floor like wounded birds. He’s rubbing at his neck where Steve’s punishing grip held him by his shirt collar.

“You’re a fucking psycho, you know that McGarrett?” Kaipo shouts.

Danny holds up a hand toward Kaipo to stop him before Steve lunges again. To Steve, he says, “What do you mean, you got this? What’s the matter with you, huh? I can’t leave you alone for ten minutes, you got to start a war in the fucking HPD?”

Steve’s breathing heavy, as though trying to rein himself in, and gestures at Kiapo. “Look, you didn’t hear him, okay. Believe me when I say he started this, Danny.”

It’s like he’s working with second graders now. “Started what? What, are we back in elementary school now?”

Steve points to Kaipo, anger flaring again, and Danny has to put his hands on Steve’s chest to stop him from advancing again. “He said-”

But Kaipo cuts him off. “Didn’t say nothing, you fucking crazy hoale. Was just a joke, anyway.”

Danny’s head is swiveling between the two men, and damned if he can figure out what the hell is going on. He turns to the other detective, “Well, I feel I must remind you that this man has no sense of humor. It was drummed out of him in Army—”

Navy,” Steve growls.

“Whatever. It was drilled out of him in Navy basic training or something.” Danny says. Pinching the bridge of his nose, he looks back at Steve, whose breathing has finally slowed to something under attack mode. “Now, what happened?”

Steve’s jaw grinds together as he tries to melt Kaipo with his death-stare. “He … was trash-talking you, Danny. Behind your back.”

Danny frowns, eyes scrunched up in confusion. He glances back at Kaipo, who shrugs.

“Wasn’t nothing personal, hoale. Just a little fun. Like you never heard some short jokes before, c’mon, brah.” Kaipo’s trying to laugh this off. 

Danny’s been teased about his height before, nothing new. But from the way McGarrett still looks like he’d love to take Kaipo out back and disassemble him piece by piece, Danny figures there’s more to it.

He turns to Steve, gets right up in front of him, so much that Steve is literally looming over him and whispers vehemently, “This is it? This is why you try to decapitate one of Hawaii’s finest? Because he cast aspersions on my height?”

Steve seems to deflate a little, and Christ, the “kicked-puppy” look is blossoming on his face now. “No, Danny…it’s not just…it wasn’t just that.” Exasperated now, Steve’s hands go out, and Danny is a little freaked to see himself mirrored in the big, damn idiot’s actions.

“Look, I know you can handle yourself, and it’s not just that he called you a dwarf…” Steve’s rambling now, fast, like he’s afraid Danny will walk off if he doesn’t make this good. And he’s right, Danny will.

But Danny’s mind fumbles over “dwarf,” and for a second, he considers climbing up Mount Kaipo’s big fucking chest and beating his face in himself. But it’s only fleeting, because yeah, Danny’s used to this kind of hazing, and yeah, he’s not so fragile that he gets his feelings hurt by it anymore. It’s just that dwarf hasn’t been used since he was fifteen, and well, that takes a moment to sink in.

But Steve is still flailing through an explanation. And now he thinks he heard something about Kaipo calling Danny “a shitty excuse for a mainlander cop…” and well, that’s different. Damn good thing the Hawaiian detective has moved far enough away, before Danny introduces him to his right hook.

Then something else crawls into Danny’s consciousness, and he takes a look around the bullpen. He and Steve are the afternoon’s main attraction, and he can feel embarrassment creeping up his spine.

Suddenly, Danny jumps in mid-stream to cut-off Steve’s excuses, and grabs both his flailing arms in his hands, and Steve, bless him, stutters to a verbal halt. It hardly registers to Danny that surprise and apprehension are very cute on Steve Fucking McGarrett’s face. And now he has to kick himself for using ‘cute’ and ‘McGarrett’ in the same thought…

“Wait, so – so let me get this straight. You decided you would play hero like I was some wimp getting picked on in the school yard? Someone insults your partner and you go apeshit?”

Steve’s mouth clamps shut, and fuck him if he doesn’t look a bit hurt by the fact that Danny doesn’t want him sticking up for him. Goddamnit.

“Yes.” Steve says finally, a little hoarse. “Yeah, when some asshole calls my partner” and oh, the possession in his tone makes Danny’s traitorous gut jump a little, “a bad cop, hell yeah, that pisses me off.”

He glares over the top of Danny’s head, a challenge to anyone thinking about taking up where Kaipo left off, ever. “So yeah, I’m gonna do something about it. Whether it embarrasses you or not, Danny.”

And Steve means it. Doesn’t matter how much Danny rants or flails or smacks him upside the head; Steve’s protective streak is a mile wide, right through the depth of his soul. And apparently, Danny is firmly entrenched in Steve’s protective field.

He doesn’t know what to do with this knowledge. Sure, he knows Steve would fight and die for him. He’d do that for anyone on his team, and Danny would do the same. Under loyal in the dictionary, there is a picture of Steve McGarrett.

But he didn’t know this extended to name calling. Or that other people’s opinions of him mattered to Steve. It was almost like when he got mad at his parents for badmouthing Rachel’s expensive taste when their family is as blue collar as they come.

Something warm unfurls in Danny’s chest as he looks up into Steve’s earnest face, and suddenly, Danny realizes that somewhere along that way, when he became Steve’s partner, this possessiveness ran deeper than friendship. There is something in Steve’s eyes as his face melts from hard determination into soft uncertainty and…Danny remembers that he hadn’t wanted to hear a word against Rachel back then because he’d been in lo—

Dammit. Damn it all to hell. How the fuck is this his life?

Danny wrenches himself away from his partner, noting the way Steve looks physically pained by the separation, and points to the door. “Out,” he snapped. “Outside. Now. To the car. Do not pass go, do not collect two hundred dollars…and do NOT start anymore fights on your way.”

Steve looks like a kid being sent to his room without supper, heaving a frustrated sigh as he tromps out of HPD.

Facing the captain, who is taking in the scene like a circus side-show, Danny steeples his hands as if praying for forgiveness. “I’m sorry. I am so sorry about that. Really. I’ll adjust his medication as soon as possible.” To Kaipo, he sends his best ‘go to hell and take your toothbrush’ glare.

And then, he tears out of the headquarters like his ass is on fire.

Steve is waiting in the car, looking sullen and down trodden. Danny gets in and guns the motor, not saying a word. They eventually get to the restaurant; something simple, with a bar and outside seating and Danny’s eyeing the beer like a junky looking for a fix. Steve’s been fidgeting in the car, and now in the restaurant, giving Danny side-long glances.

They sit at the bar. Danny orders a beer and a sandwich and tries not to think about the warmth emanating from his partner, who is sitting closer to him than appropriateness allows.

But when has Steve ever worried about appropriate behavior? He is still watching Danny out of the corner of his eye, like he’s waiting for an attack or an explosion. The way Danny feels right now, it could be both.

Finally, Steve can’t stand it any longer, puts down his sandwich, wipes his mouth and turns fully toward Danny.

“So, this silence thing? Are you trying to punish me? Because really, the silent treatment from you is a blessing, y’know, so you’re kinda shooting yourself in the foot there.”

Danny cuts his eyes at him over his sandwich as he takes a bite. Because the more silent he stays, the more hyped up Steve McGarrett’s ramble will be as he tries to plead his case.

So he knows how to pull the SuperSEAL’s strings a little – sue him.

“Look, I wasn’t trying to indicate that you need someone to stick up for you, Danny.” Steve’s leaning an elbow in the table and he’s got the “help me fix this” look on his face. “It’s just that… that guy was talking to his partner about you and he started saying all this shit about how you didn’t fit in…” Steve’s eyes darken and Danny sees his hand clench, “… and how you’d have been better off staying on the fucking mainland.”

Danny runs his tongue over his bottom lip and worries it for a moment, watching all these emotions crash over Steve’s face like a wave against the rocks, and feels his own chest tightening. He knew he never fit in at HPD. Meka had been his saving grace, taking the hoale under his wing and calling him friend. It wasn’t easy, but if Danny had been concerned about easy, he never would have left New Jersey.

Grace is here. So Danny has to be here too. It’s as simple as that.

Apparently, it isn’t as simple to Steve, who takes anything regarding Danny personally, and always has this muted fear in his eyes when Danny bitches about wanting to go home.

Danny clears his throat. “So, what? You think I haven’t heard all that before? Jesus, Steve, it was like frat hazing when I started out here. Precincts can be very cliquish and I was odd-man-out on all accounts. But it’s not like I care–”

I care.” Steve says, and there is iron in his tone again. “You’re a good cop, Danny. I…uh,” he stumbles, then looks down at his beer, picking at the label and corrects himself in a hushed voice, “Hawaii’s lucky to have you.”

Oh fuck. There it is.

Steve peeks up at Danny to gauge his reaction, and fuck it all, that’s the stupidest, most vulnerable look on Steve and Danny’s rendered helpless.

He reaches over and squeezes Steve’s arm, and is gratified when a small smile slips into Steve’s features. Danny returns it, and then smacks Steve up-side his head. Just for good measure.

The tension was getting suffocating, and it was either hit him or kiss him…and Danny really needs to get his head checked out, or have a fucking lobotomy or something, because these thoughts about his partner just seem to be jumping in at the worst moments.

Steve’s scowl is hilarious, affronted and a little bewildered, giving Danny the image of a dog that just got whapped on the nose with the newspaper for chewing on someone’s shoes, and Danny chuckles.

“Of course you’re lucky. You’re fucking lucky to have such a fine example of the law enforcement profession here to tell you how to do things the right way…not that you ever listen…”

And Danny harps on about Steve’s lack of procedure, due process and general disregard for the protection of life and limb, and notes, with warm regard, that Steve is hanging on his every word.

 

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Being vertically challenged has another draw back: reaching things above your head. And here’s where the embarrassment comes in. Because he’ll be goddamned before he’ll go and ask his stupid, psychotic, fucking giraffe of a partner to reach something in the file room that’s out of Danny’s reach.

So, he’s either left to scale the file shelves like Spiderman’s much less coordinated cousin, which usually ends with him pulling an entire case file box down on his head. Or, he can wait until Chin or Kono amble in looking for something, and he can casually ask them to grab his file while they’re there.

Kono, bless her little gung-ho heart, doesn’t say anything. Just smiles and reaches her long, lithe form up to the elusive shelf and grabs what he needs and then hands it over.

It must be nice to be built like a gazelle, Danny thinks, before thanking her courteously.

Chin is a little more sadistic in his humor. He’ll stand there and ask repeatedly which file Danny wants, “Oh that one?” and he’ll point to something half a story up, “Are you sure? Better point it out to me again.”

