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"You have to be smart to get into Special Forces, right? I mean, the military isn't misleading me with the idea that they prefer to send the smart ones on the super top-secret missions, are they?"

"Yes Danny, they like smart people."

"And you are familiar with the concept of 'backup' in the Navy, right?"

By the annoyed look on Steve's face, he was smart enough to see where that line of questioning was headed. "Uh huh."

"Well then why the fuck don't you listen when I tell you we need to wait for backup?"

"And they're off," muttered Kono as they walked out of the ER exit into the sunshine. She and Chin automatically slowed down to put a buffer between them and Steve and Danny, for plausible deniability that they might know those two idiots. Steve and Danny in full-on bickering mode wouldn't even notice if Chin and Kono disappeared, anyway.

"This morning was bad, too," said Chin, walking with his hands shoved in his pockets. "You're lucky you didn't have to spectate."

"Well, I was at the station on the phone all morning instead, so luck's relative, I guess." Kono clenched her hands into fists at her sides; she wanted to scratch at her new stitches or bash Steve and Danny's heads together, both of which were pretty bad ideas. She unhooked her sunglasses from her shirt collar and put them on, instead. At least the yelling was a little quieter from back here.

Chin was looking at her arm. "You wanna make sure you keep that clean, huh?"

She shrugged. "Yeah, it's cool. I got some Bactine or whatever at home. Steve looks worse anyway; that bitch with the knife got him pretty good, hit him right in a rib." She frowned when Steve and Danny stopped in the parking lot behind Danny's car to yell at each other some more. Even odds whether it would come to blows; thank fuck Chin had driven his own car over to meet them. "God, they never fucking quit, do they?"

"Nope." Chin was twirling his keys around his finger.

"I kinda wish they'd just get over it and fuck already and leave the rest of us in peace."

Chin stopped and Kono carried on for another step before realizing it. "What?" he said.

Chin Ho was a lovely guy and very loyal, but sometimes not so observant. "Really?" she said, sliding her sunglasses down her nose to give him a skeptical look. "You don't see it?"

He looked over her shoulder. "I see that they're maybe thirty seconds from punching each other in the face."

"Exactly! It's ridiculous. I mean, yeah, Danny's a psychotic little ball of pent-up rage, but how often does Steve look like he wants to hit people?"

Chin blinked. "Visibly? Not that often that I can remember. Maybe his sister, a couple times."

"But when it's Danny...." She snapped her fingers. "Like nothing."

He stared at her for a second and then started walking to his car with a little shake of his head. "I dunno, cuz. I think you're kinda nuts, actually."

She couldn't deny that but it wasn't the point. She jogged to catch up to him. "Okay, wait. I think you're just caught up in the fact they're both guys. Pretend for a second that Danny's a woman."

"Easy enough," he said. He looked over at them again, squinting in the sun. Then he stared. Then he dropped his keys.

Kono snorted.

"Okay," he said as he grabbed them up again, "so maybe I see where you're coming from. What's your point?"

"I think if they just got over it and had sex, maybe they'd take it down a notch."

"You really think that would happen?" He had that shit-eating grin on.

"Okay, probably not. But maybe they'd change up the subject a little more. I'm getting sick of hearing the same shit over and over and over, you know?" She started jiggling the passenger door handle so he'd hurry the hell up and unlock the car.

"Yeah, good luck with that, Queen of Wishful Thinking," Chin shot back as they got into the car. "Although," he mused, "maybe it'd stop Danny from checking you out every chance he gets, and then I won't have to kill him." He turned to her with a solemn look. "I like Danny. I don't wanna have to do that."

Kono patted his shoulder sympathetically. "So does that mean you're in?"

"In on what?" he asked over the sound of the ignition.

"Operation Make Steve and Danny Bone, donkey."

"You definitely not right in the head, cuz."

"I'll work on the name," said Kono with a grin.

Her grin got wider when Chin honked at Danny and Steve on the way out of the parking lot. They were still standing in the same spot, arguing.

***

The first part of any successful police operation, Kono knew, was recon.

"So, how you liking Hawaii, Danny?" she asked one afternoon, when they were alone in the office working on some leads.

Danny signed off on a report with a flourish and tossed it at the haphazard pile on the end of his desk. "I now possess a deep and sympathetic understanding toward soldiers in the Middle East who complain about having sand in everything they own and also most orifices."

She wrinkled her nose at the totally unnecessarily graphic description. "Brah, I think either you're a drama queen or you must be some kind of magnet for sand."

"Maybe I'm both," said Danny with a serious look.

She threw a pen at him; he caught it in front of his nose and tossed it back.

"Besides the invasive sand, though, I guess it's not too bad," he said with a shrug. "I mean, I get to see my daughter. I'll never have to shovel snow again. I look like a smooth professional next to Steve."

