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Things should be fine now, he told himself as he dropped his keys on the break room table. He should be okay now, yeah? 

So why wasn't he?

The office was empty, but not for long. He knew Steve was probably on his tail; he'd been sort of hovering ever since his it's-about-fucking-time epiphany about the way a cop is supposed to behave when someone attacks his partner. He had to hand it to the guy: all that no-bullshit exterior wasn't just exterior. No bullshit, he realized he was wrong and didn't try to hide it. 

If only he'd stop giving him his very own iceman version of sad, sympathetic puppy dog eyes. Even Kono had known when to back off. Some guys were like Chin; they'd sit down and have a beer with you and tell you they had your back, and then they would prove it by doing something. Some guys apparently had to be all literal about it.

He heard Steve pull up, and he heard him come in, but he still jumped when he felt a hand on his shoulder blade.

"Jesus, Mary, and Joseph," he barked. "Warn a guy."

"Thought you knew I was here," Steve replied, sweeping around the table, dropping his keys beside Danny's and dropping himself into a creaky old chair. 

That was good, that squeak of metal was good because then at least something filled the silence. Not that there had been much actual silence, not yet, but it felt like there was going to be. There was a weird vibe in the room, like all the air had been sucked out of it. Or maybe it was just Danny's lungs. He should be breathing better, he thought, now that the ordeal was all over, but he just…wasn't. 

Danny didn't particularly want to sit down, especially not in his dress blues. After he fiddled with the coffee maker, dumping the old filter out and cursing Kono, he leaned against the door frame and sighed.

Steve nodded gravely, like he had been waiting for confirmation of something and finally got it. 

"Wanna go get a drink?" Steve said. "We could get some food, too. When was the last time you ate?"

"You know, you don't have to baby—"

"I know," he said with more exasperation than was strictly necessary. After a beat, he added, "Isn't that what cops do, though? After the formal stuff, they get drunk and talk about the one they lost."

"You're not a cop," he said automatically. 

He didn't have to look at him to know it was the wrong fucking things to say; he could feel it in his gut. 

The chair squeaked again as Steve got up, saying, "Okay. I get it. You're still pissed at me."

Evenly, he replied, "I am not pissed at you."

"You are. And that's fair."

"For fuck's sake, don't fucking talk to me about fair and not fair right now."

Steve nodded again, just as gravely, but with an annoying expression of understanding, then he suddenly swept out of the other door.

"No," Danny said, his feet carrying him out of the room, too, chasing that long, straight spine, the slight bow of his head. "Dammit," he murmured to himself.

When he got to the lobby, Steve had already stopped, apparently willing, for once in his life, to let somebody else set the pace, take the lead. Instead of being a nice gesture, it struck him as just a little smug. But that was Steve McGarrett, who was standing in front of him looking like a recruiting poster in his dress uniform. Arms crossed, he looked toward the window, but he was obviously waiting for him to explain.

"I meant," Danny started, but he was still barking a little too much, so he took a deep breath. "I meant that all the shit Meka went through wasn't fair. And that's what matters. Not how much I may or may not be pissed at you."

A smile tugged at the corner of Steve's mouth, but he just nodded and waited for it to drop away again before he replied.

"I meant what I said. You've got every reason to be pissed at me. I should've understood… I mean, with what I'm doing here in the first place, about my father…"

"Well, you understand now."

"Yeah."

Steve's voice was soft, sympathetic. That was the problem. Everybody all day had been talking in hushed tones, like it was all over but the mourning. But it wasn't over, not really, not for Danny. He still had adrenaline pounding through his body, throbbing into his head, and that kept him on his feet as much as anything, even though his back hurt like hell and he was exhausted. He wouldn't sleep, though. He kept thinking about Amy's eyes, and Sang Min's face in the rearview, and Gracie not having a goddamn clue how much he'd sacrificed to be close to her. Somehow, it was all swirling together, everything that sucked, the kind of stuff he usually tried not to think about. What was the point? 

What was the point now? he asked himself. It was over, right? All but the shitty part where people learn to live without people. They'd caught the bad guy. The good guy's reputation had been restored. 