So Danny will stand there, on his tip-toes, trying to indicate the correct box, until he sees Chin smirking at him. Danny cocks his head, grins and politely calls the older man a bastard before sauntering out of the file room. He’ll wait until Chin leaves before he comes in with a step ladder.

And Danny makes do. He really does. He’s been this height for a very long time, and it’s usually only been an inconvenience with women in heels and the occasional file stacked too high in the evidence lockers.

Until he met Steve ‘I make my ridiculously long-legged amble look like a fucking confident swagger because I’m THAT good’ McGarrett.

But, as usually happens when he’s in Steve’s company, something completely unexpected happens that makes him look at his height in a whole new way.

It’s just another bright and shiny Monday in fucking paradise, and Danny’s starting to wonder if he’s spending too much time with this partner. They see each other from o’dark –thirty in the morning some days until the wee hours of the next morning during the week, depending on what shade of crappy the case they’re on happens to be.

They have breakfast together most mornings, because Steve knows all of these great little dives that make the best pancakes or waffles or some other local dish that Danny can’t pronounce, let alone eat, and Danny opens his apartment door to find Steve’s smiling face and the declaration of where he’s hauling Danny to eat that morning. No build of anticipation, just the eatery’s name and that goofy grin.

Then, there are the weekends. Okay, yeah, there are plenty of times Danny just shows up at Steve’s, waltzes in the unlocked front door like he owns the place and inquires about Steve’s plans for the day.

Sitting at home in that shithole apartment gets old, and he’s tired of having tug-o-wars with the roaches for his food after a while, so he needs something to do.

And he knows when Steve is home alone – not getting his brains fucked out by his sometime-girlfriend, Catherine – and really, that’s not creepy. He just knows his partner’s off-duty schedule, that’s all. No creepiness here…

… Okay, knowing when Steve is getting a booty call and when he’s not is fucking creepy, and Danny really needs to get a hobby, now.

So, in the mean time, he goes to Steve’s. And that’s been happening most weekends lately.

Frankly, Danny can’t remember the last weekend he just stayed at home and vegged out by himself. Even when he has Grace, the two of them are usually with Steve these days, which gives Danny a whole new reason to pause and reevaluate things.

He also can’t remember the last time Steve mentioned that Catherine chick being in port, which means it’s been a while since Steve got laid (and why the hell is Danny thinking about that?) Which probably explains Steve’s hair-trigger temper being worse than usual with suspects of late.

They’re pulling up to a convenience store, because the weird eggs and rice Steve shoved in front of him that morning at some new diner were doused with something like liquid fire (and Danny’s a Jersey boy, so he isn’t a spice virgin) but he really needs a drink. The roof of his mouth feels like it’s been scorched off.

“Gimme a sec, gotta get some water,” Danny says as he gets out.

“Can’t handle the loco moco, huh?” Steve’s snickering.

Danny waves a dismissive hand. “No. No I can handle whatever you dish out, Steve.”

And that gets him a funny look that Danny’s not ready to name yet. So he turns and stalks toward the beverage aisle. “This whole island eats weird shit, s’all I’m sayin.”

“Well, loco moco doesn’t usually have hot sauce, but I like it with mine. Didn’t know your precious mouth was so sensitive,” Steve says. He’s all superior smirks, gazing fondly down at Danny, and if he isn’t mistaken, there is some double entendre in this conversation now.

“My mouth—” And when Danny sees Steve’s brows go up in a suggestive challenge, he rethinks his retort. Better nip this in the bud before it gets out of hand. They’re already spending way too much time together. Now they’re flirting! “…is …just dry. That’s all. I’ve got dry mouth.”

“Because you talk too much.” Steve says.

Okay, he walked right into that one. So, Danny settles for the one finger salute, which only makes Steve laugh more because he knows he’s won this round.

“Hey, you’re the guy who talked a guy off a cliff! I’m just sayin.” Steve claps Danny on the shoulder, gives it a good natured squeeze.

“Hardy fuckin’ har har, Steve,” Danny snarks as he heads to the checkout. There’s an old lady in front of them, paying for her groceries. “I told you, I was commiserating with him, get his guard down. You’re the one had to get all trigger-happy and blow the guy off the fucking cliff.”

“I had an opportunity to take a suspect down, and I took it.” Steve shrugged innocently.

“Even though it could have cost the hostage her life?”

Steve’s humor dies a little, and all that’s left is the serene confidence of the Super SEAL. “Wouldn’t have happened.”

Why the man even attempts to play the innocent card, Danny’ll never know. Except that for some inexplicable reason, Steve has the ability to actually come off innocent. It never occurs to him that he could fail in his mission. Never. Some might call it overconfidence, but Danny just calls it Steve.

Maybe it’s a SEAL thing, but failure is never an option with this man, and as long as he tries, they always have a chance to save the day. This seems to be the mantra in every part of Steve’s life, whether it’s running down terrorists or tackling a little Bob Villa-style home repairs.

Whether or not Danny has a few heart attacks along the way is inconsequential.

“Well thank you, Superman. You’ll forgive us mere mortals our occasional doubts, won’t you?” Danny says, fishing out his wallet.

Steve’s grin is huge, and he ducks his head. If he actually kicks his foot on the floor in an ‘aw shucks’ way, Danny might have to hit him. A man that deadly, that crazy, should not have the ability to be that damn cute. It’s just not fair.

But the smile is wiped of Danny’s face when he feels Steve tense at his side as they wait in line at the checkout. His eyes shift to the store’s door, where three Hawaiian men – kids really, the oldest no more than twenty – enter. They’re wearing gang colors, Danny can see gang insignia tattoos down the youngest one’s bare arms and sneaking under his tank.

The boys wander in, pretending to be interested in the candy or the drinks in the coolers next to the door, but Danny can see the butt of a gun sticking out of the low-slung pants.

He feels Steve shifting his weight, probably reaching around to his own piece, and Danny has no intention of getting stuck in another shoot out.

Really, he is never entering another fucking convenience store on this island again. Bad things always happen in convenience stores.

Or maybe bad things just hover in orbit around Steve McGarrett. Yeah, that’s probably it.

Danny turns a glance toward his partner, who is already strung so tight Danny can see the muscles in his forearms quiver. Steve’s scary face is firmly in place, and oh shit, this is bad. Like – when Steve gets that face people usually die – bad.

“Don’t,” Danny whispers under his breath. “Too many. Civilians. Not enough cover.” The old lady in front of them is fishing out coupons and haggling with the cashier over prices.

One of the boys is eyeing the cash register while the other two case the joint, casually.

This is going to happen. Danny can feel the electricity charging the air the way it usually does before a storm breaks, or shit hits the fan. But Steve hasn’t taken his laser focus off the boys, and Danny knows he’s pretty much pissing in the wind at this point trying to stop it. So, he puts his wallet back in his pocket and goes for his badge.

Putting himself between the boys and the old lady, just as the kid nearest the register reaches around for the gun he’s been hiding, Danny pulls both his gun and badge.

“Okay boys, it’s way too nice outside to be carrying guns, isn’t it? I mean, the sun is shining, the birds are singing, and I really don’t want to have to shoot anyone today so why don’t you drop that, son.”

Behind him, Steve takes aim at the other two. “Listen to the man, guys. This can go down one of two ways. You drop your guns and we take a ride to HPD, or you don’t, and I end up telling your parents to come to the morgue. I really don’t want to do that.”

It’s cheesy, way too much of a Dirty Harry delivery, but Danny’s really and truly hoping it intimidated the fuck out of those kids. Because it’s nine fucking a.m. Way too early for this shit.

The gang bangers throw wary glances at each other, and either they’ve been watching too many bad cop shows, or they really underestimate the abilities of a Jersey cop and a SEAL with a hero complex, but they obviously want to take their chances, and the oldest of the crew yanks out a semi-automatic and starts shooting.

There is screaming and Danny hopes the old lady took cover because he’s too busy shooting the kid closest to the counter to dive over her. The perp goes down before he can raise his gun. Steve’s taken care of the other two, firing off quick, precise shots. Luckily, the one with the semi-automatic is a terrible shot.

Three kids hit the ground, and the adrenaline starts to ebb in Danny, leaving him sick to his stomach. It’s not like they had a choice, but still. These were kids, for fuck’s sake. Two are dead and the one Danny shot is wounded.

While Steve checks the downed perps, Danny flips out his cell and calls for assistance, then calls the rest of the team. Soon, the cavalry arrives. CSU starts marking shell casings and taping off the door. Chin and Kono coordinate the uniforms efforts outside.

The coroner arrives and bags the deceased. But as the medics move the third perp’s body, Danny notices something missing.

“Where’s his gun?” Danny asks.

Steve looks up from bagging one of the weapons. The deadly SEAL mask is gone now, and his expression is odd. “What do you mean, where’s his gun. It’s right there. He pulled it out before I shot him.”

“Look, I’m not questioning your instincts, Steve, its just I didn’t see a weapon on that kid when they were taking him out,” Danny replies tightly. “Check the floor over there by the counter.”

There’s nothing there and Steve makes a frustrated noise. “It was there. Snub nose .38. He had it out of his pocket just before I shot him…”

“Then where is it?”

“Fuck, Danny, how am I supposed to know? He had a gun!” Steve’s getting a wild-eyed look now – where’d all that self-assuredness go? – and Danny’s seen this before.

Everything happens in the heat of the moment and cops act. You act or you die. That’s part of having the badge. But after the smoke clears, you can start to second-guess yourself.

Danny wonders if Steve has ever second-guessed himself. Sure, he’s seen that awful “what if” shadow cross Steve’s face every time something reminds him of his father, but in battle?

Danny doesn’t know if Steve ever shot a civilian accidentally, got caught in a friendly fire incident, and hell there’s a lot about that side of Steve he doesn’t know. It scares him a little, to be honest.

“We’ve got to find that gun, Steve.” Because if they don’t, it’s not going to matter if Steve has the governor’s number on speed dial, or that this team is the governor’s pet project. Steve’s not in the military anymore, where everything gets swept under a rug in the heat of battle.

“I know, I know.” Steve is looking under every nook and cranny frantically.

You kill and un-armed teenager, you get crucified in the press and brought up on charges. Police brutality. And even though they have immunity and means, it doesn’t mean a hail storm of shit won’t rain down on them for this.

Not to mention the fact that Steve looks like he’s going to be sick.

Danny checks in the cooler; the glass case is blown open, soda and milk bleeding onto the floor. Steve comes up beside him, his face wrecked. Danny hates that look on him.

“He had a gun, Danny. I swear to you he had a gun.”

