Danny put up a valiant fight against Steve taking over his entire life. But in a small corner of his mind Danny had already accepted that, for some reason known only to Steve, he was stuck with the guy for the term of his natural life.
The way things were going that wasn’t going to be too long.
“Fuck. Fuck this fucking day,” Danny yelled with feeling as he ducked back down behind the crates (thank God there was always crates). He popped off another shot, and heard a member of the drug cartel start cursing. The guy kept cursing, and Danny swore again, more quietly – he’d only winged him.
Huddled behind the crate, Danny took a moment to collect his thoughts. Unfortunately, his thoughts were pretty scattered, and mostly focused on Steve’s military campaign against his personal space, which he could admit weren’t strictly relevant to the situation.
But it wasn’t as if Danny’s average day presented many opportunities for quiet introspection. And hey, they were down to their last two bad guys in this particular situation. So as long as there was a lull in the fire fight he was going to cut himself some slack and have a think about Steve, and the fact that he was having a hard time thinking about anything except Steve, and that this was probably part of Steve’s plan. Because Steve definitely had a plan somewhere in a neat folder marked “Befriend Danny”.
There were certain upsides to Steve’s aggressive take on friendship. Steve could charm Danny’s ex-wife, grilled a great steak, and was handy with any weapon imaginable including on one memorable occasion a perfectly-grilled steak.
Danny peered around the crates to check on Steve and saw him almost decapitate a guy with one sincere swipe of a trash can lid. Danny’s guy was still cursing and crashing around somewhere, so Danny popped up again and fired a few more shots in his general area.
Now this? This was one of the many, many downsides to being Steve’s metaphorical conjoined twin, the fact that he was possibly becoming blasé about situations that could leave his daughter with no father. There were in fact plenty of downsides to spending most waking moments with Steve. Aside from losing all perspective about personal safety, the major one being that Steve’s idea of right and wrong was a little bit different from that of other police officers. Or, you know, other civilised people. Other downsides (this being the selected highlights of Danny’s long list of Steve’s faults) included Steve’s disregard for Danny’s personal space, his inability to dress more formally than someone going for a massage, and his death-wish-inducing taste in music.
And all this was purely academic, because Danny and his list of Steve’s faults did not get to cast a vote on whether Steve became his not-just-cop-partner, because Steve just moved into his life and settled in for the duration.
Danny’s guy stumbled around the crates, swinging his gun up.
“Time for my daily near-death experience, huh?” asked Danny, raising his hands. His heart kicked up a beat, as he considered that tomorrow morning he might not be able to bicker with Steve over breakfast. Because he would be dead.
The criminal blinked, trying to clear away the blood dripping from the bullet crease on his temple, so he could get a good shot off. Danny, instead of coming up with something useful like a plan to disarm the guy, found himself wondering if Rachel would let Steve see Grace once Danny was dead.
It was about then that Steve dropped from the top of the pile of crates, wrapped a tanned forearm around the guy’s neck and squeezed. A few seconds later, Steve let the guy flop to the ground, and stepped forward with that stupid grin on his face.
“We’re really going to give the dry-cleaners a job this time, aren’t we?”
So, about the dry cleaning, co-habitation, and theoretical post-death child visitation rights.
A few months back, Steve had ambled into 5-0 headquarters with Danny’s dry-cleaning slung ruggedly over one shoulder. He had then casually dropped the fact that it was Danny’s dry cleaning into a conversation which up until that point had largely centred upon how veterinary-student-turned-master-criminal Jason Huff could have smuggled so many endangered lizards out of the state undetected.
Using his reasonable voice, Steve explained that Danny had told him the name of his drycleaners (a fact which Danny would deny with his dying breath), and also mentioned that he probably wasn’t going to have time to pick up his dry cleaning that day. This apparently meant that it made perfect sense for Steve to pick it up for him.
Danny yelled a lot about how it only made perfect sense to Steve, and that was because Steve was damaged in the head.
But the next morning Danny got to put on a nicely laundered shirt, instead of the shirt that one of Jason Huff’s illegal lizards had crapped on. It was hard to be angry about that.
The next time Steve did the thing with the dry cleaning Danny still asked him to stop, mainly to keep up appearances.
The time after that, Danny said a distracted ‘thanks’, and kept working on Steve’s paperwork.
That was the way it always went. Steve did something that a normal person would never do. Danny explained to him why it could never happen again, and in fact, why it should never have happened in the first place. Then Steve would continue doing it until he had desensitised Danny and Danny gave up.
And then? Then Steve would rest on his laurels for a day or two, if Danny was lucky, before launching his next attack.
They’d been patting down a couple of gun runners when Steve had mentioned, “I picked up our dry-cleaning yesterday. You owe me $43 man. Rika said she had a hell of a time getting the blood out of your Hugo Boss shirt.”
“Wait, ‘our’ dry-cleaning? We,” Danny swirled the hand that wasn’t pinning the perp to the wall in space between him and Steve, “we do not have joint dry-cleaning. I have dry cleaning that you have inexplicably decided to pick up.”
Steve kicked his guy’s legs apart to frisk his thigh area, and looked at Danny with those big dopey eyes. “It would be an ineffective use of time for me to take your dry cleaning to one place, and then my dry cleaning to another place.”
Danny huffed out in frustration, “What could you even be having dry-cleaned? Your t-shirts come out of five-packs that you buy at the supermarket. Those t-shirts, Steven, are the only thing you wear, along with your seemingly unlimited supply of cargo pants, which are Army surplus. I am positive, positive, that the Army does not make cargo pants that are dry-clean only.”
“Can you just get on with it?” grouched one of the gun runners.
“You don’t like the service, put it on your customer feedback form,” Danny replied. He hated it when criminals interrupted just when he was about to win a conversation with Steve.
