Danny has days when he wonders why he bothers to get out of bed. He's absolutely just going to end up back there in a few hours, possibly a few minutes, and the bed will likely be one of those snazzy hospital ones with the reclining mattress and hot-and-cold running nurses.
Steve glances across at him, apparently laboring under the delusion that actually watching where he's going while driving is something for the weak and uninitiated. Steve takes the corner at a speed approaching warp and shakes his head, as if he knows exactly what Danny's thinking.
“You're not going to end up in the hospital,” Steve says, and Danny thinks that's fucking great. Not only is his partner ridiculously good-looking and scarily skilled, he can apparently read minds. And he's still looking at Danny, which would be a lot better if Steve wasn't driving like his lifelong dream has been to break the land-speed record.
“Eyes on the road, eyes on the road!” Danny yelps, hanging onto the window frame, because they're currently hurtling—there's no other word for it—around a hairpin turn that has ocean on one side and volcano on the other. Danny thinks Hawaii must have had exceptionally good tourism people early on because despite the mild weather and the apparent glory of pineapple, there are about a hundred different ways to die in epic James-Bond-movie-style on this island, and Steve seems willing to risk all of them before Danny's even had a decent cup of coffee.
The tires squeal around a corner, and Steve is still staring expectantly at Danny, and sure, it's probably because the Navy trains SEALs to drive with blindfolds on. In the dark. While being shot at. But Danny would like to live to see his daughter's next birthday and not die in a fiery crash while chasing suspected terrorists along a highway that he can't even pronounce, his wrecked body lying dead among the palm fronds, food for those creepy little crabs. His commute to work in Jersey was never like this.
“I miss New Jersey,” he says without thinking, and it's possible Steve's face goes a little more rigid, and his foot leadenly presses the accelerator to the floor. That really wasn't what Danny had in mind.
Steve takes the next corner with ever-increasing speed, and Danny closes his eyes for a second because, honestly, there's nothing that says he has to be brave in the face of certain death. It's too early to even articulate how wrong, wrong, wrong this hare-brained pursuit is, so Danny settles for a complex hand wave that's meant to indicate, whatever happens, it's all McGarrett's fault.
“We're not going to die,” Steve says matter-of-factly, although it sounds suspiciously like there's an eye-roll in there, and Danny pops an eye open to watch the blue-green blur of trees and ocean settling into something that's a step closer to an Impressionist painting and clearly on its way to becoming actual scenery with distinct images and everything. The truck they've been chasing since two blocks from Danny's apartment is nowhere in sight, and now that the adrenaline is slowing down along with the car, Danny can feel anger sliding in to replace the rush of chasing after two guys that Steve had ID'd as terrorists on the FBI's watch list. At a red light.
Danny's come to accept that there's no such thing as off-the-job for Steve, so for the most part he's adjusted accordingly. His morning routine now includes not only a shirt and tie, but his tactical vest and fully-loaded weapon with extra clips because this wouldn't be the first time they've been involved in a high-speed chase or a shootout on the way to work. Steve can deny it all he wants, but clearly, he's a magnet for trouble. Danny's fired his gun more times in the few months he's been working with Steve than in his whole career in New Jersey, and Jersey's not a walk in the park by any stretch of the imagination.
Danny surveys the empty road ahead of them. “You lost them?” he says, and it's not entirely what he meant to say, because seriously, it's not like he was enjoying the feeling of his heart trying to push its way out of his ribcage, but if he's been unwillingly involved in a high-speed chase in the name of truth, justice, and the American way, he'd at least like something to show for it. Like an arrest of said terrorists.
The car rolls to a stop alongside a field of tall, reedy plants that Danny knows can only be sugar cane. At least it's not pineapples. Steve turns off the engine, pulls out his gun and cocks it, bullet sliding from the clip into the chamber. It's going to be one of those days.
“I didn't lose them,” he says, clearly annoyed that Danny would even suggest such a thing. “There's nowhere else for them to go around here, so I backed off a little. They pulled into the field. They'll be settling in for an ambush.” Danny follows where Steve's pointing, and sees the place where the terrorists' truck had folded the canes like bendy straws. Danny can just make out the rear-end of the vehicle, which looks abandoned. Danny pulls out his own weapon and checks it.
“I don't suppose we're going to wait for back-up?” Danny asks hopefully. Steve's grin is all the answer he needs, and Danny nods, adding, “Right, I'm the back-up.” He wonders how long it will take to find their bodies in the cane fields.
They slip out of the car, leaving the doors wide for extra cover, and unspoken agreement finds them hunched down at the back of the Camaro. Steve makes a series of complicated hand gestures that could mean anything from “You go that way” to “I really like your tie.” Danny's pretty sure it's not the latter, but he wouldn't bet on the former either.
“I don't speak SEAL sign language. What are you trying to tell me?” Danny whispers sharply, waving his own hands in response. Steve gently pushes Danny's gun hand to the side, and yeah, Danny knows better than that. Still, he's hardly going to shoot Steve by accident; if he's going to shoot the guy, it'll definitely be on purpose.