Danny sighs. “I believe you partner.” And Steve’s head actually droops down as he exhales. How could he think Danny would doubt him, wouldn’t have his back?

Without thinking, Danny reaches a hand behind Steve’s neck and massages it. It’s meant to comfort, and even though Steve’s head is bent down, Danny sees him close his eyes, grateful for the contact.

Danny throws a look toward the door and thanks someone Up There that most of the commotion, and his team mates, are outside at the moment.

He continues to silently rub the pads of his fingers into the taut muscle of Steve’s neck and shoulders. Steve looks like a big cat now, angling his head to allow Danny better access to his neck muscles, and if he isn’t careful, the big dork is going to start purring in a minute.

Then Danny looks down and remembers how the dead kid fell against the cooler, his arm splayed above his head. Danny’s eyes follow the angle from where the kid fell up to the top of the freezer.

“Get me a box,” Danny says, suddenly moving away.

Steve’s eyes open and he blinks, apparently still lost in Danny’s touch for a moment. “What?”

“Get me a box. Crate. Something to stand on.” Danny kicks over a plastic freight box and climbs up. It wasn’t tall enough. Damn it.

Steve finds another and stacks the two, and Danny climbs up again, this time looking over the top of the refrigeration unit.

“Danny, what are you doing,” Steve asks, and at the same time, the crates jiggle, causing Danny to latch onto the cooler for dear life.

“The gun–” Danny says, stopping mid sentence. Steve’s hands were now on either side of his hips, gripping gently, but solidly. It is the weirdest sensation and Danny’s mind fumbles the ball for a moment. “Uh… the kid could have tossed the gun as he fell.”

Steve looks at the floor, then up at the cooler, and Danny can see him catching on. A smile tugs at his lips. “Look at you,” Steve says, Danny isn’t sure if Steve is admiring his detective skills, for they are pretty shiny, or…something else.  “Figuring in the trajectory from where the kid fell, and the way his hand was situated…”

“You sound like my physics teacher from high school,” Danny mutters, reaching his gloved hand back as far as he can and rummaging around the top of the freezer. “Bingo.”

“Bingo?” Steve quips. “Didn’t you chew my ass out for saying that a while back?”

Danny grins. “That’s because you used it in a dorky context. This, however, is me using it in a very awesome context.” With his gloved thumb and forefinger, Danny lifts the .38 from its resting place on the back of the freezer-top and dangles it above Steve’s face. Which happens to be split in the most grateful smile he’s ever seen.

Maybe it is the relief of finding the gun, or the aftermath from the adrenaline of the shootout. Maybe it was that stupid loco moco Steve had insisted Danny try making him woozy.

There is no fucking way it’s the blinding smile Steve is radiating or the way his hands seem to encircle and tighten around Danny’s waist, or that it feels all kinds of good when it really shouldn’t.

Whatever it is, Danny feels the crates shift again, and then he’s falling before he can stop himself. The .38 drops to the floor and Danny twists, trying to catch himself, but he really needn’t have bothered.

Two strong arms reach around Danny’s torso, and there’s a broad, hard chest cushioning Danny’s fall. But, there is nothing graceful about this, and Danny’s no feather-weight, so he and Steve find themselves in a heap of arms and legs on the floor.

“Oh fuck,” Danny breathes. And then he realizes he’s splayed on top of Steve, and well isn’t this just the biggest cliché. Christ, he’s practically straddling the man!

Looking up carefully, Danny sees Steve, arms still around Danny’s torso, and his eyes squeezed shut. Danny wonders if he hurt Steve for a moment, then this cat-that-ate-the-canary smile stretches across fucking Steve’s face, and Danny’s really going to hurt him now.

“You know,” says Steve, mildly, his hands smoothing the fabric of Danny’s shirt across his back. “This is cozy. Not the best setting, but cozy.”

And Danny is dumbfounded to see that despite the shit-eating grin, Steve is absolutely serious. As if in some more private, more comfortable setting, Steve finds the idea of a Danny Williams blanket a pretty fucking nice one. And all of a sudden, Danny’s throat goes dry, and he can’t get off Steve fast enough.

“Yeah. Okay. You are officially weird.” Danny says, scrambling to untangle their legs. “Creepy, creepy man.”

What’s worse? Steve’s hard body under him, his arms wrapping around him. It feels…Goddamnit feels good. And that is wrong. So very very wrong. They are friends and partners and he should be noticing all these things about his partner.

But Steve is hiding nothing in those big innocent eyes, and well, maybe that is the real problem. Steve obviously thinks this is okay.  That… they... them…is okay. And Danny isn’t ready to deal with that yet.

Danny just manages to hoist himself off his partner – and isn’t that a wonderful image, him climbing off Steve’s body like they just got through dry humping, and his hair is fucked up and they’re both all rumpled; fucking Steve – when he notices Kono in the doorway. Steve’s still sitting on the floor, looking up at Danny like Danny just kicked his puppy before he sees their intruder too.

She’s got this shocked, curious look on her face and Danny wants to die right then and there.

But he bends over, hastily grabs the .38 and waves it like a white flag. “We were looking for this! This… it belongs to one of the perps that Steve shot, only we had to climb,” and Danny points helpfully to the top of the freezer, “up there. It got tossed up there.”

He sounds like a babbling idiot and the more he babbles the more Kono grins. She nods once, biting her bottom lip around the huge smile on her face.

“Hey Cuz!” Kono yells as she ducks out of the door and bounds off. “You owe me a hundred bucks!”

Well, that sounds horrendous. Danny’s still got the gun in his hand, his hair is still all fucked up – so is his life at this point – and he turns on Steve, who is trying not to smile and sucking majorly at it.

“I hate you. Just so you know.”

Steve chews his lip, as if considering whether or not he should be worried by Danny’s threat.

“Okay.” And then Steve beams at him like an idiot, and Danny wonders if maybe…just maybe his face gave something away while he was draped over his incorrigible partner. Like maybe he didn’t mind so much?

Fuckity, fuck fuck.

Danny makes an incredulous noise before chasing after Kono, leaving Steve sitting on the floor of the store. “Hey, what the hell does that mean?” he calls after her. “What hundred bucks?”

 

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And then there’s Grace. Danny’s little monkey has this thing where she likes to ride on top of his shoulders, holding on and squealing with delight, and let’s face it. Danny loves it too. He’s done it since she was old enough to sit up and he’s been her willing human horse-y every since.

But now, Danny finds this little tradition extremely embarrassing. When he takes his little girl to a concert on a beach (and lets not even go into the fact that a concert on a hot, sand-in-places-it-shouldn’t-be beach is the worst place ever) because she wants to see her favorite local pop-band play, and hefts her up on his shoulders, just like always – Danny finds that she still can’t see over some of the heads.

“Uh, Danno?” Grace’s small voice barely rises above the den of shrieking kids, and for once, Danny wishes he had the balls to say no to her, because a concert, on the beach, with a bunch of teeny-boppers? Is there a worse hell? He’s reminded of why he can’t say no when a cute face appears, upside down, in front of his face. “They’re still in the way.”

 Danny can’t help but grin at his daughter as she bends down over his head to look at him from her perch. “What, baby?”

“I still can’t see the stage,” Grace yells. “There’re too many big people in the way.”

She’s right. There is a forest of bodies in front of them, and even though this is a teen group playing, there are plenty of adults here. Not that Danny cares about seeing the stage, but he seems to have found the ‘giants’ section, and he glares up at the back of the guy who’s got to be at least 6’5 in front of them.

“Well, sweetie, Danno doesn’t get any taller, so…”

And his sweet little girl just bends down and kisses his nose, saying “That’s okay, Danno.” And God, how did he make such a beautiful kid. She’s content to stare at the back of some asshole’s head because her dad is too goddamned short. Oh no, this wouldn’t do at all.

Then he feels a tap on his shoulder.

What really sucks about all this? His partner - who has for some reason, tagged along - offers to put Grace on his shoulders after Danny realizes that somehow his height has failed his little girl and there’s not much he can do about it (short of getting stilts).

Danny will never know why Steve is there anyway; because it’s a fucking kid band that appeals to young teens and tweens, and why would he want to come out here with them when he could be cleaning an AK-47 assault rifle, or planning the next one man invasion of the local drug cartel?

But he’s there, they’ve been spending far too much time together these days anyway, and it doesn’t seem like that’s gonna change, and Grace just beams at the big idiot. And Steve’s answering grin is almost hilariously stupid, but it also does funny things to Danny’s insides.

So does the sight of Steve lifting his little girl, as though she were a feather, carefully onto his shoulders, gripping her tiny hands in his as she looks out toward the stage.

The delighted expression on Grace’s face is priceless and when Danny sees that, it doesn’t matter what’s going on, he’s on top of the world.

Danny doesn’t care what’s happening on stage either, because he can’t seem to stop watching the two of them: Grace leaning down to tell Steve something in his ear and Steve’s face is so damn content, serene even, Danny thinks Hallmark should take a picture of it and make a mint.

So yeah, right now, he’s a little jealous of his partner’s high-reaching brawn.

But it’s just ridiculous, when he thinks about big, super SEAL Steve – all menacing tattoos, muscles and endless badassery; a guy who probably knows ten different ways to kill a man with his fucking thumb – brought to earth and completely at the mercy of a nine year old girl.

Gracie asks Steve to move to the right, and the huge doof is all concentration on his face, trying to maneuver Danny’s child into the best possible vantage point.

God, the guy is mission oriented about everything! When Grace is in the perfect spot, obviously able to see what she likes, she giggles and pats Steve on the top of his head, and jeez, the man smiles at her touch like a huge Labrador retriever getting scratched behind his ear.

Danny has to laugh. It’s just too funny. But after Steve casts a glance at him as if to say, “What? Am I not doing this right?” Danny stops laughing.

Because even in something as simple as making sure Grace can see a stupid fucking stage with a stupid band playing, Steve wants to make sure it’s right. It’s how Steve is, really – this uncertainty that he tries so hard to keep hidden – when in his everyday craziness, Steve is all confidence and finely honed ability.

But this… when it comes to Grace, Danny’s noticed some of the most vulnerable faces on his partner.

Sometimes, Steve’s downright scared shitless – standing in what has become Grace’s room at Steve’s house (and Danny seriously needs to rethink the amount of time they spend together if his daughter has claimed a spare room and is keeping toys at his partner’s house) like a redwood amongst a glen of fairy princess and Barbie dolls, while Grace hands him one doll after another, telling him their life stories.

Steve sees Danny at the door and his eyes screamed “save me!” – wide and helpless with fear Danny has yet to see when Steve was trying to diffuse a terrorists car bomb. But, no way Danny was saving him when he could enjoy his little Gracie decorating Superman’s arms with glitter stickers.