So yeah, then they had joint dry-cleaning.
But of course Steve wasn’t satisfied to just insert himself into Danny’s daily schedule. He had to go and make himself part of the fabric of Danny’s life.
It wasn’t until Grace asked where Uncle Steve was that Danny realised Steve had hung out with them every weekend for a month. He spent a day mulling over this while he and Grace made their way around an interactive dinosaur display. Grace took mercenary advantage of his distraction, and ended up with a stuffed dinosaur as big as Kono.
On Sunday, after returning Grace and the dinosaur to the maw of Stan’s mansion, he drove over to Steve’s house on a fact finding mission. Steve was doing some gardening, which was pretty innocuous. But when he saw Danny, he started to look shifty.
Danny stood there with his arms crossed, and tried to work out a subtle plan of attack. Nothing came to mind so he kicked at a clump of grass and said, “So, uh. Where were you yesterday? Spend the weekend fighting back the forces of nature? Grace missed you.”
Steve sighed and put down the weed he was apparently trying to turn into mulch with brute strength. “I thought you might want some time with her. Without me there.”
The shock of Steve even considering that Danny might not be thrilled by his constant presence could have killed Danny. And he would have enjoyed the moment, if it weren’t for the fact that it felt wrong for Steve to sound unsure of his place in Danny’s life. His place in Danny’s life was at Danny’s side, driving him slowly insane. Steve should feel secure about that.
“Look, if I want you to stop doing something I will tell you. Like I did on Thursday when you hit that guy around the face with a Pineapple to get him to tell us where Tran Nguyen was hiding out,” Danny explained.
“It was the only thing at hand. We didn’t have a lot of time,” said Steve defensively.
“I know, let’s – let’s just not revisit that, okay? What I am saying is that you need to be ready to go to a play about Cinderella at 11am next Saturday.”
Steve grinned, as if Danny just offered him a family outing to a surface-to-surface missile trade show.
“It’s not gonna be that fun. Wipe that smirk of your face,” Danny said, trying to fight his own smile.
Steve just grinned wider. Danny decided that Steve was probably a lost cause.
On one of the weekend-sleepovers-at-Uncle-Steve’s-house that followed, Danny had to duck outside to talk on the phone with the DA about a guy who killed his neighbour because they couldn’t agree on which of them a stray cat had adopted. Danny quite frankly thought it was pretty grim if you were fighting to the death for the affections of a stray cat.
So he had a long conversation about evidence, and testimony, and the fact that the DA can’t find a good plumber. He went back inside, and Gracie was crying.
Steve looked a little helpless, and Danny was about to rush in and save Grace from Steve’s attempt at comforting her. But then Steve had gotten a look of incredible tenderness mixed with steely life-and-death determination. Danny knew that look. That was ‘I am going to climb this cliff with a broken arm’ face.
And then, without any prompting or coercion, Steve shared his feelings. He told Grace how sad he was when his mom died, and how he didn’t feel like he had any right to be that sad all the time. He told her about how he’d felt, after a while, that he should just feel better already, but that he’d still felt sad anyway.
“I know mummy and Danno are happier now, but I miss…I miss them,” she said in a heartbroken little voice.
Danny wanted to shoot himself. Or possibly drive over to Rachel’s and beg her to take him back.
“I don’t want them to be sad again, but…” Grace trailed off.
Steve stroked her hair, and said, “But you can still be upset that things are different now. It doesn’t mean you don’t like the way things are, you’re just sad that the old thing is gone.” She nodded wetly into his sleeve.
Danny caught his eye, and Steve bit his lip. Steve was happy to barge into every other aspect of Danny’s life, but was more tentative when it came to Grace. Danny smiled encouragingly, knowing it came out tinged with grief. It was a hell of a thing he and Rachel had done to their little girl. But she was turning out okay.
Quietly, Danny slipped outside. After fifteen minutes of looking up at the darkening sky, he headed back inside, making sure to close the door loudly.
Grace’s face lit up when she saw him, as did Steve’s, and he had to swallow down a thick ball of emotion before he swooped forward to re-braid Grace’s hair. Steve had clearly given it his best shot after the crying had petered out, but it was more than a little disconcerting to see his baby girl with a hair-do like a female Marine.
It was a hell of a thing that the country had done to Steve on behalf of Danny and Rachel and every other law abiding citizen. But Steve was turning out okay.
Two weeks later, Danny drastically downgraded his projections for Steve’s re-assimilation into normal society. Because normal people? Normal people did not do the things that Steve did.
“You should move in with me,” Steve said while he and Danny drove around a serial arsonist who had promised to show them his lair if they sprung him from jail for the day. (Incidentally, there is no way to quantify the depth of Danny’s surprise that anything could stay dry enough on this island to catch fire.)
“What?” said Danny. Because that’s the best he can do at short notice, when presented with that sort of monumental, unexpected Steve-weirdness.
Steve shrugged. “You’re there a lot anyway. And you never knock.” What really got Danny is that there was no accusation in Steve’s voice. Steve clearly thought he was putting forward a reasonable argument that was likely to sway Danny.
“No. Thank you. But no. I am happy to continue visiting your lovely home as a guest, but I feel no need to move out of my perfectly serviceable apartment.”
“Your apartment is not perfectly anything. It was on his list,” Steve added, pointing with his thumb to the guy in the backseat. The arsonist was an architecture student with neo-classical leanings who had aimed to rid Hawaii of ‘the darkest moments of its architectural history’.
Danny threw a glare towards the back of the car, but refused to let himself get side-tracked. “No thank you. Also, No. I am happy with my apartment, because it is my apartment, just as your house is your house. This is what normal co-workers do. They live in different houses.”
And Danny just knew that Steve was going to say something about the island way of life, and he was going to use some Hawaiian word for family, and Danny was going to fold like a wet paper bag.
