When Danny opens the screen door on a random Thursday night, a little past ten-thirty, he thinks he knows what's happening just by the set of Steve's shoulders.
"Hey, " he says.
"Hey, Danno." Steve leans in, too close, hand on the door frame. It slides off when he comes inside and Danny steps back instinctively, but he doesn't get very far because Steve catches his arm and pulls him back. Steve frowns down at his mouth and Danny’s chest tightens in anticipation. Steve says, "I wanted to--"
The first kiss is tentative, soft; Danny can taste sea salt in the corners of Steve's mouth when he swipes his tongue across it. Steve's hand tightens on Danny's arm and Danny hisses, "Fuck this, you have got to be shitting me," hooking his free hand around Steve's neck and mashing their mouths together. Steve gets with the program pretty fast after that, slamming Danny up against the wall, hands everywhere. Danny is already down to sweatpants and a t-shirt because it's late and he has to go into work at ass o'clock tomorrow so Steve's fingers find skin easily, up the shirt and flirting with the waistband of the pants. Danny parts his legs so Steve can jam a thigh in there and rub his dick against Danny's hip. The height difference makes it kind of awkward and fuck if Danny is going to let Steve boost him up like a girl; once he removes his mouth from the hollow of Steve's throat and gets Steve to yank his own shirt off over his head he says, "Hey, hey, wait."
"What," Steve says.
"Not that this, this isn't totally awesome, but the door is still open."
Steve reaches over and slams it shut. The silence in Danny's apartment without the background noise of cars and birds is startling.
"Plus," Danny adds, "thanks to a miracle of interior design, my bed is literally like ten feet that way. We don't even have to go into another room."
"The miracle is that your apartment is a shithole," Steve says.
"You don't like the green?"
"I helped you pick out the green."
"Actually, I am pretty sure that was mostly Kono -- "
"Are we going to fuck or what?" Steve says, curving his hands around Danny's ass and squeezing at the same time as he grinds forward.
"Fuck," Danny says. "Good comeback." He feels the faint curl of Steve's smile against his temple and suddenly needs to be all over Steve right now, wants to fuck him, wants to get fucked, wants his fingers up Steve's ass and Steve's cock down his throat, everything, everything. He laughs when Steve's back hits the bed and he bounces; Danny himself stumbles trying to get out of his sweatpants, overeager, but he manages to get a leg over Steve's hips and his tongue in Steve's mouth, open and dirty and affectionate. "This is going to be so good," he mumbles against Steve's lips. "I am going to make this so good for you, can I fuck you?"
"Danny," Steve groans, bucking up.
"Next time, next time you can fuck me, but can I fuck you -- "
Steve laughs, tightening his grip on Danny's hair as he gasps, "Yeah, yeah, yes."
Danny shifts off him to rummage around in the bedside drawer and rolls a condom over his dick while Steve wriggles the rest of the way out of his pants. When Danny turns around, he's confronted by the bare, heaving expanse of Steve's back, Steve with one knee hitched up by his chest. He licks his thumb and slides it down the crack of Steve's ass, catching it on the edges of Steve's hole, watching in fascination as Steve shudders and pushes back against it.
"Please," Steve says, and who is Danny to give him grief when he's asking so politely, so he pops the lube open and coats his hand, sliding a finger past the tight ring of muscle into the heat of Steve's body. He waits until Steve is fucking back against three fingers, hands twisted in the sheets, saying, "Come on, come on, Danny," before he spreads Steve wide and thrusts in to the beautiful sound of Steve's drawn-out moan.
"Fuck, you're going to kill me," Danny says into Steve's shoulder, kissing the spot before starting to move. He's talking nonsense, knows he's talking nonsense but can't bring himself to care with Steve tight around him and their fingers tangled together around Steve's cock, pushing them both rapidly toward the edge of something; so fucking good, Danny thinks, driving home one last time, mind going white, Steve pulsing over their joined hands.
He falls asleep with Steve's arm wrapped tight around his waist, Steve's forehead pressed into the back of his neck.
He wakes up to a call from the Governor. In light of Steve McGarrett's reactivation, Five-0 will need a new team leader. McGarrett recommended Danny before he left; she expects to see Danny in her office in an hour.
Danny hangs up the phone and turns over. "What the hell is she -- "
The bed's empty. There's a pink scrunchie on the pilllow -- Gracie's, probably the one that she left at Steve's house a couple of weeks ago -- and a set of keys, familiar because Danny's watched Steve spin them around his finger for the better part of a year and a half.
There's no note.
Chin sets his jaw when Danny tells him and Kono; says, "All right, I'll be back," and vanishes in a fucking puff of smoke for three days. Danny and Kono wrap up their most recent case (all that was left was the paperwork) by Friday afternoon but they come into the office on Saturday and Sunday, aimless, Kono wearing slippers and Danny ordering them pizza and bad Thai food.
"He was reactivated?" Kono keeps asking. "What does that even mean -- it makes him sound like some kind of Transformer or something." Danny pokes at his food with a chopstick; he wants to make a bad joke about Steve being more than meets the eye, but he can't, and when he catches Kono's eye he knows she doesn't want to hear it, anyway.
He calls Catherine, who is friendly and sweet right up until he says "Steve" and then she shifts, and Danny knows whatever she's about to tell him is going to be a lie. "Oh my God," she says. Intelligence is a good fit for her; she sounds worried and a little pissed off, like this was the first she's heard of it. "He just left? What did the Governor say?"
Mary turns up on Sunday, and Danny spares a second to feel like a total shithead for not calling her. "So he's gone again," she shrugs. Danny nods and tries not to wonder how many times Mary's been left behind. It sounds like she's used to it. "If he survives this one, tell him I went back to the mainland." She doesn't leave a number or an address; she's probably never had to. The advantages of being related to Steve don't strike Danny as all that advantageous.
On Monday morning, Chin comes back into the office with a black eye and some sketchy fourth-hand info from some guy who knows somebody who might have a lead.
"Great, that's..." Danny jams the heels of his hands into his eye sockets while Kono tosses Chin an ice pack from the fridge, one of a stack that they'd requisitioned the fourth time Steve had fallen out of a building chasing after a perp.
"One problem," Kono says.
"One?" Chin replies, hissing a little as he puts the icepack on. He's favoring his left arm, too.
Kono sets her jaw. "We're not supposed to be looking for him."
"What percentage of things that we do are things we're supposed to be doing?" Danny points out.
"Danny," Chin says, "This could be--"
"Could be what." His voice is too loud, and he takes a deep breath. Kono looks apologetic; Chin just looks at him.
"He'll come back," Kono says.
Danny's a moron anyway, everyone knows this, so in between Gracie and Five-0 and having to pick a new member of the team, how fucked up is that (plus having to field Mary's increasingly annoyed and annoying phone calls about how Steve left Danny his keys, he should just move into the beach house, seriously, Mary's lived in some shitty places but Danno's apartment would actually look better if it burned to the ground), Danny's following Chin's lead.
It's a military lead, though, and quickly turns to bullshit in his hands; Steve might be in Afghanistan, or maybe Jordan. Azerbaijan. Yemen.
"So he's somewhere that ends with an 'n,'" says Kono. The two of them are hiding in Danny's office while Chin tries not to punch the new guy, Ben Kokua, for spilling coffee all over the table computer thing. "That's something?"
"Am I a bad person if I have no idea where Azerbaijan is?" Danny asks, watching as Chin supervises Ben mopping up the mess.
"There's other stuff that makes you a bad person, Captain," Kono tells him.
"What've I told you about that?" Danny hates the new title, hates it even though it comes with a bump in pay and better pension options.
"I don't know, Captain, I wasn't paying attention," she says absently. She's watching the scene outside, too, although Danny frankly suspects her of ogling Ben's ass. "Was I ever that green?"
"Kono," Danny says, as nicely as he can manage, "Ben's like five years older than you. And I think he wrestles sharks in his downtime."
She flaps a hand at him. "We're like dogs, one year to normal people is seven to us. Plus I hear he actually does bare-knuckle boxing." She tilts her head a little to better admire the way Ben's scuttling around on his hands and knees with a paper towel, mopping up the spill while Chin yells something that's thankfully too muffled by the glass for Danny to understand.
"Stop sexually harassing the new guy and help me out, here," Danny orders, and Kono pouts but leans forward, fiddling with her St. Michael's pendant.
"Okay, so Navy's got nothing. Or if they do, we'd have to break in somewhere."
"Right, and I'm pretty sure immunity and means only get you so far," Danny says.
But Kono's still got a frown on her face, and Danny recognizes the look that means she's circling something. Kono's the muscle of Five-0, was even before Steve fucked off, but she's developing instincts that'll put her on a fast track to wherever she wants to go in a few years. Danny hopes he can con her into wanting to stay put.
He waits while she opens and closes her mouth a few times. "Maybe," she says, "maybe we're looking at this from the wrong angle, here."
Danny doesn't say anything, just lifts his eyebrows and gestures for her to continue. She bites her lip and says, "I mean, we're acting like Steve could be anywhere doing anything, but what was he doing for the last five years?"
It used to be really embarrassing when the rookie outsmarted everyone else. Danny got used to it a long time ago. "You think Hesse --"
"Only reason he'd leave," she says firmly. "And if it is Hesse, then all we have to do is find him."
"All we have to do is find an international criminal who's escaped Navy Intelligence for almost seven years. Your faith in our investigative skills is touching," Danny says, but he's grinning like a lunatic.