"And now," he said slowly, relishing the anger that boiled in his stomach, not really caring that he was thinking out loud, "they're all…reverent at the funeral, like they weren't just accusing him of being a rat and a bastard yesterday. No fucking integrity. None. And that mother fucker from IA—" 

He felt his voice catch, and that should've been his cue to stop talking, or at least to do something physical, punch something, kick something. Anything not to be choking on that swollen, stinging feeling in his throat. But he continued:

"—he comes to Amy, right to her face, and says all that shit that people say, and now I'm not sure if it ever means anything, not after hearing it come out of his mouth."

"Maybe he was sorry," Steve said, his voice a little too even.

"Are you kidding me? Are you serious? Has he ever been sorry about Chin?"

Steve nodded. "I know. I do. But I also know you can't go on thinking they're in a vast conspiracy to—"

"Who the hell said anything about a vast conspiracy?" His voice was hoarse, a suppressed shout. "One asshole isn't a conspiracy. It's—"

"I just mean," Steve said firmly, pausing to catch his gaze, "you can't live like that. Gotta believe in something, you know. So believe in the job."

He could feel his hands start to shake, so he aimed his words at the floor, just like he used to when he fought with his ex-wife. He put his hands in his pockets and kept his teeth closed when he spoke again.

"Don't fucking lecture me about believing in the job."

It shouldn't have surprised him that that tone had the same effect on Steve that it did on his ex-wife. 

Steve took a step forward, right into his personal space, and said, "Why? Because I'm not a cop? Well, guess what – I'm your partner, you self-righteous—"

As soon as he clamped his mouth shut, he swooped back into place a couple of paces from him, as though something had recalled him there, recalled him to himself. Funeral eyes again.

"Will you—" Danny flailed his arms a bit. "For Christ's sake, stop walking on tiptoe around me. You got something to say, you say it. Isn't that the way it's always been with us?"

"Okay," Steve replied, and his nostrils did that flaring thing that meant he was about to be just as self-righteous as he'd accused Danny of being just now. "Okay, I was going to say I'm not sure we're so different anymore. I'm not sure you're even a cop now."

"Oh no? Do enlighten me, Lieutenant Commander" he said.

"You used a drug dealer as a hood ornament today. That was some cowboy shit."

"Says the king of cowboy shit."

"That's me. That's not Chin or Kono or you. Or it wasn't you. "

"That was one time, under special circumstances."

"Like not wearing the tie," Steve said, nodding, frowning sarcastically.

"Like not wearing the tie," he echoed, and he turned and walked back toward the workroom and the coffee maker.

He shouldn't have been surprised that Steve followed him there. The man's keys were still on the table. He didn't look like he was in a big hurry to collect them, though.

As Steve crossed the threshold, Danny rolled his eyes and sighed as he wrestled with the package of coffee filters.

He muttered, "What part of I don't need a babysitter didn't you understand?"

"The part where I've lost a hell of a lot more brothers in arms than you have, so I know exactly how much you don't need that coffee."

Danny found his hands obeying even though he sort of resented this touchy-feely crap. He couldn't call it bullshit, though, and that was a definite problem.

"Well, then, Oh Wise One, what would you suggest?"

"Sleep. Alcohol and then sleep."

"I'll take that under advisement," he muttered. 

He turned, then, only to find that Steve was closer than he realized, standing between him and the table, close enough Danny could smell sweat and cologne and mothballs.

Danny was leaning back against the counter, and hoisted himself up onto it, which finally put him at eye level with Steve again. There was another silence in the room, this one weirdly charged, so much that Stoic Steve broke it himself:

"Tell me about him."

"Meka?" Funny, he thought, but this was the first time since this whole thing started that saying his name felt like a punch in the gut.

"Yeah."

"Why?"

"Because I helped clear his name. Because he was your partner."

He was suddenly smiling, but it was that sharp kind of smile that is the last resort of desperate men. 

He murmured, "He made fun of my tie, too."

"He ever call you Haole?"

"Sometimes, yeah," he replied, still hiding behind that plastered smile. He could hear the voice echo in his memory. "He didn't mean it. I mean, he did, but it wasn't— It was a term of endearment or something. I don't know." But he did know, and it hurt.