And that’s when Danny realizes it. To Steve, they are family. Much more than just the team ohana he’d found himself immersed in not two weeks on the job. This is something different.

This is the warm look Steve is currently giving Danny, a soft, indulgent smile on his lips, as though he is silently thanking Danny for allowing him into their lives.

Now, Danny realizes the power he holds over this giant, fearless, broken man. How could he not realize it, with the way Steve’s eyes light up when Danny mentions it’s his weekend with Grace?

On Grace Weekends, Danny recalls the way Steve starts rattling off possible outings they can go on, or asking what treats he needs to have at his house for Grace, or if there is a special movie Gracie has been wanting to rent, because Steve can pick it up on his way home from work and have it – and dinner – ready by the time Danny arrives with Grace.

Holy shit. Danny is a fucking terrible detective.

Steve’s created this little family ‘thing’ around him, and he’d totally gone along with it, not even realizing. Because he didn’t mind. Because he liked spending time with Steve outside of work, and he liked bringing Grace over, and he really liked seeing how gentle Steve was with his daughter…like she was precious…

Danny doesn’t realize he’s scowling at the back of the behemoth in front of him, chewing his lip, when he feels a nudge.

Steve’s got ‘baby aneurism’ face now. “Hey. What’s up, partner?”

Danny shakes his head, forcing a smile, because Gracie is still having a blast and he doesn’t want to ruin it by running screaming into the night, because he’s just figured out his partner has a mad crush on him. And it might be... kinda… reciprocated. 

“Nothing. Not a thing.”

Steve’s not convinced. “Okay. You’re glaring at that guy, though.” Then he cracks a grin, “I’d put you on my shoulders if you really want to see the stage, Danny, but I only got room for one up here.”

Danny guffaws. “Oh, you’re funny. You’re a riot. My sides, they’re bursting with laughter.” But he smiles at Grace, who’s just noticed their conversation.

“Oh, Steve wouldn’t drop you, Daddy,” Gracie says, completely certain of the man who’s holding her.

And hell, Steve’s face is hilarious. Sort of pained, as though he’s seriously considering how to get Danny up on his shoulders, and then he laughs it off. “Oh I don’t think your dad could climb up here.”

Grace bends down to look at Steve. “But if he did, you wouldn’t drop him, though. Right?”

“No. Course I wouldn’t.”

And Steve’s being cute and silly with Danny’s daughter as they share twin grins, but seriously. There’s this little glint in Steve’s eye when he looks down at Danny that makes Danny think that there are some not-so-silly undertones to his partner’s declaration. And it makes his stomach clench uncomfortably.

So Danny grins too, because he’s trying to sort all these new realizations about his partner and doesn’t know how else to hide the fact that he’s kinda freaking out over here.

“I’ll go cut down a palm tree and make stilts out of it,” he says, pointing a finger at Steve, “put on a clown costume, get on those stilts and waltz through downtown Waikiki before I get on your shoulders, babe.”

And why does he keep using that little term of endearment? Something twinkles in Steve’s eyes as he chuckles, and Gracie just laughs at the image her Danno has conjured.

The concert ends, and the three of them are strolling back to the parking lot. Steve swings Grace down from his shoulders, catches her in his arms, throws her over a shoulder and she’s just squealing high-pitched and hysterical, and Steve looks like he could die happy right there.

Danny’s mesmerized. Steve’s all but manhandling his daughter, tossing her in the air and catching her, but he implicitly knows that she’s probably safer there than anywhere on the island. Steve won’t let her fall.

There’s a stupid grin stretched across Danny’s face, completely, but he can’t bring himself to care.

Danny tears his gaze away from the Hallmark moment when Grace sees a school friend up ahead. She slides down Steve’s chest and runs to her friend and who is obviously the other girl’s grandmother, the two of them chattering about the concert. Danny and Steve amble up, and Danny sees the other little girl nod toward them before asking Grace something.

His interest is piqued by this because Grace looks back at them and laughs, shaking her head. As they get within earshot, Gracie motions to Danny and Steve and says proudly, “That’s my dad’s partner, Steve.”

“Oh, that’s so sweet.” The elderly woman says, smiling knowingly at him and Steve and wait, what the fuck just happened? “That’s nice of your dads to bring you to this concert, honey.”

Dads? As in, plural? Danny’s mouth is hanging open and he doesn’t even fucking look at Steve because he knows, he knows the other man is so far past aneurism face and well into catatonic shock face by now.

“Oh, whoa, wait. Uh… one dad.” Danny says around a dry throat, and points fiercely at himself. “One dad. Uno. Me.” He steps in front of Steve, who is still frozen mid-step. “I’m a cop and this,” he flings an arm dismissively at Steve’s form, “this is my partner…not…partner. We work together.”

The old woman looks confused for a moment, eyes narrow and flicking between Danny and Steve, and Danny can feel a goddamn blush creeping up his neck. Even Grace is looking at him like he’s a few cards short of a deck.

“Oh,” she says, “My mistake. I saw the way you two…uh…” and she puts an apologetic hand up, “I’m sorry. I guess that’ll teach me to assume.”

Grace and her little friend return to gossiping about the concert for a minute more before they say goodbye and the three of them head for the Camaro.

Assume? Thinking back, Danny wonders if it’s that obvious between them… Christ, they must have been making googoo eyes at each other for a complete stranger to think they were a couple. If some stranger saw this…how many other people see it too?

Oh fuck him sideways. This is bad.

Danny chances a look at Steve, who still hasn’t said a word. Steve’s looking straight ahead, shoulders stiff, gait stilted. He finally catches Danny’s eye and looks… afraid? Afraid of what Danny will think.

Danny stuffs his hands further in his pockets and sniffs. “So, I was thinking…the next weekend I have Grace, we just rent a crapload of movies, order pizza and stay in.”

Because Danny’s not ready to take the elephant in the room for a ride. The feeling of warmth that traitorously spread through him at the mention of him and Steve being together, just… no. Or how right it is to see Steve with this daughter.

He doesn’t even entertain the notion of robbing Steve of his time with Grace, because if there is one thing Danny is not, it’s cruel. He might be having a minor internal crisis with regard to his partner, but he’s not about the break the man any more than he already is.

Steve needs him…needs Grace. Needs that normalcy when the week’s worth of fucked up danger and bloodshed is done.

But he could do without the public scrutiny of his and Steve’s relationship, at least until he figures out what the fuck is going on himself.

Steve’s worrying his bottom lip, like he’s not sure he can let this slide or not. “Danny…I…”

“I’m not going to order pizza with fruit on it, Steven. I don’t care if you and Grace gang up on me,” Danny helps Grace into the backseat, buckling her in, and she’s smiling at him. “Danno doesn’t do fruit on his pizza.”

“Aw, c’mon, Danno. It’s good!” Grace says, smothering a yawn. She’ll be asleep by the time they get her back to Rachel’s.

“It’s an abomination, sweetie. Period.”

Steve’s still got the constipated look, but Danny’s not going there now. Not with Grace in the backseat falling asleep, and not with the fact that Rachel will be calling soon if they don’t get her back on time.

Danny starts the car and reaches over to squeeze his partner’s shoulder. Willing him with his touch and his smile to leave it alone for now. Not the time. Not the place. But I’m not mad at you…and shit, they really are starting to act like a married couple.

“Don’t start with me, babe. You can pick out the movies if you like, but I will handle the pizza ordering,” Danny says.

Steve actually leans into Danny’s touch as he turns to stare out the window, still tense but Danny catches the look of relief passing over his eyes. “Okay, but you get a bunch of that greasy sausage crap all over the pizza and I’ll conveniently drink all the beer before you get there.”

“Sausage crap? Let me tell you something…”

And Grace is already asleep in the back seat while her father educates his partner on the finer points of pizza toppings; the elephant is still in the room, but at least for now, Danny has looked it in the eye and acknowledges it.

When he’ll actually deal with it is another story.

 

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There are the unfortunate times when Danny’s height seems to be an invitation for the bad guys to forget the guns because they think the little “garden gnome” (and okay, that one is going on Danny’s oh-no-they-didn’t list) will be easy enough to take down bare handed. And really, sometimes, because he’s had to deal with a week of Steven fucking McGarrett’s shenanigans, sometimes, he needs to hit someone. And the dick head that just called him a fucking garden gnome looks like a perfect punching bag.

So already Danny’s pushing up his sleeves, tugging his tie off and looking at the scum bag like bring it on, bitch. It’s been a shitty week, he’s still doing a damn polka around this…whatever this is with him and McGarrett – no closer to knowing what to do about it than he can fly – and this dick wad is begging for an ass kicking.

Okay. Danny can roll with that, absolutely.

The gun runners split up and Danny thought it better if he and Steve did the same. Steve slows the car down, and Danny jumps out before Steve can finish his protest.

He’ll pay for that tomorrow when he can’t fucking bend his bad knee to get out of bed, but whatever. He’s decided to take on Mongo here, by himself, while Steve literally runs down the other guy.

He only hopes that Steve realizes that the Camaro’s insurance premium is maxed out, and if he brings it to the body shop with the imprint of some guy’s face in the grill, the insurance company will wash their hands of Detective Williams for good.

And really, it’s not like he needs Steve. He can more than handle himself in a fight. When it’s all over, Danny’s got a busted lip, blood all over his new shirt – dammit – and the beginnings of a black eye, but Green Giant is laying facedown, handcuffed behind him, out cold.

Despite the aches and pains of the adrenaline wearing off, Danny feels good. He needed this.  He’s spent the better part of three weeks jumping every time Steve touched him, brushing off worried looks from his idiotic partner, and trying to find good excuses not to go out with Steve after work nearly every evening.

Danny came to the horrifying conclusion not a week ago that he was being wooed. Fucking wooed! And then he has to look back and realize that he and Steve have practically been courting for the better part of a year, and he never saw it, and he is probably the sorriest piece of shit detective in the history of law enforcement, but there it is.

So, needless to say, a good fight is the perfect way to let off some steam.

But when Steve comes jogging up, Green Giant’s partner bagged and tagged and dumped by the car like so much garbage, the look on his face is odd. Like he’s ….worried?

Oh, not this again. First the brouhaha in HPD over name calling and now this? What the hell does Danny have to do to prove he’s not some fucking damsel in distress?

Danny adjusts his sleeves, sniffing a little, noting his knuckles are bruised and bloody. Steve’s stupidly long legs eat up the distance between them and despite the guy at the car being a bloody pulp; Steve has nary a scratch on him. Show off.