She took her chance to steer the topic. "Steve's not a smooth professional?"

"Not at being a cop," he retorted. "Just at being fucking scary. I've been thinking I could put a leash on him, take him for walks in bad neighbourhoods. Maybe we clean up a little riff-raff on the side through good old-fashioned fear."

"I think he does that on the weekends when he's not surfing." When Danny laughed, Kono pushed a little. "Do you like working with him?"

"With him. For him." Danny shrugged again. "On the one hand, he carefully explains to me in great detail how to perform investigations. On the other hand, I still haven't got him trained to give Mirandas properly and we're also working on the fine art of 'due process'. On the other other hand, I've had more injuries since I've been on Five-0 than I had in my entire combined high school baseball and basketball career, plus nine years in Jersey between Narcotics, Vice and Homicide."

Kono thought about that for a second. "Maybe it all balances out?"

"Maybe every person in this state is so crazy that you all think Steve is just this cute little offbeat guy, when really he should be locked up for everyone's safety."

"Also possible," Kono admitted. Her perception of reality seemed to have gotten pretty fucked up since joining Five-0.

***

Chin, acting mostly on Kono's orders, did his recon while he and Steve were out for a beer one evening.

"What do you think of Danny?" he asked.

Steve shrugged and took another drink of his beer.

Chin nodded. Then he pointed at the TV screen above the bar. "Look--he's running it in."

They watched the touchdown in silence.

***

"So now that we've taken their temperatures," said Kono over lunch, "what do we think?"

Chin chewed his food before answering. "I think Steve might go for it if we present it right."

Kono felt excitement bubble up in her chest. "I think Danny's ripe for the plucking, too."

"Yeah?" Chin looked kind of surprised.

"He used the words 'Steve' and 'cute' in the same sentence," she said, omitting the rest of Danny's sentence.

"So now what?" Chin asked.

"We're go for part two of the plan. Get them to bone."

Chin looked pained. "And how are we gonna do that?"

Kono ate her rice thoughtfully. "I was thinking we should lock them in a room together and let them out when they've sealed the deal. Maybe get them drunk first so they're more compliant. What do you think?"

"Well, now I know what to tell Auntie when she asks me why you're still single."

"Hey!" She gave him the finger. "What the fuck are you trying to imply?"

"You call that a matchmaking plan? Get them drunk and confine them together? Amateur hour! This'll take a little more finesse."

"Finesse?"

"We don't want Danny to figure out what's going on. Listen, I've got this."

***

Danny ran out his front door at the sound of Kono leaning on the horn.

"All right, already!" he yelled, fumbling with his keys to lock it behind him. "Keep your shirt on! Unless you don't want to. That's also fine," he continued as he turned around.

Steve was looking at him through the passenger window of his truck.

Danny stopped in the middle of the sidewalk. "You're not Kono," he called.

Steve, still watching him, reached up and honked the horn once more.

"Jesus Christ, stop it. I have neighbours." Danny jogged over to the truck and climbed in the passenger side. Steve's truck was this obnoxious, black-leather-interior, rolling shrine to manliness. Cupholders everywhere. It still smelled new although he'd had it three months now; Danny suspected there might be New Car Smell air fresheners concealed all over the place. He slammed the door behind him and yanked at his seatbelt.

"Sorry if I interrupted you doing your makeup," said Steve as he peeled out down the road.

"I was pretty much done with it," said Danny absently. "So why aren't you Kono?"

"Well, I'm like a foot too tall and fifty pounds too heavy, plus I have all this manly scruff." He rubbed thoughtfully at his chin. "And I'm not Asian."

Danny took a deep, careful breath. "She and I were supposed to be doing the stakeout on that shipping container tonight."

Steve was driving in a gangster lean, holding the wheel steady by the weight of his wrist on the top of it. "She had to bail. Some family thing. You can't mess with family things around here." He shrugged. "I was able to fill in."

"Did she tell you we might be stuck there most of the night?"

Steve's silence sounded like a 'no'. Danny took another deep breath, releasing it through his nose. "This is gonna be a good night," he said.

"Maybe I'll get to shoot someone."

"You don't know what a stakeout entails, do you?" asked Danny. "You know what, I didn't bring my flashcards on due process with me but maybe we can talk it through anyway."

Steve took a corner nearly on two wheels. Danny clutched fearfully at his seatbelt.

***

It had been three hours. Danny lowered the binoculars.

"Please tell me that you see our guys loading the coke," muttered Steve through his arms, pillowed on the steering wheel.

"I do not." Danny put down the binoculars and sipped at his lukewarm coffee. At least stakeouts in Hawaii meant the coffee didn't taste like battery acid burning a hole through his mouth, esophagus and stomach lining.

Steve lifted his head a little. "Is there any illegal or even questionably legal activity occurring right now?"