“Man, what are you thinking? It is not a renter’s market, dude, and this guy is offering you rent-free digs,” said the arsonist, from the back seat.
It was bad enough when Danny’s mother gave him unsolicited life advice. He was not going to take it from actual criminals. With a finger pointed for emphasis, he snapped, “The state will be picking up the cost of your accommodation for some time to come, okay. So I do not need your opinion on the rental market.”
They drove in silence for a few minutes. Danny didn’t kid himself that it was over.
Then Steve looked over at him, and asked guilelessly, “So, is that a yes?”
“It’s that shed over there,” interrupted the arsonist.
Steve pulled over to the side of the dirt track, and Danny handcuffed the arsonist to the back door grab-handle. He wandered over to where Steve was peering into the shed with his torch.
“Holy crap!” said Danny, his voice rising a bit in an instinctual reaction to being this close to so many things that could kill him. “Have you ever seen so many flammables in one shed before?” he asked.
Steve cut him a sideways look and grinned.
Danny rolled his eyes, and said, “Apart from your own shed.”
“It could be your shed too,” said Steve. Danny called the bomb squad. Steve would make the worst real-estate agent ever.
A week later, Danny went and lodged form W-12 (Change of Address) with HR. He then went to inform Steve, in a suitably sarcastic way, that yes, he would move in with him.
Steve grinned, “Great. Kamekona’s cousin said we can borrow his van to move your stuff on Saturday.”
Danny hated being a foregone conclusion, mainly because he never saw his surrender coming. Each time he convinced himself that he would call a halt to Steve’s madness, right up until the point he’s agreeing to it, strapping on the bullet proof vest, and running after Steve into some life-or-death situation. Or co-habitation, which made just about as much sense as the other situations Steve dragged him into, and would probably end just as poorly.
Surprisingly, it turns out that actually living with Steve is no more annoying than spending time with him in other contexts. The only problem about living with Steve is everyone knowing he’s living with Steve.
Detective Tang, voted the HPD officer most likely to die by picking a fight with someone bigger and meaner than him, chooses a very bad day to be the first person to give them grief about co-habitation.
Steve, who had been catching his breath and trying work out if he’d broken a rib, had gone from relaxed to SEAL in an instant.
Dead calm, he said, “None of your business, man.”
Tang did not take a hint. “It sure is my business when two haole faggots keep making messes like this for the rest of us to clean up.”
Danny knew a lot about Steve. Right then, he knew that Steve was exhausted, on a massive adrenaline high, and incredibly sensitive when it came to people disparaging his team-members. Danny’s day had not gone well, and he could see it is about to get worse. McGarret had the look of a man who, if there was a trash lid at hand, would be killing.
So Danny chose the lesser of two evils and got up in Tang’s face himself, and yelled, “This is an incredibly stupid thing to do, considering that one of the men you just called a faggot is a government-trained killing machine and we are literally, literally, surrounded by the bodies of the last people to piss him off.”
For a moment, Danny thought he had averted the disaster. One of the human traffickers who was still alive let out a gratifyingly well-timed moan. Tang looked taken aback. Steve calmed down, and even started to get that thrilled smile he always did when Danny gave him a compliment.
But then Tang recovered from the shock, and said to Steve, “You always let your wife take care of business?”
Danny lunged, and by inserting himself between Steve and his target managed to catch Steve before he did something stupid like breaking a cop’s neck for being a homophobe.
Steve wrenched out of his grip and took a couple of short steps away. He stood there, breathing heavily through his nose and staring at something in the distance. Danny called it his ‘breathe through the killing impulse’ face. Mainly because Danny was pretty sure that’s what it was.
So Danny gave him a moment. And then he decided to nip this sort of behaviour in the bud, because it would be exhausting to talk Steve out of killing people every time they implied that it was a bit gay to live with another man to whom you were not related when you were both in your 30s and relatively financially secure.
“What the hell was that, huh?” Danny rounded on him. “You think I have never heard those words before? You think life as a blond curly-haired five-foot-seven cop in Jersey was a walk in the park in 1998? I do not, do not, need you to defend me like I’m some blushing virgin.”
Anyone else would have been stymied by the blushing virgin crack, but Steve just looked affronted (which admittedly was better than homicidal), like Danny’s being totally unreasonable, “I’m the leader of 5-O and I will not listen to anyone disrespect my team like that.”
“What, so you get to punch him in the face?” yells Danny “Where does it say in the Police Procedure Manual that you get to punch a fellow officer for insulting your subordinates?”
Tang looked on with confusion. He had insulted a lot of people over the years, and it has never quite gone down like this before.
“I don’t give a damn about the manual. I’m the team leader, so I get to let him know that his comments are inappropriate.” Steve made a Danny-influenced gesture that said ‘clearly’.
“You could file a complaint. How about that? Form G-27 is the one you are looking for, my friend.” The way Steve was standing there just being all Steve wound Danny up even further. “And you know what,” he poked Steve in the chest, “You know what, if anyone gets to punch him it’s me.”
“Oh what, so if I do it, it’s unreasonable, but if you do it, that’s fine.” Steve had clearly failed to realise that this was not a time for logic.
Danny vibrated with rage. “Yes, that is fine, because I am an adult, and I can deal with my own problems. And if this jackass” Danny gestured to Tang, “wants to be one of my problems,” Danny made an eloquent gesture encompassing all of his problems, “then yes, my fist” Danny held up the fist, “can be the solution.”
Steve had got his hands on his hips by then, with his lips pursed, clearly ready to launch into a good bickering match. The fact that he was still smeared in blood from the guys he’d put down in hand-to-hand combat didn’t stop him from looking like a housewife whose husband was late for dinner again.