“Hey,” Steve’s reaching out. He’s always reaching out theses days, and Danny finds himself glaring at the proffered hand. “Hey, you okay, man?”

“Fine,” Danny bites out.

“You’re bleeding,” Steve points out softly, his face registering Danny’s tone.

Danny shrugs, still fussing with his shirt and avoiding Steve’s gaze. “Not as much as he is.” And he gives a jerk of the chin toward the unconscious man on the grimy warehouse floor.

His cool regard of Steve’s obvious concern seems to finally sink in and now Steve’s got his hands on his hips, glaring. “What the fuck, Danny? And you call me nuts? What the hell were you thinking, jumping out for the car and taking off on your own like that?”

Danny leans back and returns Steve’s glare. “What was I thinking? I was thinking that we needed to catch the bad guys, Steven. What? Are you actually gonna stand there and pull this crap with me again?”

“What do you mean, again?”

Danny spits the blood out of his mouth off to the side, and catches Steve’s wince.

“You. In the jungle. Reviving Rambo’s lost art of MacGyvering weapons out of the foliage, taking on armed assassins by yourself – no, don’t you fucking look at me like that, Chin told me what went down. But there you were, pulling your Lone Ranger act, and yet, you were hissing at me over a SAT phone like I couldn’t take care of things myself.”

Steve pinches the bridge of his nose. “You had a tone, Danny. You sounded like you were about to introduce Stan to a whole new world of ass kicking, and it could have cost you your job, dammit!”

“I knew what I was doing, you freak! When are you going to learn that you can’t save everybody? And really? How are you going to argue with me about this, when you cannot get through a fucking day without jumping off a building or going up against a platoon of criminals by yourself?”

Jesus, Danny,” Steve wails, taking a step away and rubbing his hands though his hair. Then he turns and gets right in Danny’s face, right on top of him.

“I’m your partner, Danny, for fuck’s sake! I’m supposed to look out for you!”

But Danny is past reason now. He’s spent that last few weeks tied in knots over his partner, but he doesn’t think he can take being coddled. Not from Steve.

“News flash, partner, I’ve been taking care of myself for a long fucking time before you showed up! In fact, my life expectancy was a lot brighter before I met you,” he snarls, pointing a finger in Steve’s face.

Hurt flickers under the frustration in Steve’s eyes, but Danny is tired and bloody and couldn’t really care at the moment.

Danny throws his arms out toward his downed perp. “Look! Big fucking guy, out cold! Danny did that all by himself!”

“Danny–”

“No, Steven. What is it, you don’t trust me?”

Steve blanches. “What?”

Danny’s arms are wheeling through the air now.

“Is that it? You don’t trust that I can get the job done. You gotta have control issues over this too? Like I’m some, what? Rookie who can handle a perp one-on-one without big, bad Steve ninja fucking everyone in sight for me?”

And now Danny’s scared that this is the truth, because with all the goo goo eyes Steve has been sending him…

If this is what it’s going to be like if they… well, if Danny decides to …do something about all these feelings and signals he’s been getting for the last few months, well fuck that. Looking out for each other is all well and good, but if Steve suddenly gets the idea that he has to be Danny’s personal knight in goddamn armor, it’s not worth it.

Danny’s always prided himself on being able to handle himself as a cop. Hell, he’s usually the worry-wort in this relationship and whatever ideas he may or may not be having about taking it or whatever is between them to another level, if it screws up what they already have, no. No fucking way.

Steve’s face is crushed. “Danny. I… you know I’d never think that about you. I trust you with my life, how could you ever think differently?”

Danny crosses his arms over his chest defensively. “Well, what is this then? Because I’m getting this vibe from you lately–”

“Vibe?” Oh, Steve’s expression is bordering on fear again but for a totally different reason, Danny thinks.

“Yeah. Vibe. Like you’ve suddenly taken this protective control issue thing you already had in spades to a whole new level of annoying and I want you to stop it. If you haven’t doubted me before, then there is no reason to start now.”

 Steve blows out a breath. “Jesus, Danny. That’s not what this is about, and I think you know that.”

Danny stares into Steve’s open, honest eyes…and oh shit, they’re heading down that road again.

“I…uh…no, I don’t.” Playing dumb has never been his strong suit.

Steve cocks his head like a goddamn dog again, that dorky grin tugging at his lips, and if Danny isn’t careful, he’ll jump into Steve’s arms and kiss the stupidity off him.

“Yeah, you do.” Steve says, inching closer. “Why do you always have to be a stubborn ass about things?”

Danny tries to snort confidently, but he ends up choking, and then grabbing at his side with a wince. Nearly jumps out of his skin when he feels Steve’s fingers brush across his chest.

“What’re you doing?” Danny asks, caught between wanting to skirt away from Steve’s touch and lean into it.

Steve’s face is pinched and serious now. “Trying to see if you’re bleeding from anywhere besides your lip and nose.”

Strong, long fingers splay across Danny’s pecs, gently probing. Hands skirt down the sides of his arms, seeking permission to probe under his shirt. Steve looks up suddenly, a little uncertain, as his hands start to unbutton Danny’s shirt.

“Uh…” Danny mumbles, and this is a hell of a time to become inarticulate.

Steve’s cautious and slow, as if afraid Danny will bolt if he rushes in. “I need to see under the shirt. You could have a broken rib.”

Danny’s heart is thudding in his chest and his breathing shallow as Steve reverently pulls each button loose before spreading his palms against Danny’s flanks. God, his hands are so warm and Danny fights the urge to shiver.

Instead, he resolutely keeps his gaze on the ground while Steve brushes the pads of his fingers over the bruises mottling Danny’s torso. He’s taken a few licks in his battle with Mongo the Gun Runner, an elbow or two to the stomach, and when Steve finds a tender spot, Danny sucks in a hiss of pain.

“Sorry,” Steve whispers. When did he get so close?

Danny’s eyes flick up to find Steve’s face mere inches from his own, his breathing coming in strong puffs from his nose. But Danny can’t quite name the emotion in Steve’s eyes. Something between possessive, worry and … arousal.

Suddenly all the heat in Danny’s chest races south of the border, and Steve sees it. The exact same emotions are mirrored in Steve’s face, his throat bobbing as though trying to swallow past a rock in his throat and Danny makes the mistake of glancing at Steve’s pants…and oh fuck that was the wrong thing to do…

…shit, shit shit. The hands that are gently pushing at his rib cage suddenly flatten out into a caress sliding up his sides and this little innocent injury assessment has turned into something else entirely. Danny’s enjoying it way too fucking much.

He needs to step back. Put some space between them. Steve’s hands are easing around his back, and oh fuck, he’s actually pulling, nudging Danny toward him, and Danny really needs to step back now. Fuck if his legs aren’t getting the message, though…

There are sirens wailing in the background and reality crashes back in, ugly and loud. Danny forgot he called for backup as soon as he had his perp subdued. Damnit.

“Um…I think…” Danny gently pushes Steve’s hands off his skin. Feels the acute loss of warmth and connection, and sees something rueful and confused pinch the lines around Steve’s eyes. “I think I’m okay, partner. Really. Just some bruised ribs.”

“Yeah,” Steve agrees. His voice is sandpaper raw and he hasn’t moved out of Danny’s space. “Yeah, but I think you should get a doctor to look at those.”

Danny shrugs a little, pulling his shirt close and stepping back out of the vacuum that seems to have enveloped them. Takes a moment to breath.

“That’s rich coming from a guy who tries to go back to work after driving onto a moving barge and getting shot to hell because, hey, it’s only a flesh wound.”

The banter helps break the moment and Steve smirks, ducking his head. “It was just a scratch, Danno.”

Danny doesn’t miss the affectionate nickname and can’t bring himself to tell Steve not to call him that. “Scratch? You call two nine millimeter bullet holes in your shoulder and arm a scratch? You really have issues, you know that, right?”

“So you keep reminding me. And I can’t help it if you’re the kind of guy who wants to get Workman’s Comp for a paper cut.”

Danny sticks a finger in his face as the ambulance and HPD backup arrive. Chin’s Harley is heard rumbling in the background. “I do not– are you calling me a wimp?”  He’s fiddling with his buttons with the other hand, trying to pull his shirt back together

Steve chuckles before stepping forward and brazenly starts to divest Danny of his tattered shirt again.

“C’mon, don’t bother, Danny. That shirt? It’s a lost cause.”

“Wha-what the hell, Steven?” Bats his hands away. “First you call me a wimp and now you’re trying to get me naked or something…”

Danny really, really regrets his choice of words, because now he’s fucked up and sent them right back into that vacuum of tension. Steve’s eyes go dark, but it’s not worry twisting his lips into something of a smile.

“Oh, you’d know it if I was.” Steve’s voice has dropped a register and Danny swallows.

He’s not going to encourage that. Nope. Not with HPD and the paramedics coming over to check the two bad guys. Not with Chin dismounting his bike, looking at the scene – two bloodied criminals, a half-shirtless Danny batting Steve’s greedy hands away and Steve’s frustrated expression – with incredulity.

Danny lets that loaded comment slide and continues to slap his partner’s hands away from trying to get his shirt open for the paramedics.

One brave soul approaches them, asking if Danny is alright and Steve quickly informs the guy that his partner need to be looked at, much to Danny’s dismay. Danny lets the medic guide him to the ambulance, muttering about Steve being “a fucking handsy bastard” and passes Chin on the way.

Chin’s got one brow raised in silent query.

“What?” Danny asks.

Chin raises his hands in surrender and shakes his head. “Nothing, brah. Nothing at all.”

 

------------505050505050-----------

 

Danny’s never been so fucking glad to be 5 foot 5 in his entire life. Because this time, his life hangs on the thread of him being a little vertically challenged.

In yet another nondescript warehouse – seriously, this island is full of nothing but old hangers and warehouses, it’s like they put up real-estate specifically for the criminal element – Danny and Steve hide behind a mountain of crates while they try to agree on a plan of action. There is a table full of money, blow and Uzis, and four very well armed, very scary men from the local Asian cocaine distribution net. 

This time, Danny wants to split up again – because hey, they need to surround them to make the odds even out a little – and Steve is expressly against it. There’s a lot of hissing, hand flailing, and stage whispering as they crouch behind the crates and Danny is so very close to shooting Steve in the face, hell if it gives away their position or not.

“It’s not tactically sound to split up, Danny,” Steve grinds out, glaring for all he’s worth. He pulls his Sig from that stupid chest holster on the front of his flack jacket and it’s just ridiculous how bad-ass it looks for him to have a loaded gun on that big, broad chest.

Of course Steve ‘Batman’s got nothing on my Arsenal of Deadly Weapons’ McGarrett wouldn’t have a normal place for his holster. Oh no.