That was it, it fucking hurt. He realized all of a sudden that it had finally stopped bothering him that he'd been taken away from his partner and the HPD, and, on top of this, that was just…

Steve smiled now, too, and Danny was almost sure it was the same kind of hiding smile. "I had this buddy in boot camp, called me Cracker. When he wasn't calling me Ken."

"Ken?"

"As in Ken and Barbie," he said, rolling his eyes as Danny failed to choke down a laugh. It hurt, the swallowing against the lump in his throat.

Steve added, "I'm not sure he ever knew my first name."

"Didn't matter, probably."

"No." 

Steve's voice had gone soft again, but that was okay. He was no longer acting like Danny was a horse he was trying not to spook. That was good. Steve pretty much sucked at putting on an act. The only way to deal with Steve was to get him to be himself, in all his cranky robot weirdness.

That's probably why when Steve stepped forward and put out his hand to touch Danny's shoulder – and he wasn't trying to steady him, wasn't doing the things he thought he wassupposed to do – it worked, the steadying. Danny didn't flinch, and he didn't resist when Steve pulled him into a sudden but tight embrace.

This was no ordinary hug, no back-slapping guy hug, not even a fierce, 'proud-of-you-cuz' Chin and Kono hug. For one thing, it went on too long. For another, Steve was standing between his open legs, and his narrow hips were just brushing the insides of Danny's thighs. 

His hands were flat on Steve's back, and when he curled them a little – nervously or tightening the hug, maybe both – Steve hand between his shoulder blades stopping its rhythmic patting and crept up to the nape of his neck for a quick, friendly rub. When Danny bowed his head at that, involuntarily, Steve's fingers dug in again and kept rubbing.

It felt like minutes, but it was probably more like seconds, and while so many alarm bells were ringing inside his head, he couldn't help but sink into Steve's arms until it was all too easy to bury his face against the man's warm neck. As he shifted a little, his lips brushed the stubble of Steve's jaw, and there – there was the limit. 

Though he was the one that jerked back, it was Steve who stumbled away from him, across the room.

"Sorry," Steve muttered, not meeting his eyes, and with that one guilty, anxious word, this was suddenly something Danny couldn't even pretend to shrug off. 

Steve was blushing. Furiously. He was so red Danny felt his own cheeks start to burn. Normally a blush is the result of a feeling, but in this case, the blush came first, and the emotions seemed to flare up on account of it. He couldn't help but feel exactly what kind of hug that had been, the kind like he'd never shared with anybody but a girlfriend or his wife. Not just comfort or support – no, this was his mouth resting against the soft skin under Steve's right ear, and it felt really right.

Blushing, Steve was frozen where he stood, wearing that right in the wideness of his eyes, now gone warm and dark.

If Danny had thought it through, he wouldn't have said anything, but he was thinking aloud again.

"No you aren't," he said.

"Danny."

"You're not sorry."

"Danny."

"Look me in the eyes, and tell me you didn't mean for that to…"

"I didn't."

"McGarrett."

Steve stepped forward to take his keys off the table, but Danny beat him to it. In one movement, he slid down from the counter, scooped up both sets of keys, and dropped them behind him, where they tumbled down into the sink. The loud jangle of metal on metal made Steve stop again, but his eyes never left Danny's, and that's probably why Danny came around the table, grabbed him by both sides of his neck, and kissed him.

For a split second, he thought he'd made a mistake: his stomach dropped as Steve met him with tight lips, his whole body rigid. His stomach dropped in a whole new way when Steve relaxed into the kiss, but only long enough to make Danny fucking desperate for more. 

Steve pulled back without quite pulling away, and in a rush of breath, he said, "I seriously didn't mean to… And if you don't want—"

"McGarrett." He could feel his hands rubbing at Steve's jawline, on that fucking perfect face of his – how is it even possible he didn't think about things this way before? – as he tried to calm his brain, but that was pretty much not happening. This so was no brain time anymore, so he said, "I want, okay?"

"Are you--?"

"Sure? No. Into guys? Apparently that's up for negotiation. But seriously, if you're gonna kiss me, I wish you'd do it sometime this century."

