Don't read too much into it.
That's what Steve told himself every time Danny's gaze went soft when he looked at Steve or when he'd open up and relax or cautiously imply that maybe, possibly Hawaii wasn't as bad as he first thought. That's what he told himself when other people would mistake them for a couple and Danny would just shrug it off like it wasn't a big deal or when he and Grace would invite Steve to spend the day with them.
That's what he would try to believe when Danny would let Steve drive his car without a word of protest or would lean into Steve's touches or reach out on his own.
That's what Steve forced himself to think on a daily basis. Except it was pretty hard to do that when Danny was sprawled out next to him, all wild blond hair and three days of stubble, dressed indecently in a thin white t-shirt and pale blue boxers even though Steve was pretty sure he'd gone to bed alone last night.
Steve wasn’t imagining things; he could feel Danny’s heat across the few inches that separated them. Danny was warm and loose and pliant and in Steve's bed and Steve wanted to touch him more than he’d wanted anything in his entire life. He hadn't been there last night, Steve was sure that he would've remembered that. What he did remember was a long day, more than a couple of beers and Steve telling Danny that he shouldn't drive home.
He remembered tossing a blanket and a pillow on the couch because the spare bedroom didn't currently have a bed in it. He remembered Danny saying goodnight, looking sleepy-eyed and far too approachable in his buttoned down shirt that was opened at the collar.
And now that he thought about it, he maybe remembered waking up to Danny crawling into his bed in the middle of the night; his low, rumbling complaints soothing Steve back to sleep.
Danny was still rumbling a bit; a soft, steady snoring that Steve would have smirked at if he hadn't been too busy panicking. Because Danny had crawled into bed with him and Steve was having a hard time not reading into that.
So instead of giving himself an aneurysm, he pushed the sheets aside and slipped out of his own bed like a thief. Because obviously if he was considering reaching across the distance between them and wrapping himself around Danny, then what he really needed was a dunk in the nice, cool ocean to clear his head.
Five miles and twenty minutes later he stood dripping in the kitchen clutching a damp note penned in Danny's awkward scrawl. Picking up Grace. Come for dinner, it's taco night.
The blanket was folded mostly neat and the pillow was stacked on top, and it was like Danny had never been lying curled up next to him in bed less than an hour ago.
Steve shook his head, tossed the note in the trash, and stripped on the way to the shower. He didn't think about Danny's sleep warm skin or the way his mouth had been soft and pink or the way his boxers had bunched up around his thighs. He didn't think about any of it as he scrubbed at his skin and jerked off mechanically. He didn't know whether he should swear or sigh when he picked up his toothbrush and found that it was already damp.
Steve wasn’t entirely sure how taco night became a thing. All he knew was that it was something else he shouldn't read into because then twice a month he might not have a standing date with Danny and his daughter where Danny heated up the ground beef, Gracie tore apart the lettuce, they both snitched at the cheese, and somehow Steve had been put in charge of cutting things.
He lined up tomatoes and avocados on the cutting board and listened as Grace chattered about the fourth grade and how she got to spend an extra fifteen minutes on the computers because she got a good behavior star for five days straight and how Aaron Michaels had a loose tooth and it had come out during gym when he got hit in the face with a volleyball.
"Is he the one that kept tripping you in the hallways?" Danny asked, tossing random spices in the skillet. As far as Steve could tell he'd never used the same spices twice but somehow it always seemed to taste good anyway.
"Mmhmm," Grace nodded, her mouth full of cheese. "There was blood everywhere it was totally gross."
Danny hummed thoughtfully but when he caught Steve's eye he grinned unexpectedly and it suddenly hit Steve that Gracie was undoubtedly responsible for the wayward volleyball. He probably shouldn't high five a kid for nailing a bully in the face, but he couldn't stop himself from hip-checking her gently and winking.
Grace giggled and Danny clapped his hands together and said, "All right, troops, let's get this food on the table."
Two weeks later Steve was thinking fondly of taco night (and how Grace humiliated him in Battleship, because seriously that kid was a shark) and hoping that they’d be able to find Able Sargent’s wife in time. It wasn’t looking good and they’d been up for so long that Steve was starting to see double.
“Dammit,” he said, tossing down a stack of files.
Danny looked up at him, blinked, and rubbed his eyes wearily. “We’re not doing anybody any good right now,” he said finally, and Steve hated to agree with him, but they were chasing their tails at the moment.
“We’ll pick this up tomorrow,” Steve said. “Get some sleep.”
“You too, Rambo,” Danny said around a yawn, and it was only when he started to head for the door that Steve realized that he was going to try to drive himself home.
“Whoa, whoa, whoa,” Steve said, getting up and striding over to him. “No way are you driving when you’re this tired.”
“I’m not waiting for a cab,” Danny said, “I can be home by the time one got here. And no,” he said, cutting Steve off when he opened his mouth, “I’m not sleeping on your couch, it’s a menace to my back. Look, I’ll be fine,” he continued as Steve tried to unlock his jaw and spit out what he wanted to say, “I’m a big boy, I’ll be careful.”