Danny shifts his weight on his haunches, his knee already giving him shit. “What is with you, tactically sound? It’s two against four you moron, how tactically sound is that?”

“Hey, I called Kono and Chin, alright? I called for back up, why can’t you be happy?” Steve’s throwing his free hand around now and that’s a sure sign he’s pissed when he starts mimicking Danny.

“Back up? What back up? Do you see anyone but us kneeling behind these fucking crates like we’re playing some sick game of hide and seek? Huh?”

Danny’s trying really hard not to point his gun in Steve’s face instead of his finger. “No! Because calling back-up does not mean the same as waiting for back-up, except in your fucked up mind, Steve. You wait until backup arrives before you storm the goddamned castle!”

Steve scowls mulishly. “I’m not storming anything, I’m wasting time back here with you pissing and moaning, yet again, about how I do things.”

Danny snorts. “Okay, lemme tell you something about how you do things, McGarrett,” and Danny knows that reverting back to his surname is a red flag to Steve of the severity of this argument, and he watches Steve’s brows dig further inward, deepening the line in his forehead and now the ‘scary eyes’ are out.

“The way you do things is going to get one or both of use killed. There is a reason for procedure, and that reason is to keep members of the law enforcement profession alive. All cops have to learn this - why you can’t fucking get that through your thick skull is beyond me. Oh wait, maybe it’s because you’re not a cop!”

“So you keep reminding me.” Steve replies in short, clipped syllables.  

Danny sees Steve’s jaw tensing, the muscle quivering, and he knows, he knows he’s probably hitting below the belt. He’s highlighting their differences again – scratching a big fucking line in the sand between Danny Williams and Steve McGarrett’s lives, but this isn’t some fond sarcasm of why New Jersey is better than Hawaii. This is fundamental to who they are.

Danny is a cop and all that goes with it. Steve isn’t.

Sometimes, Danny wonders if that’s why he’s been hesitant to imagine a future with Steve in the ‘more than just work partners’ sense. Steve McGarrett is a big scary man, with low impulse control and seemingly little regard for everything Danny has trained for, everything he’s wanted to be since he was nine years old.  

He knows Steve tries, really, he does, and he knows he trusts Steve. But still.

When Steve blatantly refuses to listen, refuses to learn, Danny feels a part of his heart reneging on this whole ‘what if’ game he’s been playing in his mind for the past few months. And if that’s the case, what the fuck chance to they really have together?

“Look,” Danny tries again, after taking a deep, cleansing breath, “I’ll circle around to the left. There’s a good place to hide over there and I’ll have a clear shot. You go around to the right and get above them. Take the high ground, or whatever it’s called. I’ll give the signal and we take them by surprise. See? It’s logical and tactical.”

Steve’s eyes are flicking around, his mind obviously playing out Danny’s little strategy and from the stubborn twist of his mouth, he realizes Danny is right.

“Okay,” he says, reluctantly. “Okay, that could work. But–”

“Good. Glad that’s settled.” And Danny claps him on the shoulder as he sneaks around him, already half way around the corner, while Steve splutters and whispers “wait, Danny – Danny” high pitched and frustrated.

Danny is in his position in a few seconds, making sure the dealers don’t see or hear him, and damn, he’s proud of his stealth. Then he sees Steve fucking Spiderman-it up some crates, slink his long body up a single chain to a metal catwalk a least fifteen feet up in the air without making a sound or even breaking a sweat.

Fuck him and his ninja skills.

He catches Steve’s eye once the SEAL is in position and nods. Then, Danny steps out into the pool of light cast by the free-hanging warehouse lights, gun held at arm’s length and yells, “Freeze! Five-Oh!”

Shit hitting the fan? Understatement of the fucking century.

Steve’s with him, their movements in sync as he pulls his huge, scoped Sig out and growling something menacing at the Asian dealers, who have now jumped so badly they scatter powdered coke and money everywhere. Danny makes a mental note not to breathe in too deeply lest he get high.

And Danny really hopes the perps are smart enough to heed the warnings. He knows he’s not that lucky when one of them, a guy with his hair spiked in a bleach blond mohawk, snatches out an arm and grabs one of the Uzis.

All Danny has time to say is a resoundingly appropriate, “Shit!” before the world around him erupts in gunfire.

He manages to get behind a crate after squeezing off a couple of shots, felling the closest perp by blowing out his kneecaps. The wood of the crate explodes in a hail of splinters around him and Danny think maybe this isn’t the best hiding spot. He can hear Steve bellowing something, maybe he’s calling Danny’s name, no way to tell over the firefight, and Danny feels his arms getting nicked by wooden shards. Little blotches of blood pepper his forearms where he’s rolled up his sleeves.

The three dealers still standing have tossed the tables over and are using them as a barricade. Danny sneaks a glance before diving behind some metal machinery for better cover, seeing Steve boldly standing his ground – honest to god American Hero complex in action – not bothering to duck or anything up in the metal walkway.  

Danny’s really going to have to have another talk with him about these Superman delusions Steve is having, because the man really isn’t bullet-proof for Christ’s sake.

Mohawk Kid is still spraying Danny’s hiding place with the uzi and Danny checks his clip before returning fire. He sees the kid’s head snap back, a plume of red spraying outward from the blond spikes and well, he doesn’t have to worry about that guy anymore.

He watches Steve duck, momentarily, behind a concrete column, before he whips around and puts two bullets in the third perp, chest and head shot. He’s still on the catwalk above the warehouse, now side-stepping his way down its length to get to a better position and firing off rounds at the remaining dealer.

The last guy standing throws his semi auto pistol aside and goes for another uzi, then cuts a wide swath with his arm, sending bullets pinging off everything around Danny like some kind of fatal rainstorm.

Danny hears Steve yell from somewhere above. “Danny?”

“Alright!” Danny yells back..

He looks over his barricade and sees the hair of the last perp peeking over the table. He’s either reloading or pissing his pants, Danny doesn’t really care. He aims at the patch of black hair.

“Throw the uzi over the table and maybe I won’t feel the need to shoot your stupid ass,” Danny says, because he’s always been good at sweet talking the bad guys out of their guns, but right now, he’s tired, been shot at, his blue shirt has wood splinters all over it, and goddammit, his tie is even dirty!

The guy yells something back in Mandarin, doesn’t exactly sound like “Yessir, officer sir”, and Danny cuts his eyes at Steve’s form above them on the catwalk.

“Did he just tell me to fuck off?” Danny shouts.

“Pretty much,” Steve replies, mildly. “Although I think the exact translation is–”

“Don’t really give a shit, Steven. I got the gist of it.”

Danny edges out from behind his cover. “Hey, asshole. You’re out gunned here. How exactly do you think this is going to play out?”

But his witty repartee is cut short when Danny notices movement out of the corner of his eye. The guy who's knee caps Danny shot out is moving, heaving a gun up from his position on the bloody floor, screaming incoherently. Danny has just enough time to swivel his gun around and shoot him before he can aim.

Which means he’s standing there in the open for the last guy, who is now stepping up and onto the side of the table with his uzi. All Danny can fucking do is look up in horror as the guy swings himself over the barricade, and shit, this is it.

This is how Danny buys it. In a stupid warehouse, with stupid fucking Steve and no back-up.

Absently, as everything slows down – like every cheesy action flick during the penultimate moment where life and death is decided in a flurry of epic heroicness – Danny thinks he hears Steve screaming. Thinks he sees Steve swinging down from the chain like fucking Tarzan, his gun reporting in rapid succession. Danny hasn’t even remembered to duck until he feels something ruffle his hair.

Then his head goes down and Danny folds in on himself, trying to make himself as small as possible, because he’s out in the open with a guy and an uzi, and really, he’s about to die.

Remembering his gun, Danny looks up from his crouch and aims, but it’s all for naught. Tarzan Steve apparently has perfect aim and the perp and his uzi crumple to the floor at Danny’s feet. Danny’s still got a hand on his head, trying to protect his hair when Steve lands on the floor and jogs up.

He must be in shock, he knows his mouth is hanging open as he absently pats at his hair while Steve makes sure the bad guys are down for good.

Danny looks behind him at the crate: one large hole punctuates the middle for the crate and it’s just about hair-level on Danny. Again, he reaches up to make sure he doesn’t have a bald spot.

Being on the short side has its advantages, Danny thinks dazedly. If he were an inch taller, he would have a bullet hole decorating his forehead.

Then, Steve runs to him, takes one look at the Danny-height hole in the crate and then goes at him full force, eyes like steel and arm extended and Danny takes a step back, because he just isn’t sure whether Steve is about to punch him or hug him.

Maybe hug, because Steve hesitates as Danny retreats, his face softening. He grabs Danny’s shoulders to hold him still; Danny thinks it’s gonna hurt when Steve crushes him to his chest and that stupid holster on Steve’s front hits him in the face.

He’s a little disappointed when Steve just stands there, hands on his shoulders (the Sig still in his right hand, pressed into Danny’s shoulder too) and breathes, long, ragged gulps of air.

“Are you alright?” Steve finally asks, brows furrowed and eyes wide. His voice is shaking.

Danny’s hand is still in his hair, trying to smooth it as he holsters his gun. “Yeah. I think so. They all dead?”

Steve doesn’t even tear his eyes from Danny’s face. “Yeah. Pretty much.” He doesn’t even check, he just knows, which is kinda scary.

Danny looks down and to Steve’s right. There’s no movement and the blood on the floor is mixing with the cocaine in a sickening pinkish sludge. Danny swallows the bile in his throat. “Okay. I better tell Chin to forget the ambulance.”

But he can’t get his phone out because Steve hasn’t let go of his shoulders.

“Steve? I would really appreciate it if you put your big fucking gun away.” Danny’s eyeing the Sig pressed to his shoulder, still clutched in Steve’s hand.

Steve snaps out of whatever daze he’s in and mutters, “Oh. Right.” His mouth lifts in a half smile.

“You know that gun is ridiculous, right?” Danny comments. Steve frowns now, looking down at the gun on his chest. “Why do you have to do everything big? Explosions, rule braking, life and death battles and now guns too?”

“What’s wrong with my gun?” Steve asks.

“It’s huge.”

“So.”

“So, what, you compensating for something?”

And really, Danny, what the fuck? The two of them nearly die in an outnumbered fire fight, Steve saves his life, his tie and his hair are fucked up now, and he has to make penis innuendo? Danny raises a hand, because he really wants to smack himself in the forehead, but he runs it over his face and through the side of his hair instead.

Trust Danny to latch onto the insanely off–topic when a near death experience has occurred.