Danny lifted the binoculars one more time. "There's a raccoon on the hood of a car over there."

"We don't have raccoons."

"Then I don't want to know what that thing is." Danny went back to his coffee.

Steve sighed. Loudly.

Then he shifted, tilting his seat back.

A few seconds later, he fidgeted and sighed again.

Danny watched with interest.

"What?" Steve snapped.

"Have you ever been on a stakeout before?"

"I once had to live in a tree for three days, in Columbia. I'd love to tell you that story but it's pretty classified."

Danny took a thoughtful sip of coffee; how to explain this to a GI Joe? "That's really great, Steve, and I'm happy for you and your arboreal homemaking skills, but that's not a stakeout. A stakeout," he explained carefully, "is when you sit in a car--if you're lucky--in warm weather, again if you're lucky, because you can't leave the car running even when it's January in Jersey, and then you spend unreasonable amounts of time peering at a site of interest, waiting for something to happen that you can arrest somebody for, probably at a later date. Shitty coffee is usually involved."

"How often does something happen?"

"In my humble yet broad experience, maybe fifteen percent of the time."

"Fuck my life."

"Stakeouts, young grasshopper, are a trial of patience. I think of them as a contemplative experience. I use the time to assess my life, where it's going, where it's been. What I want for dinner tomorrow and if I want to actually cook it. It's all very enriching for the mind."

Steve was staring at him with something very close to Aneurysm Face. "You did not just call me Grasshopper."

Danny held out a closed fist. "Snatch the pebble from my hand," he said, and then gave Steve the finger.

Steve sat bolt upright and rubbed viciously at his face. "I'm going for a walk," he said, opening the door and bailing before Danny could object.

"That is not what one does on a stakeout!" Danny called after him.

Steve came back fifteen minutes later, with fresh coffee and a bag of malasadas.

"Did I miss anything?" he asked, thrusting the bag at Danny as he got back in the truck.

"Are you kidding me? I think we've got at least another hour." Danny opened the bag. "Are these fresh? It's like one-thirty in the morning, how are they even fresh?" He took a bite out of one and traded Steve the bag for his new coffee.

"The student teaches the master now," said Steve with a grin Danny hated.

"For that? You get the binoculars." Danny tossed them in Steve's lap.

Steve gamely put them up to his eyes. After a minute in which Danny thought fondly about naps, Steve said, "I spy with my little eye, something that is black."

Danny wondered if not answering would discourage him. Probably not. "Is it everything around us?"

"Correct. Your turn."

"Fuck this, I'm going to sleep. Wake me before you go shoot anything."

Danny ignored Steve's pitiful look. Contemplation would probably be good for him.

***

"Good stakeout?" Kono asked brightly when Danny rolled into work the next morning.

"The best," he said. "I think I'm going to try and make risotto for dinner tonight."

"Danny snores like... words can't describe the sound," said Steve, walking in right behind him. He didn't look as exhausted as Danny felt, which was demoralizing since Danny had made a point of sleeping more during the stakeout.

Kono looked disappointed. "I guess that means you didn't get anywhere."

"Steve almost shot something that closely resembled, but apparently was not, a raccoon," Danny volunteered.

"You baited it with a malasada!"

Danny shrugged. "Your word against mine, man."

"So that was a big waste of time," Kono huffed.

"Nah," said Danny, "it was worth it for the outside chance we might have got something really solid on these guys. How was your family thing?"

She stared at him for a moment. "It was okay," she said. "My mother, you know. Drama all the time. I live to please her, or I don't live."

"I hear you," said Danny. "Still, I missed you last night."

"Aw, Dan. I love our little talks, too." Kono ruffled his hair.

He ducked away. "I need coffee."

***

Danny straightened his tie in the rear-view mirror before he got out of the car. It was Friday evening and the boardwalk was winding up for the night; he looked at the tourists and locals milling around as he walked toward the restaurant.

Kono had cornered him at work that morning to demand whether he had evening plans.

"I get Grace tomorrow morning for the day; that's it," he'd said warily.

"Good," she'd said, "because Five-0's been together six months now, and we're all going out tonight to celebrate our six-month-iversary."

'Six-month-iversary?' Danny had mouthed to himself as she kept talking.

"--Great steak and seafood place on the Waikiki boardwalk," she'd said. "I'm making a reservation for seven. Dress up. But not too much," she'd amended, staring at his tie.

So it had been the tie Grace gave him for Father's Day. Big deal.

When Danny walked into the restaurant, he stopped dead in the doorway; there was about twenty feet of actual building before the rest gave way into an open-air beach thing. The place had what looked like a grass roof and was lit by lanterns hanging from driftwood rafters; tiki torches were stuck in the sand outside all the open windows. The ocean was right there; he could practically taste the salt on his tongue.

"Can I help you, sir?" the hostess asked.