“We did okay the last time you stayed,” Steve managed, his eyes looking just over Danny’s left shoulder.
“Yeah,” Danny said slowly, “but you owed me for not warning me about how bad the couch was.”
Steve looked at him then, took in sleepy blue eyes that were crinkling at the corners as he smiled softly. “Danny,” he said, all exasperated impatience, and then Danny was waving his arms and saying, “All right, all right, don’t nag,” as he walked up the stairs.
“No that’s your job,” Steve muttered, but he didn’t follow Danny up. He straightened the files and checked the locks and set the alarm and took five deep breaths before he headed up after him.
Danny was already face planted on the bed, his shirt and pants thrown across a chair, and Steve hurried through his nightly routine before crawling into bed next to him, trying not to jostle too much.
“You got me a toothbrush,” Danny mumbled, face half covered by a pillow.
Steve swallowed. “I just figured-”
Danny’s hand reached out to pat him clumsily on the arm. “Thanks,” he said, then almost immediately started snoring.
Steve laid there quietly in the darkness, the heat of Danny’s hand seeping into his skin. “You’re welcome,” he said finally, and then closed his eyes.
They caught a break fourteen hours later and ended up in a high-speed boat chase that had Danny swearing and clinging to the side boat, looking green. When the kidnappers took a hard right all Steve heard was, “Son of a bitch, they dumped her,” before Danny peeled his grip off the side of the boat and flung himself overboard.
Steve’s hands tightened on the wheel to keep himself from jerking the damn boat around and going after him because his job was to catch the assholes who did this so that they wouldn’t do it again. Instead he called Chin who was back with the Coast Guard and reported the situation, then ran the bastards down and was maybe a little rough while incapacitating them and hauling them back to dry land.
“Looks like you got a couple of live ones,” Chin smirked, as Steve yanked the struggling kidnappers off the boat.
He nodded once, but his eyes were glued to Danny who was talking with Sara Sargent, his hand on her shoulder as she was checked over by the medics. Danny didn’t look injured at all, just soaking wet, which meant his clothes were clinging to every line and curve of his body and Steve found himself completely incapable of looking away.
He swallowed hard when Danny ambled over in his direction and said, “She’s doing good, just shook up some. I called her husband; he’s going to meet her at the hospital. You get the guys?”
“Yeah,” Steve said, his voice scratchy and rough.
Danny peered at him through narrowed eyes. “What?” he asked, suspicious. “What’s wrong?”
“Nothing,” Steve said too quickly, wincing a bit as he walked back to the car.
“Oh, yes, please be more convincing,” Danny said, falling into step beside him. “But seriously, you need an EMT to look at you or something? You’ve got Constipated Face, did you pull a muscle being a hero?”
“I didn’t – ” he huffed out a breath and glared at Danny over the top of the car, then rolled his eyes when Danny smirked. “Just next time give me a heads up before you hurl yourself off a speedboat, okay? You could’ve knocked yourself out or something,” he said, getting into the car.
“I get this from you, Mr. Leaps Tall Buildings in a Single Bound?” Danny asked, sliding in next to him. “Also, reciprocity, look it up.”
“Reciprocity?” Steve asked, trying for amusement. Because Danny usually took up a lot of space in the car what with the whole broad shoulders and flailing hands thing, but now with his pants clinging to his thighs and his nipples hard against the wet fabric of his shirt it was like all the air had been sucked out and Steve was finding it hard to breathe.
“Yes,” Danny said, “As in, the day you start looking before you leap, I will perhaps update you in the way you seem to desire.”
Steve took a slow, deep breath and deliberately relaxed his grip on the steering wheel, keeping his voice light when he said, “Hey, at least now we know you actually do know how to swim.”
When Danny started to rant, Steve let his lips curve up in a smile, but didn’t take his eyes off the road all the way back to Danny’s apartment.
“Come on in, I’ll just be a minute,” Danny said, stripping off his wet shirt.
Steve averted his eyes, feeling ten kinds of fool, and wandered into the kitchen, trying hard not to think about Danny peeling off his wet clothes no more than ten feet away. He smiled as he caught sight of two new drawings that had been put up on the refrigerator. One was of what he could only guess was a mermaid, her red hair streaming around her head, and her body ending in a lopsided fishtail surrounded by other fish and what might have been a dolphin jumping over the blue waves.
The other one took a moment to puzzle out, and Steve slipped it from underneath the rainbow magnet to take a closer look at it.
"The teacher told them to draw their families," Danny said, walking out of the bedroom barefoot. He was wearing dry pants now, but his shirt was still half unbuttoned and he was carrying his socks and shoes in his hand.
"So this is you, Rachel, and Stan?" Steve asked, disbelief coloring his tone. He wasn't one to disparage the artistic talent of an eight year old, but the figure in the middle in a dress looked too short to be Rachel, and she was holding hands with the taller blond figure that Steve had already pegged as Danny because he was wearing a tie.
"No," Danny said easily, bending his knee up to put on his sock. "She figured to be fair she had to do two. She made one of her, Rachel and Stan to give to them, and she gave that one to me." He slipped on his other sock and stood up to tuck in his shirt and button it up the rest of the way.
