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Let's Dance Like We Used To

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Danny leaves the island on a Tuesday.

It’s not a day that anyone is likely to forget. For one, Grace has a pretty big fit at the airport when it comes time to say goodbye to Chin and Kono. Danny feels for her, he really does. The kid didn’t ask to be taken away from her home once, and now she has to go through it all over again. Worse, this time she’s old enough to really know what she’s leaving behind. Grace sulks and pouts, but Rachel just holds onto her hand tighter. “Grace, our flight is boarding,” she prompts.

Grace turns to Danny, looking a little wild around the eyes. “Danno, Steve isn’t here yet.”

Danny’s holding a boarding pass in his hands. He’s booked onto the very same flight as his daughter’s happy shiny family because he meant it when he said that he’d follow Grace anywhere, no matter what. He’d go to the moon and Jupiter and right back if he had to. They’ve been in Oahu for three years now, but Stan’s business isn’t the kind that keeps them in one place. It’s time for them to move on and home from here on out is San Diego.

Danny had known what he was going to do from the moment Rachel delivered the news. After all, he’s pretty predicable when it comes to his daughter.

Rachel and Stan pack up their livelihood and along goes Grace to a new home. Despite having a rough go of accepting it, Danny knows that there’s no other option. He’s going, too. All his possessions have been sent in advance -- his meager little collection of a life in sad little brown boxes -- and he’s ready to follow.

They’d be on that plane, too, if it weren’t for Grace’s stubborn determination to say goodbye to a man who hasn’t even got the stones to show up and see them off.

Danny wishes this didn’t hurt so goddamn much. After three years working with Steve and forming the perfect partnership they had, he thinks he deserves at least a goodbye. If nothing else, maybe one of those constipated SEAL looks where Steve’s forehead gets all pinched and he crosses his arms tight over his torso and shows off those back muscles he’s spent years cultivating. Instead, Danny’s hovering just outside security and getting nothing. Nada.

“Chin, we really don’t have much time and I can’t afford to change my ticket,” Danny warns. “If he’s not here soon…”

“I’m on it, bro,” Chin says, already getting his phone out to text Steve.

Kono lingers, a worried look on her face trying to supersede the sadness. “I’m going to miss you, Danny. I’m really, really going to miss you.” She’s moving forward in no time, throwing her arms around him tightly and burying her face in his neck. “I always thought maybe it’d be New Jersey that got you. Boss always said so.”

“Yeah, well, Steve had a paranoid fear that Jersey could pull me back,” Danny says, teasing her as he brushes hair from off her cheek. “I’m just a flight away, okay? I mean, hell, Mary does it all the time, who says I can’t visit?”

“It won’t be the same,” is all Kono has to say about that, the sadness becoming overwhelming. “Catch a wave for me, will you? Just one. Please?”

“We’ll see. I mean, I’m moving back to the mainland, I’m pretty sure I’m going to become at least five times more sane the minute my feet touch the ground,” Danny jokes, a grin on his face to mask the fact that this is one of the hardest moments of his entire life. “And hey! Now you’re getting a promotion. Steve’s gonna need a new partner and you have been roundhousing your way into his heart, don’t think he hasn’t noticed.”

Kono just hugs him that much tighter and for a second Danny feels like he can’t breathe. He’s never been good with loss and while he knows this has always been a possibility, seeing it in reality – Grace leaving, him shadowing – is killing him.

Chin hangs up and heads back over. “ETA ten minutes.”

“He made you say that verbatim, didn’t he,” Danny accuses, but they really are running out of time. He claps a hand on Chin’s shoulder and brings him closer into a tight hug, trying to keep himself together. He’s got all the time in the world to lose it on the plane. Right now, he’s Danny Williams, steady rock of emotions.

Chin looks pretty happy for him. He looks as if he’s ready to congratulate Danny on getting what he wants.