Chin hauled off and punched Tang. It was a pretty soft punch. He looked as Steve and Danny, his whole face one big eye-roll, and asked, “Can we go back to the office now?”
Unlike Tang, Grace is totally on-board with Danny’s change of address. She had decided that she and Steve were BFFs, and it made Danny feel better about the whole situation to see Grace feminise Steve’s manly house of manliness one set of Barbie clothes at a time.
“We need to have nicknames for each other, like Danno and I do,” said Grace, with a serene and solemn conviction that she spoke an unshakeable truth. Steve looked a bit confused, and Danny settled back to enjoy the show.
“Well we don’t have to. Not everyone has nicknames,” says Steve. Danny judged this to be a weak effort at nickname avoidance.
“Danno says that you’re not good with people so when you say something mean I have to tell you that it’s mean but not get upset,” Grace said with solemn disappointment.
Steve shot Danny a steely glare, and Danny grinned harder. Actually, he’d told her that Steve had had some bad things happen that had made him not good with people, but he was glad that she’d edited a bit.
“Well what did your daddy call you?” Gracie asked. Danny bit his lip and shot Steve a questioning look, but Steve shook his head almost imperceptibly.
Steve looked thoughtful, but Grace was patient. After a few moments, he replied, “Usually he just called me Steve. But, uh, one time when he was really proud of me, he called me Champ.”
“Maybe you can call me that,” said Grace.
Catching the look on Danny’s face, suddenly picking up on the vibe and worried that she was asking for too much, she added, “Just when you’re really proud of me.”
For a horrible moment, Danny was sure Steve was going to say no on some pretext about it being a boy’s nickname. Steve had his ‘working through my emotions’ face on, and eventually he looked at Gracie very seriously.
“I guess I’ll have to call you that all the time then.” Steve licked his lips, and added “Because I’m proud of you all the time.”
Grace smiled her pleased little smile, and threw her arms around Steve’s neck with the calm conviction that Steve would hug her. Danny wondered if there’d ever been anyone else who was sure Steve would hug them back.
So Danny started to think that being Steve’s housemate was nice. Domestic, like the good times with Rachel, only without the passive-aggressive notes left on the kitchen counter.
They were going through the financial records of a chewing-gum import company, trying to find any evidence of payments for assassinations, and Steve looked like a teenager being forced to do his maths homework. Danny, even though he was equally as bored, liked to think he was radiating an air of professional interest in the piles of files that surround them.
Suddenly, Steve looked up from his paperwork and perked up. Danny started to feel a bit queasy.
“Find something?” he asked, half hopeful (because dear God, this was boring) and half fearful (because the next part of his day would probably involve stopping Steve violating The International Declaration of Human Rights).
“No. But I just had a great idea,” Steve said. “We should consolidate our bank accounts.”
Chin and Kono exchanged a look, and stood up as one person.
“We’re going to get lunch,” said Chin.
“On the mainland,” added Kono.
Danny gave them a distracted wave as they left, while Steve kept smiling at him expectantly.
“I can’t believe you are suggesting this. You know what, why are you suggesting this? Tell me why, huh?”
“Because I’ve got half my father’s money and ten years of all sorts of danger pay sitting in a bank account. The only things I buy are clothes, food and board wax,” said Steve.
Danny realised that Steve would in fact just give him a lump sum if he had even the slightest hope that it would be accepted.
“And why the hell do I need access to your apparently vast stores of cash, huh? I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but I’m not exactly paying rent anymore.” Steve smiled a little at that, clearly remembering victories past.
Danny leaned across the files and poked him in the chest, “So come on, what possible reason is there for us to pool our finances?”
Steve shrugged, “It would be good if you didn’t have to worry about money. You could do anything Grace wanted. Hire some better lawyers if there were any more custody disputes. Fly your parents out to visit.”
If anyone else said something like that, Danny would take offence. But Steve was wearing exactly the same look that he’d had on when he’d handed over the Dolphin Hotel tickets. The look that said Danny was the greatest father ever, and it was Steve’s honour to provide him with the tools required to get the job done. Danny was helpless against that look.
There was nothing short of that look that could have induced him to head down to the bank with Steve to fill in the paperwork to consolidate their accounts. He and Rachel hadn’t consolidated their accounts, and they’d been married. But by that point, Danny thought that it was starting to look like marriage was a lesser commitment than being liked by Steve.
It turned out that Steve went to middle school with the woman at the bank who put through their paperwork. Apparently they had science class together, and Ho’olana’s enduring memories of Steve are all focused on how much of a geek he was.
“I’m not saying he wasn’t a hottie, even then, but brah, you should have seen him when Ms. Lim was lecturing. At first everyone teased him because we thought he had a crush on the teacher, but it turned out it was just crushing on the science,” she shook her head and laughed, and Steve smiled good-naturedly.
“But you two are a cute couple. I’m glad to see he found someone who could put up with all the geeky stuff he likes,” she added.
“Yeah, because being a geek is the hardest thing about him to put up with,” Danny replied, letting her assumptions about their relationship go through to the keeper.
At first, when people had assumed they were dating, Danny had tried to correct them. He quickly realised that his corrections didn’t make him look like a straight man whose best friend was an emotional octopus. Instead, his corrections made him look like a closeted, homophobic, self-hating asshole. So he’d given in. It wasn’t like he’d been going on a lot of dates anyway.
As the transfer process is going through, he got a look at Steve’s balance. His balance. Their balance. Whatever, that thing was huge.
“You have this much money, and yet whenever we get drinks I pick up the tab. You jerk.”
Steve looked completely unrepentant. “Well now when you pick up the tab, you can pick it up with my money.”
Ho’olana looked at them like they were a gingham-lined wicker basket full of kittens, and gave Danny his new bank card.