"Okay," Steve said slowly, "So who's the other-" he stopped abruptly and swallowed hard when he realized who the tall, dark-haired figure on the other side of Grace might be.
When he looked up, Danny was watching him calmly, hands in his pockets. "Grace’s not used to me letting people hang around with us on a regular basis, so she figures you must be something special,” he explained. “She’s gotten pretty used to you.”
Steve dropped his gaze, blindsided and baffled, the paper trembling a bit in his hands.
"I'd say it doesn't have to mean anything,” Danny added, “but she's my baby, and if you break her heart I'll have to kill you."
When he looked back up, Danny was half-smiling, looking solid and brave and unafraid. Steve licked his lips and didn’t look away as he said, “Well, I’d hate to disappoint anyone.”
“C’mere,” Danny said, quirking a finger at him. “I want to try something.”
Steve set the picture down on the counter without taking his eyes from Danny as he stepped forward. He didn’t stop until he was only a breath away: not touching, not yet, but almost.
Danny put a hand on Steve’s shoulder, slid it slowly up until it curved around the back of Steve’s neck. “Tell me if you want to stop,” Danny murmured, and then touched his mouth to Steve’s.
It was soft, a light brush of his lips against Steve’s before he pulled back. And then he came in again, over and over at different angles, like he was trying to memorize the exact shape and texture of Steve’s mouth. Then he opened up, capturing Steve’s bottom lip between his own, their skin catching along with Steve’s breath before Danny eased back.
“You know you’re going to have to say something eventually, right?” Danny whispered, his breath teasing across Steve’s jaw. “Just so I know you’re on board with this.”
“I’m on board, Danny,” Steve said, his breath coming harder than what the few kisses warranted. “I’m completely on board with this.”
“Because you sort of ran the first time we slept together,” he said lightly, bumping his body against Steve’s.
Steve caught him, hands on Danny’s hips pulling him close until they were pressed chest to knee. “I didn’t know that’s what we were doing,” Steve protested. “And I bought you a toothbrush and then I made you stay again.”
“And then you ran out again the next morning,” Danny said, angling his head so that he could meet Steve’s eyes.
Steve tightened his grip on Danny’s hips and said, “I didn’t want to read too much into it.”
“You didn’t-” Danny cut himself off on a half laugh. “Steve, I climbed into your bed. Twice.”
“I didn’t want to risk it,” Steve said honestly.
Danny shook his head, a wry smile twisting his mouth. “Is this you looking before you leap?” he asked, and then continued before Steve could answer. “Because according to our deal here, it’s my turn to tell you before I do something risky.” He quirked up an eyebrow and said, “Heads up.”
And that was all the warning that Steve got before Danny hooked a leg around Steve’s and twisted them until they were both tumbling down to Danny’s sofa bed, Danny’s mouth latching onto his, kissing him wet and dirty and dangerous.
Two hours later, Steve sat naked in the middle of Danny’s bed, cell phone to his ear as he tried to explain that he and Danny were going to be unavoidably delayed for the foreseeable future without sounding like they’d just had extremely athletic sex.
“I guess you really did catch a live one,” Chin said dryly and Steve absolutely did not flush.
“Yeah, uh,” Steve said eloquently, scowling at Danny as walked out of the bathroom, freshly showered and smirking. “You and Kono should take the weekend. We’ll see you on Monday.”
“You got it, boss,” Chin said in the way that meant he was absolutely going to get as much mileage out of this as possible.
Steve ended the call and flopped back on the bed. “I’m never going to hear the end of this,” he said, but it probably lacked heat since he hadn’t been able to stop smiling.
“You love it,” Danny said, then smacked his thigh. “Now get up and shower, you smell like an animal.”
“Where are you going?” Steve asked, as Danny buttoned up his third shirt of the day.
“Picking up Grace,” Danny said, slipping into his shoes. “It’s taco night.”
“Right,” Steve said, sitting up suddenly, fumbling around for his clothes. “I should-”
Steve heard Danny heave a sigh and then knock him back on the bed only to crawl over him. “You should stay,” Danny said, before he kissed him, gentle and slow, like Steve was the one who was precious.
When he pulled back, the look in Danny’s eyes made Steve catch his breath, his voice going scratchy as he said, “Okay.”
“Okay,” Danny said, grinning, and then kissed him again, hard and quick before he scrambled off the bed to grab his wallet. “And you should brush your teeth,” he added. “Seriously, you’re disgusting.”
“I don’t have a-” Steve started, and Danny cut him off.
“It’s the blue one,” Danny said, grabbing his keys off the counter and opening the door.
“You got me a toothbrush?” Steve asked dumbly, because it was such a small thing, but Steve knew exactly his own reasons for buying one for Danny, so maybe Danny-
“Yeah,” Danny said, turning around, his eyes a bright, laughing blue as they met Steve’s. “But don’t read too much into it,” he said, then winked and slipped out the door
Steve fell back onto the bed with a laugh, lounging a bit in the warm afternoon sun and the sheets that smelled like he and Danny before he got up and got to work.
Because it was taco night, and their little girl was coming over for dinner.