Danny ignores the sick feeling in his stomach that is so very quick to remind him that ever since he joined Five-O and met Steve McGarrett, what he wants has been sliding over an axis of change and has become something so entirely different. “You’re on my five.”

“I’m on your what?” Danny protests with a burst of strangled laughter at the insanity of it all.

“My family five, bro, call any time,” Chin says seriously, wiggling his phone.

“I’m glad to have nudged out Cousin Ele for the privilege,” Danny deadpans, but hugs Chin a little tighter, nonetheless, only releasing him when Grace starts tugging at his pants, demanding her turn.

Danny shifts his gaze to the line for security where Rachel has been lingering, pointedly staring at her watch. He mouths ‘I know’ as clearly as he can and keeps his attention simultaneously on his watch and the airport doors. He bends down and looks Grace in the eye.

It’s time to do damage control because it’s looking like Steve isn’t going to make it.

Danny buries the rage that settles in his stomach. Now is not the time to go over his many issues with Steve and what his absence is implying. Danny doesn’t want to focus on the fact that a good number of those issues didn’t even exist until Danny showed up and told Steve he was moving and things grew strange between them. “Monkey,” Danny says softly, “Uncle Steve looks like he’s still in traffic. How about we get through security and then we can call him when we land?”

“I want to say goodbye, though,” Grace replies, sounding so very unsure. “Can’t we just wait a little longer, Danno?”

“Just a little bit,” Danny says because he would miss the plane if it meant he could say goodbye to Steve properly. But planes wait for no man, child, or Navy SEAL who can’t run on time.

He scrubs a hand through his hair as he feels tension start to sink through his body like a stone. He really can’t miss this flight and he’s so pissed, so righteously pissed at McGarrett for doing this to him.

Yeah, so it’s difficult. Of course it’s fucking difficult. It’s not like this is Danny’s first choice. If he had his way, Grace would stay exactly where she was so Danny could stay with Five-O. So Danny could stay with Steve. For the last few months, things had been building up to the point that Danny was sure the pressure was going to blow and they were going to make headway into this thing they had.

He still isn’t sure if he would’ve made the first move or if it would’ve been Steve, but it was gonna happen. Danny had been feeling it right down to his bones. Then came the fateful phone call from Rachel which set off a chain reaction of apartment hunting, job transfer applications, and telling Steve.

Steve, who had taken the news like a robot. Who’d said, “You’d do anything for Grace,” and then didn’t speak to Danny for two whole days, which had been impressive considering they still shared a car during that time.

And then, like a switch got turned off, Danny stopped catching those looks of Steve’s that lingered just a minute or two too long. Steve had stopped pressing his hands to Danny’s person and, in general, it had been like Steve reverted back to the cold and calculating man he had been when Danny had first met him – before Danny had done some good work on the headstrong menace, in his not so humble opinion.

And now he’s late to say goodbye. That’s not the part that miffs Danny. Sure, he’s pissed and all, but he can cope. It’s the fact that Steve is late and it’s making Grace upset that doesn’t even qualify for any kind of safe harbor. There are things you just do not do and upsetting Danny’s daughter is numero uno on that list.

“Chin, we gotta go,” Danny says, when eight minutes has passed.

“No,” Kono begs. “Wait, hold on, I see his truck.”

Danny hates his traitorous emotions, which practically leap at the knowledge that Steve is here. He can even see him flash his badge at the parking attendant and that, more than anything, makes Danny shake his head at how Steve he’s being, even now.

Danny gives Grace a light nudge and watches her go running off in Steve’s direction, jumping up into his arms and holding on so tight that it looks like one of them is going to break. That look on Steve’s face is a pretty good hint that it’ll be him. Danny watches them and remembers to breathe, lets out a hiss of an exhalation that he’d been keeping in.

Steve whispers something to Grace and she nods and nods. Eventually, he sets her back on the floor and she readjusts the straps of her Barbie backpack and wanders back over to Danny’s side.

“He wants to see you, Danno,” Grace says very seriously.

