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Appealing

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"You couldn't have waited 20 minutes?" Danny hissed. "A measly 20 minutes?"

Steve pouted at him. "He was a jewel thief, Danny. A jewel thief."

"He was the entertainment at my little girl's birthday party!" Danny did not yell, because he did not want the dozen or so tweenies in the next room to realize anything was wrong. He bit back a curse word as Rachel stormed into the room, clearly on the warpath.

"Daniel Williams, did you just ruin my daughter's birthday party?"

"Our daughter, our daughter. And no, I did not - "

"I can juggle."

Both Danny and Rachel were momentarily rendered speechless by Steve's assertion, but Rachel recovered faster. "Fine. Consider yourself hired. I expect peals of laughter, Mr. McGarrett. Peals."

"Peals?" Danny asked, but Rachel was already striding into the other room, followed by Steve. In shock, he heard her introduce Steve. He stumbled in to join them, standing at the back of the room. The girls were sitting in a semi-circle around Steve, some on the couch and chairs, others on the floor. Steve looked comfortable, competent, fully at ease with suddenly being an entertainer, explaining blithely that he was the replacement for the regular guy, who had to leave abruptly. Danny considered that something of an understatement, given the speed with which Steve had cuffed him and dragged him out.

"I don't have my regular juggling balls. Can I borrow these?" he asked Gracie, already plucking her Ugg boots from the gift box. Ugg boots in Hawaii, which Danny hoped were some tweenie's idea of a good present, and not something Gracie had requested. Steve sent the boots flying in a circle, juggling as effortlessly as he surfed.

By the time Kono sidled in, Steve had rolled the Bieber shirt into a tight ball, juggling it with the boots. Danny was going to have a long talk with Gracie tomorrow. Either her musical preferences had seriously deteriorated or she needed friends with better taste. "We flipped a coin. Chin's taking him back to headquarters," she whispered. "I get to ride his motorcycle."

Kono on a motorcycle... now there was another heart attack he did not need right now, he decided, tuning out that image, as Steve juggled a combination of CDs and small boxes that held jewelry, mostly earrings and bracelets. Was his little girl really becoming so fashion-conscious? Where were the Barbies?

"He's really good, isn't he?" Kono added, and Danny nodded in agreement. Steve had great patter, fast, easy, and different juggling tricks, behind the back, under one raised knee, pretending to almost drop something before catching it, making the girls shriek and giggle. Gracie was having a fabulous time, smiling brightly.

In fact, all the tweenies were smiling at Steve. Steve, in a black t-shirt and tan cargo pants, the muscles of his arms flexing attractively, flashes of his tats prominently visible. Steve, with his beautiful eyes and his sweet smile. "Oh God," Danny said, clamping his hand over his eyes.

"Danny?" Kono asked in alarm.

"No, never mind." Danny dropped his hand, waving off her concern, because how could he properly express the horror of his daughter's tweenie friends all crushing on his partner? To make it worse, Steve started wrapping up, joking about juggling Gracie, which led to holding her over his head, his t-shirt riding up enough to show a thin line of his tanned stomach as she giggled harder and clutched at his shoulders.

He let her down with the ease of a gymnast, and gracefully turned the party over to Rachel, glancing at Danny and Kono as the three of them left the room. "You did good, boss," Kono said, but Steve was looking at Danny with anxious eyes.

"I think that qualified as peals of laughter?"

"You juggle. You entertain children. Where did you learn to juggle?"

"In the Navy." Steve gave a deprecating shrug. "It's a fast way to connect with children in foreign countries."

"Of course. Why did I not think of that? The juggling SEAL." Danny waved his hands for emphasis. "That is so wrong and so right on so many levels that I do not even know how to explain them all."

"Peals of laughter, right?" Steve asked again, hesitantly.

Danny slid his hands around Steve's neck, pulled his head down, and kissed him, ignoring when Kono eventually coughed and said, "Well, I'm heading back to headquarters," and left, and even when Rachel's heels tapped into the room and waited for several long moments and then tapped back out. Kissed him because his partner was a crazy, risk-taking, adrenaline junkie, but he loved Danny and he loved Danny's little girl, and he was equally willing to throw himself on a criminal or into a pack of tweenie girls for their protection and happiness.

"Peals," Danny confirmed, when he finally released Steve and they were both struggling a bit for breath. "Come on," he said, catching Steve's hand and pulling him toward the front door. "It's time to peel you out of your clothes."

Steve grinned and followed.

~ the end ~