The new line of inquiry gets them some info from Kamekona, which results in a conversation with a sullen tattoo artist in an extremely down-market tattoo parlor in Waimanalo, which in turn results in a meeting with someone known strictly as Upfront, which in turn results in Danny getting hit a lot for asking too many questions.
"I have a curious nature," Danny says.
Upfront looks skeptical. "I confess I am beginning to worry about permanent brain damage, Mr. Rogerson," he says, as his goon gets ready to punch Danny again. "Perhaps we should start breaking your fingers, instead."
"Oh good," Danny says, right before he passes out.
He wakes up in a hospital with Chin slouched in a visitor's chair, thumbing through a four-month-old copy of Martha Stewart Living. "Hey," Danny rasps.
Chin looks up. "Hey yourself. So I've got good news, bad news, and... news."
"I really hate this game," Danny says, moving his arms and legs experimentally. His face feels like it's about three times regulation size, and there's an ominous lack of feeling in his right shoulder that says he's on the good painkillers for a reason, but there's nothing stuck up his dick to help him pee, so he's taking the win. "Okay, bad news."
"Bad news, Upfront got away. Good news, we got some info from the arsonists about Hesse, and it's actually solid." Chin gets up and pours out some water from a pitcher into a plastic cup.
Danny takes the cup. "Great. Hold up. Arsonists?"
"Yeah," Chin says, "Upfront's guys burned down your apartment."
Mary calls up a few days later and laughs really hard while Danny swears at her.
Gracie claims what Danny can only assume was Steve's childhood room; it's dusty and full of things that a 17-year-old boy in 1993 would've considered totally rad. They spend the better part of Gracie's spring break packing up or throwing away most of the stuff, although Gracie gets weirdly sentimental about Steve's old football cleats and the mint condition Captain America #350 she finds underneath the mattress. Danny's too surprised there was no porn there to put up any kind of fight about it. Besides, Captain America. They hang up some posters of unicorns and the Jonas Brothers and whatever the hell else Gracie wants, because she's got her own room now and a gleam in her eye like she's thinking of asking Danny if she can get purple carpeting.
The rest of the house he leaves alone; it's not like he needs to make room for any of his own stuff. He doesn't overthink it, but the first time he has the team over for a barbecue on the beach, Kono frowns at the couch like it's refusing to cooperate with their investigation.
"Love what you haven't at all done with the place, Captain," she says.
"What do you want from me?" Danny says, spreading his hands, and she just laughs and shakes her head and tells him he's under strict orders to stay away from Chin while he's barbecuing, unless he wants to get skewered.
Ben pokes at the TV until he gets the game going, and it's a good night. A pretty good night.
Despite the solid lead, Victor Hesse's trail goes cold, and Danny goes through April and May in what Chin calls "a funk" and Kono calls "menopause." He yells a lot more than he usually does and Ben actually, physically cries twice. Danny feels bad about not feeling bad about it.
He sleeps in the master bedroom, the one Steve slept in, the one that used to be Jack’s, and finds a framed polaroid of a woman he assumes is Steve’s mother hidden away in the back of the bottom bedside drawer. She’s crashed out on a hideous paisley couch with a baby -- Mary -- in one arm and a miniature Steve leaning solemnly over her sleeping face and attempting to insert his forefinger in her right nostril. "You little shit," Danny mutters, and puts it back where it came from, under a pile of miscellaneous junk -- screws, ribbons, colored glass worn smooth by the rhythm of the waves.
On a Wednesday night in June, Danny falls asleep over the paperwork he’s brought home and wakes up at three in the morning, heart pounding, because there is someone else in the room. Steve coughs, illuminated dimly by the bedside lamp.
"Jesus Christ," Danny says. "Hello, this is the most terrifying thing that’s happened to me in the past four months."
"I didn’t think there would be anyone here," Steve says. "You moved in?"
"Some punks burned my apartment down," Danny says. The initial fight-or-flight response has receded but the adrenaline is still thrumming through his system; he’s got a fistful of sheets in a death grip and he can’t stop staring. "Mary suggested it."
"I’ll be sure to send her a fruit basket for the public service." Steve looks thin -- like he looked when they first met, actually, fresh off the plane and jet-lagged, before seventeen months of sneaking Danny’s malasadas had taken the the edge off of all his sharp angles. There’s a ratty duffel lying at his feet and a wicked-looking scar curves over his left bicep, disappearing under the sleeve of his t-shirt, the skin still pink and new.
"Come here," Danny says. It’s not what he means to do; what he actually means is to start yelling, but there are too many things he wants to start yelling about and they’re all jammed up in his throat. "Come on, move your ass and sit down like a civilized person, this isn’t my teenage vampire romance."
"Rachel gave Grace those Twilight books, it’s awful, all she talks about is how she wants an undead stalker boyfriend to watch her sleep now. I’m seeing a lot of vigorously enforced restraining orders in my future."
"Is Grace doing okay?" The bed dips with Steve’s weight and even in the darkened room Danny can see Steve has new gray hairs, dark circles under his eyes.
"She’s fine; I’m seeing her tomorrow, will you be seeing her tomorrow?"
"I’ve got three days."
"Three days." Danny closes his eyes and rubs a hand over the bridge of his nose, but when he opens them Steve is still there, staring back at him. Danny reaches for Steve’s shoulder and pulls him the rest of the way in, tasting toothpaste in Steve’s mouth when it opens for his kiss. He’s reassuringly solid under Danny’s hands, which is how Danny finally figures he isn’t still asleep. Danny’s been dreaming about Steve pretty regularly -- hazy half-remembered conversations and sensations, waking up anxious and pissed off and turned on. The sex had made it worse, replacing imagination with the very real sense memory of Steve’s skin against his, cracking open the dam of want inside him and leaving Danny to deal with the wreckage. The ghosts of those touches are nothing compared to this, though: Steve kissing him back like he’s been dying for it.
"I didn’t know if -- I thought you’d be mad," Steve says, toeing off his beat-up boots.
"Oh, I’m mad. I’m super mad, I haven’t seen you for -- where the hell did you fuck off to?"
"I can’t talk about it."
"Of course you can’t, you enormous prick, why do I even ask?"
"Probably because you think that if you bitch about it long enough they’ll raise your security clearance just to -- " Steve’s breath hitches when Danny sucks a mark into the pulse point on his neck. "Just to shut you up."
"I think you need to shut up now," Danny says, a little breathless himself. "Take off your clothes."
Steve strips with record speed and swallows when Danny pushes him down flat on the bed to look at him. Most of the scars Danny recognizes: the raised starburst of a bullet hole in his shoulder from that drug bust in the warehouse that went down the shithole, a specking of pale marks on his ribs where the shrapnel from the mango-crate bomb had gotten him, old marks from knife fights before Danny’s time, thin enough to be almost invisible. The new scar on his arm slices through the tattoo on his shoulder and a good six inches across his chest and Danny follows it with his tongue, a hint of teeth to make Steve shiver. He wants to map every inch of Steve’s skin, refamiliarize himself with Steve’s body while he has the chance, pay some more fucking attention to the way Steve is reacting.
"How do you feel about a blowjob?" Danny mutters into Steve’s bellybutton, waiting for Steve’s moan before saying, "Pretty amiable to the proposition, I’m guessing."
"Danny," Steve says.
"Who’s going to turn down a blowjob?" Danny asks, lowering his mouth over the head of Steve’s cock.
"Is that a rhetorical question?"
"Are you going to give me lip or are you going to fuck my mouth? Because it’s one or the other."
"Um," Steve says, "door number two."
"Excellent," Danny says, like he would have been able to hold out for much longer anyway. The noises Steve makes are incredible: low, desperate sounds, his cock stretching Danny’s lips and nudging up against his soft palate. It’s a good stretch, heavy, hot, and Danny loses himself in it for long minutes, eyes on the spectrum of microexpressions flickering across Steve’s face. He pulls back with an obscene pop when his jaw starts to ache, and says to Steve’s soft groan of protest: "Actually, and correct me if I’m wrong because it’s been a while, I seem to remember saying something about how this was going to happen the next time."
"Shit, Danny, however you want it," Steve pants.
"I think I want to get fucked," Danny says, "I want, yeah -- " This is an awful fucking idea, he thinks as he pushes a condom into Steve’s grasp; it takes several tries for Steve to get it open, a tremor in his hands. Danny’s own fingers are none too steady as he fucks himself on lube-slick fingers over Steve, bottom lip between his teeth. Steve’s hands rest on his thighs for a second and start running up and down Danny’s legs, over his ass and the small of his back. Their fingers tangle and Danny curves forward. "Fuck, I’m ready," he says, even though he isn’t; it fucking hurts, Steve splitting him open, but he takes all of it, Steve’s hips resting snug against his ass. This is probably the absolute last thing Danny should be doing now but he can’t help it; Steve has been the catalyst for some of the dumbest, most short-sighted decisions Danny has ever made and there’s no reason for that to change.
It’s worth it, to have Steve pinned underneath him like this, shiny with sweat and gripping Danny’s thighs hard enough to bruise. "Steve," Danny says, and Steve opens his eyes to focus on Danny’s, glazed and dark with lust. "Just making sure you’re still with me," Danny says, bringing a hand to his cock to finish himself off.
Danny’s alarm goes off at seven the next morning and Steve groans, curling tighter in on himself. They hadn’t said much to each other afterwards; Steve had fallen asleep almost immediately, the deep, hard sleep of the utterly exhausted, and Danny hadn’t been in much better shape. Danny shuts the alarm off and looks at Steve sleeping for several long seconds before rolling out of bed and turning on the shower. He aches everywhere.