“Chin, can you take her over to Rachel?” Danny asks, but he hasn’t let his gaze slip away from Steve for a single second. Chin says something, Danny’s sure he does, but Danny is a little more preoccupied with the fact that he’s closing the distance between him and Steve and he’s not entirely sure yet if he’s going to do something really stupid like kiss him or something really sane like punch him to bookend their Hawaii relationship.

In the end, he compromises by shoving Steve as hard as he can before hauling him back, hands gripping his shoulders to pull him into a tight embrace.

“You’re an asshole and if you’d been two minutes later, you would’ve ruined Grace’s day,” Danny says, tipping his face to the side so his words don’t get muffled by Steve’s ridiculous chest. He starts to feel really awkward about the fact that they’re doing this while thousands of people mill around them and backs off, clearing his throat.

Steve’s doing the whole thousand-yard stare thing and oh god, is it pissing the crap out of Danny.

“I’m not even joking, Steve, I’ve got minutes before security’s gonna close down my flight and I gotta go,” Danny says, not sure if he’s expecting Steve to flash a ticket that says he’s coming along or whether he’s really just going to keep staring. Steve just keeps standing there and saying nothing. “Okay, fuck this,” Danny announces. “Steve, I have to go, so, say whatever it is you’re going to say and let’s get it over with.”

“Danno,” Steve says, looking him up and down. “Don’t forget to put on sunscreen. The UV levels are high in California right now.”

“The UV, the UV levels are…” Danny is sputtering at this point, shaking his head. He’s not sure what he’d been expecting, but he thought maybe it’d be a little more intimate or personal than ‘hey Danny, I’m concerned about you contracting melanoma’. He exhales and it’s sharp enough that it feels like his chest collapses once the breath is out of him.

Steve is standing there stoic and steady. He’s not about to do anything else and it’s Danny who decides ‘to hell with it’.

He winds his hand around Steve’s neck, burying in the short hairs at the nape and just hauls Steve down to him, pressing their foreheads firmly together. He can feel Steve breathing against his neck and Danny stays resolute and strong.

“If you die because I left the island, you’re gonna piss me off an incredible amount, Steve,” is all Danny has to say in warning. “And I have put too much work and time and blood into keeping you alive and turning you into a good cop to just let you do that. I’m a flight away, do not think this gives you permission to go crazy.” He tightens his grip when Steve tries to back away.

If he’d wanted to, if Steve had actually resisted, Danny would never have been able to keep him there. Steve doesn’t move a single inch. Danny lets his gaze flick up and he looks at Steve’s half-lidded eyes, the way his lashes just barely brush against his cheek and thinks about how many times this gorgeous man has heard all about how good he looks.

Danny tightens his grip once more, bringing Steve in so close that he could do anything. He could kiss him, he could punch him, he could beg for Steve to say something else, but Danny holds strong.

“I’m serious,” Danny says in warning. “Steve…”

“Danno,” Steve finally says, interrupting him. “Your family is waiting.”

“You asshole, you’re family too,” Danny accuses, wondering if Steve is just playing a martyr or if he genuinely doesn’t know. He finally lets go of Steve and from the look on Steve’s face, he didn’t actually know, which just breaks Danny’s heart in about twelve ways at once. “Steve, I’ll call,” he promises. “Don’t do anything I wouldn’t do.”

“I’m not wearing ties, Danny.”

It’s just what he needs to lighten him up. Danny lets out a laugh as he grabs hold of his carry-on and blows one final kiss in Steve’s direction before joining Rachel and Grace at the security line.

“He’s not coming?” Rachel remarks softly, like she’d been expecting it too.

Danny has to stop living in a fantasy. They’re adults and this isn’t some pulp novel off the shelves of the romance section. “What are you talking about, are you kidding me?” he says, getting his ID and his boarding pass ready. “The man has a job to do, a task force to run, and his home is here. What are you talking about, he’s not coming, of course he’s not.”

