The hellish thing about being on a stakeout in a noisy, crowded club wasn't the loud techno music destroying Danny's eardrums, the flashy strobe light effects burning his retinas, or even the overpriced booze. No, the most painful part of the whole soul-destroying experience was watching Steve flash his pearly whites and charmingly blow off yet another giggling, tanned goddess.
"I think this is a waste of time." Danny tried to not yell in Steve's ear, but conversation could only be held at decibel levels that would make a crowded football stadium sound hushed.
"He said they'd be here," Steve replied, because of course Mr. Optimistic and Persistent would stubbornly insist that their informant hadn't screwed them over.
Danny jerked his head toward two guys on the other side of the dance floor. "Those are the only two guys that look out of place. And they don't look like what we're looking for." He wasn't sure why they didn't quite fit in. They were just two white guys, about the same age and height, the slightly shorter one also a little broader than the other. Something about the brand-new clothes, like they'd bought an entire wardrobe for their vacation, or the way both of them studied the crowd like they'd never seen so many people in one place. Maybe it was the fact that the slightly taller one with the spiky hair seemed to be imitating Steve, constantly brushing off potential pick-ups. If they were gay, why did they never touch or kiss? And if they were straight, why didn't Mr. Handsome let himself be collected by some young surfer girl?
"No, they don't. They don't fit the description either." And Steve just kept casually looking around, like he was prepared to wait for the place to close down.
The broader one with the receding hairline got up from their table, heading toward the bar.
"I'm going to check them out," Danny said, standing up. He'd done a lot of stakeouts, but had never realized that being bored to tears in a car was the best scenario. At least he could have been listening to Sinatra.
Steve shrugged, letting him go. Danny wasn't sure if Steve thought checking out the pair was valid, or if he realized Danny was about to scream out of frustration and needed to do something, anything. He followed the guy to the bar, leaning against it next to him, waiting as he ordered two beers, with firm instructions against any lime wedges shoved in the top.
"Two for me too," he said. As he'd predicted, receding hairline glanced his way. "So why's your tall, dark and handsome brushing off the chicks?" he asked bluntly. Maybe that was too abrupt, but it wasn't like human slavers were likely to be inclined to tactful, polite conversations.
One side of receding hairline's lips twisted downwards unhappily. "He doesn't want to leave me alone."
"Fuck, don't you just wish he would?" Danny asked, allowing his frustration to escape. "Does he think he's doing you some favor?" Danny would be perfectly happy to handle this stakeout by himself while Steve got his dick sucked by a pair of red painted lips. Being alone would be preferable to watching women constantly ogle his partner the way Danny wished he could.
The emotions in receding hairline's blue eyes were painfully obvious, unhappiness and loss. "He usually does," he said bitterly. "You would not believe the number of women he's had all across the galaxy. I mean, the world. It feels like the galaxy."
"Hey, you want to go talk outside for a bit? It's quieter." Danny was pretty sure he was barking up the wrong tree, but a few minutes chatting outside would confirm it and give his eardrums a rest. The bartender was handing over the beers. Blue eyes gestured with one toward his friend, but Danny grabbed two of the bottles, handing them back to the bartender, pointing to the respective tables for them to be delivered, and guided blue eyes into the courtyard. He was a cop; he was accustomed to getting people to move the way he wanted them to go.
"Oh, much better," blue eyes said, as they sunk into chairs at a table. His face relaxed, lines smoothing out. "I haven't been anywhere so loud since – well, it's a very distant place and it was a while ago."
"To a little peace and quiet in this pineapple-infested hellhole," Danny said, offering his bottle out. Only a few people were in the courtyard, mainly couples having intense and flirty conversations.
Blue eyes looked confused for a second, like he didn't understand basic bar exchanges, then clicked the neck of his bottle on Danny's. "Finally, someone else who hates Hawaii. My skin is very sensitive to the sun and the sand gets everywhere. I don't understand why so many tourists would subject themselves to this tedium."
Hate was perhaps overstating it. Danny had to admit parts were growing on him, especially his crazy but ridiculously attractive partner, but he didn't bother correcting the impression. "I'm from New Jersey originally. Hawaii's not what I'm used to. Where are you from?"
"Canada, but I haven't lived there since I went to college."