Clean, he makes his way down to the kitchen where he puts on a pot of coffee and waits for it to percolate. Steve stumbles down the stairs a few minutes later, wearing a pair of boxers and nothing else. "It’s nice to see you this morning," Danny says.
"Uh, morning," Steve says. Danny pours coffee into two mugs and doctors his own with a splash of milk and Steve’s with a spoonful of sugar, then leans against the counter while Steve sits at the kitchen table.
"Because I was wondering, the fuck and run thing, was that going to happen every time?"
Steve flinches. "Danny -- "
"That was kind of a dick move, even for you."
"I’m sorry -- "
"That’s great, four months later -- "
"I meant to tell you before I left, that’s why I went over to your place that night," Steve says.
"And then what, it slipped your mind? Were you waiting for an opportune moment, because I can tell you when it would have been, right before you tried to fuck me against the wall of my apartment."
"I fucked it up!" Steve shouts, coffee sloshing on the table. "I meant to tell you, I’m sorry, I fucked it up. I -- I had to go, Jesus, Danny -- "
"I have to go to work," Danny says, setting his coffee cup down in the sink, skin tight with fury. "You can go to hell." The door slams behind him when he leaves.
You’re really going for some kind of medal in the stupidity Olympics, Williams, Danny thinks to himself, resting his forehead against the steering wheel of his car in the parking lot outside headquarters. A good part of his anger's bled out of him on the drive over; not all of it, but enough that his guts have stopped churning and the self-recrimination has set in. He should have known better, should have known Steve better, and instead, what? He couldn’t even keep his hands to himself long enough to figure out that something was really fucked, that something had set Steve off that night when for nearly a year and a half he’d kept their relationship stalled just that far on the wrong side of professional, never taking the last plunge into the deep end.
"You look like you got worked by the sleeper set, Captain," Kono says when he drags himself out of the car and into the building. Chin glances up from where he's futzing with the computer table.
"Steve’s back," he says. Kono drops her pen.
"What? Where is he?"
"At the house." Danny grimaces. "He didn’t know I moved in. We got into a fight about how he left, he’s probably gone for good by now."
"Then you need to go back," Chin says impassively, crossing his arms.
"We’ll go -- " Kono starts.
"We’ll meet you there in a few minutes," Chin says, hand on Kono’s shoulder.
"Shit," Danny says, "Shit, you’re right, I have to -- "
"Go," Chin says.
Danny sprints out to his car and breaks any number of traffic laws speeding back. He fishtails into the driveway and runs inside, shouting, "Steve!" Steve looks up at him, startled, still seated at the kitchen table in the same position he was in when Danny left. "Fuck," Danny says, blindsided with relief. "I’m sorry."
"About what?" Steve asks blankly.
"About flipping out on you, before -- " Danny flaps his hand vaguely in the direction of the door. "Don’t feel like you have to go."
"It’s your house, I gave you the keys -- "
"No, are you even, this is still your house, you can stay for as long as -- you can stay in it. I want you to stay here." Please, Danny doesn’t add out loud, but he thinks it, hands curled into anxious fists at his sides. He feels pathetic, unbalanced, having spent too long pushing without having anyone to push back. Ben folds like a house of cards if Danny so much as looks at him wrong and Kono and Chin just roll their eyes and pretend to let him have his way. Danny was married for eleven years so he knows the value of compromise; getting something, even if it’s not enough, is better than getting nothing.
"I wasn’t -- I don’t want to leave," Steve says.
The rest of Danny’s suppressed panic dissipates. He even manages to dredge up a passable smile from somewhere and Steve smiles back after a moment of hesitation.
"Good, um, good." Danny frowns. "And, Kono and Chin are coming over in like, ten minutes, you should probably put some clothes on."
Steve glances down at himself and bursts out laughing, like he's surprised by it, and when Danny pulls him to his feet he's loose-limbed and relaxed. "Danny," he says, and he's got to stop saying it like that.
"Go, get decent," Danny says, not pulling him into a kiss the way he wants to. "Hey, here's a thought: shower while you're at it, you smell like the bottom of a fishtank."
By the time Kono and Chin come up the drive, Steve's freshly laundered and looking only mildly terrible. Danny stands by the door as Steve goes out to meet the car, and he can't catch more than the hum of conversation as the three of them draw together. He doesn't need to hear it; he knows what they're saying.
They spend the day out back, talking about the cases they've been dealing with since Steve's been gone. He's impressed, even though he doesn't say much; Danny can read it in the slant of his eyebrows when Kono tells him about the cartel they took down last month. "Good to know my leadership still inspires you," Steve says.
"Excuse me," Danny huffs, and everyone has a good laugh.
Toward afternoon Chin and Danny start fielding increasingly-panicked calls from Ben, who's apparently been told they're all working an undercover job and Ben has to make sure no one knows they've left headquarters. "That's kind of mean," Steve observes at one point.
Kono gives him a look. "You'd rather I tell him that our ex-boss is in town? The one who abandoned us and made us draft him into our team? The one responsible for making him cry once a week?"
"Why do I come out sounding like I knocked you guys up and left you at the altar or something?"
"Because you did," Kono says.
Chin empties his beer bottle. "There's a reason we call Danny the war widow."
"I need another beer," Danny decides.
Around three, Danny remembers he gets Gracie tonight and has to pick her up in a half-hour. He's had about one too many to feel comfortable making the drive, but Steve hasn't drunk anything at all and blinks at him hopefully. "I can drive you. If you want."
Kono rolls her eyes so hard it's almost audible. Chin just laughs.
"Why, Mr. McGarrett, such a gentleman." Danny bats his eyelashes and Steve glares at him and they're almost, almost the same.
Grace freaks the fuck out when she sees Steve, shrieking and laughing and crying all at the same time when Steve picks her up in a giant hug. "I still have your comics," she hiccups against his shoulder. "And I'm sorry if you don't like your room anymore, please don't be mad."
Steve frowns at Danny over her shoulder; Danny makes the "I'll explain later" gesture and Steve rubs Gracie's back. "It's okay, kiddo," he murmurs, "I'm not mad, I... love... my room?" He makes another baffled face at Danny.
Grace snuffles once more, then leans back to ask, "Can we stop for ice cream?"
That night Gracie falls asleep with her stuffed pony under one arm and a cloth doll with a beautifully-embroidered dress under the other, and Danny tugs Steve away from the door where he's watching her. Steve follows him down the hall into the master bedroom, but hesitates. "Shouldn't I -- I mean, Gracie," he says.
Danny wonders if he should tell him about how Rachel offered to sic lawyers on Steve for spousal abandonment -- "They're very good, Daniel, they're the ones I used on you," she assured him -- but settles for, "It's fine, just, get in."
Steve still looks doubtful, but he lets Danny pull him in and onto the bed. He faces Danny with a serious expression. "Do you think she likes the doll?"
"She loves the doll, what are you talking about," Danny says, sliding closer and pressing a kiss on Steve's jaw. Steve shivers and rolls on top of Danny, tangling their legs together, and Danny stares up at him and wonders what the hell they're doing, here.
Steve looks like he's thinking the same thing. "I don't know when I'll be back," he says. "The next time--"
"Shut up," Danny whispers, kissing him and pulling him down. "Just, shut up."
Danny takes Grace to school the next morning and calls Chin on the way back to the house; Chin just says, "I would've been disappointed if you'd showed up here, man," and tells him to have a good day.
Steve's not inside when Danny gets back, and he spends a few really awesome minutes having a panic attack before he actually processes the fact that all of Steve's stuff -- not that there's much, the duffel bag and his ugly-ass combat boots -- is still there. He goes out onto the second-floor patio and sure enough, he can see Steve swimming, probably out far enough that if he gets a cramp and starts drowning he's going to die before anyone can get to him. Danny goes back inside before he can dwell too much on the fact that he's turning into his mother.
He makes some coffee and when Steve comes back in they do some kind of omelet thing and collapse on the couch, like they've had a long day already and it's not five past nine in the morning.
"You called your sister?" Danny asks, eyes on the TV. Some British guy is talking about cars.
Steve makes a harrumphing noise and settles further into the couch.
"Called the Governor?" Danny can't resist adding, because seriously, the number of times Governor Jameson has asked for updates on the investigation that everyone knows they're not supposed to be doing into the Mysterious Disappearance Of Steve McGarrett doesn't bear thinking about.
Steve looks pained.
"She worries, is all I'm saying," Danny tells him.
This time, Steve sighs and tugs the remote out of Danny's hand, crowding him up against the arm of the chair and kissing him, slow and careful the way he's never done before -- never done, Danny's acting like they've been doing this for months and really it's been less than two days.
But still, there's something surprising about the soft press of Steve's mouth, lush and still salty-sweet. Danny slides his hands around and under the waistband of Steve's shorts and takes the hint.
They spend most of the day like that, quiet and lazy against each other. Danny knows it's not the way any of this would've gone down if Steve hadn't left. Been taken. Maybe they'd have already burned out by now, or maybe Steve would've kept hauling them both back from this exact situation -- kept just enough space between them to stop Danny from closing the distance the way he's closing it now. Maybe Steve would've lost interest, or Danny would've met someone new.
Or maybe they'd still be spending their weekends like this, tangled in the couch blanket and breathing each other's air, eyes half-lidded with sleep and sex and all the things they're not interested in saying right now. There's no way to know, but still Danny feels cheated out of finding out.