Rachel gives a thoughtful noise and proceeds, leaving Danny to take hold of Grace’s hand tightly.

“Ready, Danno?”

“Ready as I’m getting, Monkey,” Danny agrees and with one last look back at Steve, he boards the flight that takes him far, far away from Hawaii.

*

The idea that Danny would just forget Hawaii in the blink of an eye is a fair assumption only to the people who don’t really get him. Sure, he never liked the place. It was too hot, it had too many tropical fruits, and the way of life just isn’t something that Danny could ever get used to. He likes it when he doesn’t live in a place where ‘welcome to the island’ is a catch-all to explain everything wrong with the way that Danny lives his life.

Still, there were good things about it, too. And that’s why there’s no way that he’d ever just forget.

San Diego isn’t exactly that much of a change from his regular routine. It’s on the mainland, sure, but it still gets plenty hot and he’s still occasionally surrounded by beach bums who wouldn’t know a tie if it strangled them.

It makes him think of Oahu and Five-O. It makes him want to pick up the phone and call headquarters to get new updates.

For every surfboard that makes him think of Kono, every motorbike passing by his apartment in the middle of the night reminding him of Chin, there’s something here that’s far worse. The presence of the Naval Base makes him think of Steve, always and constantly. Every time they have a case that brings them onto the base, Danny looks at men with short-cut hair and lithe bodies and sees Steve. He’s gone half-crazy thinking he’s actually seen Steve about three times now and Garcia, his partner, is starting to worry about him.

“Always on the base, brother,” Garcia says while they’re parked outside a lunch truck, grabbing a couple of deli sandwiches before they go back to the precinct to question another suspect. “What’s the matter, did a sailor fuck you over in a previous life?”

And because Danny doesn’t even know what Steve’s done to him, he doesn’t get hot under the collar. Instead, he just laughs until his stomach’s sore and claps Garcia on the back. “It’s a long story, my friend, and I’m not even sure I know how to tell it right.”

So yeah, this whole place has reminders for him. He takes them in, lets them settle, and when he’s ready, he calls Five-O and lets Chin tell him all about their latest caseload. He lets Kono regale her last victory on the water.

On the days that he’s really feeling strong, he bucks up his bravery and says, “Put Steve on, will you?”

There’s a hesitation and a shuffle as if they’re not sure if it’s a good idea to do that, but moments later, Steve turns up on the other end of the line.

“Hi.” Danny always speaks first, a halting awkwardness in his speech that had never been there before he put half an ocean between them. “How are you?” It’s like they’re acquaintances, like in the last months before Danny had left, Danny hadn’t been slowly moving all his things into Steve’s place in a kind of blind game of chicken.

Danny had pretended that he was getting away with it and Steve had pretended not to notice and slowly all of Danny’s things began to take up residence in Steve’s closet. Danny’s lease had been about to expire and Danny was going to make it official then, but before he could do that, Rachel and the Call came.

Now, it’s like they’re strangers.

“You blow anyone up today?” Danny asks and, god help him, as pissy as he is at Steve for being a total asshole who’s knocked their relationship back several ice ages, he still can’t help his fond tone. And Steve, so very aware of his tones, can probably pick it out thousands of miles away. “Because I’ve been checking the newspaper and it’s almost like you’re behaving.”

“I don’t blow people up, Danny,” is Steve’s heated reply.

So it’s going to be one of those days. Danny sighs and pinches the bridge of his nose as he heads to the kitchen for a beer. If Steve is going to be like this, Danny’s going to be in need of some alcoholic assistance.

“Steve,” Danny sighs. “Look, is it possible for you to drop the machismo for ten minutes? Fifteen?” Danny begs, pleads, practically cajoles and he’s using his free hand to gesticulate, even though Steve can’t actually see it. “What happened, babe?”

“Well,” comes Steve’s patient reply, “I got to work one day to find a job transfer application on my desk with your name on it and you didn’t say anything for a full day. That’s about what happened, Danny. Tell me if I’m wrong.”

