Thanks to the unfortunate intersection of Danny's fist with the face of that smug bastard, Richardson, the fingers of his right hand are a little bit broken. Danny has the consolation of knowing that Chin's detective work means Richardson's going to be going away for one hell of a long time, and of knowing that all of the breaks were clean and expected to heal easily, but still. Four broken fingers and some severely bruised knuckles mean that for the foreseeable future, Danny's agenda does not include: button fly jeans; the consumption of hard-boiled eggs; the tying of shoelaces; shaving.
It's not that Danny's not open to some compromise here, some adjustment. The jeans, eh, he spends most of the time in work pants anyway. Hard-boiled eggs, his diet will adjust to the lack. Shoes, he buys a crappy slip-on pair that looks so preppy Kono sniggers when she first sees him wearing them and digs out her camera to take a picture.
But the shaving—there's no way around the fact that he can't shave. Safety razor or not, holding a blade to your neck with your non-dominant hand is not Danny's idea of a good time, and Danny has a strong moral conviction against electric razors (You know how many people die in the continental US every year from being electrocuted by one of those things? And Danny’s willing to bet that figure’s even higher in Hawaii, what with the ubiquitous salt water and the sand that gets into every goddamn place).
Which means that within a few days he's got this beard growing in, this scruff. Which, first off, itches like hell, a subtle kind of torture not unlike having to spend Christmas with Rachel's demonic, gin-sodden excuses for parents. Second, this is not the kind of face a law enforcement professional wants to present to the world. Danny likes to think he makes an effort to maintain standards—shines his shoes, irons his shirts, puts an even knot into his ties. Yet now he has this mange on his face, like he's one of those buddies of Kono's who live down on the beach, the ones he's not supposed to know about because of their specialised botanical interests.
It's all, what's the word he's looking for here... frustrating.
A word which still applies when Steve shows up at Danny's apartment on Saturday morning. Danny's just swung his legs out over the edge of his bed and is contemplating which is the less awkward activity to attempt first—cajoling his coffee maker into providing him some much-needed caffeine, or trying to take a shower without getting his right hand wet—when the door opens of its own accord and boom, there’s Steve. Danny squints up at him, the early morning light haloing him and turning the span of his shoulders, the line of his hips into something out of a comic book—or it would, if Steve weren’t carrying two large brown paper bags of groceries. You rarely see superheroes carrying around bags of groceries.
“You owe me a new lock,” Danny says, because he could ask why Steve’s here at seven in the morning, looking disgustingly chipper and well rested. He could ask why Steve seems to think knocking, door bells, polite requests to enter a property are for other people, but he knows from past, painful experience that these requests are unlikely to get him anywhere. It’s better to start with the specifics. Steve allows for no boundaries where Danny’s concerned.
“It’s just a little scratched,” Steve says breezily, “it’s nothing,” but he kicks the door closed behind him to stop Danny from getting a look, and Danny knows that he’s never, ever going to get the security deposit back on this place.
Danny scrubs at his face with his free hand. “Okay,” he says carefully, watching as Steve decants the contents of the first paper bag onto his countertop. “Question number two: the hell?”
“Kono mentioned you probably hadn’t had a chance to go shopping, what with your hand and all,” Steve says. He’s not meeting Danny’s eyes, focus ostentatiously on sorting the groceries into neat little piles according to whether they’re intended for bathroom, kitchen cupboards, fridge or freezer. Freak. “So I thought I’d drop some basics over.”
“Kono mentioned, huh?” Danny hauls himself up off the sofa bed, ignoring the way the movement makes both his hand and his knee ache.
“Yup,” Steve says.
The basics, Danny sees, equates to enough to keep at least a small squadron of SEALs going for several days—coffee, fresh-baked bread, milk, couple different kinds of juice. Bacon, no less, fruit, toilet paper, eggs… Danny cocks an eyebrow. “And I need all of this”—he gestures, a wave of his arm taking in the mini-grocery store in his kitchen and a fidgety Steve—“at seven on a Saturday morning?”
Steve flashes a grin at him. “Can’t let you go hungry, can I?”
“Course not,” Danny says. He peers into the second paper bag. “And apparently you can’t let me go around with a functioning liver either. This is an awful lot of beer, my friend.”
“It’s medicinal,” Steve says, putting the milk and the juice away in the fridge.
“You know that we have modern medicine now, right? The doctors bandaged me up nice and neat, gave me painkillers—no need for me to knock back some alcohol and bite on a bullet or anything.” Danny rummages further into the bag—two six packs of beer, laundry detergent, razor and shaving foam, couple packets of chips.
Steve quirks an eyebrow at him over the top of the fridge door. “Wouldn’t make you bite on a bullet, Danno. On a—”
Danny holds up a hand. “Do no, do not, for both our sakes, finish that thought. I will take it as a given that you’re a big manly SEAL, you don’t need to prove it to me with stomach-churning details, okay?”