He looks up and Steve’s face is split in a hysterical smile. His partner steps forward, as though daring Danny to retreat.

“I don’t need to compensate, Danny.” His voice is a low rumble and it vibrates Danny’s insides even from the scant distance between them.

But Danny ties to play it cool. He smirks and ends up taking that chicken-shit step back. “Yeah. I’ll take your word for it.”

Because he believes Steve’s confidence in that arena without a doubt. The Smooth Dog thing… not so much. Subtly is a foreign language for his partner.

Danny’s still got a hand on the back of his skull, massaging a dull ache there – he’s named that ache Steve for the time being – when he sees Steve’s hand come up. It hovers inches from Danny’s cheek like an aborted caress and there is something indefinable in Steve’s eyes now. It makes Danny’s gut twist.

“Are you… really. Are you okay, there?”

Steve’s unsure and that alone turns Danny’s world upside down. Steve might be reckless, dangerous, stubborn and skilled, but one thing he is never supposed to be is in doubt. It’s just wrong.

Steve obviously wants to see Danny’s head, maybe check him over from head to foot for injuries, but once again, they’re thwarted by oncoming sirens and Danny can’t help but feel gypped. He’s been strongly considering letting McGarrett put his hands on him - all over him, perhaps - and really, this isn’t the place for those thoughts.

Danny shakes his head and tries to smile as Steve’s hand falls to his side and a cloud passes over his features. “Sure. I’m good. No holes in my person, for all that you’ve been trying to get me shot lately.”

Steve’s head tilts and he makes a disbelieving sound. “Hey, I didn’t tell you to break your cover when there’s an armed, crazy man intent on your demise.”

“No, because if I followed that little line of logic, I’d never come out from behind my desk every day. Since, y’know, I work with an armed, crazy man intent on my destruction five days a week.”

Steve grins boyishly and swings an arm around Danny’s shoulders pulling him toward his side with a squeeze. “Aw, c’mon Danno. You know you wouldn’t have it any other way.”

Danny guffaws and pushes Steve away. “No, oh yes I would. I would have it my way back in Jersey, where shit like this doesn’t happen.”

“I’m beginning to think you should rename Jersey Nirvana or something. Because nothing bad ever happens there, the food is perfect and the people are angels,” Steve snarks. “Oh wait, forget heaven, I want to die and go to Jersey where I can get all my minerals in one breath.”

“This sarcasm thing? Just, no. Compared to this island and you, Jersey is safest place on earth.” Danny wags a finger at him as HPD arrives.

“Yeah, except you have to get a penicillin shot to swim in the water.”

“You know what, just shuddup!”

Kono dashes in with Chin, and they survey the damage: four dead drug dealers, blood coating the cocaine and the money littering the floor, wood splinters and bullet-riddled crates. “Shit, guys. What the hell happened here?”

Danny walks ahead of Steve and points back toward the SEAL, who is grinning like a loon. “His fault. All his fault.”

Kono and Chin share a glance and shrug, apparently willing to accept this as just another Steve McGarrett special du jour, and it’s scary to think that they’re actually okay with this.

After the scene is cleaned up and Danny has regaled their story half a dozen times, all he can think about is a shower, a lot of beer and a bed, in that order.

He’s fishing for his keys as he heads back to the Camaro, but looks up when he sees Steve by the driver’s side, dangling them. “C’mon partner,” he says, quietly.

Danny let’s Steve drive because he’s too tired to argue. But he’s not too tired to notice they aren’t heading back to headquarters where Steve could get his truck.

“Uh, Steve? Where are you going?”

“My place.” Steve answers blithely.

Danny frowns. He’s grungy, exhausted and his head hurts.

“Steve. I just want to go home and drink until my head stops hurting and then pass out.”

A shrug. “That’s fine. I’ve got plenty of beer at my place.”

Danny looks at him. In the darkness of the car, he can see a content smirk on Steve’s face. There was no way to win this with that look on his face. You’d get more out of ramming your head against a brick wall. So, Danny lets Steve drive him back to Casa de McGarrett, allows Steve to shuffle him inside and park him on the lanai with a cold Longboard.

“Be right back,” Steve says before taking off, and seriously, he’s got way to much energy to be bounding up those stairs like that, Danny thinks.

Danny slouches on the chair, loosens his tie and undoes a few buttons at his neck. He really wants to shower; wonders if Steve would mind letting him use his. At this point, he’d even take some of Steve’s clothes to change into, even though he knows he’d have to endure Steve’s laughter because the pants are too fucking long.

His head still hurts like a bitch too and Danny sits forward, running his hands through his hair, kneading his tender scalp.

There’s a big hand on his shoulder suddenly, goddamn Steve. They are really going to have to invest in a bell around his neck.

Danny jumps and Steve chuckles softly. “Easy there. S‘just me, Danno.”

Looking up reveals a freshened-up Steve, in a soft, worn tee-shirt and faded blue jeans, looking so goddamn casual and gorgeous it hits Danny in the gut. He even smells good too; how’d he take a shower that fast?

Steve’s got a beer in hand and a fresh one for Danny, before collapsing in a chair next to him, spreading his long legs out and making a slouch look graceful.

They sit in silence for a long while, just staring out at the sea, and damned if Danny isn’t relaxing from the sound of the waves and the wind and the quiet, solid presence of Steve at his side.

Danny’s starting to drift when he feels Steve shift beside him.

“So.” Steve says, and there is that uncertainty again.

Danny doesn’t even have to open his eyes to see where this is going.

Keeping his eyes shut, because damnit, he’s trying to wind-down here, Danny mutters a response. “So…?”

“So, are we gonna talk about this?”

Danny cracks an eye open to see Steve glaring at the ocean now. His shoulders are tense and his grip on the Longboard in his hand is just this side of crushing, and fuck. He wants to talk. About this. And what the fuck is this anyway?

But Danny can stall. He’s a master stall-er, learned through years of systematic practice being married to Rachel. He just doesn’t know how short Steve’s patience is when it comes to this sort of thing.

“What this?”

A beat. He can almost hear the grinding of Steve’s teeth. “This this.” A hand waves ineffectually at the intangible ether that lay between them. “This, between us. This thing.”

“I don’t have a thing.”

“Yeah, you have a thing.”

“No, I don’t. You’re the one with the thing,” Danny says, mildly aware that they have both devolved into ten year olds now. Grace has better communications skills.

Steve is now turned toward him, intense, and Danny can see that Steve’s fuse on this particular subject is rather short. Not surprising, really.

“Damn it Danny, yes you do. I’ve seen it. You know it and I know it. There is something here,” he gestures to the air again, “between us. And we need to talk about it before I go insane.”

Danny is about comment that that ship has already sailed, buddy, when Steve holds up a finger to shut him up. “Don’t.”

Danny shrugs. “Too easy anyway.” He wants to laugh it off, go back to the banter of how Steve is a loon and why does Danny have to suffer him, but he can’t.

Steve’s stare could melt a glacier, as if promising bodily harm if Danny doesn’t man up and stay on subject.

So, Danny shifts uncomfortably and takes a huge swig of his beer. “So, okay. What. What about this thing?”

Some malicious part of Danny wants to see Steve squirm on this. Since it’s his fault, really.

All the touching and the careful glances. All the jokes and shoulder bumps, the shirts that never stay on McGarrett for long because he’s a secret exhibitionist.  And the leaning into Danny’s touches like a grateful puppy.

Speaking of puppy, those eyes are back again, and Danny would really like to not be affected by them. But he is.

Steve is studying him, his eyes roving over Danny’s features until Danny feels the temperature around them heat up and he wants to tug at his collar. Steve’s searching for something and Danny’s not sure what.

Then, Steve sighs, turns away and looks defeated. “Forget it.”

“No, what? I want to know what you’re talking about.”

Steve shakes his head angrily. “If you haven’t figured it out by now, Danny, then fuck it. I’m not gonna spell it out for you.”

Okay, now Steve is insulting Danny’s intelligence. And while it’s perfectly okay for Danny to call himself an idiot for taking this fucking long to notice Steve McGarrett’s mad crush, Steve does not get to point out his flawed observational skills.

“Oh, hell no. No, you don’t – look at me you big fucking Boy Scout – you do not get to do that.”

Steve reluctantly turns back to him, hurt and frustration all over his features. Danny leans toward him and his hands come up in the ‘punctuation blades’ again.

“You do not throw this bait out there and then yank it back into your emotionally constipated vault, Steve. You got this far, talking about this thing between us – and I’m not confirming or denying said thing, just…you know.”

Oh he’s nearly derailed by the hopeful spark in Steve’s eye, “But you brought this up, so you damn well are gonna finish it. Now, use your words, Steven.”

Steve chews his lip for a minute, before shaking his head, incredulous laughter bubbling up. “You’re unbelievable. Unbe-fucking-lievable. This thing goes both ways, you know. It’s not just me.”

Danny leans back and grins. “Oh, do tell.”

Steve wipes a hand over his face and sighs. “I like you, okay? There. I said it.”

“You, my friend, are a five year old. No, really. You are.” Danny squints at him. “How in the hell do you get women to fuck you?  I’m betting a caveman move comes into play somewhere, because really, what is that?”

“I’m disarmingly charming,” Steve says, with a confident grin.

Danny nods while taking another with of beer. “Okay, I imagine the goofy grin gets you some points, but let’s face it, it’s no panty-melter.”

“What?”

“You heard me. One of those suave grins that spontaneously evaporates a girls panties. You ain’t got it babe.” At Steve’s look, Danny hastens to reassure him. “Not that I’m saying its bad or anything. It’s…you know… cute… if that sort of thing does it for you…”

And the full-on dork grin is now spreading across Steve’s face, and Danny feels those damn Hawaiian butterflies in his stomach again, and he can’t help but laugh.

“Is it doing anything for you, Danny?”

The pitch of his tone erases the levity of their banter just seconds before. Steve’s eyes are shadowed in the darkness, but for some reason, Danny’s hyper-aware of him as he leans in closer, the smile softening, more serious now.

And fuck if that statement, that tone, doesn’t go straight to his dick. Danny looks over and sees that Steve’s face has a very sincerely lustful gleam to it, and Danny wonders if this is what it’s like to have Steve Smooth Dog McGarrett working on your inner defenses.

“No. No it doesn’t.” Danny lies horribly, causing Steve to look smug, which Danny automatically hates. “I’m not the one wanting to talk about his epic crush here, buddy boy,” Danny says, and revels in the way Steve becomes uncomfortable too.

Steve looks down now, picking at the label on his beer. “So, what if I do. Have a …thing… for you.”

“You can’t say crush, can you?”