Danny shifts uncomfortably and keeps rubbing at his forehead. “I tried to get them to stall the form until I told you.”

“Your number one reaction should have been telling me, Danny. We saw each other twenty-four seven. You could have done it over breakfast or in the car on the way to work or while we watched the game.” Steve sounds really calm. He always sounds really calm, like he always has things in hand and Danny’s just the overemotional one who can’t keep it together.

What’s he supposed to say to this? It’s his own fault for thinking that he could get away with it, but it would’ve happened one way or the other.

So Danny goes back to his default response in this situation. “Steve, c’mon, you know how my life goes. Rachel moves, Grace goes with her, and I follow. She’s my baby girl, Steve,” he says, helplessly. “There isn’t any other way this could’ve gone.”

There’s just a slight catch in his tone and someone experienced in reading Danny would know that there is a different way this could have gone, but that way involves Danny being so selfish that he takes away a great leader from Honolulu and he is not that guy. He is not.

It doesn’t matter that there’s a little voice that tells him that he deserves to be selfish because he lives his life being selfless – catching the bad guys, putting them away, living anywhere in the world just for his kid – and he deserves something. He deserves to have something he wants and he’s not afraid to admit that he wants Steve.

He wants Steve to pick up and leave Hawaii for him.

So, in short, Danny Williams is an idiot. He’s aware of this. Rachel makes sure he’s aware of it on a daily basis.

With Steve so far away and Danny settling into a new life here, he’s going to take what he can get and right now that constitutes a phone call. “Seriously, Steve, what’s up, what happened?” Danny tries again, settling back on the couch with the phone tucked in against his neck. It takes a little more prodding, but inevitably Steve just starts talking.

It’s like a dam has burst. Once he starts, he keeps going. He tells Danny all about the Governor’s visit and about the latest bad guys. He spends at least twenty minutes ranting about something his sister’s done and then tells Danny that Kono hurt her knee again on the Pipeline.

“I told her to stay off that thing,” Danny kvetches with a sigh. “Why don’t you listen to me more often? There would be less injuries if I got listened to, is all I’m saying.”

“Yes, dear,” is Steve’s automatic reply and Danny grins.

They might not be face to face, but it’s like a little piece of home over the phone. “Hey,” Danny says, grabbing a pillow to get comfortable as he lies down, closing his eyes to let Steve’s voice wash over him as he relaxes after a day at the office. “Keep talking to me.”

He falls asleep to the sound of Steve’s voice and in the morning, all Garcia can talk about is how glad he is that Danny finally got laid.

“Fuck off, man,” Danny complains sharply. “You know I haven’t had anyone in my place since I got here.”

“Whatever it is,” Garcia says, compiling the files for the day, “keep it up, Williams. You actually look like you’re not minutes away from a stroke. So, whatever you ate or whatever game you watched or whatever you did, do it again. We’ve already solved three cases, you and me. Can’t have you stroking out on the job. What’s gonna happen to my success rate then?”

“It’ll plummet,” Danny takes great delight in saying. “Right to the bottom of the ocean, my friend. Because this is all Williams,” he says, smug and glad to finally have a partner that understands due process and that when you’re interrogating a witness, torture techniques should not appear anywhere on the agenda.

Danny refuses to admit it, but there are times in the middle of those interrogations that he maybe misses Steve a lot. Not because of how much quicker Steve tends to pull information out of people, just because he misses showing off what a cop is actually supposed to do.

Yeah. That’s all it is.

*

On a Wednesday afternoon, Danny gets the third best shock of his life. He arrives back at the station with lunch in hand and a hell of a complaint about the pizza place they’ve been going to. When he checks in at the front desk, he’s told that there’s a delinquent waiting for him at his desk.