Steve got this familiar look of challenge in his eyes, and Danny realized that, holy shit, this was them. This was what they did. How did they not know they could be doing it this way instead? When Steve kissed him again, really kissed him, backing him against the counter with his hands on his hips, his teeth grazing the inside of Danny's lower lip, he was instantly sure he was the only one who didn't know they could've been doing this all along. It was a dizzying feeling, like the world had turned upside down, but he had the curious feeling it was a turn for the better, maybe even to the way things were always supposed to be.

Steve was tall. He knew that. It bothered him at first that he had to tilt his head back so Steve could kiss him, but he got over that right about the time Steve's mouth left his and reappeared at his neck, hot and wet and kind of viciously teasing right under his jaw as he loosened his tie so he could push back his collar and nip at the join of his shoulder. He swallowed down a moan. Too soon, Jesus Christ, too soon. But this was… This was something like he'd never felt, or at least like he hadn't felt in so long it was the same difference. Arousal you didn't have to initiate and nudge along; you just had to brace yourself as it hit you.

He couldn't help but gasp when Steve pushed their bodies flush together and he felt the hard line of his dick against his hip. That was all it took to make him rock hard, too. Desperate to maintain a little control, he nudged Steve's face back up toward his, so he could kiss him hard and dirty, which was challenging because Steve groaned a little and Danny couldn't help but smiling smugly into the kiss. Of course, he wasn't smug for long. A split second later, Steve's fingers were working at the button on his pants.

"Can I—?" he asked into Danny's neck, even as he worked the zipper. His fingers were already brushing against Danny's dick through his boxers.

"Can you what?" he replied reflexively, but when Steve got his hand around him, he said, "No, I take that back. You can. Whatever, you can."

Steve grinned and dropped to his knees. 

For a half a second, Danny felt this sick, swooping feeling in his stomach – here was another guy pulling down the front of his boxers, about to suck his dick – but when Steve took his hand and placed it on the back of his own neck and said, "Don't pull my hair too hard," Danny stopped wondering what the hell he was doing because that? That would've been stupid. 

Of course Steve was good at sucking cock. Good at taking directions, too. No, not just good – he liked it. Danny was startled to realize he knew that already, like he knew so many things about Steve only a lover or a partner would know. Keeping control by giving up control. A part of him was already thinking about making Steve fucking lose control. 

But that part could wait. Danny was right on the edge, but he'd been there all along, so tightly wound he needed to get off in the worst way but too worn out to quite get there.

"I can't like this," he finally said through gritted teeth, fingernails curled into the back of Steve's neck. "Not today."

Once Steve got back to his feet, it didn't take long. A palm with familiar calluses worked him at a pace that seemed just short of fast enough, but then it all began to catch up to him, and it barreled down on him like a freight train. 

In his ear, Steve wasn't talking, just breathing, steady and hard, but as Danny felt his body going so tight it was shaking a little, Steve murmured, "Come on."

Danny didn't come hard, but it was still a welcome relief. He was glad to have the counter to lean back against. Steve rested his forehead against Danny's neck and tucked him back into his pants as he came down, and he was breathing just as hard as Danny was. 

Steve's head instantly shot up again when Danny fumbled at his fly.

"You don't have to," Steve said. "That's not why I…"

"Do you always talk in nervous half sentences when you're screwing around with someone? Because that could get really annoying."

He was about to offer a retort, but then Danny reached into his boxer briefs. As his eyes fluttered shut, he said, "Fuck." 

"By the way," he said at Steve's ear, "I know that's not why you…" He grinned to himself as he finally worked Steve's waistband up over his dick and down his hips a bit. "And that's not why I'm…"

"I hate you," Steve muttered, but it was hard to take him seriously when his mouth fell open and stayed like that, just because Danny was dragging his thumb over the head of his dick. He was glad to realize that the angle was different, but the mechanics of jerking off were apparently pretty much the same. 

Danny said, "How long you wanted to do this, hmm?"

"This, specifically?" he replied as calmly as he could.

Danny jerked him a little slower, with a bit of a twisting motion that made him shiver.

"No, unspecifically."

"What do you want to hear, Danno? That I wanted to fuck you the first day I met you?"

It was Danny's turn to flatten his voice so he wouldn't squeak. For some reason, there was something stupidly hot about McGarrett being so vulgar. "Is that a fact?"