Danny liked to think that he was not one of those dicks whose main focus on life is money. If that was the case, he wouldn’t have become a cop. But as they drove back to the office, Danny found he couldn’t stop thinking about the money. (He’d already decided he was going to think about it as ‘the money’, not ‘their money’ for at least a few days, to ease himself into it).
“So when did you get all this money, huh? Because I know you didn’t have it eight months ago, otherwise you would have just gone to the ATM instead of robbing the police evidence lock-up.”
“I had it then, but it was tied up in investment and properties. No way for me to get at it in 3 hours,” Steve explained, in the tone of voice normal people would use to explain why there was no juice left in the fridge.
Danny boggled a bit, and then asked, “So what? You cashed in all your shares? Why would you do that? It’s hardly going to earn as much interest sitting there in a savings account.”
“Next time, we can go to the ATM,” said Steve, shortly.
“You mean you have liquidated your assets in preparation for a ransom demand?” Danny asked, his voice rising in pitch and volume, because what the hell.
“Yes,” said Steve. It was simultaneously the sweetest and most terrifying thing Danny had ever heard.
“You want to stop for some lunch at that place you like?” Steve asked, after the silence went on for a minute.
Lying in Steve’s guest bedroom that night, Danny spends half an hour wondering if he should feel emasculated. He was brought up to have some pride – in fact, his parents stuck to a doctrine of personal pride as if it were a religion. He thinks he would feel ashamed, living in Steve’s house and using Steve’s money, if it wasn’t for the fact that Steve was clearly a huge vulnerable wounded ball of neediness.
Because by this point, it had become very apparent that Steve had longed his entire life for a family that would never leave him, and, having created just such a family wanted to give them everything. Literally everything. He would give them his house, money, the shirt off his back. His life. And he would do so because he needed to. Needed to take care of them and lavish them with love.
Danny was proud, but he had realised already that when he said ‘yes’ to Steve, he was giving him something that was necessarily in order for Steve to hop out of bed each morning.
Speaking of, he heard Steve get up, off on one of his nocturnal prowls around the house. After a month of living with him, Danny hadn’t figured out if the guy couldn’t sleep, or if he was doing a perimeter check, so he hadn’t bothered him before. But after Steve didn’t go back to bed for an hour (Danny’s noticed he’s been looking a bit tired), Danny went after him. He found Steve standing in his father’s study, looking down at the spot on the floor where the old man fell when he was shot.
Steve was aware Danny was there, of course. So Danny knew that Steve didn’t mind Danny finding him looking like that.
“What’re you doing up?” said Danny casually, leaning back against the desk.
Steve remained still.
“Because when I’ve heard you before I thought you might be doing some ninja thing, checking for bad guys, but here you are, being morose. Understandably morose, but y’know, pretty morose.”
Steve looked up at him, too tired in too many ways to argue. “I have this dream, okay.” He was speaking in a low, quiet voice. “Where I wake up and I’m alone. Everyone’s dead.”
Danny imagined Steve waking up from that dream to an empty bed, walking through a quiet house, and out onto a deserted beach. He wondered what Steve had to do to convince himself that the dream wasn’t real, and had a sudden bizarre image of Steve sitting outside his apartment with a infrared heat sensor.
“Alright. Come on.” He hooked a hand around Steve’s arm, and pulled him back towards the master bedroom. He prodded him through his door, and back into his bed. Knowing that it would in no way improve Steve’s idea of what the boundaries between them should be, he flopped down next to him.
Steve gave him a look, and Danny suddenly thought he understood some of the pleasure Steve got from surprising him.
“Just go to sleep, Steve. If you have the dream, one look at my peacefully sleeping face will let you know that everything is right in the world.”
Slowly, Steve lay down, as if the whole situation might be some sort of trap. Danny dozed, and eventually Steve snuffled and flopped his way over, until he was nestled along Danny’s side.
When Grace came over that Friday, Danny was too wiped out to sit her down for a talk about why Daddy was sleeping with Uncle Steve. Also, he hadn’t really worked out why Daddy was sleeping with Uncle Steve.
She seemed okay with the situation when she woke him up by launching herself onto the bed between them Saturday morning, demanding Steve take her swimming. Danny chalked it up to youthful adaptability, and hoped that his little girl would escape the situation without any of the stress headaches that Steve had caused him.
Then he got home from a very long Monday, and checked his phone messages.
Danny had just become resigned to being one of those families who needed an extra chair brought over for parent-teacher evenings. With Steve in the mix, the situation was verging on the absurd. They were about one person away from needing to hire an event organiser to do a seating chart.
Principal Marsden welcomed them all cordially as they filed into his office.
“Nice chairs,” Danny said, glaring at the four plush little arm-chairs crowded around one side of the desk. “Maybe you could have taken some money out of the chair budget for sensitivity training.”
“That’s why we’re here, Mr Williams,” began Marsden.
“Detective Williams,” cut in Steve.
“Detective Williams, that’s why we’re here. To discuss the incident and ensure that there is no repeat.”
“The Incident. That’s cute. Some kid called Tommy made my daughter cry by telling her than me and Lieutenant Commander McGarrett here are freaks of nature, un-American and going to hell.”
“Well, that’s quite a nice summation of things, Daniel,” said Rachel, but there was no sting in it. She’d been as upset as they were when Grace had spilled out all those horrible things that little boy had parroted to her.
“So what I want to know is who are his parents?” asks Danny.
“Mr and Mrs Simek,” the Principal replied, casting another nervous look at Steve, who had decided that his SEAL face was the right expression to wear for a parent-teacher conference.
Danny is perplexed. Well, he’s angry as well, but he’ll get to that in a moment. “How do we know Mr and Mrs Simek? When have we ever done anything gay around them?”