“You’re shitting me,” he says, grinning as he practically drops the box of pizza on Garcia’s desk and takes long strides across the office. He makes it to his desk and doesn’t even wait a second to haul the blond woman right up from the chair and into his arms. “How’d the fun McGarrett find me first?” he wonders, hugging her tightly. “Seriously, I’ve been expecting Steve to break into my apartment for months now.”

He’s not joking. He wishes he were, but he’s not. Every morning he wakes up and half-expects to see Steve there to help Danny finish their unfinished whatever, but he never is.

It’s good to see Mary. It’s really good and Danny sometimes forgets that she’s just down the coastline. She looks pretty damn happy to see him back and she looks good. No hint of guilt in her expression, no bruises from wayward kidnappings.

“Funny you should say that,” she says when they sit down again to talk. “I just got back from the island.”

“Tell me you’re not here on Five-O check-up business,” Danny says with a pleading groan.

“Chin worries,” Mary says evenly, but there’s a smirk playing around her lips. “And my brother…well…”

Danny’s been getting the feeling that Steve’s not in a good place. Sure, he gets told that everything’s fine, but once in a while Danny goes into the HPD database and he finds a string of complaints from suspects about Five-O brutality. So, you know, nothing out of the ordinary, but the numbers have gone up just enough to be a worry.

“You want some coffee?”

Mary checks her watch. “It’s two. I want a drink.”

Which is how Danny ends up drinking at a bar with McGarrett’s sister at three o’clock in the afternoon while Danny half-pays attention to the game and listens to Mary discuss the old boyfriend who’s now an ex and the new boyfriend who used to be an ex.

“Please, don’t mind me saying,” Danny murmurs between pints, “but your love life is terrifying and complicated.”

She scoffs. “Like yours is any better? You do know Steve has a picture of you in his bedroom, right?”

“That, I did not know, no, I did not know that,” Danny says, a little shocked by this turn of information, frankly. “Where in the bedroom? I mean, are we talking about hearts drawn around me pinned to the back of the door? Is it in his pillowcase next to his Uzi or is this just one of those pictures with darts in it?”

Mary just smiles in an enigmatic way. Danny hates that smile.

“You learned that one from Steve.”

“He’s not bad for a few things,” she says and leans over the bar with her whole upper torso. “Bartender! Another round for me and my…” She turns and narrows her eyes as she looks at Danny. “Hell, why not, he’s my buddy now,” she says.

“You say that,” Danny says, licking the foam from off his upper lip, “but I am telling you right now, you commit any felonies, I am not cutting you loose. I am not that easily bought.”

She smiles at him and this one, this one he has also seen in the vicinity of Steve McGarrett’s face. It’s mischievous and daring and cuts just a little too dangerously on the side of her doing something that Danny’s not going to like. And as opposed to her brother’s insane daredevil smiles, Mary’s has just an edge of pride and smugness to it.

“Steve wants to know how you’re doing,” she finally says. “Not that he asked or said it in as many words, but his first question was whether or not you were dating anyone and then he asked about your knee and a bunch of other things. He thinks that you’re not honest with him.”

“He’s secretly a nag, isn’t he? He’s kept it secret this long, but he’s a big old worrywart nag,” Danny says. “I feel this. I feel this to my very bones.”

“Well, after Mom…” Mary presses her lips tightly together and suddenly Danny feels bad. He feels like the kid who puts gum in a little girl’s hair as a joke and she starts sobbing right in his face. That’s generally about how he feels. “Dad shipped us both off. It’s not like either of us really figured out how you’re supposed to act. So, I maybe got a little irresponsible and Steve…”

“Oh, trust me, I know all about the head wound your brother suffered to be the way he is,” Danny says with great sureness, using his hands to gesture all over the place. “And I know all about those primal pack instincts. Protect your family, grr, all that. There is a look he gets, it is like a puppy with a toy. A very possessive puppy that will not let anyone hurt his toys and we,” he says, gesturing between them, “we are those toys. We are those squeaky, abused, well-worn toys.”

Mary stares into her pint of beer for a very long moment before looking at Danny. “I’m not a squeaky toy,” is all she says.