"I'm Danny, by the way."
"Rodney. Dr. Rodney McKay."
Not likely their human slaver then, unless he liked to be able to take care of his livestock. "Doctor, huh? General practitioner or do you specialize?"
"I'm not into voodoo," Rodney announced with an amusing amount of horror, like he'd been insulted. "I'm a scientist. My doctorates are in astrophysics and engineering. I work for the United States military as a consultant."
Yeah, totally not their human slaver, because he'd never have such an elaborate cover, but Danny didn't feel like breaking off the conversation immediately. Steve was surely capable of both fending off admirers and watching the crowd for a few minutes. "So your tall, dark and handsome in the military? Or he a scientist too?"
"John's a Lieutenant Colonel in the Air Force, a pilot."
The way he said it, that mixture of pride and respect for what most scientists would consider a mere grunt… "Jeez, you got it bad for him, don't you?"
Now Rodney looked really unhappy, and embarrassed too. He must think his affection for John wasn't as obvious as it was, or the people around him were blind idiots. "I should go back," he said abruptly, beginning to stand.
"Hey, I'm sorry." Danny leaned forward, catching Rodney's wrist. "I relate, really I do. My guy – Steve – he's a Navy SEAL." Best to not admit they were detectives, since he should still return to the stakeout. "He walks into places like this and he could have a dozen women falling at his feet. Me, I'm not a bad-looking guy, but I have to work at it to get a girl interested, you understand?" Not that he looked at many women these days, not with Steve around, but he remembered the days before Rachel, and his brief excursions into dating after the divorce. The good-looking guys like Steve and Rodney's John always had it easy.
Rodney relaxed again, sitting back in his chair, and taking a long drink of his beer. "I was dating a beautiful woman, Jennifer, blond and smart. She was a medical doctor, perhaps her only flaw. I never knew what she saw in me. I've been called arrogant, petty and bad with people," he confessed.
Danny shrugged. "Aren't most academics supposed to be? Ivory tower and all that stuff? So what happened to her?"
"She kept wanting me to change. I tried, I really did, but I failed. Few things are beyond my genius, but altering my entire personality was impossible. She finally got a new job and left me. This – " Rodney waved his bottle toward the club " – is supposed to help me feel better," he added bitterly.
"Wow, from being dumped by your girl to hanging out with the guy you can't have."
"Yes, thank you for that excellent summation of the situation." Rodney's blue eyes snapped with irritation and anger. His emotions and reactions were oddly compelling, so open and honest. "I should return to John now." He stood, and Danny stood too, grabbing at his arm again.
"Hey, really, not trying to hurt you here." Danny hesitated, not sure if he wanted to take this step, and not sure how it would be received, then took the plunge. This evening was a waste of time anyway. Better to leave and do something he'd enjoy instead of moping around, trying to not drool over Steve. "You want to blow this place and come back to mine?"
Rodney's mouth dropped open, closed, then dropped open again.
"You're frustrated and horny; I'm frustrated and horny. We leave our tall, dark and handsomes and have some fun. Unless you'd rather not have the short, not as good-looking guy?"
Of all the reactions Danny had expected, he wasn't prepared for Rodney to be stuck in bewilderment. "Me?"
"Yeah. YOU." Danny stepped closer, tugging Rodney toward him, and brought their lips together. Rodney's mouth was open, non-responsive, but Danny went slow, sliding his tongue along Rodney's lips, then into his mouth, licking at Rodney's teeth and tongue, encouraging him to respond. He'd almost given up hope when he felt Rodney's tongue tentatively touching his, and heard the clink of Rodney's beer being sat on the table, felt Rodney's hands land on his hips. Then holy fuck, he was being kissed, a really good kiss, not too much finesse, but passionate and hungry. This man was desperate to be loved, a sentiment with which Danny could relate.
Just as suddenly, Rodney was ripped away from him, and only his trained reflexes allowed him to react as a fist came toward his face. He blocked it with his left arm, dropping his bottle, which hit the table and rolled off, spilling beer. John was already swinging with his other fist, face absolutely furious, and presumably Air Force pilots weren't as well-trained in hand-to-hand as Navy SEALs, but John certainly wasn't a wimp. Danny blocked again with his right, trying to bring his left under to punch John in the gut.