“Apparently they read about your relationship with Commander McGarrett in the Hawaiian Mirror, which ran a two page feature on prominent gay servicemen following the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”
“Was the tone of the piece congratulatory?” asks Danny, because this matters. This matters to him a lot, because he doesn’t mind people thinking he’s gay but he is not okay with people giving his daughter a hard time, whether it is little Tommy Simek or the Hawaiian Mirror.
“Salacious might be a more adequate description,” concedes the principal.
Danny sits back and presses his lips together, hands flung wide, and says “I see.”
“Stay calm Daniel. I realise this is unacceptable, and we will address it, but you need to stay calm,” says Rachel. Danny hates it when she uses the word ‘calm’ more than once in a row.
Stan has wisely decided to keep his mouth shut for this one, and Steve seems to have gone into some pre-verbal fugue state of SEAL preparedness. So as the task of dealing with this has fallen to Danny, he thinks he is very calm.
“I am calm,” says Danny, using his ‘calm voice’. “I am very calm considering that we,” he makes a broad gesture that takes in everyone on his side of the table, “we pay you a lot each year, to ensure our daughters’ scholastic and general wellbeing. I am quite pleased on the first count, considering her excellent grasp of spelling and the life-cycle of the sea-anemone.”
“Yeah, that anemone poster was awesome,” Steve pipes up.
“Thank you Steven.” Danny says. “Setting that aside,” he mimes setting his daughter’s academic greatness to one side, “I find it very distressing that in this otherwise very pleasant environment she faces the sort of backwards prejudice that I would expect from his graduating class at Annapolis.”
Steve is playing along. It’s their angry cop, scary SEAL routine. “Actually, my graduating class are a really nice. Did I tell you Hill and Martinez have gotten engaged? We’re invited to the reception, but not the ceremony. They want to keep it small.”
Danny gives him a pained look, and then turns back to the principal. “Right, so men who are trained in a hyper-heterosexual environment, who are shaped into soldiers by having homophobic insults yelled at them, these men would actually be nicer company than the little boy you are subjecting my, our, daughter to.”
He feels he’s laid out his case quite eloquently, so he leans forward making his best, ‘your turn now’ gesture to the principal.
The Principal takes a moment to gather his thoughts. “Detective Williams, I understand your frustration.” Danny could feel the vein on his temple start to pulse, because unless Principal Marsden had also spent a day chasing down a drug cartel in a shirt that a junkie had puked on, only to return home at 11pm to find a voicemail message from his ex-wife saying his daughter was being bullied because of all the gay sex he was not actually getting, then no, Principal Marsden was not even close to understanding his frustration.
Some of it must have shown on his face, because Marsden moved on quickly. “I can assure you that we too find this situation unacceptable, and we have policies in place for dealing with this.”
“You do, do you. So is that why my little girl came home crying because someone little…little kid had taught her a whole new meaning of the word ‘fairy’?”
Rachel placed a warning hand on Danny’s arm, and Steve stood up. Danny wasn’t quite sure what Steve was going to do, but when Steve stood up that decisively, it usually ended with someone calling the fire department.
“Steven, calm down,” ordered Rachel, and the shock of it was enough to stop Steve from voicing whatever dire threats he’d been working on. Once he had folded himself back into the plush armchair, Rachel continued.
“As you can see, this situation is very upsetting to everyone in our family, as well as our daughter.” She gave Stan a look, and he made a facial expression that was a good approximation of ‘I am upset by the ambient feeling of homophobia here’.
“So to begin with, you will implement that policy you referred to, which calls for disciplinary action to be taken against the boy, and for him to be separated from Grace. As your policy so eloquently puts it, it is not her job to raise his consciousness. Furthermore, as there are people whose jobs it is to increase tolerance towards gays and lesbians, you will employ some of those people to hold seminars for your students and staff. If you do not take these measures in an appropriate time frame, as determine by us, we will withdraw our daughter from your school and take legal action.”
Principal Marsden looked slightly grey.
Danny grinned, relaxed now. “Can I just say, that is a lot more fun when you’re doing it someone else.”
“Really, Daniel,” Rachel scolded.
And that’s that. Danny leaves the principal’s office with a vain hope that the rest of his day will run as smoothly.
“We should have sex,” says Steve, as they’re eating dinner that night.
Danny keeps chewing his lasagne, because Steve has inadvertently built up Danny’s tolerance for weird suggestions.
And in one way, it’s not completely out of left field. If everyone, up to and including some kid neither of them had ever met, thought they were knocking boots, there was probably a reason.
But in another way, it took Danny by surprise. Because Steve hadn’t done anything in the expected order, Danny had come to half believe that maybe all this was just Steve being weird, and had nothing to do with sex or love or romance.
So he ate some more lasagne, and then said. “That is a strange thing to say to a guy over dinner, out of the blue.”
“We sleep together,” points out Steve, and Danny just knew that was going to come back to bite him later.
He pushes the lasagne away, not hungry any more. In fact, he’s feeling bizarrely panicked, because as much as he had expected this he had not seen it coming. And now that his life and Steve’s are inextricably bound together, it all seems suddenly like a very bad idea.
All along he’s been thinking about how broken Steve is, how much Steve needs him. And he’s never stopped to consider that he’s not exactly perfect, and maybe Steve doesn’t need him. Maybe Steve would in fact be better off without his whole freakshow, and it’s too late. Because he isn’t just suck with Steve. Steve is stuck with him.
That is how he finds himself standing in his dining room, trying to argue himself out of sex with the love of his life and co-owner of said dining room.
“I am not a good prospect. Even my mother does not think I am a good prospect.” It was true. Danny’s mother had just been telling him last week that he was never going to meet girls the way he was going on.
“Why not?” asked Steve, in what Danny felt was a deliberately obtuse way.