“Respect a metaphor, will you?” Danny says, but he leans over and nudges her with his shoulder, sending her swaying slightly. He’s happy. He’s not giddy because Danny is suspect as to whether he could ever be such a thing, but having beers with Mary with the knowledge that he’s picking up his kid in a couple days, that makes him happy. “Besides, I’m the toy with the prize inside. I’ve got layers, I am deep,” he says.

“So,” Mary says. “Are you dating anyone?”

“Tell Steve no, no, I am not dating anyone. And then tell him that my knee is fine. It is extra fine because there are no maniacs injuring me on a weekly basis in their refusal to conduct proper police procedure. And uh, and what else does he want to know?”

“I’m pretty sure Steve won’t be happy until you send him an hour-by-hour log of your day,” Mary says with such a sad tone, like even she understands how lost a cause Steve is. “That includes when you get off.”

Danny had been drinking some very good beer when she’d said that. Very good beer that is no longer any kind of decent beer because he’s spit most of it up on the bar and there’s a good portion of it on his shirt.

She’s grinning away when he turns to glare at her. He picks up his soaking tie and runs his palm over it. “This was a good tie. This was a silk tie.”

“It’s California, why are you still wearing ties?”

He pokes a finger right in her face because no. No, this will not happen here. Not again. “This is the mainland. This is what a detective looks like and, unlike in Honolulu, if you walk into SDPD, you will see a number of men wearing ties and women in suits. I have returned to the land of sanity and now my tie is ruined because you think Steve cares about my jacking off habits.”

She shrugs and slides her glass from hand to hand. “I’m just saying what I know. If you want to know when Steve does it…”

Danny plugs his fingers in his ears. “Not listening! I am not listening! Sisters should not know this kind of information about their brothers.” He keeps making loud noises until Mary forcibly reaches over and pries his hand away by the wrist. “You two have an incredibly creepy relationship.”

“We had a unique upbringing,” she agrees. “I’ll tell Steve that he’s being an idiot paranoid jackass. In exchange, you and I do this at least once a week. I kinda can see what my brother sees in you. You’re fun,” she says.

Danny’s not sure that he likes being fun as labeled by Mary McGarrett.

“And also?” she says, after the bartender takes away the empty glasses. “I don’t think you’re the squeaky toy with the prize inside.” Danny doesn’t even want to know where this is going, but he makes a gesture to encourage her to finish. She just slings her arm around his shoulders and brings him close, like she’s about to tell him a secret. “You’re the big plushy toy that he wants to hump.”

“You are horrifying!” Danny accuses, but he’s grinning, laughing, and he’s got three beers in him. “Genuinely, honestly horrifying. One day, I am going to tell your brother that you have a filthy, filthy mind and he’s gonna do some SEAL thing and cleanse it all out of you using good dental hygiene routines or…or something, I don’t know.” Danny is practically pink, but he’s still laughing until his stomach starts to ache from it.

He’s definitely had worse afternoons than this.

*

Danny gets the second best shock of his life four months after he leaves Oahu for San Diego. He’s been joking for months that he’s going to wake up and Steve is going to be in his apartment to kidnap him back home. Garcia gets a good laugh out of it – Garcia now better understands Steve ever since the day Danny broke and started telling stories – but it’s always been just a joke.

At least, it’s a joke until one Wednesday morning he wakes up to light spilling in past the curtains and a solid presence in the bedside chair just watching him.

“Okay!” Danny spits out the word in a shocked shout, his heart already racing. “I’m armed!”

“You’re armed while you sleep?” is Steve’s incredulous retort. “Danny, I don’t think that’s safe.”

Danny fumbles to lean over to the bedside drawer, grabbing a knife in its case and showing it pointedly to Steve before shoving it right back in the drawer, slamming it shut. Steve is just sitting there, like it hasn’t been four months, like watching someone sleep isn’t strange, like it’s okay to just sit there and not even look like you need to breathe.