Danny started. "Uh. I'm meeting people. I think the reservation's for Kalakaua?"

She looked down at her book and then smiled. "Right this way." She led him through the restaurant, across a smooth wooden floor between clusters of tables, and stopped in front of a setting for two by a window, on the side facing the water. "Here you are. Can we bring you a drink to start?"

"I'll have a beer," Danny said automatically, then his brain kicked in. "Hey, this reservation was for four...." he started, but she was already walking away. He stared after her, mouth working soundlessly, then sighed and pulled out a chair. Kono could deal with it when she got there. He was just going to sit and drink.

Steve arrived five minutes later, wearing a shirt he'd actually buttoned up and dark jeans instead of cargo pants--he'd pulled out all the stops for such a momentous occasion. He stopped in front of the table and tilted his head sideways at the sight of Danny and his just-arrived beer.

Danny shrugged. "I figured I'd leave the counting mistake up to Kono when she gets here."

Steve didn't say anything; he just blinked a couple times, looked around thoughtfully, and then smirked and took the other chair. When Danny raised an eyebrow at him, Steve just smirked more.

Danny put his beer down, exasperated. "What?"

"Not a mistake."

"What do you mean, it's not a mistake?"

Steve settled back in his chair comfortably and looked briefly across the room; a waitress appeared at the table almost instantly and he ordered a beer. Only when she was leaving again did he deign to answer Danny. "Kono set us up, Danno."

"Yeah, I'm not following. Speak English."

"You are the worst detective ever. Like, are you even actually a detective? Or are you some delusional weirdo who just moved to Hawaii and started pretending to be a cop till everyone believed you? Can I please examine your credentials?"

"Certainly," said Danny, and gave Steve the finger as he took another sip of his beer. "Now," he said, "cease the mockery for a second and explain yourself."

Steve folded his hands together in front of him on the table. "Kono lied to us to get us to come here, and made us a reservation for two. She sent us on a date, Danno."

As though to prove Steve's point, their waitress came back with two menus and lit the candle on the table for them before leaving again with a wink.

"That fucking bitch," said Danny.

Steve opened his menu.

"Wait. What are you doing?"

Steve gave him a 'what do you think I'm doing' look. "They have good steak here."

Danny took a deep breath. That wasn't enough. He took another one, and then two large gulps of his beer. He breathed out slowly as he put the bottle back down. "All right," he said. "Why not." He picked up his own menu. "Is Kono paying for this?"

"Is she ever," said Steve, not looking up.

***

"Revenge?" said Danny, at the bar they went to after dinner. "Really? Couldn't you just dock the steaks and beer from her paycheck and call it a day?"

Steve crossed his arms and glared. "She sent us on a blind date with each other. This can't be allowed to pass."

"What are you even suggesting? Sending her on a blind date with Chin?"

Steve rolled his eyes. "Please, Danno. I have way more finesse than that."

Danny couldn't resist that one. "Finesse?" he said. "Do tell."

"I was a legend in the Navy when it came to pranks, you know."

It was both even better and even worse than Danny could have hoped for.

"Seriously, at Annapolis we used to prank the plebes all the time. Same with SEAL training. It was good for morale. I was the best in my unit."

Danny decided that a blank stare might be the proportionate response.

"I am King of Pranks," continued Steve, pointing at Danny.

"Okay, Your Highness, what's your brilliant idea, then, so I can tell you how insane you are?"

Steve got a terrifying look of excitement on his face; he actually looked around quickly and then leaned in close to Danny. "Okay, look. I have this old cell phone. It's loud as fuck. We're going to program the alarms on it for a bunch of random times in the middle of the night, and then hide it in her house."

"You're an idiot," said Danny, "and you are also insane."

"I also thought about messing with the timer controls on her water heater."

"She would literally murder you."

"That's why we're not doing that one."

"I really dislike all this 'we' shit. Stop using that word."

"Danno, you have to help with this."

"I have to help you break into Kono's house to play some stupid revenge prank on her? I have a daughter. I don't want to die young. Also, I am a cop and B&E is illegal, even in Hawaii and even when it's you."

"Danno, this is a matter of pride and dignity."

"It's neither, and stop calling me Danno when you're trying to manipulate me."

Steve gave him some ridiculous take on sad puppy eyes; Danny had seven years of tolerance built up to Grace, who was a master at looking pitiful, and just stared him down.

Steve's expression turned thoughtful. "Danny, are you saying that you would rather I go alone to break into Kono's house and plant my old cell phone somewhere she'll never find it? You won't be a witness to my epic revenge?"

Danny blinked. It seemed like Steve was definitely going to do it, and it was probably not good to let him go unsupervised. He sighed. "Fine. I will escort you, purely so someone with an actual working knowledge of police procedures can come up with an excuse for why we are breaking into her house if a neighbour sees us. I don't want to hear from the governor because I had to go bail you out of jail."