Steve doesn't disappear the next morning; he walks out the door right in front of Danny's face. He turns and says, "Don't look for me, this time, okay? You're not -- " He breathes out heavy through his nose. "You're just making this harder."
"Do I look interested in making this easy for you?" Danny says.
He's half-expecting a scowl or even a fight, but Steve shocks the hell out of him and laughs. "No," he says.
Steve's gone for one month after the next, the time piling up like files on the corner of a desk. Danny keeps his promise to stop looking but somehow manages to forget to pass it on to Kono and Chin, who are like terriers from hell and who manage to get hundred-mile-radius locations on Hesse every few weeks. It doesn't sound like much, but it's about twice as good as the CIA or Interpol can do.
Kono and Ben go on one truly awful date in July, after which Chin seems to like Ben a lot more. In September, they set up and execute a fucking impossible undercover mission that involves half of IA and gets Sergeant Cage almost-fired, which cheers everybody up and leads to the whole team getting comprehensively shitfaced at some bar along the beach. Danny takes a cab home and spends a good five minutes standing at the front door; when he finally nuts up and goes inside, the house is dark and empty.
In November, Danny gets an invite to Thanksgiving dinner with Rachel and Step-Stan. "Are you shitting me?" he says when he calls Rachel, holding the embossed invitation carefully between his thumb and forefinger.
"Must you be so vulgar, Daniel?" Rachel says. "I thought you might like to spend the holiday with your daughter."
"Yes," Danny says, "but everyone in that house except her hates me."
"I don’t hate you, Danny."
"Well," Danny says, thrown.
"Stan still does, though," Rachel says. "See you there."
"You’re always welcome to eat dinner with our family again," Kono says later.
"Yeah, because that was also such a barrel of laughs," Danny says. Chin shrugs, smiling apologetically.
"You want me to be your date?" Kono asks when he tells them about Rachel's invitation.
"Traitor," Chin says.
"Can’t blame me for trying, cuz," Kono says.
"Last time we pretended to be a couple, I got kidnapped for one-point-five million dollars," Danny points out.
"Do you want me to be your date?" Chin says.
"You’re both fired," Danny says, leaning forward on his desk, face in his hands. He sits like that for a minute before shaking himself and googling for local wineries.
When Danny pulls up, the gates are open and the butler opens the car door for him.
"Jim," Danny says.
"Detective," Jim says.
"It’s actually, um, Captain now." Danny shuts his eyes for a second.
"Just give me your keys, sir," Jim says, holding his hand out.
"Danno!" Grace shrieks, launching herself at Danny’s midsection. Danny lets her hug some of the tension out of him, sighing, and yanks on her pigtails in greeting. "I made cookies with Mom, they’re shaped like pumpkins," she says.
"More or less," Rachel says. "Hello, Danny."
"Rachel," Danny says, submitting to an air kiss and passing off the wine bottle. "Stanley."
"Welcome," Stan says expressionlessly, shaking Danny’s hand. Grace grabs it a second later and drags Danny off to meet her step-grandparents and the rest of Stan’s family. Danny endures the introductions with a smile, dodges a particularly handsy step-aunt, and escapes to the dining room with a glass of wine.
"I see your mother couldn’t make it again," he tells Rachel.
"You know she doesn’t like it when you Yanks rub it in," Rachel says.
"Yeah," Danny says. He’s seated next to Grace and Grandma Millie; Grace for about seven minutes while she wolfs down her food and excuses herself to go play with her cousins, then Grandma Millie asks him if he has his eye on any nice young ladies. "Not," Danny says, draining his third glass, "at the moment. It’s a tough job. Big time commitment. Rachel’s probably told you all about it."
"Yes, dear," Grandma Millie says, patting his arm. She launches into the story of her marriage, which with minimal prompting turns into the story of her life, which involves something with skinny dipping and an exploding soda fountain that Danny doesn’t pay much attention to because he is too busy getting drunk and wondering why he had ever thought that this was a better idea than leftover takeout and a Spielberg marathon, or even seventeen thousand members of the Kelly/Kalakaua family -- most of whom aren't speaking to each other. Stan leans over and says something that makes Rachel laugh, loud and full-throated, and they tangle their fingers together on top of the table.
"Danny," Rachel says, touching Danny’s shoulder on the sofa in the sitting room where he’s listening with a numb sort of horror as his daughter tells her cousins that she’d marry Robert Pattinson, shag Taylor Lautner, and cliff Justin Bieber, "May I have a word?"
"Sure," Danny says. He doesn’t weave when he gets up, a fact he is inordinately proud of. "Did you teach Gracie that awful game?"
"I’m fairly certain that eleven-year-old girls have been playing that game since the dawn of time."
"I’m just saying, the colloquialism is kind of suspect."
"You’re very quiet tonight, Danny," Rachel says, shutting a door behind her. It muffles the constant murmur of voices like twisting a tap, and Danny sits down on a piano bench and pinches the bridge of his nose. "You’re also pretty well rat-arsed."
"Sue me," Danny says.
"That ship has sailed," Rachel says, sitting down next to him. "Are you actually having sex with Steve McGarrett?"
Danny freezes. "You’re hilarious, Rachel," he says.
"I don’t think so. I know I’ve made jokes about it -- "
"You and half the island -- "
"-- but I don’t think it’s a joke."
"Oh, I’m pretty sure it’s a joke." My life is a a joke, Danny thinks, leaning back against the hard edge of the covered keys. There is no other explanation for what is happening right now.
"Okay." Rachel exhales, and tries again: "You’re very quiet tonight, Danny."
"Maybe I just don’t have anything to say!" Danny says, louder than he meant to.
"That is a big fat lie, Daniel Williams, and you know it," Rachel says, poking Danny in the chest. "You are constitutionally incapable of shutting your bloody mouth in all circumstances except the one that needs it."
"And what is that?"
"You’re living in his house, Danny, while he’s off god-knows-where, probably slogging through some Colombian swamp and getting shot at, gone for months at a time and it’s awful and you need to say something about it!"
"What, like you said something? It’s his job -- "
"Yes," Rachel says.
"If you hadn’t said something, we would still be married," Danny says.
"If I hadn’t said something I would hate your guts right now, though I have to say you’re making an excellent effort to get me there regardless."
"Sorry," Danny says after a beat. He closes his eyes against the lights dancing across them but it doesn’t help, squiggles of yellow against the backs of his eyelids. "It’s not the same thing."
"Danny -- "
"For one thing, I’ve only technically been fucking him for four days and, contrary to popular belief, I am not actually married to him. It’s not what you think it is."
"Then what is it?"
"I don’t know!" Danny shouts. "I don’t know."
"Grace says," Rachel says, then stops. "I don’t like seeing you unhappy."
"Except when I hated you." Rachel gets to her feet and smooths the front of her shirt, twitching her eyebrows up and smiling. "I’m going to go back."
"Hey," Danny says when her hand is on the door. "You and Stan look good together."
"We are good together," Rachel says.
November turns into December turns into January without much fanfare; Danny spends the holidays at the beach house, watching sheets of rain move across the ocean. Everything feels soggy, the news calling it record rainfall but Danny’s pretty sure the whole thing is just plain unnatural; there’s something wrong with a place where the year’s temperature differential is only about twenty degrees. No way to mark the passage of time through the shift of the seasons.
They’re in the middle of working a small-time fence in order to get an introduction to an amazingly paranoid arms dealer when Steve shows up again; Danny unlocks the door Monday night with his cellphone crammed between his shoulder and his ear, Kono confirming the details of the meeting she managed to set up for Wednesday. "You’re amazing, have I ever told you?" Danny says, dropping his keys on the counter.
"It’s my wiles," Kono says. "And my fists. In fact, let’s just call it the overwhelming force of my personality."
"Hey," Steve says.
"Take a break tomorrow, okay?" Danny tells Kono after a beat, heart slowing down. "I don’t want you burning out before the bust."
"You too, Captain," Kono says, and ends the call.
"Hi," Danny says to Steve. "You look like Bigfoot, they don’t have razors in the swamps of Colombia?"
"I wasn’t in Colombia."
"I know," Danny says.
He was -- Hesse was -- last heard of in Nairobi. Danny knows because Chin spent the better part of last week hunched over satellite imagery, squinting so hard Danny had to stop himself from telling Chin he'd need glasses if he kept this up.
Steve’s forehead creases but he apparently decides to let it go in favor of stepping in closer. He's warm, his hands hot where they're gripping Danny's waist, but -- "Seriously," Danny says, pulling out of the kiss, "your skank-ass beard is offending my aesthetic sensibilities."
"Along with modern art and casual Fridays," Steve says, halfway between annoyed and amused, Danny can tell.
"They’re very finely honed. Have you even showered yet?"
"Yes," Steve says. Danny rolls his eyes and starts heading toward the upstairs bathroom.
"Frolicking in the ocean doesn’t count."
"I’m trying to stay off the beaches." Steve climbs the stairs, obedient as a sleepy child, which sends all sorts of alarms off. Then Danny actually listens to what Steve's saying.
"Too much visibility."
Steve sits down on the toilet lid, watching avidly as Danny digs out his razor and shaving cream. Steve’s eyes have the too-bright sheen of exhaustion, red-rimmed, and he's pale in the harsh light of the bathroom. Something clicks in Danny’s head. "Are you AWOL right now or something?"