Rodney was yelling wildly, "John! Stop! No! What do you think you're doing?"
But then Steve yanked John away, and Danny almost laughed with hysteria as John turned without a blink to confront his attacker. They began trading punches and blocks, both of them looking like they were ready to beat the other to death. Some of the other couples were watching nervously; others avidly.
"You morons!" Danny yelled. "Jesus fuck, stop! What is your fucking problem?"
They danced away from each other a bit, both still poised on the balls of their feet, eager to resume the fight. "He was attacking you," Steve snapped.
"He was accosting Rodney," John snarled.
"He was kissing me," Rodney said, sounding confused, obviously not understanding his friend's anger. "Just kissing me."
Two bouncers ran out of the club, and stopped, looking like they were ready to pounce, if they could only figure out who to attack. Danny waved his badge. "Five-O," he said. "We've got this under control." The bouncers hesitated until Steve flashed his badge too. "Five-O," he confirmed. "The Governor's Task Force. We can take care of this."
One of them returned to the club, but the other went to stand by the back door, arms crossed, watching them, and the bystanders resumed their conversations, still occasionally glancing at the four of them as Steve and John warily stepped a little nearer to Rodney and Danny.
"You're a police officer? This wasn't – "
"No, I'm not Vice," Danny said firmly to Rodney. "And what the hell is your problem?" he asked John, though he had a suspicion. "Your friend's a big boy. He can kiss a stranger in a bar if he'd like to. He can even go back to his apartment with him."
John probably looked less wounded when he was actually shot in battle. "Rodney? He's a guy," he said, like that was a question.
"Yes, John." Rodney's face settled into decisive lines. "And I'm a bisexual man who is frankly having an appalling vacation watching you be ogled by nubile young women. If I want to let a man pick me up, I will."
"And since when are you not straight?" Steve asked, glaring at Danny.
Tonight was certainly turning out to be the time for honesty, Danny thought, steeling himself. "Since high school, when Joey jerked me off behind the bleachers, and I went, wow, this is fun. And then I got a blow job a month later from Linda, and went, wow, this is fun too. I'm an equal opportunity guy, Steve. I always have been."
"Rodney." John inched closer to Rodney, until their bodies were almost touching. "You can't go with him."
"You're not going with him." Steve possessively curled one hand around Danny's wrist. "If you're going home with anyone, it's me."
"Why can't I go with him?" Rodney snapped. "Why should you care?"
John was still working what Danny thought of as Devastated Face. "I – care."
"You never cared when I was dating Jennifer or Katie. And you only cared about Norina because you wanted her yourself. And – "
What was clearly about to become a major rant by Rodney was derailed when John softly touched his cheek, his hand curving to cup his chin, his voice almost too quiet to hear. "I'm Air Force. I can't lose – my posting. Our home. I know you want kids. I couldn't get between you and someone you might marry. But I can't lose you. I thought being your friend was all I could have."
"John," Rodney breathed, his expression dazed as he absorbed the torment in his friend's face. "You are such an idiot." And then they were kissing hesitantly, sweetly. Danny beamed. He'd never been a matchmaker before, but that had all worked out very well. Why hadn't anyone around them been smart enough to help them put two and two together long ago?
"Danno," Steve said loudly in Danny's ear, demanding his attention, as his hand tightened on his wrist. "Let's go home."
"What about the… thing?" he asked, waving his hand toward the club's doors, trying to signal 'important stakeout.' "And Catherine."
"This wasn't panning out anyway. And Catherine's only for fun." You'd be for much more, the warmth in Steve's eyes said.
"She'd better be for fun that was in the past, because if you're my partner, then you're my partner, my only one."
Steve wasn't arguing, wasn't trying to negotiate different terms, just sliding his arms around Danny's waist, his hands covering Danny's ass as his head tilted and their lips met in a kiss, even more passionate and hungry than Rodney's. Steve's lips demanded Danny's submission, and Danny threw himself into meeting that need with equal intensity. Wild applause and even a few wolf whistles broke out around them, and Danny momentarily considered whether members of the Governor's Task Force should be necking in public, especially after they'd publicly identified themselves.
But Steve was going to be his partner in all senses of the word, and that was all that mattered.
~ the end ~