"I wanted to grab you by your fucking – ridiculous – tie – and shove my cock down your throat."

"I'll need some practice, then, I think," Danny said. 

"You can have – oh, fuck, oh my fucking – oh god. You can have all the practice you want, just don't –"

A few strokes later, Steve came with a grunt and a thrust into his hand that knocked him a little off balance. 

As Steve got his breath back and tucked himself back into that pristine Navy uniform, Danny washed his hands…after he took their keys out of the sink. He suddenly felt a little hysterical, like the past couple of days – hell, the past couple of minutes – were finally catching up to him. Those minutes, in particular, were kinda ridiculous and a little fucked up and really pretty perfect, and he couldn't help but shake his head and chuckle to himself.

Steve coughed, then he said, "So, any idea when the big freakout is going to happen?"

"The one where you're my boss, or the one where you're not a woman?"

"I don't give a rat's ass about me being your boss."

"I see." He really did. Steve looked just a little squirrelly all of a sudden. "You really think I might flip out and punch you or something?"

"No."

"If you thought so, you wouldn't have started anything."

"I wouldn't?"

"No, you wouldn't. You think things through first at least that well."

"You're right. But that doesn't mean you won't get weird about it."

"I'll let you know if that happens."

"I'm serious, Danny."

"I'm serious, too. I'm too old not to be honest with myself about what get my rocks off, and while I never in a million years imagined it would be you, I have imagined it could be a guy."

"Sure."

"Why not? Because I'm from Jersey?"

Steve shrugged.

"Oh," Danny said. "I get it. Because I'm a cop. You oughtta fucking know better, Mr. Navy SEAL. Just because we usually don't ask and we definitely don't tell, that doesn't mean we don't have…fun."

"But you've never had that particular kind of…fun before?"

"I'm starting to think you're gonna be the one to get weird. Weirder, that is. You interested in marking your territory or something, McGarrett?"

He frowned dramatically. "It's too soon to—" He cut himself when Danny raised his eyebrows.

Too soon. Danny's brain prompted all sorts of sarcastic rejoinders, but his stomach did this flip. Definitely felt too soon – probably because it also felt inevitable, and he hadn't been looking for anything like that, no sir. 

Still, Danny managed to flash him a wry smile as he said, "I'm okay with handcuffs, but I draw the line at dog collars, just so you know."

Steve just snorted. "Apparently, you used to draw the line at men, too." He grinned at him slyly.

"Well, look at you, all pleased with yourself, assuming this wasn't just a one-time thing."

"Special circumstances, then?"

"Something like that."

"As someone once said to me, if you thought so, you wouldn't have started anything."

"Is that so?"

"That's so.

"Yeah," Danny said. "That's so. But don't let your head swell too much or you'll never get it through the door." He picked up their keys and held Steve's out to him on one of his fingers.

"Where are we going?"

"I seem to remember talk of drinks. I could use something clear and brown, and with absolutely no mercy."

"I know a place."

"What if I know a place?"

"Then we'll go to your place."

"Does your place have a good jukebox?"

"No jukebox."

"Even better." He gestured towards the door. "Lead on."

As they stepped out of the building, squinting against the late afternoon sunlight, Steve stopped and said, "Never in a million years?"

"Hmm?"

"You never in a million years thought about me that way?"

"You're too pretty."

Steve frowned dramatically. Yep, awfully damn pretty, but that suddenly didn't seem like a bad thing, not at all. It looked different on him now than it did before. Danny knew it was his eyes that were seeing things differently, finally looking past partner, boss, self-destructive guy bent on revenge. Of course, he was still all those things, and that was going to be…mighty interesting.

"And tall," Danny added. 

"C'mon, you're what? Five six?"

"Something like that."

"Surely you've dated girls taller than you."

"Oh, so we're dating now?"

Steve clenched his jaw and grimaced at him. 

Danny grinned and said, "Yes, I have. Doesn't mean I liked it."

"Oh, you liked it," Steve said, seductively low but annoyingly matter-of-fact.

Danny shook his head and climbed into Steve's passenger seat, but as the car waited to pull out into traffic, Danny said, "Maybe a little."