Steve grabs the front of Danny's vest and pulls him in close. His breath is warm against Danny's cheek as he whispers, “Circle to the right. We'll try to flank them.”
The adrenaline's spiking again, and Danny can feel his senses kick into gear. Everything's showing in high-definition, from the sharp sweet scent of the fields to the steady eyes of his partner. Danny couldn't explain it if he tried, but he trusts Steve, especially in situations like this, and he'll follow him to hell and back. It must be written on his face because Steve gives him a smile that says the feeling's mutual, and Danny knows he's oh, so screwed because his partner's an adrenaline junkie, and maybe, just maybe, Danny likes that a little more than is good for either of them.
Steve nods once, about to move away, but Danny grabs the hand that's still momentarily locked on his vest.
“We need a signal.” Danny ignores the arched eyebrow, and plows ahead. “I don't want to accidentally shoot you.”
If possible, Steve's grin gets bigger, and Danny rolls his eyes because, yeah, they both know it's the “accidentally” that's laughable.
“You'll know where I am,” Steve says, voice a low rumble of determination, and Danny really doesn't know when that went from being insane to being the thing that makes the hairs on the back of his neck stand on end. In a good way.
Steve starts to leave again, but Danny's heart is in his throat, and he doesn't have a clue why this morning is any different from all the other life-threatening situations Steve's gotten them into, but he's got a hand on Steve's arm and he's not letting go until they've got some kind of plan in place, even if it's Steve's standard kamikaze go-in-with-guns-a-blazing sort of plan.
“Danny, we've got to--”
“Whistle,” he blurts out, and the look on Steve's face is priceless. Two parts confusion and one part genuine “what the fuck are you doing?” that's shading into anger. “Whistle,” Danny repeats, taking a breath.
“No,” Steve says, like there's no room for argument, and of course they can't go into a shootout without bitching at each other about something, so when Danny says, “No? No? What do you mean 'no'?” he knows it's so not the time, but he just can't help himself. He wants to hold onto Steve and this ridiculous moment where nobody's bleeding or dead for just a few more seconds.
“No. It's the opposite of yes. I'm sure you've heard it a lot in your relationships.”
Danny makes a face because, okay, it's true, but it's still kind of mean, and Steve's looking shifty-eyed and like if he can't shoot a terrorist in the next two minutes, he'll settle for Danny, and no one will ever find the body. Then the truth smacks Danny in the face like a two-by-four, and if they weren't trying to keep a low profile, he would laugh out loud at the paradox that is his partner.
“You can't whistle, can you?” If Danny's voice is a little too triumphant, it's only because Steve is so freaking good at everything he does, which is handy on the job, but nonetheless is bugfuck annoying the rest of the time.
“It's not a good signal,” Steve counters sternly, leaning in, and if they were standing up that might be intimidating, but they're crouched by the car and Danny's long in the torso so there's a good possibility that if neither of them had legs, they'd be the same height. Danny might even be taller.
“'Cause you can't whistle, can you?” Danny states because there's no question in his mind. Steve can't whistle. It's a sing-song tease, and Danny's grinning as broadly as the day he found out he was going to be a father because finding out Steve is human and fallible and incapable of something that paste-eating five-year-olds can do is better than a free trip to New Jersey.
“It's too easily replicated by the enemy. It's not distinct enough.” Steve sounds pissy and that just makes Danny want to start whistling Dixie and maybe “Born in the U.S.A.” or something by Bon Jovi, and if it wasn't for the pesky terrorists skulking somewhere in the cane field, Danny totally would. He's an extremely proficient whistler, a fact he was not sufficiently proud of until this exact moment.
“Yeah, you can probably do the mating call of the South American JuJu bird,” Danny concedes because Steve's awesome in ways that other people can only imagine, “but you can't whistle while you work.”
“That's not a real bird,” Steve corrects automatically, and Danny would smack him if he didn't know Steve can't help himself. “Speaking of work ...” Steve says through clenched teeth, his eyes scanning the field around them. Okay, yes, there's stuff to be done, bad guys to catch, but Danny really hates letting Steve have the last word.
Danny, who still has a solid grip on Steve's arm, tugs ever-so-slightly, enough to tilt Steve forward. They're about to shoot up Hawaii's second largest export crop and two unlucky terrorists, and Danny thinks there's a time and a place to say you like someone, really like someone, even if they risk your life, even if they drive you nuts, even if they're unable to whistle, and this definitely isn't it, but it's all he's got, so he makes sure he's got Steve's eyes front and center before he leans in and whispers in his best Lauren Bacall, “You know how to whistle, don't you, Steve? You just put your lips together - and blow.”
It should've come out like a joke because, honestly, how can a grown man not know how to whistle, but instead the words are heavy with all the things they've never said, the looks, the fond affection, the small touches that ground their partnership. Danny's heart is pounding and the words snag in his throat so they sort of breathlessly stutter against Steve's mouth, which is closer than it was a moment ago, when they were still close enough to make Inuit throat singers look standoffish.