“Fine,” Steve says, and sets to rummaging in Danny’s cupboards, rattling pots and pans. “How do you want your eggs done—scrambled, poached, fried?”
“You know what,” Danny says, scratching at his belly with his good hand. “Why don’t you surprise me? I’m gonna go take a shower, so…”
“Okay,” Steve says, hitching up a shoulder. “There’s soap, razors and shaving foam in that bag there, and—”
“Ha,” Danny says, “I’m glad to know you think so highly of my hand-eye co-ordination, but my left hand and a razor blade, those are not two things that go well together, okay? Especially not in close proximity to my jugular. I’m going to be rocking the mountain man look a little while longer.”
“Uh huh,” Steve says, dumping some beans into the coffee machine and setting it to percolate, “I know. That’s why I’m going to do it for you.”
Danny blinks at him for a long moment, because he’s pretty sure he misheard—maybe the force of the blow he gave Richardson shook some of those little bones in his inner ear loose. Stranger things have happened to him, working for the Five-Oh. “Excuse me?”
“You’re driving me nuts,” Steve says, “The itching. The bitching.”
“Ha, ha. You’re a regular poet.”
“So get over yourself, clean yourself up, and then I’ll help you out, okay?”
Danny considers arguing with him, he really does, but it’s still not even 7.30 on Saturday morning, it’s been a long week, and Danny’s hand is throbbing dully. “Fine,” he says, “whatever,” grabs a clean t-shirt and a pair of sweatpants from the cardboard box that serves as his wardrobe and heads into his postage-stamp-sized bathroom. The one good thing about this apartment building, apart from its relative proximity to Gracie and the fact that the monthly rent only costs one of Danny’s limbs instead of two, is that there’s always plenty of hot water. He luxuriates in it now, hangs his head and lets the heat pound away at the knotted muscles of his upper back while the shampoo washes out of his hair and the hollow feeling behind his eyes slowly fades away.
By the time he climbs out of the tub, his hand is truly aching—he has to dig the bottle of painkillers out of his medicine cabinet, dry swallow a couple—but he feels much closer to human than he did when he woke up. Danny imagines the worst of the week vanishing down the drain, like so much dirty water, and he holds on to that image while he towels himself off, tugs on his sweats and carefully pulls a t-shirt on over his head.
He’s not at all surprised, when he opens the bathroom door, to find Steve standing right there outside it, waiting for him. Danny squints up at him. “I’m pretty sure that’s illegal, you know. The whole looming thing. Lying in wait. Lurking.”
Steve pulls one of those faces that are doubly ridiculous on someone so attractive. “I don’t lurk,” he says, “I’m not a lurker.”
“You totally lurk,” Danny sighs. “With you, as with so many other things, the lurking is pathological.”
“You say the nicest things,” Steve says mildly, and Danny gives in to the totally understandable urge to roll his eyes. “Now come on—this’ll be easier if you hop up on the counter there.”
Steve holds up a razor and a can of shaving foam in mute testimony.
Danny blinks at him. “Oh, you were serious. Of course you were serious. You honestly think I’m going to trust you with a razor blade at my throat just because you’re some kind of stealth ninja? One day,” he grumbles, “some nice people in Hollywood are going to make lots of money from the surrealist epic that will be my life story. You realise this, right?”
Steve doesn’t physically move, but somehow manages to shift his posture so that the looming becomes crowding, and Danny takes one step, two steps backwards into the bathroom and manages to pull himself one-handed up onto the tiny patch of countertop.
Steve follows him in—and with Gigantor in there with him, Danny realises that Just Enough Space very quickly becomes Not At All Enough for Plausible Deniability Space. “See?” Steve says, with one of those startlingly bright, overwhelming smiles of his. “See how much better things work when we compromise?”
“Compromise,” Danny says flatly, watching with a stomach-flipping mix of anticipation and anxiety as Steve sets the razor and the foam down beside the sink, turns the faucet on to trickle, gets out a clean towel from the cupboard under the sink. “That what this is?”
“Absolutely,” Steve answers easily, but the tiny part of Danny’s brain that isn’t freaking out at the thoughts of being shaved by the man whom he’s grudgingly, slowly, against-all-sense started to think of as his closest friend notes that Steve doesn’t meet his eyes when he says that. Huh, says that tiny, lizard part of Danny’s brain—the part that, for the past few weeks, has been sending Danny memos re: Steve that Danny’s been filing under ‘hopeless’ and ‘unrequited.’
Danny works on keeping his breathing even as Steve starts to smooth the foam onto Danny’s face. Steve’s expression is focused, intense—close to fierce, and Danny doesn’t think he’s ever going to be able to figure out all the highways and byways of the way Steve’s mind works, but in this one instance at least, he’s got some kind of hypothesis going.