Steve got up and slapped Danny on the shoulder. "Tomorrow night. I'll come get you."

Danny glared at his beer as Steve left the bar.

***

"So you're absolutely sure that Kono is not home, and will not be home for quite some time?" Danny asked for maybe the third time.

Steve was biting his lip as he picked the lock on Kono's back door. "For the hundredth fucking time, Danno, it's fine."

"I don't trust your judgment."

"Well, when do you ever?" Steve made a tiny noise of triumph as the lock turned, and he opened the door and gestured grandly for Danny to go inside. "North Shore opened this weekend."

Danny relaxed a little. "And she'll stay there a while?"

Steve gave him a 'duh' look as he shut the door behind them. "It's like eight o'clock. She won't be back till after dark. Or maybe tomorrow."

"Really?"

"Parties," said Steve. "And night surfing." He looked a little bit wistful.

Danny looked around nervously; Kono's empty little house seemed to radiate threats of danger. It might have been booby-trapped. He wouldn't have put it past her. "All right," he said. "Let's just do this and get it over with. Hurry up."

Steve pulled a silver clamshell cell phone out of his pocket, but he held up his hands in what was probably supposed to be a calming gesture. "You can't rush these things," he said. "It's all about optimal placement, for acoustics and yet secrecy." And then he proceeded to lead Danny around in a tour of Kono's bungalow, frowning at air vents and alcoves and a disturbing number of potted plants like he was some kind of snobby decorator.

Danny sighed, loudly, and looked longingly at the couch in the living room. But sitting on it might alert Kono that he'd been here. Then death would follow. He dragged himself along behind Steve.

"Okay," said Steve finally, after pressing his ear to a wall in the front hallway and knocking on it for a couple of minutes. "Her bedroom's on the other side of this wall. If we put it in the air intake vent here," he pointed at the vent at their feet, "then the acoustics will make it sound loud from her bedroom."

The government had spent millions of dollars on this man's training, Danny thought to himself as Steve knelt to unscrew the vent cover from the wall. Clearly not a cent wasted, there.

Then he heard some kind of shuffle from outside. He froze. "What was that?"

"What was what?" asked Steve, but then there was another noise, maybe just on the other side of the front door.

They looked at each other in shared, silent horror. "She's home already?" Danny hissed.

"I don't fucking know!" Steve hissed back, screwing the vent cover back on as fast as he could.

Danny looked around wildly for an escape route, listening for the life-ending jingle of keys meeting door, and settled for the hall closet with its door just slightly open.

"Come on," he muttered, hauling on Steve's arm and dragging him over to the closet. It had coats and an amazing number of shoes in it; they shoved aside some of the mess to make room for themselves and then dove inside. Danny dragged the folding door shut with his fingertips and they huddled in the dark, peering nervously through the gaps between the horizontal slats in the door.

Danny could just see the entryway and half of the front door from his position. The door didn't open, and Kono didn't come inside to sniff out the intruders in her domain.

They waited almost ten minutes, just to be sure.

"Okay," said Steve, "she's not home, you chicken shit."

"I'm a chicken shit?" Danny scoffed. "You were in panic mode!"

"I can't believe I let you drag me into Kono's hall fucking closet like some scared little kid. I'm like twice her size," Steve grumbled. "Okay, I'm out of here. You can keep hiding in the boots if you want."

Danny scooted out of the way as Steve went for the closet door. He could barely see more than the outlines of Steve's arms in the light coming though from the hallway, but he watched anyway as Steve started prying at the door.

Steve started swearing.

"Problems?" asked Danny innocently.

"What did you do to this fucking door?"

"I closed it."

Steve rattled it. "It won't open."

Millions of dollars of training, Danny thought again. "Here, move." He leaned forward, around Steve, and tried to get his fingernails between the door and the frame. No good, and he couldn't see it in the dark, either. He moved over to the hinge in the middle of the door, pressing on it first carefully, then with force. Finally, he kicked the hinge squarely. The door didn't budge. "So I guess it's jammed."

"Brilliant detective work, once again."

"And you're the Navy SEAL who's stuck in here with me."

Danny squinted at Steve in the dark; he was definitely moving into a sulk. Fantastic. Also, it was getting really hot in there.

He shifted to dislodge a sandal from under his ass and then sat more comfortably on the floor, although Steve's shin was still jammed up against his side and he couldn't do much about that. "So, now what? What time is it?"

There was a green glow as Steve poked at his watch. "8:22."

"And Kono will be home at...?"

"Like I said, late or tomorrow."

Danny absorbed this and rubbed at his temple, where a stress headache was already starting to build. "And we are stuck in this tiny closet for the duration."

"I could probably break the entire door down."

"I think we're in enough trouble."