“For a start, I am a flight risk. If Rachel and that jerk move again, I’m moving with them.” It hurt him to say it out loud, to even think it standing here in the house that had become his home, and why hadn’t he thought of this before he put his name on the deed alongside Steve’s?
Steve shrugged, “I had coffee with Stan yesterday –”
“I’m sorry, you had what? You had coffee with, you had coffee with my ex-wife’s new husband. How is that appropriate? How is that even possible? Where did you get his number? And, by coffee, do you mean that you abseiled down the side of his house, crashed through his kitchen window, duct taped him to a chair and threatened to kill him with a percolator?”
Steve waited him out, and then replied, “I got his number off Grace. We caught up for coffee before work. I asked him about his plans, and he says he’s settled here.”
Danny boggled a bit. “I have been trying for months. Months,” He held up a finger to punctuate just how much he had been trying, “to get Rachel to give me some oblique sign about their intentions on that front. I have not received so much as a cryptic crossword clue, and you get it out of him over a latte.”
Steve shrugged with his lips and said, “It’s all about having good lines of communication, Danno.”
Danny wanted to punch him in the head a bit.
“Alright, this? This is the second reason why I am not good boyfriend material.” Steve smiled dopily at the word ‘boyfriend’, and Danny clipped him across the back of the head. He was having a crisis here and he needed Steve to focus. “Concentrate! My personality is death to intimate relationships. The yelling and the anger and the things are not good when you have to live with someone.”
“Rachel and I were talking about that,” began Steve, but he stopped at the look on Danny’s face.
“How is this my life?” said Danny, but he was feeling calmer. Because it was starting to look like all of Steve’s seemingly impulsive relationship decisions were in fact based on sound intel. While Danny had been sleepwalking into this thing, Steve had been taking care of practicalities.
Steve took Danny’s complaint as a sign to go on. “The problem with her was that she took it all to heart. When you yelled at her, she thought you meant it. That’s not a problem we’ll have.”
“When I yell at you, I mean it,” said Danny, very seriously, “I mean it with every fibre of my being.”
Steve grinned at him in that stupid way that said ‘I’ve got a wonderful personality, why would anyone not love me’ and replied, “Sure, Danno.”
Danny took a time-out from the conversation by putting his hands up to cover his eyes.
“Not everyone looks upon kids from a previous relationship as a plus,” he said eventually. It was the only way he could bring himself to say that other dates, back in the time before Steve had convinced Hawaii that Danny was gay, had not been thrilled to find out about Gracie.
Steve put on his ‘I thought we already had this conversation’ face, which usually meant that he had decided something and assumed everyone else agreed with him. “The house is kid-proofed, and I’ve already said that I’m not going to skip out on Gracie, no matter what.”
“But do you get that you will now be my…boyfriend, partner, whatever, instead of my room-mate. This is a different kind of commitment. You’re committing to parenthood.” Danny said this last part slowly and clearly, in the hope that it might sink in.
“It won’t actually be any sort of change for her. She already thinks we’re together. We do live together. And sleep in the same bed. And I went to that parent-teacher thing.”
Danny wanted to point out that these things were Steve’s fault.
Steve continued, “But she’s fine with it. We talked about it when we went shopping together, and she said that it was all good as long as I was nice to you and she got to be the flower girl at any future wedding.”
Danny was slack-jawed, a heady mixture of disbelief, outrage and relief running through his veins. “You cannot just go around having important conversations with my daughter and not tell me about them.”
“Sure I can. I’m her Step-Steve,” and Steve looked so genuinely pleased about the fact that Danny didn’t have the heart to argue the point any more.
“You’ve got answers for everything, haven’t you?” asked Danny, a grudging smile settling on his lips, his heart starting to slow down from its panicked tattoo to a thrum of contentment. Steve adopted a look of false modesty, startling a laugh out of Danny.
Steve sighed, and put his hand on Danny’s shoulder. “So you’re divorced, you’ve got a daughter, a hair trigger temper and an inability to assimilate. I love all those things, because I love you. It’s not like I’m perfect.”
“That’s very true,” Danny said automatically, before he smiled softly and qualified it. “You’re pretty close though.”
If Danny’s life wasn’t completely rubbish at every turn, at this point he would have got to make wild love with Steve. Instead, Steve’s phone started to ring, and a moment later they were running to the car to answer Kono’s call for backup.
When Rachel called to say that she was bringing Grace in to see Steve in the hospital, Danny hated her a lot. It was only Rachel’s protestations that Grace had insisted that stopped him from getting the lawyers involved. He went down to wait in the lobby, so he could prepare Grace for how Steve would look. Nasal cannula, IVs in his arms, heart-monitor on his fingers, sheet pulled up half-over a black-bruised chest, head shaved above his left ear where they had stitched up the head wound, and a heavy dressing on the slash across his shoulder.
He knelt down in front of his little girl and told her that Steve had got into a fight with a bad guy. That Steve had won, because he always did, but that the bad guy had hurt him a bit first. That Steve looked bad, but that he would be fine in a week or two. He didn’t tell her that when he’d burst into the room, Steve had been staggering on his feet, still fighting with one arm hanging uselessly, blood sheeting down his face. Danny had shot his unarmed assailant in the shoulder and hadn’t felt a twinge of guilt.
When Danny walked back into Steve’s room with Grace, he stopped and stared. Steve was sitting up in bed, a blanket pulled up to his waist, wearing a pyjama shirt and a beanie. A sheet had been thrown over all the monitoring equipment, all of which was sitting inert. Apart from looking a bit tired, Steve looked completely normal.
Grace hovered at the door, looking uncertain, clearly trying to reconcile Steve with the description Danny had given her.
Steve grinned, “Hey Champ. Are you going to give me a hug?”