"No," Steve says. "Not, um, technically."
"I don’t like that word coming out of your mouth, it’s usually trying to explain away a gross violation of civil rights."
"Occasionally operators have to maintain a communications blackout in hostile situations where they fear discovery."
"Oh my God," Danny says, "oh my God, do you know what this is like? This is like when my mom didn’t feel like going into work so she called in sick and then I had to run all her errands because she was afraid someone at the grocery store would recognize her."
"Yeah, it sounds exactly the same. She did this a lot?"
"A couple of times. And you watch yourself when you’re talking about my mom."
"I’ve got about fourteen hours."
"Well," Danny says, taking a deep breath through the sudden constriction in his throat. "Then I guess you’d better shave."
"I don’t know, I think this is kind of ruggedly handsome," Steve says, twisting around to inspect himself in the mirror.
"Sure, if you mean homeless," Danny says. He coughs and Steve’s reflection grins, white teeth, the right side of Steve’s mouth curving up just a millisecond faster than the left. "Oh, for -- arms up, up!"
Steve pivots back and lifts his arms up at Danny’s gesturing, allowing Danny to pull his shirt off over his head. There’s no new scarring and the bruising across Steve’s side looks old, yellow around the edges. Danny thinks about touching it, about pushing his thumbs hard into the dips and valleys of Steve’s ribs, the involuntary hiss of noise Steve would probably make. He shakes the shaving cream can instead and slathers a handful of foam over the bottom half of Steve’s face.
"You going to do it for me?" Steve asks.
"Maybe one day when you’ve convinced me that you know how to look both ways before crossing the street I’ll let you do it without making you hold my hand, too. Munchkin."
"It’s too easy," Steve mumbles through the foam. "The joke is too easy."
"Silence," Danny says, tilting Steve’s chin up. Steve shuts up, probably less out of respect for Danny’s orders than for the sharp metal Danny is scraping over the column of his throat.
"You’re pretty good at this," Steve says when Danny pulls away to run the razor under the tap.
"Rachel used to make me do her legs," Danny says, moving back in. Rachel used to laugh, submerged in bubbles that never quite managed to cover her breasts, a glass of wine in one hand and a spreading patch of wetness on Danny’s shirt where she liked to poke him with her foot. Eleven years, Danny thinks, this isn’t even close to the same thing.
Steve closes his eyes about midway through the shave but opens them again when Danny rinses off his hands and runs the washcloth over Steve's face; what Danny sees in them makes his mouth go dry and he doesn’t have to look down to see that Steve is tenting his cargo pants. Steve turns his head and Danny’s thumb pops into his mouth.
"I wanted to, um, I was thinking about -- " Steve says when Danny removes the thumb and the other two fingers that found their way in there to slide them, wet, over the smooth skin of Steve’s face. Steve reaches for the button on Danny’s pants.
"Yeah, let’s move this to the bedroom," Danny says.
Every time's not going to be different, Danny knows this, but this is still different from the first time, from the last time, from the -- fuck, three other times, they've only done this five times, what the fuck.
Steve's not desperate, for one thing, but he is focused; like he's been planning this for a long while and wants to make sure he gets everything just right. Danny's not allowed to do much more than lie back and appreciate the way Steve's stroking careful fingers across his body, following it up with tongue and sometimes teeth. By the time Steve's gotten around to taking Danny's boxers off, Danny's pretty much begging for it -- for more, anything, please, but nothing seems to speed up the process.
Steve settles between Danny's legs and sucks his cock like he's taking notes, eyes flicking up to watch Danny's reactions every few seconds as he tries more tongue, more suction, a different grip, and this kind of analytic approach to blowjobs should not be getting Danny off but it's been almost eight months, that's the excuse he's got ready in his back pocket when he comes down Steve's throat in a long, high whine.
"Was that research for some strategic op you're planning?" Danny pants, suspicious but too blissed out to feel paranoid about it. Steve's slithering up his body but he stops and laughs against Danny's stomach.
"Again, you're just throwing me easy pitches, Danny," he admonishes, kissing Danny's throat, across his jaw to his mouth, and Danny slings an arm around Steve's neck and murmurs encouragement as Steve ruts against his thigh, slow and smooth and so much better than it has any right to be.
In what's looking like it might be just standard operating procedure, Steve falls asleep about five minutes after, still half-sprawled over Danny, his face jammed into Danny's neck. It's stifling and claustrophobic after so many nights sleeping alone, but Danny doesn't move away, can't really bring himself to want to.
Steve wakes up around three in the morning and makes such a big production out of getting out of bed that Danny's got no choice but to follow him downstairs, where Steve peers bemusedly at the coffee maker. "You bought a new one," he says.
"Yeah, your old one made it all burned. Plus this one does hot chocolate," Danny points out, moving around him in order to flip the switch. "So, we should probably talk."
But Steve's turned with him like Danny's some kind of magnetic North, and for a few minutes Danny's distracted by Steve's hands and mouth. Not in a bad way, but Danny read a lot of shitty magazines while he was stuck at the the Queens medical center last month with Kono's GSW to the thigh, and Cosmo is pretty insistent that you shouldn't let him derail the conversation with sex.
"Steve," he says, "Come on."
"What," Steve says, in between stinging kisses along Danny's jaw, and Danny's going to have to steal some of Gracie's makeup that she's not supposed to be wearing yet in order to hide these marks, fucking asshole, "do you want to talk about?"
"You weren't in Colombia," Danny replies. "You were in Kenya. Nairobi, I'm pretty sure, before you crash-landed here."
That stops everything pretty fast. "It's classi--"
"I am not above hitting you with your own goddamn frying pan," Danny warns. "I know it's classified, pardon me while I proceed to not give a shit. Now. You," he stabs a finger at Steve, "Are gonna listen, and I am going to tell you what I know, and I'll bet you all the money I've got that I know more than you do. And then you're going to tell me what I want to know."
Steve keeps his mouth shut while Danny proceeds to detail the movements, more or less, of one Victor Hesse over the past seven months; links to deals he's done, a few articles from local papers about a mysterious homicide or disappearance that have Hesse's bloody fingerprints all over them, one or two eyewitnesses who don't actually know what they saw. "I've got the whole file at the office, but it's pretty much memorized by now."
"I--" Steve clears his throat. "Am I good to talk now?"
Danny gestures for him to go ahead.
"I told you to stay out of it," he says flatly, and that's not the reaction Danny's expecting. Danny wasn't paying much attention before, but now he's noticing the way Steve's got his hands clenched around his mug, the twitch in his jaw that means he's about to haul off and hit someone.
"And I told you I've got no intention of making your life easier." Danny's not angry yet, but he's thinking about it.
Steve gets up from the counter. "What -- so you're sitting around here, you guys are just playing Monday morning quarterback with this whole thing," he says, waving his hand around. "You get within fifty miles of Hesse and you're patting yourself on the back? Asking me, what, why I can't do any better?"
Danny throws his hands up. "You've been chasing him a year now! On top of which, you were chasing him for what, five years before that? Maybe this is one of those things where you've got to just say to yourself, Self, there is something in me that just doesn't want to catch--"
"Shut up!" Steve slams his fists against the counter. "You -- you really think this is me savoring the chase, here? Biding my time? You really think after everything, that I'd want to be--"
"Not here? You tell me!" Danny says, gesturing broadly. "Since Chin and Kono seem to be doing a better job of tracking your suspect than Naval Intelligence."
"You have to stay out of it," Steve repeats, quiet and deadly serious. "You have to tell Kono and Chin to stop, do you understand me?"
"Give me a reason," Danny shoots back. "Maybe we're looking to add to our commendations -- arresting Hesse might be a little tricky in terms of jurisdiction, but we'll give it a shot. Tell me why I shouldn't keep going with this."
"No. Danny, you can't."
And all of a sudden Steve's in his face, scary and looming the way Danny remembers from a hundred suspects, a hundred investigations where Steve was this close to something really, really stupid. "Do you remember what you were doing the day before I left? The first time, back last year."
Danny frowns. "I don't -- what--"
"You went to see Gracie play a soccer game," Steve says, talking too fast. "Her team won, and you both went to Kamekona's to get some shave ice afterward. Kono was at the Coral Prince office and talked with some suits about a new board shape she's been working on. Chin and Malia got a movie, I forget which, on Netflix, and ordered from that place with the wings."
"Okay," Danny says. "And your point is?"
"I know that because Hesse told me. He called me -- he told me the score of the game, Danny. He told me what Chin ordered. He had a copy of Kono's presentation -- he was that close and I couldn't even see him."
"So you figured you'd be able to see him better in the wilds of Columbia?" Danny asks.
Steve looks irritated, like this conversation is going in an unexpectedly annoying direction. "I really haven't been to Columbia at all, Danny, you've got to let that go." He blows out a breath. "Look, maybe you're right, maybe I'm not -- I've got to get close to him and keep him away from you and that's not as easy as it sounds."
It doesn't sound that easy, but Danny's not in the mood to cut him some slack. "So when were you planning on telling me about this?" he asks. "It's not like you didn't come to me every other day when we were partners and go, 'hey, you know what would be fun? Sneaking into a drug trafficker's operations base with just you, me, and two rounds of ammo.' So I'm having trouble seeing why this is what made you--"
"Because!" Steve yells, his hands bunched into fists. "Because I can't take another phone call where someone's got a gun to -- " and he doesn't need to finish that line of thought. "You... just, please, you can't keep looking. Please. Not you, not Chin, not Kono. I don't know how you've gotten away with knowing as much as you do, but he'll find out and he'll come after you."