"You'll change your mind once we've been in here for a while."

"Hey, asshole. Who says I'll be the first one to crack?"

Steve was silent for a couple of seconds. "Three days," he said. "In a tree."

"Yeah, well, I bet you could piss while you were in the tree."

"I also wasn't stuck in there with you."

"I'd probably have pushed you out of it."

"Fuck," Steve muttered, squirming around and kicking Danny several times in the process.

"Hey!" Danny smacked him in the thigh.

Steve punched him in the shoulder. "Go to hell, I'm trying to get comfortable before I lose all the feeling in my legs."

His voice was a lot closer; then Danny was nearly pushed over by the weight of Steve leaning on his shoulder. "Fuck! Personal space?"

"This closet is about three feet by five, Danno. I'm going to sleep; talk to yourself if you want but don't wake me up."

As Steve's breathing evened out and his head sagged onto Danny's shoulder, Danny experimented with trying to glare Steve to death. It didn't work, and the closet was really hot and stuffy, and Steve was warm and heavy against him, his breathing soft and regular. Danny shifted his back a little and drifted off, too.

***

Danny blinked himself awake; it was too dark to see. He'd been sleeping with his head resting on Steve's, judging from the crick in his neck; Steve was snoring faintly in his ear. Steve's arm had dropped to lie between them, pressed along the side of Danny's thigh.

When the front door opened, Danny realized what had woken him up. In another second, the hallway lights came on, sending bright beams through the closet door and one right into Danny's eyes. He squinted and Steve roused himself, sitting up slowly. He showed Danny his lit-up watch (it was almost two in the morning) as Kono shut the front door and dropped her bag on the floor. There was a pause and then she walked over to the closet, her body blocking the light.

She blinked at them when she yanked open the door.

"Hi, Boss."

Steve and Danny looked up at her blankly.

"This door's always been kinda sticky," she said, her eyes twinkling.

"You should get that fixed," Danny tried, wanting to spontaneously die right there.

She shoved the door open the rest of the way. "Well, gentlemen, I guess you can come out of the closet now."

Steve stood up with a degree of dignity that there was no way he actually possessed. Danny stumbled to his feet and followed him out with the acute sense that his face was turning bright red.

"One of you assholes sat on my Miu Mius," Kono bitched, glaring at the mess they'd left in the closet. She turned around. "Well? What was that? What did you do to my house?"

Danny was about to say, 'Nothing,' but Steve cut him off. "Wouldn't you like to know?" he said, crossing his arms.

Kono's eyes narrowed.

"Nothing, we did nothing," Steve capitulated.

She stared at him for a second longer but apparently decided he was telling the truth, because she turned her attention back to Danny.

"So what was this? Revenge?"

"Uh," said Danny.

"You bet your ass it was," said Steve. "You set us up on a blind date! Revenge is required!"

"Did you have a nice time?" asked Kono. "Danny didn't wear a tie, did he?"

"Of course he wore a tie. It's Danno. When does he not wear a tie?"

"She said to dress up!" Danny protested. "You wore jeans, asshole! That's not dressing up." He turned to Kono. "Look, this was all Steve, okay? I came along to make sure he didn't accidentally burn your house down or something. If I wanted revenge on you, I'd just tell Chin the time and place of your next date."

Kono sized him up. "You are truly evil. Good thing this was all Chin's idea or I'd be scared of getting on your bad side."

"Fucking goddammit," yelled Steve.

"You and Chin are in on this together?" Danny demanded.

"It was Chin's idea to send you on a date," said Kono, neatly sidestepping culpability.

"Well, we're all doomed. They're plotting against us," said Danny, and he grabbed Steve's arm. "Hope you had fun risking your life up at North Shore," he said to Kono with a nod as he dragged Steve toward the front door.

"This isn't over," Steve promised her, pointing as Danny manhandled him outside.

"You can say that again," Kono answered.

Danny was going to drink himself to sleep.

***

Spending six hours locked in a closet with Steve McGarrett changed Danny. Besides a newfound and inconvenient fear of being in small spaces, he realized that his personal space bubble--normally a three-foot radius, two for friends, thank you very much--had been compromised.

Even sadder was the fact that it took him a while to notice.

The day he actually figured it out was almost two weeks after the closet incident. He was over at Steve's to watch basketball--trying to make the man's taste in sports just a little more cosmopolitan, and it was college basketball too, he already had his eye on a couple teams to make the Sweet Sixteen--anyway, he was over there for basketball, and ritual beers were involved, partly so Steve would whine less about being forced to watch sports with round balls in them. Apparently the only thing worse was hockey, which Danny wasn't touching with a ten-foot pole. Steve wandered out of the kitchen with a frosty sixer of his favourite local trash as Danny dropped onto his customary side of the couch and found ESPN on the TV.