“Danny,” Steve says as if that answers the question, and maybe it does. They're just leaning now, sheltering in one another's space, poised on the edge of what is probably a terrible decision, but one Danny really wants to make anyway. Danny's not always a good judge of this sort of thing, but he thinks it looks like Steve's right there with him.
Then Steve's eyes flick over his shoulder and before Danny can say a word he's face-planting in the dirt with Steve's big hand on his vest and bullets hitting the Camaro. Danny rolls so he can see behind Steve, and it's a good thing he does because the barrel of an assault rifle is pushing through the cane, and no, just no. His first shot hits flesh—he recognizes the sentiment of the curse if not the language—and Danny's firing like a madman because no one's shooting his partner in the back. Not on his watch, and definitely not today. Not when they're so close to something that feels like it could damn well be everything.
It's over in seconds, clips emptied and armed terrorists down. HPD arrives on scene miraculously fast because field workers saw strange men sneaking around the field and decided to call it in rather than check it out. Score one for sensible people, Danny thinks, and knows that would never have happened in Jersey.
Steve's bleeding—of course—because Danny can't take him anywhere without bloodshed, and it doesn't escape Danny's notice that the bullet grazed Steve's right arm, the one he was using to push Danny out of the way. There's just no good way to be mad at the guy who willingly takes a bullet for you. He tries anyway, mustering the same face he uses on Grace when she's done something she knows she wasn't supposed to, and Steve's response is surprisingly familiar. Yeah, he knows he's been caught being stupid and heroic. It's not likely to be the last time, either, but Danny figures if he can impress upon Steve that he's on to him, that he knows these things don't just happen by accident, but by self-sacrificing design, that maybe Steve will at least consider the consequences of pissing Danny off before he attempts to save his life by offering himself as a target.
Steve's sitting on the trunk of the Camaro, poking at the field dressing he's just applied, while simultaneously talking to Chin on the phone and managing to shout random instructions to HPD officers who, for the most part, are ignoring the crazy 5-0 guy with the bleeding arm in favour of handcuffing and hauling off the also-bleeding terrorists. Danny's actually the only person from the altercation not bleeding significantly.
“So,” Danny says, standing beside his partner, hands braced on the sun-warm bullet-riddled car.
“So,” Steve repeats, folding his phone in half and tucking it in some obscure pocket on his cargo pants. Danny's afraid to ask what exactly he's got in all those pockets. It's like hanging out with Batman. Kind of awesome, but more than a little scary.
“So, you can't whistle.” There's no way this wasn't going to be his conversation opener, and it's a hundred times easier to slide into this discussion than the one they really need to have, the one where Steve's mouth was waiting and wanton and right the fuck there, a breath away and closing fast, before the guns and the blood and possibly the universe decided to intervene.
“I can whistle,” Steve says, smirking. Danny knows that look, and it never means anything good.
“I whistle for survival, not for fun.” Danny can't help the snort that escapes, and yeah, he knows where this is going. Steve's a scheming bastard and the blood loss has only made him more apt to be reckless.
“Seriously?” Danny says. “You whistle for survival. Do you even hear yourself? I wanted you to whistle as a signal. In a gunfight! If that's not whistling for survival, I don't know what is.”
“I've been in worse,” Steve says carefully, as if whistling should only be used under the most dire of circumstances.
“I have no doubt.” The thing is, Danny knows Steve's telling the absolute truth because Steve spent three years in the 'Stan, and that's not counting all the other black ops missions in even less hospitable countries, but that in no way excuses the fact that the man is lying through his teeth about the whistling. “But I still don't believe you can whistle.”
“And I don't believe you can swim,” Steve returns effortlessly.
“I can swim!” Danny's indignant. Jesus, just because he lives on an island now he doesn't see why he should immediately have to take to water like a duck. “I've told you, I can swim. I just choose not to.”
“And I choose not to whistle.” Steve's smile is blindingly triumphant, and yeah, Danny's so screwed in so many ways. Somehow this is all going to end with Danny in a bathing suit getting sand in all kinds of places that sand should never go, and Steve will never admit to not being able to whistle because information like that is probably considered classified. Steve's inability to whistle could no doubt be categorized as information vital to national security, and Danny knows there's no way to win, so he may as well suck it up and make the best of it. If he's very lucky, at least he might get to find out if Steve has any other secret skills that are need-to-know only.
Danny leans in close so that his mouth is right against Steve's ear. He likes the fact he can feel Steve sit up straighter, that the anticipation is obvious in the line of his body, the small hitch in his breathing.
“I can teach you how to whistle,” Danny whispers, making every word an innuendo. They're on the same playing field now and this is Danny's favorite part. He blows lightly, watching the goosebumps come to life on the skin at Steve's neck. His Adam's apple bobs as Steve swallows and wets his lips.
“I'll put my lips together.”
Danny pulls back enough to see the expression on Steve's face, caught between wanting it all, wanting it now, and liking the slow burn of anticipation. It might take them awhile to get where they're going, but Danny has no doubt it's going to be spectacular in the end.