"And that's, what, supposed to scare me?" Danny says, mouth running even though he's not putting much thought behind it.
"It scares me, Danno," Steve says, and there's nothing to say after that, so Danny just pulls Steve close and kisses him, taking care not to dig his fingers into Steve's side where the bruise is still healing. "Please," Steve murmurs, "Please, please--"
"All right," Danny says. "All right."
Maybe Steve flips a coin before he decides if he's going to let Danny say goodbye; they stumble over to the couch after a while and sleep for another few hours, but when Danny wakes up to the faint blare of the alarm clock up in the bedroom, he wakes up alone.
Kono and Chin don't argue when Danny asks them for all copies of the Hesse investigation and tells them they're suspending activity on it until further notice. Kono gives him a thumb drive and a pissy look; Chin hands over about three boxes of miscellany (including a used Kleenex that Danny suspects is just Chin being passive-aggressive).
Danny sticks all of it in the panic room Steve installed under the stairs about a hundred years ago. He spends a very long, very drunk weekend thinking about setting the shit on fire, but in the end he just shuts the door and shoves a plastic potted plant in front of it.
Ben breaks his arm chasing a suspect over rooftops; Chin and Danny and Kono go to visit him in the hospital. He takes the flowers and the chocolates and the giant "GET WELL MORON" card with equanimity but says, "Just FYI, if your commander-guy ever comes back? I want to transfer back to Vice. And, like, never talk to you guys ever again."
"Even me?" Kono asks.
"Especially you, you're the one who told me not to pussy out when I told you that roof was too far away for me to jump," Ben tells her. "Even though you always smell nice and I was just pretending my car was in the shop last summer so you'd drive me to work."
"What," Kono says.
"Okay, I don't know about you guys but I'm fine with him transferring," Chin announces.
"How much medication is he on?" Danny asks the nurse.
The nurse raises his eyebrows. "If he was any higher, he'd be the Goodyear. Don't worry about it."
Kono drags Danny out to a local bar on Valentine's Day -- Chin's off doing good-boyfriend-related things and Ben disappears to windsurf or cry or write a song about his sadness -- and they drink tequila and complain at each other until about three in the morning. Kono's having an on-again-off-again situation with Ben Bass, of all terrible people, but it's not like Danny's in any position to judge. They call a cab and wind up on the couch at the beach house; Danny opens his eyes the next morning to find he's drooled all over Kono's jeans.
"Hey Captain," Kono mumbles, rubbing at her face and looking totally unfairly beautiful. She looks down at him and laughs. "Your hair, it's just. I think it might be its own sentient creature."
"You're fired," Danny says, and they make breakfast and wander into work late, and for the next month or so Danny has to deal with Chin thinking they had a tryst and subtly trying to kill him. After the third time Chin accidentally-on-purpose backs over Danny with his bike, Danny makes Kono tell him nothing happened.
"I thought what we had was special, Captain," Kono says, flat. "You made me feel things that no man ever has before."
"I hate everyone on the planet," Danny decides.
In March, Danny gets a postcard from Mary; it's a skyline shot of Newark, and on the other side she's written, "Got a gig in NYC, living in Secaucus -- told a cop that I knew you but apparently your not as famous here as I thought. Whats the use of knowing cops if they don't get you out of trouble. PS don't worry about sending bail Im out now."
Danny calls the Newark PD and finds out she was arrested at a party -- the charge was essentially being a wise-ass, which: shock. He catches up with his old partner Casey and takes care of it; he wonders if Steve would be embarrassed or proud about this whole scene, and decides it's really for the best that he never finds out.
Three-fourths of the way through the month, Danny decides he’s angry. Well, that’s not entirely accurate; he’s been angry for a long time. He’s almost forgotten what it’s like not to be angry, to not be living and working with the constant, low-grade burn of fury in the back of his mind. He spends the first week of April cleaning house, packing away all of the shit cluttering up the drawers and the closets: old paperwork, expired credit cards, crumbling macaroni collages, an HPD dress uniform adorned with a silver oak leaf, shoes a size too small to be Steve’s, women’s clothing a decade out of fashion. The sheer amount of crap Steve and his father have stuffed away in their ostensibly immaculate house makes Danny crazy; he’s decided that he is going to tell Steve to get fucked, at least in Danny’s old apartment people could see what they were getting into.
The first thing Steve says is, "You bailed out my sister?"
"Get fucked," Danny says after the perpetual surprised rush fades. He’s nursing a killer headache, from an over-excitable witness in this week’s Mafia-flavored clusterfuck who had little to no useful information but a hell of a left hook, and he’s been forbidden from mixing aspirin and beer since the ulcer incident six years ago, and he’s just generally cranky. "Who else was she going to call?"
Steve’s smile flickers but he pulls out the chair next to Danny’s anyway, swivelling it around so he can straddle it. He lifts Danny’s hand and the icepack in it away from Danny’s eye and makes a noise of sympathy. "That’s a hell of a bruise," he says.
"At least you look like you’re all in one piece," Danny says, giving Steve the critical once-over. He’s not holding himself like anything hurts, anyway.
"More or less."
Danny reapplies the ice and decides he’s going to go for the beer anyway, the lining of his small intestine can just man up, so he snags two out of the fridge and sets them down on the table. Steve opens them by snapping the caps off against each other and hands one back. Danny takes a long swig.
"How long are you here for this time?" Danny asks.
"A little over a day, maybe."
"Okay." Danny takes another drink; Steve hasn’t touched his. "Okay, that’s fine."
"Is everyone doing okay?" Steve asks after a long moment when Danny hasn’t said anything else, busy concentrating on the cold pulsing ache on the side of his face.
"They’re fine, everyone’s fine." Danny considers expounding but realizes he doesn’t have the energy; also, this is the third time he’s had a variation of this conversation and he hates it. He hates having so much to say, watching it build up like water pressure against a levy when Steve isn’t there. He thinks about walking past the potted plant every day on his way out the door and says, before he can help himself, "Maybe we should stop."
"What?" Steve says.
"This," Danny says, gesturing between them. "This, fuckbuddy pit stop thing or whatever it is. I don’t know." His head throbs.
"Is that what you want?"
"It’s just, I keep trying to figure out where it’s going to end up, and nothing. I have no fucking clue. I have no idea what you’re thinking."
"This isn’t exactly what I pictured -- what?"
"Okay," Steve says evenly, stone-faced. He’s no longer slouching into the chair. "Okay, you’re right."
"We should stop. I shouldn't even be here."
"Wait," Danny says when Steve gets up, thinking absurdly that Steve should at least eat something, but Steve just shoulders the duffel he dropped by the wall and walks out as silently as he came in. Danny stares into the living room after him and thinks it should have been worse that time; it wasn’t.
"You need some help with that, Captain?" Kono asks him the next morning.
Danny dumps the box on the table. "Yeah, go get Ben, there's about three more cartons of this in the back of my car," he says, tossing her the keys. She catches them mid-air and disappears out the door; Chin wanders in from his office, eyebrows lifted.
"How's it?" he says neutrally, then clocks the writing on the side of the box Danny managed to lug in. "Danny," he starts.
"I'm done waiting," Danny says.
It turns out baiting an international criminal mastermind is a lot easier than Danny thought.
Kono and Chin take some time out of their day to describe all the ways in which letting Hesse know they're tracking him is a monumentally stupid idea. "That's very thoughtful of you guys," Danny says sincerely.
"I'm just saying, Ms. Jameson's probably going to be pissed if we get blown up," Chin says.
"Your crush on the Governor notwithstanding," Kono tells him, "I'll be pissed if we get blown up."
But they help out anyway: calls to informants they know Hesse has bugged, conversations with people who might know people who won't give them anything useful but will send up all sorts of red flags.
About two weeks into Operation Fuck This Noise, they manage to track down and arrest Upfront, who's pretty polite about it, all things considered. "Sorry about your teeth," he says as Danny puts him in the back of a car. His thug had knocked two of them out during their last little meeting.
"No, it's fine," Danny says. "I think I was getting a cavity in one of them."
"Oral hygiene is a seriously overlooked aspect of our daily health," Upfront agrees. "I still have 'em, if you want."
"Thanks," Danny says, "I'll, uh. Think about it."
They plan a hundred different scenarios for how it might go down. Chin gets Danny a panic button and stares at him until he puts it on his keychain; they rig the house and headquarters with enough surveillance equipment to make Requisitions deeply suspicious; Danny takes the same route to work every day but spends about twenty minutes before every car ride checking for a bomb.
"That's not really his style, though," Kono says, leaning against the car door. "I mean, he likes it up close and personal. It's why Chin gave you the panic button."
"Chin's a mother hen," Danny grumbles.
Kono laughs. "The best part is that you said that without any irony whatsoever, Captain."
The first indication they get that someone up there, or down there, or somewhere, has taken notice is also the last indication; Danny comes home one night about a week after they arrest Upfront and finds the power's been cut.
"Well, shit," he says, right before he's knocked out.
"Daniel Howard Williams," Danny hears someone saying. "Daniel. Danny. I'd rather you be awake for this, really."
Male, late thirties to mid-forties, a smoker, Irish, possibly Belfast, although he's spent a lot of time away from home and his accent sounds like a caricature of itself. Danny goes through this flick-flick-flick on autopilot, cataloging the situation, cataloging his options. He's tied to a chair, hands lashed to the arms and shoulders roped against the chair back, even his fucking legs tied up. He opens his eyes and Victor Hesse smiles down at him, friendly and wide. "Finally," Hesse says, "It's a pleasure to meet you, officially."