Steve took a seat on the couch and handed Danny a beer; Danny took it, twisted the top off, threw the top at the coffee table, and kicked back to drink it before he realized that Steve had taken the cushion directly next to his.

Not the other corner. The one right beside him.

Danny shot him a covert look; Steve was frowning at the TV and taking a sip of beer. He had a look in his eyes like he was coming up with something terrible to say about basketball. He looked either unconcerned or oblivious to the fact that he was in Danny's space.

Danny looked down. There were still a good four or five inches between them. He shrugged minutely and turned his attention back to the TV.

The argument about the relative merits of different sports over others started within the next five minutes, but in the back of his mind he wondered to himself whether this was the first time Steve had violated his personal space, or just the first time he'd noticed. He didn't like the answer he suspected was correct.

***

One thing Rachel had always bitched about, and that Danny had to admit was true, was that he could never leave well enough alone. And he was a detective, after all (despite what certain other people liked to imply), so he started investigating.

He immediately regretted his findings. Steve touched Danny all the time. Manly and bruising slaps on the back, friendly and dangerous arms slung around his shoulders, the occasional smack in the back of the head, touches to the elbow to get his attention, punches in the arm when Danny got a good insult in or whenever Steve saw a fucking Volkswagen. Danny hated that stupid game, and not just because he never managed to spot the Volkswagens first.

Danny thought that now the floodgates had opened and he was noticing every point of contact, every time Steve sat less than six inches away from him, and every time Steve fucking fell asleep on him during a stakeout, the bastard, he was going to go out of his mind with the claustrophobia. Then he realized that actually, it didn't seem to bother him at all when Steve got all up in his business, and Danny went out of his mind.

Since he couldn't go to Chin or Kono anymore with his Steve Problems, he turned in desperation to someone else who knew Steve and what Danny was up against.

"Do you find that Steve's really, I dunno, clingy around me?" he demanded.

Mary Ann stared at him as if he'd just told her she had nice birthing hips or something. "Um?"

He stepped out of the doorway of Steve's house, not wanting her to feel like he was blocking her escape (although he might if she tried to run).

She hiked her purse up on her shoulder but she didn't flee. "I don't--you two are like the worst velcro friends I've ever seen?" she tried. "I didn't know you were oblivious to this. I have yoga...." She pointed vaguely at places beyond the house.

"Right. Sorry. Thanks."

"Okay, Danny. Enjoy your manly basketball!" she called as she jogged away to her car.

Danny ran a hand through his hair. "What the fuck does 'velcro friends' even mean?" he muttered to himself.

"Hey, Danno!" Steve called from inside. "Look, there's a football game on; I thought maybe we could watch a real--"

"You shut your goddamn mouth!" Danny snapped, pointing fiercely. He walked into the house, forgetting all about his conversation with Mary Ann.

***

Really, after all that detective work (and finding out from Grace what the hell a 'velcro friend' was--Mary Ann was a bitch just like her brother), Danny shouldn't have been as shocked by events that followed. Having decided to recover from a long Wednesday at work with beers, they were standing in Steve's kitchen waiting for a frozen pizza to cook and Danny was explaining how deep-dish was a tragedy and pizza should be foldable, like greasy origami, and also not frozen, when Steve suddenly uncrossed his arms, leaned in, and cut Danny off mid-rant with a kiss.

When he backed off again, Danny's brain was going through some kind of reboot process, so he said the first thing that came to mind, which was, "What is this, some new argument-winning tactic? I gotta say, McGarrett, that's pretty amateur hour."

Steve blinked at him and then relaxed, shaking his head. "I don't think I got my point across," he said, and then backed Danny up against the counter, grabbed the back of his neck, and kissed him thoroughly.

"Oh," Danny said into Steve's mouth, and then he got on the same page pretty quickly after that.

The oven pinged at some point and Steve detached from Danny just enough to reach over and shut it off. Danny had two fistfuls of Steve's t-shirt and he could tell his hair was going in every fucking direction, because the asshole had been digging his hands through it. When Steve was done fucking with the oven (leaving the pizza-like abomination in there), he returned his hands to Danny's hips and they stared at each other.

"I normally don't stick it in the crazy," said Danny.

"I can tell you right now that's a fucking lie." Steve pulled the back of Danny's shirt out of his pants and ran his palm up the skin of Danny's back.

"Rule number one," said Danny. "We never tell Kono or Chin about this, ever."

"Agreed," said Steve. He grabbed the front of Danny's shirt and dragged him off toward the bedroom. Not that Danny wasn't keeping up with him.

***

Kono and Chin somehow knew anyway, even though Steve and Danny went to work separately the next day and Danny had gone home to change his clothes. Steve did a thorough bug sweep of his house, just in case, but Danny assumed the worst: that Kono had gotten to Mary Ann. They were insufferably smug as expected, as if their stupid plan had been in any way responsible.