He tilts his head back just a little, resting it against the wall and offering up his throat for Steve to start. That little gesture is enough to make Steve freeze for a moment, and Danny represses the urge to roll his eyes, because seriously, Steve was the one to start this. What did he think was going to happen? Danny settles for mumbling, through the frame of foam around his mouth, “We have all day here or something?”
Steve’s eyes flicker up to meet his for a moment, and Danny feels his skin prickle with heat—when did it get so warm in here, huh?—but then he gets to work. He starts with Danny’s neck, slow, methodical swipes of the blade removing foam and dark blond hairs in equal measure. Between each pass of the razor, Steve runs the pad of his thumb along the place where he’s just shaved. “Just checking,” Steve says, and while Danny is aware that that has the obvious meaning of making sure I didn’t miss a spot, he wonders if Steve is also using the opportunity afforded by skin-on-skin to check if, and how much, Danny’s pulse rate has sped up.
Danny swallows convulsively. He lets Steve turn his head, fingers careful at his jaw line, to get at a spot just beneath the left hinge of his jaw. Danny clutches at the edge of the countertop. There’s no danger of him falling off, but he needs some measure of stability right now—he can feel Steve’s breath hot against the damp, tender skin of his throat.
“Other side,” Steve murmurs, turning Danny’s head once more. Danny’s eyes drift closed for an instant—he can’t stop them—and he’s more acutely aware than ever of how close Steve is, how warm his fingertips are against Danny’s face. Danny focuses on the rhythmic sound of stubble being scraped away, seeks some composure in it, but what little calm he’s managed to claw back for himself vanishes when he opens his eyes.
Steve’s staring at him, right at him, pupils blown dark in a way that’s undeniable—undeniable even for Danny. Steve clears his throat, says, “You said. You said you didn’t really trust me to do this.” His left hand has slid down a little from Danny’s jaw to his throat; the tips of his fingers rest lightly, just over the tremulous pulse of Danny’s jugular.
Danny sighs, because of course, of course Steve would decide to focus on the one moment of flip bluster instead of everything they’ve been silently telling one another all these months. He reaches up with his good hand, slaps Steve gently upside the head.
“Ow, Danny, what the hell?” Steve’s pouting way too much for a guy whom Danny personally knows still has pieces of shrapnel inside his body.
“Steven,” Danny says gently, “Just finish it.”
Danny sees the exact moment when Steve gets it, and it’s kind of glorious—he could stand to see that expression a whole hell of a lot more on Steve’s face. “Okay,” he says, “okay,” and Danny grins at him, keeps his gaze locked on Steve so that Steve knows it’s deliberate when Danny tilts his head back that little bit more, when Danny opens his legs so that Steve can stand between them. There’s some distant part of Danny that’s a little freaked out by this, by how blatant he’s being, how much he’s offering up to Steve right here and now before they’ve even so much as kissed—but another part of Danny knows that most of this he’s given to Steve a long time ago, before he was ever even aware of it.
Steve takes that last step forward so he’s right there—the warm, breathing length of him between Danny’s thighs—and Danny’s slightly shocked at how good it feels. He’s not talking about the physical—though who’s he kidding here, Steve’s been six feet of orientation-confusing attractiveness since Danny first met him—but at the sense of relief that comes from finally acknowledging why it is that he and Steve have always been incapable of maintaining any space between them. Right since the off, it feels like, they’ve been pushing and pulling their way towards one another, this inexorable drumbeat that’s been keeping syncopated time with the rhythm of Danny’s heart, and Danny can’t help the groan that escapes him when Steve brushes his thumb over Danny’s lower lip.
“Okay,” Danny says, “I know you’ve been trained to, like, torture someone half to death using nothing more than your pinkie and a feather—”
Steve raises both eyebrows. “Kinky.”
“—and by wilfully misinterpreting what they’re saying, but if you could just carry on here, because really—”
“I got you,” Steve says, and Danny has to hush because Steve’s started with the shaving again. He clears the last of the hair from Danny’s cheeks; squints in concentration as he works on the delicate areas around Danny’s mouth. While Steve works, Danny watches him—the set of his jaw, the surprising length of his eyelashes, the sprinkling of grey in his hair.
When he’s done, Steve dampens the towel, uses it to wipe away any excess foam from Danny’s face and to soothe the newly soft skin. The bathroom is very quiet, only the sound of their breathing, the soft trickle of water, echoing off the blue and white tile, and Danny is acutely aware of the fact that even though new beard growth is no longer making his skin itch, everywhere Steve is touching him makes his skin prickle with fresh heat.
Steve clears his throat. “So,” he says, “I guess you’re good to go,” and really, Danny thinks, the idiot’s going to come over here with a less-than-subtle plan at the crack of dawn, but he’s going to succumb to a fit of nerves at the very last second?