“It’s not – no. I’d rather not.”

Danny stands up and chuckles, stretching his back out in a long, satisfying arch. When he looks back, he finds Steve watching him, swallowing like he’s got dry mouth, his eyes following Danny’s body lines like a hungry man eyeing steak.

It thoroughly floors Danny, stripping him of his confidence that he’d won back the high ground in the conversation. Because Steve looking at him like that, it does things to a person. Nasty, obvious things like tenting your slacks right there for God and everyone to see.

Okay, well, that finally solves the eternal question if Danny is sexually attracted to his partner. Danny doesn’t have any hard and fast rules on sexuality, he likes breasts and beautiful women, and he can appreciate a handsome man’s physique. And now, apparently, he can do far more than appreciate; he’s been having carnal thoughts about his partner for a while now.

Danny turns and adjusts himself discreetly and he can hear Steve getting up and moving to stand behind him.

“Okay, so I think we’ve both established that this thing goes both ways.” Steve voice is low and challenging.

But Danny isn’t ready to throw caution to the wind. They have a partnership to think about, day-to-day dealings with each other that could be irrevocability damaged if they try to go there and it doesn’t work. 

Not to mention the rumor mill. Danny’s well aware by now that half the Hawaii law enforcement think he and Steve are an item, but rumors never bothered Danny too much. He’s always stood on his principles as a good, honest cop, so anyone casting aspersion on his personal life can go fuck themselves.

As Steve steals a hand over Danny’s back, a tentative caress that runs up and down the curve of his shoulder, Danny feels his breath hitch.

Okay. Fuck it all to hell; brutal honesty time: Danny wants this.

He’s tired of seeing those longing looks on Steve’s face and denying that he’s reciprocating the feelings. He’s grown accustomed to this presence in his life, during the work week and on the weekend.

The weekends he goes home to sit alone, there is a huge, McGarrett shaped hole in his heart. And even when he takes Grace out – while they always have fun and Danny couldn’t be happier – if Steve is absent, it somehow feels incomplete. Grace notices the change too, and always, always asks how Uncle Steve is, what he’s doing, can they go see him…

So, yeah. Danny is inexorably connected to this great hulking pain in his ass… who is currently kneading the pressures of all this over-thinking out of his back and shoulders. He groans before he can help it, and Steve makes this ungodly wanton noise in the back of this throat. He presses himself tight against Danny, pulling his back to Steve’s front and whoops!

Danny’s not the only one uncomfortable in his pants tonight. Steve’s considerable hard-on presses against Danny’s ass and fuck if that’s not the biggest turn on. It’s kinda nice knowing the sounds he makes can drive Steve McGarrett to distraction like that.

He wonders what other sounds he can coax out of the big behemoth if he really puts his mind to it.

Danny feels Steve’s hot breath on the back of his neck, and shit, he’s about to lean back and say fuck it to all this thinking because this feels too damn good with those hands swirling around to Danny’s front, down his abs, inching toward his waistband.

Then, they abruptly and agonizingly still, just short of Danny’s belt.

Suddenly, Danny’s shoulders are in a vice grip that, well, hurts. “Ow, hey! Easy there, Hercules.”

“What the hell is this?” Steve’s voice is tight, hushed.

Danny rotates his shoulders in an attempt to get Steve to let up. “What’s what? I was enjoying that,” he whines.

Steve’s hands, those fucking gloriously talented hands, are holding the back of Danny’s head now, moving it around, examining. “This,” he says, running a finger down a strip of Danny’s scalp through the hair.

It stings like hell and Danny leaps away from the once comfortable spot tucked against a very hard and wanting Steve McGarrett.

“Ow! Goddamn it Steve! You sure know how to kill the mood!” Danny pats at his aching head, realizing that now his hair is thoroughly screwed up all over the place. “What’s the matter with you, do you have to be a menace with everything you touch?”

Steve looks guilty for a moment, before the expression fades and why is Steve giving him the ‘Terminator’ look? “You’ve been grazed, Danny. That’s a goddamn bullet graze on you’re head!”

Danny probes around the spot, feels the scraped flesh and then remembers back in the warehouse – the bullets zinging by him as that last guy had him dead to rights with no cover. “Oh. Yeah. I thought I felt something get a little too close.”

Steve’s white as a sheet now, stricken. “Why didn’t you tell me a bullet came that fucking close, man?”

“I didn’t know? I had a headache, but working with you, that’s hardly a new occurrence. It’s just a scratch. No big deal–”

Danny can’t say anything else because his face is now crushed into Steve’s stupidly hard chest. Arms encompass him, holding him in an almost bruising grip and Danny’s starting to have trouble breathing now.

Steve,” he squeaks, sounding like Bugs Bunny getting squeezed by that abominable snowman. “Steve! Ack! You’re – crushing – me.” 

Steve’s head is buried in Danny’s neck. Danny can feel his partner’s rapid breaths.

Shut up, Danny. Jesus You could’ve… I can’t believe how close you…God, we are such stupid fucking idiots.”

And Steve’s actually shaking now. He can hear it in his voice and now Danny’s officially freaked out.

“Steve, c’mon.” After Danny’s personal vice grip eases up, he takes a deep breath and works his hands up and down Steve’s back. “It’s just a scratch, okay? A close call yeah, but–”

“Too close,” Steve whispers against this neck.

Danny shivers. So this is what it’s like when you’re the object of Steve McGarrett’s affection. He knew the protectiveness was bad, but this? Danny thinks he’ll be lucky to get Steve to let him out of the car on cases now.

There’s a major double standard here. It’s perfectly alright for Steve SuperSEAL McGarrett to take on the world, bear the scars of countless battles and assume the risks. But when it comes to someone he cares about? All bets are off.

“Hey, babe. It’s the job, okay. Close calls come with the job, you know that better than anyone,” Danny murmurs, rubbing big, lazy circles along the line of Steve’s spine.

Steve’s grip tightens at Danny’s comment, seemingly convinced now that he has Danny, he’s never letting go.

And Danny’s okay with that. It’s stupid and crazy and shouldn’t feel this good to be wrapped up in your partner like this, but it does. It feels right.

Danny fits: his big attitude, flailing hands, and not-tall stature. Right here, in Steve’s arms, he fits.

Steve’s chest rumbles pleasantly against Danny’s as Danny’s hands find a spot on his lower back, just above the curve of his ass. Danny feels the heat of Steve’s lips on his neck, right above his shoulder, and oh, his knees wobble.

A swipe of a tongue and Danny’s hand comes up to grab at the hair at the nape of Steve’s neck, shuddering under the feel of hot, wet breath and slick flesh. He definitely wants that tongue other places, licking, sucking, and lapping up everything Danny has to offer.

A feeble protest in his hindbrain reminds Danny of all the problems that arise when sleeping with your partner, your boss.

Then, Steve raises his head enough to press his lips to the shell of Danny’s ear.

“I know. But the thing is, Danno. I’m tired of losing people.”

And that wipes away any and all doubt in Danny’s mind. Steve isn’t in this for the fun of a good fuck every now and then. He’s all in, which is exactly how Danny operates.

Danny loves like he talks: big and bold, and not for the night, only to be forgotten the next morning. He just needed to know that Steve was the same way.

Steve pulls back and looks into Danny’s eyes and it’s probably the most beautiful thing Danny ever saw. As Steve crushes his lips against Danny’s, his tongue doing obscene things to Danny’s mouth, Danny thinks that the sight of Steve naked, on top of him, using those ninja tongue skills on his cock might actually be more beautiful.

After a minute of their mouths battling for dominance, because Danny always gives as good as he gets, they pull apart. Both panting, Steve’s forehead dipped against Danny’s.

“Well, I think we’ve successfully dealt with the subject of this thing,” Danny says between breaths. His hands now have free rein to explore Steve’s hard chest and ripped abs.

Steve leans in and grunts, fucking grunts, low and animal-like when Danny palms his rock hard cock over the jeans. “Uh… yeah. I think… I think we haven’t fully…dealt…with all of it, though.”

He pushes his hips into Danny’s hand, and the sound he makes nearly has Danny coming right there. It’s been a while, after all, and let’s face it, jerking off in his shower only does so much.

“Oh…okay. Yeah, I see your point.” Danny licks his lips in anticipation and Steve takes that as a sign to move this party indoors

They stumble inside, Steve’s hands arguing with Danny’s tie, while Danny divests Steve of his shirt, their hands and mouths are everywhere and yet not where Danny thinks they really should be.

Steve is working on Danny’s buttons, his hands shaking with the obvious desire to rip the damn thing off. But after a stern look from Danny and a whispered, “I like this shirt,” Steve shows that he can learn. Even if it’s killing him.

Danny loves all the looks flashing across Steve’s expressive face: lust, need, possessiveness, elation that this is finally happening, and love.

Love is there when Steve catches Danny’s face in his big hands and kisses him long and slow. Everything, absolutely everything Steve can’t communicate in words is in that kiss, and it’s overpowering.

It’s a kiss that sears Danny to the core, and really they need to be getting along with things if Danny’s cock aching in his pants is any indication.

So, Danny unbuttons Steve’s jeans and slips a hand under Steve’s boxer briefs, wrapping his fingers around the hot, hard length of Steve’s cock.

Something guttural escapes Steve’s mouth, an elongated “oooh” that’s between a snarl and a purr and Christ on crutch, sounds like that should be illegal. His partner’s head sags down, resting against Danny’s forehead as Danny gives Steve’s cock an experimental pump.

Then, Danny finds himself against a wall and Steve is ravenous in his mouth, his hands ripping off the rest of Danny’s dress shirt and pulling his belt off with an uncontrollable snap.

Steve’s panting, frantic now, and as he’s looking down into Danny’s half-lidded eyes, something pops into Danny’s lust soaked brain.

“Hey. How did you see that scratch out there?”

Steve’s sucking on the side of Danny’s neck; there will be a mark tomorrow. A brand.

But he’s undaunted by the random question and answers casually.

“Could see the divot it made in your fucking hair, Danny. I’m kinda taller than you if you haven’t noticed.”

Danny’s pretty damn sure the neighbors can hear Steve’s very unmanly yelp when Danny slaps him good and hard upside his head.

“Asshole.” Danny mutters, before he’s rendered speechless as Steve introduces him to his other ninja skills.

 

-------505050505------

 

Danny’s kinda short. Not tall. Vertically challenged, whatever. And sure, it sucks sometimes. The jokes, the inconveniences, they all get old.

But when he’s got six feet of possessive, psychotic, wickedly talented Navy SEAL wrapped around him, Danny figures that sometimes it’s not such a bad thing after all.

 

END