So, four months went by, and then it was spring, which in Hawaii meant that it rained, just like it had all winter. Danny was in a constant state of agitation because one of his favourite NCAA teams was on the bubble, he hadn't come up with anything to give Grace for her birthday in two weeks (Kono and Steve were both pushing surfing lessons, but he wouldn't give in), and they were investigating a kidnapping ring at work and Danny could tell from miles off that the whole thing was going to end in him being shot at. Then Rachel called him while he was on the way over to Steve's for dinner.

He was parked in the driveway next to Steve's stupid truck before they finished the conversation, and he stayed in the car until it was over. After he hung up, he stared absently out the windshield at Steve's peeling garage door for a few minutes, and then finally remembered that he was still wearing his seatbelt and struggled his way out of the car. Steve was standing in the doorway by the time he made it up to the house, and grabbed him around the waist to kiss him hello.

"What the fuck is the matter with you now, Danno?" Steve said as soon as he got a good look at Danny's face. Danny figured he probably still looked shell-shocked.

"Just had a chat with Rachel," he said as they walked inside. It smelled like Steve's spaghetti sauce; Danny was thankful because it was one of the only things Steve made that he could tolerate eating. Everything else tended to have tofu in it.

Steve was hanging back; when Danny turned to look at him he had the Aneurysm Face on. "And?" Steve asked, sounding like he wasn't sure he wanted to know but he was pretty sure he had to ask anyway.

Danny leaned on the back of the couch, collecting his thoughts. "She wants to meet up and renegotiate my visitation, if I'm interested." He looked up at Steve. "She wants to discuss me getting Gracie for an evening a week in addition to weekends."

Steve's face lit up with a big, stupid smile; it was so dorky that Danny's heart broke a little. "Danno. That's fantastic."

"Yeah," said Danny, feeling cautious happiness. "Weird, but good." He paused. "She said she changed her mind because I seem to be adjusting to Hawaii and it's doing good things for me. She thinks I'm all stable and happy and shit."

Steve's smile turned into a smirk. "Oh, really?"

"It's like she wasn't married to me for eight and a half years," said Danny with a grin.

Steve stalked over to the couch; Danny spread his legs and Steve crowded into the space between them, looming over Danny and sliding his hands up Danny's thighs. "You know what this means, right?" he asked in a low voice.

"It means you have to cook at least one weeknight a week," Danny joked.

"It means that Rachel thinks I'm a good influence on you."

"That could never possibly be true."

"It does," said Steve jubilantly, the fucker. "You hooked up with me and now you're all mature and sane and a good role model. Even your ex-wife thinks so!" Steve cackled. "It's okay that regular sex makes you less of a jackass, Danno. I'm happy to perform this public service."

"It's too bad that regular sex makes you more of a jackass, if anything," said Danny, pushing Steve away from biting at his neck.

"Now we just need to get you out of your crack-den and she'll think you're Father of the Year."

"Where am I gonna go? I can't afford a million dollars in rent."

"You're gonna live here, you moron."

"You're fucking insane."

"Oh, so you'll sleep here seven nights a week instead of just four or five," said Steve into the skin below Danny's ear. "Then again, you can be my kept man. You're no longer allowed to wear pants in this house."

"Your sister will love that," said Danny sweetly.

"She can take over the lease on your hovel if my policies on pants offend her."

"You have this all planned out." Danny gave up and let his head hang back, giving Steve better access to his neck.

"Well, your lease is up next month, and you haven't renewed it yet."

Danny tensed. "I wish you wouldn't randomly pull this spy shit."

"You think it's fucking hot." Steve nipped at the underside of his jaw.

Danny couldn't help a happy little sigh at that. "You're deranged."

"I'm a role model," said Steve, attacking the buttons on Danny's shirt.

"No one would ever believe that for a second, not even Rachel," insisted Danny.

"Grace would disagree."

"You and Grace are scary when you work together," said Danny, watching Steve undo his shirt and fling his tie across the room like it had offended him (which it probably had). Then he said, "Oh god. Are you Step-Steve now?"

"I did teach her how to throw a football a couple weeks ago." Steve was paying more attention to undressing Danny now. Dinner was going to be a while.

Danny put his hands over Steve's to stop the assault on his belt. "When the fuck did we end up married?"

Steve raised an eyebrow. "Probably depends on who you ask. Kono insists it was since you punched me in the face."

"I could punch you in the face again."

"I'm going to look up the statute of limitations on spousal abuse," said Steve.

"It's not abuse when you enjoy it," said Danny.

"You are such a bitch," said Steve.

Danny grabbed Steve's shirt and yanked downward. "Get down here, so I can kiss the smug out of you."

"You can try," said Steve, and then he devoured Danny's lips.

 

THE END