“Do not even,” Danny says, “do not, Steve McGarrett,” reaching up with his good hand to cup Steve by the nape of the neck, tug him down to his mouth. Steve’s mouth is hot against his, soft and mobile, and while Danny might be clean-shaven, Steve’s not. His stubble drags against Danny’s skin, and the sensation makes Danny shiver. He grips his thighs tighter against Steve’s sides, draws him in even closer so that they’re belly to belly and Danny can’t stop kissing him. He feels drugged, over-heated, giddy; knows he’s smiling helplessly against Steve’s mouth, rubbing circles into the skin of Steve’s neck while Steve’s hands roam over his shoulders, his arms, his chest.
“Danny,” Steve’s saying, “Danny, Danno, Danny,” and Danny realises with a start that it wasn’t just that Steve had had a fit of nerves there. It was that he’d been afraid this would never come to pass—that he’d been prepared to do all this stuff for Danny, ready to give and give and know nothing of reciprocity. He opens his eyes and pulls back a little, hates the slightly frantic look that lives behind the heat and the affection in Steve’s eyes.
“Seriously,” Danny says, “Did you not hear me the first time? Don’t be an idiot, Steve. Okay? Okay? Because I’m right here with you, and I’m glad, okay? I’m really fucking glad that I got you and you got me, and this right here”—he gestures between them with his bad hand, taps the cast lightly against Steve’s chest—“this is just acknowledging stuff that’s been here for a while. Okay?”
Steve nods. Danny sighs. “Do you understand me? Answer yes or no, please, because jeez, if we’re going to keep doing this, we’re going to need to communicate. Start as we mean to go on, my friend.”
Something in that—Danny doesn’t know if it’s the word, the tone, the way Danny pulls Steve forward to rest his forehead against his own—gets through to Steve. Danny feels a fine tremor run through him, and then a sudden relaxation so violent that it’s as if he’s experiencing a whole-body quake. Steve leans into him and says, “Yeah. Yeah, Danny, I do. And. And you know that I—anything, right? Anything. Because I, I—”
“Yeah, you big goof,” Danny says, taking pity on him. It’s still pretty early to be asking Steve to vocalise this much. “I know. You and me, we haven’t exactly been subtle about this, I hope you realise.”
“I’m very subtle,” Steve says, brow furrowing.
“You realise,” Danny says, dropping another brief kiss on Steve’s mouth, “that when your team called you Smooth Dog, that was totally ironic, right? It’s a nickname right out of opposite land.”
“Was not,” Steve says.
“It totally was,” Danny says. “Also, are you kidding me with the ‘was not’ bit? My daughter’s eight years old, she could kick your ass in a debate. Speaking of asses, I have to get down from here. All this tile, I’m starting to lose feeling in my posterior.”
“Well, we can’t have that.” Steve stands back, lets Danny hop down.
Danny tugs his t-shirt straight, but doesn’t bother adjusting his sweatpants. No point in hiding the fact he’s half-hard, not when he’s just experienced the material evidence that Steve’s in pretty much the same boat. “No, we cannot. Also, can I take this moment to remind you that you promised me eggs, bacon, and coffee, and none of those have been forthcoming as of yet?”
Steve makes a little mock flourish with his hands, gestures for Danny to lead his way out of the bathroom. “If monsieur would like to go wait in the dining room, I’ll have breakfast ready for you shortly.”
“I would do that,” Danny says, “if it were not for the fact that I don’t have a dining room.”
“My point exactly,” Steve says immediately, “This apartment, Danny, it’s a shithole, you can’t stay—”
“Oh my god, not this again.” Danny throws his hands up in the air. “This is what’s called living within my means, Steve, and—”
And this is a long-running argument, a conversation that stretches back almost to when they first met, so Danny knows it rote—can keep talking, gesturing, providing commentary on the progress of breakfast and Steve’s bacon-cooking abilities—all while revelling in the new. Steve’s poking at the eggs, frowning like they’ve done something personally offensive to Steve’s moral code, while Danny leans against the cupboards beside him, palm of his free hand wrapped around a mug of strong coffee. They’re close enough to one another that Danny would have to move only a few inches in order to be pressed close to Steve, and he likes that—likes the new possibility of touch between them.
“How much longer is this bacon going to take?” Danny grouches, more for the sake of form than anything. “If you’re going to leave me to starve here, McGarrett, this does not bode well for our future together, I’m just putting this out there right now.”
Steve leans over, kisses Danny until he falls silent.
“Oh,” Danny says, when the kiss ends, eyes still heavy-lidded, “I see how it’s going to be. I have reasonable complaints; you’re going to use your manly wiles to distract me. Smooth, Steve. Very smooth.”
“See?” Steve says, grinning in delight, “Told you the nickname wasn’t ironic,” and Danny for once can’t find it in him to object.