"Hi," Danny says. There have been exactly two other incidents like this over the course of Danny's career, both undercover ops, one in Newark and the kidnapping thing Danny pulled with Kono here – the thing is, they spend a lot of time telling you how to get other people out of hostage situations but they don't really go into depth about what to do if you're in one, because most criminals aren't stupid or crazy enough to try to take a cop hostage.
"Daniel Howard Williams," Hesse says again; he's got some kind of report he's reading off an iPad, of all things. "Thirty-seven, divorced, one child. Can you believe that bitch got custody? And you being such a model citizen. The whole world's against you, Danny."
Danny tracks him as he paces up and down the living room. Holding people -- holding someone against their will for any length of time is complicated; there's a lot of variables, a lot of unpredictability. A lot of ways for things to go wrong. Panic and take a cop hostage and things are going to go bad quickly; it's simpler, more efficient, to just go for the kill shot.
But Hesse doesn't panic often, and there are three other guys that Danny can see, all with that beefy neck that says they're not here for their contribution to the conversation. Hesse isn't holding Danny hostage. This is going to be a lot less pleasant than that.
"And then there's your. . . current living arrangements," Hesse says, glancing around the room. "Do you know, I think this is the exact same chair I shot Steve's father in. I love that kind of symmetry, don't you?"
"You're going to kill me," Danny says. He doesn't really want to focus on it, but he knew it would come up eventually.
"Sorry about that," Hesse replies cheerfully. "But I'll do you better than McGarrett did me; you've got my word no harm'll come to your daughter. And if it's any consolation, it isn't personal."
"That's really comforting," Danny says. "Why are you killing me again?"
Hesse shrugs. "Well, I say it isn't personal -- it's not personal against you, how about that? This all comes back to McGarrett, my own bad penny. Killing little Gracie, that might be a bit of a downer, but killing you? That'll be a blow."
"Yeah, why's that?" Danny asks. He's buying time, but for what? The power's out and he can't reach the panic button even if it was still in his pocket, which it's not. Nothing big or heroic is going to happen; he's going to die, and get buried with full honors, at least, and Chin will finally get to head the task force like he's probably been wanting to do for a few years now. Every remotely workable plan withering into nothing because -- Danny clears his throat -- no one else is here.
"Such modesty, Danny," Hesse says, "or perhaps you're just stupid. But when a man like McGarrett comes back here whenever he has time, and sometimes when he's got no time at all -- that means something, doesn't it? Something more than just old partners, old friends. I'm ashamed to admit I didn't see it right away, but it's so obvious when you think about it."
"What are you talking about?" Danny asks.
Hesse backhands him casually, hard enough to rattle his teeth. "Stupid, then," he says. "Although that surprises me, given how well you've done these past few weeks -- that's the second reason. You're a persistent little bugger. You actually came close to finding me a few days ago. Very impressive, all things considered."
Danny thinks that of everything he's going to miss, he's going to regret watching Gracie grow up the most. She's so smart, he thinks, so talented and perfect, watching her become a woman would have been amazing.
"If I didn't know you so well, I'd ask you to join my team," Hesse says. "As it is, I just need to know how you've been managing to get so close."
"You expect me to tell you?"
"No," Hesse laughs, "not yet." He's got a nice laugh. He picks up a knife from the kitchen table, a knife Danny's done a great job of not noticing before, and strolls over to the chair. "I've found it's always better to get a bit of the torture out of the way first, before any questions, if that's all right with--"
The window facing out toward the beach shatters, and Beefy #3 goes down with a gargling sound, clutching at his throat. #1 and #2 start yelling into earpieces right before they go down, too.
Meanwhile Danny's busy getting dragged into the kitchen, chair and all, with Hesse grabbing his gun and training it on one blown-out window after another. "Let me guess," Danny says, "that's the gun you shot McGarrett's dad with, too?"
"Shut up," Hesse snarls; he's not so playful now, sweat standing out on his forehead. He reaches up to his own earpiece and barks, "Report, what's happened?"
Whoever Hesse expects to be on the other line, it's not who answers; he stiffens and his eyes narrow. "I expected some last-minute heroics," he says, "but I admit, McGarrett, you've done yourself proud."
Steve says something, and Hesse tightens his hold on Danny's shoulder.
"No doubt you're well-aware of who's playing host to me at the moment," he says. "I'd hate for you to have to bury another near-and-dear."
There's a noise at the front door, and now Danny can hear Steve, " -- you don't qualify, Hesse," and then he's there, right there, an M16 sniper rifle in his hands. He's got a bruise covering the whole left side of his face and his boots are wet.
"No, but Danny here, oh, what special friends you became," Hesse says, not missing a beat. He cocks the gun -- a gun with a manual trigger, different gun than the McGarrett murder weapon then. "Tell me, Danny, do you want them to ship your body back to New Jersey? The Williams plot at Flower Hill Cemetery is quite lovely. There's even a view."
"You're not killing anyone else," Steve says. "It's over. Come quietly and -- "
Danny closes his eyes when he feels the barrel of the gun pressing against the back of his head. "'Come quietly,' that's a beautiful phrase. Don't you love that, Danny? 'Come quietly and . . .' what was the rest of that sentence, Commander? 'Come quietly and no harm will come to you'? But I doubt you can make that promise."
"I'm not going to shoot you in the back, Hesse," Steve says. The tone of his voice says different, but Danny's not about to draw attention to this.
"No you won't, not with my new best friend Danny to vouch for me. I'm glad I didn't kill you the first time," he says, and Danny realizes Hesse's talking to him when the gun barrel digs in a little further. "You're proving to be quite useful."
Steve says, "Hesse, it's over, don't you get it? It's you and me, and you know I'm going to win."
"But I can make the winning awfully hard, can't I?" Hesse says, and any second now he's going to pull that trigger and the last thing Danny will see is Steve, scared and pissed off and -- fuck, Danny knows that look, he saw it on Steve the day they met, right before Steve pointed his gun at the sky and Danny shot a drug dealer through a pickup window.
Great, Danny thinks, even when he's tied up and got a gun digging into his head he still has to be the goddamn backup.
He shoves, planting his feet as firmly on the ground as he can and straining back against Hesse's body, knocking into him as he starts to tip over. There's a shot, loud and unbelievable, and pain, but all Danny can see is the ceiling of the kitchen. The sound of the shot echoes over and over again, and he wonders if Hesse killed him, if he's listening to his own death or something awful like that. There's a lot more pain than he thought there would be; he hit his head on the linoleum, for one. Through the noise he can hear Chin and Kono shouting at someone, and Ben yelling from a further distance away, and the woop-woop-woop of HPD patrol cars.
Then he's getting hauled upright and it's Steve, grabbing the knife from the floor and slicing through the ropes. "Danny," Steve says, urgent and too quiet, "Danny, are you okay, have you been shot, Danny -- "
"I don't know," Danny says, wincing as his arms come free. When he touches his head, it comes away bloody. "Well, that's not good," he observes.
"Shit." Steve grabs at his head, a lot less gentle than Danny would appreciate under the present circumstances, and there's a long moment where Danny wonders if his brains are showing or what and then Steve--
"Are you laughing?" Danny demands, pushing away from Steve, who's shaking his head solemnly as he's grinning. "You asshole, is my life-threatening head wound funny?"
"He shot you in the hair, Danny," Steve says. "Got some of the scalp but your worst problem is going to be a combover for a couple of months."
Danny pats at his head again, but Steve grabs his wrist before he can get too far. "God, I hate that guy," Danny mumbles, the adrenaline and endorphins winding down and leaving him hollowed out.
"Hated, Captain," Kono corrects; Danny blinks because she literally appeared out of nowhere, and that might not be so good from a concussion point-of-view. She nudges at something with the toe of her boot. "Past tense."
Danny doesn't need to look down to know there's a bullet hole right between Hesse's eyes. Kono nods, like he's said something, and goes off to harangue the CSIs who've shown up and are looking baffled.
"So, other than the tragic loss of your hairstyle," Steve says, distracted, running his hands over Danny's shoulders and sides.
"I'm fine," Danny says, and Steve glances up at him and how the hell is this guy any kind of a soldier when he's this easy to freak out? Danny grabs at Steve's shoulders. "Steve. I am okay."
"I . . ." Steve rests his head against Danny's chest. "Okay," he says, just as Ben comes around the corner.
In a flash Steve's got his gun out, pointed center-mass.
"Hey Captain -- whoa," Ben says, fumbling for his weapon and if Danny gets shot in the middle of the most fucked-up dumb-ass friendly fire incident ever, he is taking one of these assholes down with him. "Put down your weapon," Ben orders Steve.
"You put down your weapon," Steve snaps.
"It's just deja-vu all over again," Danny mutters, and manages to tug Steve's arm until he's got his gun pointed at the floor and not Ben's chest. "What have I told you about first impressions?"
Steve looks a little uncomfortable. "I didn't know who he was," he tries, holstering his gun.
Ben is slowly putting his own gun away. He holds out his hand even more slowly. "Ben Kokua, Five-0 Task Force. Let me guess: you're Steve McGarrett."
Steve frowns at the hand. "This is who you got to replace me?" he asks.
"He's very good," Danny says. "Stop picking on the new kid."
"His safety was still on," Steve points out.