Danny vaguely noticed that there were two nurses standing in the corner of the room, watching Steve very closely. Human heart monitors, he thought a little hysterically.
Grace returned Steve’s grin, the horrible ageing worry leaving her little body. She shot over, crawling up on the bed, hugging Steve around the waist.
“Careful, Gracie,” Danny admonished, “Steve’s still a bit sore.” But his warnings were unnecessary. Grace was giving Steve a tender, relieved cuddle while he stroked her hair.
“The bad guys shouldn’t even bother. You and Danno always win,” she said.
Steve looked so pleased. He shared a smile with Danny, and Danny felt some of his tension fall away.
“Yeah, it takes more than some lousy bad guy” (a group of heavily armed Rangers who had turned mercenary after 13 years of running Black Ops) “to put a dint in your Danno or Super-Seal.”
Once Danny had dropped Grace back off with Rachel, he returned to Steve’s room. Steve was lying down, back as he had been before. He was grey under his tan, and as Danny came in one of the nurses headed out.
“Detective Williams. We’ve given him a very strong painkiller, so he’ll be out for a while. But you’re welcome to sit with him.” There were perks to everyone thinking that Danny and Steve were domestic partners.
“Thank you, for uh, the thing that you did.” He was too tired to be articulate, but she got it.
“When he started to remove the monitors we thought he was trying to escape. Again. But then he said that his little girl was coming in, and that he didn’t want her to see him that way.” Danny felt a smile bloom, completely unexpected as his day thus far had not been the sort of material from which anything nice generally grew. It would have made him crazy to hear anyone but Steve call Gracie ‘his little girl’.
“Where did you get the pyjamas?”
“Courtesy of the gift shop, along with the beanie. Think of it as a thankyou present from the Islands.”
When she left Danny alone with Steve, he took his time straightening Steve’s sheet, running a hand over his face. Eventually he leaned down, and kissed Steve on the forehead. “Thank you.”
A little smile curled across Steve’s lips, and he mumbled, “Love you, Danno.”
“I know.” Danny replied.
Once Steve was no longer on a significant dose of Morphene, Danny chose his time and place carefully, but quickly. Because he knew that if he left things too long, Steve would pick a time and a place, and the time would almost certainly be a crime scene and the place would be an alley with a dead rat in it.
This night was going to go well, and Danny was not above using Steve’s tactics to achieve his objective. He sent a threatening text message to everyone they knew, telling them that radio silence was in operation for the duration of the night, and he would kill, actually kill, the first person to call either of them. And then the cooked his mother’s pot roast, set the table with a candle he’d found in Steve’s survivalist panic room, and put on one of Steve’s terrible easy-listening cds.
Steve wandered in from the lanai a few minutes later, dripping on the floor as he moseyed over trying to find the source of the smell. Danny sent him off to put on a shirt and wash his hands, which combined with cooking the pot roast, gave him a horrible moment where he was pretty sure he was being possessed by his mother’s spirit all the way from New Jersey.
But then Steve came back in, grinned at the candle, and slid into his seat in one languid move.
“So the whole civil partnership thing usually involves putting both names on the lease, getting joint bank accounts, and giving each other medical power of attorney,” said Danny. Steve looked politely confused, confirming Danny’s suspicion that Steve already knew all these things, and had in fact been stealth-marrying Danny all along.
Danny glared at him a bit, just to let Steve know that he was on to him. “Seeing as we have already done these things, Steven, we are, in effect, already quite married, apart from the cake and the sex.”
“I don’t really like cake,” said Steve. Danny manfully ignored this piece of information that had no doubt been carefully planned to really turn his crank.
He planted his hands on the table, and leaned forward to look Steve in the eyes, “Listen. This is important, you get that? Important.”
“I’m listening,” said Steve.
“I talked to the Governor, and she said that our immunity extends to HPD’s fraternisation rules, so –”
“Wait, you talked to the Governor?” Steve interrupted.
“Yes. I talked to the Governor,” said Danny defensively.
“That is completely inappropriate. She’s my boss,” Steve commented with a frown.
And that? That was a bit too much. Danny threw his hands up and stalked a few paces away from the table. “You talked to my daughter. You talked to my ex-wife. You talked to my ex-wife’s new husband! And she is not your boss. Because if she were your boss, she would stop you from doing the insane things you do, rather than having a few longnecks with you afterwards. What’s more, I cannot believe you are picking a fight about this, when I am trying to ask you to marry me.”
“Oh,” said Steve.
“And now, instead of making the heartfelt speech that I had planned, I get to pop the question at 100 decibels,” said Danny, as if this was Steve’s fault.
“I’d like to hear the speech,” said Steve.
Danny loosened his tie, and set it aside. Then he unbuttoned his top button. Steve’s mouth went dry, and he was suddenly sure that this was going to be the greatest speech he had ever heard. “Steven McGarrett. It has come to my attention that I love you and want to spend the rest of my life with you here, even as salt water corrodes my car and sand fills every pair of shoes that I own. You can teach Grace to surf, and she can go to Hawaiian school with her friend ‘Aukai on my weekends. I will forgo a tie and wear my top button undone, even in the workplace, except for court and disciplinary hearings. I will apologise to Kamekona and any other Hawaiian who I have been in some way culturally insensitive to, apart from the criminals. When I am not doing any of these activities, or performing my duties as a law enforcement officer, I will dedicate a decent amount of time to doing unspeakable things to you in our large bed. In short, I will make my home here, on this lump of volcanic rock, with you.”
Steve looked turned on, wrung out, and totally wrecked. Danny found it very gratifying.
“I still won’t eat fruit on pizza,” Danny said, just to be clear. Although he had a sneaking suspicion that once Steve had spent a couple of days congratulating himself over his success as a covert groom, he would start in on Danny’s pizza preferences.
Danny could live with that.