It turns out that cutting power to the beach house meant cutting power to most of the neighborhood, which is (as much as Steve likes to pretend otherwise) so upscale Danny dings a Bentley every time he backs out of the driveway. This naturally led to complaints, and Chin had some kind of frankly super-scary monitoring algorithm set up to notify Five-0 of any and all unusual activity in the area.
"Thank God for bitchy neighbors, I guess," Danny says, rubbing at his wrists where they're still raw. Steve's disappeared, kidnapped by some serious men in uniform and those stupid Navy hats. All of HPD is swarming over the beach house, taking pictures and talking to each other in low voices. So far Hills is the only one who's talked to Danny; everyone else is watching him like he's the one who killed three guys from a hundred yards away in the pitch black.
Chin snorts. "Thank God for me, brah," he corrects. "Halfway here I got the report of shots fired -- for a second I thought Ben was actually going to break the speed limit."
Ben pinches his nose. "Yeah, so does this mean I get to go back to Vice now?"
"We'll take it under advisement," Danny says, because Ben almost shot Steve and Danny's a petty guy.
The rest of the night is spent on paperwork and taking Hesse's body to the morgue (nobody wants to take a chance that the bastard isn't actually dead this time) and trying to figure out where the hell Steve fucked off to this time. When Danny finally gets into his car, dawn's just breaking and he cannot face the prospect of going back to the beach house. So he checks into the dolphin hotel -- it's got a name, but he can never remember it -- and the guy at the front desk looks set to give him attitude but instead just hands him a key card.
"I'll put a note that the cleaning service shouldn't disturb you until -- "
"Ever," Danny says.
He engages the deadbolt and the chain; no use in making it easy on Steve. He lies down on the bed but it's no good, he keeps hearing gunshots so he drags out his phone and calls Gracie. She's supposed to be up by now anyway.
"Daddy? What's the matter?" she asks, which breaks his heart, but he swallows and gives her a highly-edited version of last night's events. She's her father's daughter, and asks depressingly penetrating questions, but she doesn't sound too worried and she tells him to tell Steve that she still has his doll, even though one of the button eyes fell off. "I used the eyepatch from my Halloween costume though," she says, and starts telling him about Mr. Hoppy's latest adventures as she wanders around her house getting ready for school.
At some point she runs into Rachel, who commandeers the phone and sighs like she already knows she's going to be mad. "Is there any chance at all that you're not in hospital at the moment?" she asks, her voice low.
"I'm an outpatient," Danny hedges.
Rachel doesn't say anything; the way the Williamses use words, she uses silence, and before long Danny's giving her a much more accurate account of what happened. Gracie comes on again for a split second to yell "Bye Danno I love you!" before catching the bus, and then it's just Rachel.
She's quiet for a few seconds after Danny runs out of story, which is how Danny knows it's going to be bad. "So he left to protect you."
"To protect the team," Danny corrects, because as much as he's been told he suffers from classic Only Child Syndrome, he does know it's not all about him.
"But you're hiding from him at the moment."
"I'm not hiding, I'm trying to sleep," which is true.
"Daniel," Rachel says, "If your mum weren't dead and if I hadn't loathed her when she was alive, I'd tell on you this instant. As it is I have half a mind to drive 'round and give you a kicking."
"Rachel, please, your judgment makes my head hurt."
"You deserve it," she says, unconcerned. "What reason can you possibly have for being angry with him?"
For a second Danny can't even talk, he's got so much to say. "What reason? How about he left without telling any of us, how about he didn't trust us to help him, how about he was so busy playing hero that he almost got everyone killed?"
"I see we've reached the hyperbolic stage of the debate," Rachel huffs.
"How about," Danny says, waving his free hand around, "If he'd taken about five minutes to think his little plan through, he'd have realized it was the dumbest piece of chickenshit recursive logic ever to disgrace a brain pan?"
"That's true enough," Rachel says, which feels like a victory -- the last time Rachel admitted he had a point, Danny had actually, physically marked the day in the calendar. "But really. Do you honestly think he's able to think logically anymore? About you?"
"I submit he's never been able to, period," Danny says, but his brain starts catching up with his mouth and he adds, "What do you mean, about me?"
"It's impossible to love and be wise," she says, with that sing-song in her voice that means she's quoting Francis Bacon or Benjamin Disraeli or somebody. "If someone threatened Grace, would you think logically? Or would you go ape-shit?"
"You know how I hate it when you try to sound American," Danny mutters. "It's unnatural."
He shuts his mouth. "I don't get why he couldn't trust me to handle this."
"It wasn't you he couldn't trust, I suspect," Rachel says. "Now get some sleep, you've made me late for work, you prat."
Danny wakes up around dusk; the hotel room faces north-west and he gets a few seconds to enjoy the red and gold wash of his room before he turns over. Steve is sitting in the armchair by the little table, curled up in one of those pretzel positions only available to people who've never torn an ACL. "I don't remember ordering room service," Danny says.
That gets a smile, a small one. "Compliments of the hotel." Steve uncurls enough to lean forward with his elbows braced on his knees.
"Well, in that case," Danny says. He fell asleep in his shoes and tie, Christ. "So I know how Chin did it, but I'm still hazy on how you managed to come and save the day."
Steve shrugs. He's wearing a black t-shirt and cargo pants; if Danny was stupid he could pretend that it was almost like the last year and a half hadn't happened at all. "Intelligence got a hit on a call someone made to one of Hesse's suppliers a few weeks ago, traced it back to HPD. It took me about ten minutes to figure out what you were up to."
"So you came back and -- wait, how long have you been back?"
Another shrug, this one a lot more casual. "I didn't really, so much... leave. From the last time I came by," he says, gesturing vaguely. "I kept track of your movements and waited for Hesse to come to you."
"Kept track of my--" Danny narrows his eyes. "Okay, so multiple choice, did you, A, break into my office and root through my files, B, listen in on my phone calls, C, follow me around and spy on your own house like a creepy stalker -- "
Steve looks more embarrassed than repentant. "I don't test that well, you know that."
"I am going to demand warrants on all those wire taps you put on me and so help me if one of them doesn't check out, McGarrett," Danny threatens, but his heart's not really in it.
"Sure," Steve says. "Incidentally, you should probably remember to close the curtains next time you and Grace are playing Dance Dance Revolution. Nobody needs to see that."
"Like I couldn’t take you."
"I have the grace and reflexes of a jungle cat."
"Comparable brain capacity probably, too." Danny slides his tongue over his teeth and grimaces, then swings his legs over the side of the bed and bends over to start untying his shoes. His right shoulder complains but it’s nothing too debilitating. Sighing, he rolls it when he straightens back up and fixes Steve with a look. "So, question."
"Jesus," Steve groans, throwing himself back in the chair.
Danny ignores that and takes off his tie. "You figured out what I was up to, and even though it was exactly what you've been trying to keep from happening for the past year and a half, you didn't bother trying to talk me out of it."
Steve blinks. "Is that a question, or is that just you saying stuff and glaring at me?"
"I'm asking why didn't you try to talk me out of it," Danny says.
"Because," Steve says.
Danny waits for a second, just in case. "That's not actually an answer," he tells Steve.
"Fine, all right," Steve snaps back. "I didn't want to blow your operation. I knew you could do it but I didn't want to come in and screw anything up, I figured I could just, what, what?" Steve says, because Danny honest-to-God can't help the grin on his face.
"You knew I could do it," Danny repeats, to make sure he's got it right.
"Of course," and it's not even a reply, it's just a statement of fact, like anything else is unthinkable. Danny reaches forward and grabs two fistfuls of Steve's shirt, hauling him onto the bed. He’s surprised Steve allows it, wound as tight as he is, but he does, and Danny gets a knee on his sternum and can't decide if he wants to punch Steve in the head or kiss him on the mouth.
"I don't know if I want to punch you or kiss you," he says finally, feeling the rapid expansion and contraction of ribs underneath his knee. "You've been running around the world because you didn't want me in danger--"
"It was the whole team," Steve corrects him, sullen and restless.
Danny pokes at Steve's shoulder. "Don't bullshit me, Commander, this wasn't about team, this was about loving and being wise or -- look, my point is you're so freaked out about our safety that you run away like a little girl but when we come up with a batshit insane idea on our own, it's suddenly fine? Please, explain to me how this makes sense. Even if it's just, whatever, SEAL-sense."
Steve glares at the knee but Danny's not going anywhere, so he says, "It was your op, Danny. You just said it -- you came up with it, you and Kono and Chin."
"And Ben," Danny says.
"Yeah," Steve says. "I couldn't -- if I'd asked you to risk your life like that, a year and a half ago, if I'd asked and if you or Kono or Chin had gotten killed--"
"We would’ve worked it out," Danny says. "We're a pretty good team, in case you haven't noticed."
"I may have freaked out a little," Steve admits quietly, after long breaths.
"A little?" Danny chokes down a hysterical laugh and shakes his head, but moves his knee and flops down next to Steve on the bed. Steve rolls over and slides a tentative hand up Danny’s side, underneath where Danny’s shirt has come untucked.
"I got honorably discharged a couple of hours ago. That’s where I went, back to base to get it set up."
"Okay," Danny exhales. He pulls Steve in closer. "But for the record, you? Are going to be making up for this. Forever."
"And you're sleeping on the couch for, like, a year."
Steve frowns, but doesn't stop his hand from smoothing over Danny's hip. "There's a guest room with--"
"Couch," Danny says firmly.