“McGarrett, you can call the Boy Scouts and tell them you earned your stalking badge,” Danny says tiredly, rubbing the sleep out of his eyes. “You give those Twilight vampires something to aspire to.”

Steve looks absolutely blank and clueless at once.

“Don’t worry, Grace will explain it to you some day.”

Danny tries to shake the fuzz out of his brain and works around to the real question.

“Steve, what the hell are you doing here?” he asks. Yeah, he’d always joked about this, but seeing it actually happening is a little bit terrifying. It makes him wonder if maybe something’s gone wrong or if somebody’s hurt. He can’t even control his fear once it gets started. “Kono? Chin? Is it…”

“Danny, everyone is fine,” Steve says. He sounds calm and casual. He sounds like he’s going to start asking Danny about his day and it is too early for this.

Danny rubs at his forehead and tries to figure out what he’s supposed to do in this situation. He pinches himself just to make sure it isn’t a dream – it isn’t and also, he’s pretty sure there shouldn’t be that much skin on his arm to pinch so maybe Mary’s right about him needing to lose weight.

“Danny?” Steven asks again, sounding hopeful.

“Steve, I need you to…” He waves in the generic direction of the air. “I need for you to be…” It’s so early and he still needs to go to work today. “I need for you to be not here right now. Just for a little. Okay?”

Steve doesn’t answer. He just stays right where he’s sitting and keeps staring at Danny.

“Okay,” Danny answers for him, leaning over to grab his wallet. He digs out a couple of bills and presses them into Steve’s hand. Danny sends Steve for breakfast to the bagel place down the street and when he’s sure that Steve’s gone, he fumbles for his cell and immediately calls Chin. “What the hell, you couldn’t have warned me? Said, I don’t know, ‘Hey Danny, so guess what, you’re probably going to wake up and Steve is going to be watching you sleep, like a maniac’. What is wrong with saying that! What is wrong with making that phone call!”

“Danny, calm down,” Chin says. He can hear Kono in the background, chirping a bright, ‘Hi Danny!’ at him.

“No, no, no, no ‘Hi Danny’,” Danny warns, waving his finger at the phone and wishing that they could see him, that they could see how very not okay with this whole thing he is. “You two are in so much trouble. I could have had a heart attack! Poor heart health runs in the Williams family, waking up to Steve McGarrett watching you could very well be the leading cause of death in Hawaii! That deserves warning.”

“If you’re worried about your heart,” Kono says, her voice just slightly distant, like she’s leaning over Chin’s shoulder, “maybe you should cut down on the sugary stuff. Mary told us that you put on a couple pounds.”

“I hate you,” Danny says, shaking his head. “I hate you so much. I am not visiting for your birthday anymore and you are not getting a nice new gun that I hand-picked for you.”

“Love you too, Danny,” Kono says, just as bright as ever. “Look,” she continues, sobering up. “Steve made us promise not to tell you. And truth be told, we’re both still trying to process the whole thing.”

“Process, what process?” Danny says with a scowl. “Steve got on a plane, he flew away, and then he’ll come back and sit in your bedrooms to wake you up and scare you half to death because it’s like a sport to him. There, you’re processed.”

There’s a very long span of silence.

“…what did the lunkhead do?” Danny asks with a sigh, brushing the curtains back from the window to make sure that Steve isn’t back yet. He’s a little bit scared, he won’t lie. Steve has a habit of doing things, of saying ‘I’ll be back’ and pulling grenades out of his car (which is Steve’s car now, seeing as Danny didn’t want to bring it with him to San Diego).

“Well,” Kono draws out the word. “Chin is the new head of Five-O.”

Danny can feel his heart clench and tighten, like the inevitable attack is coming now. “What did he do?” Danny growls.

“He quit,” Chin says, finally speaking up. “He called the governor in order to transfer the task force to me, told us that we weren’t to call you on threat of torture by extremely bad music, and gave the keys to his father’s house to Mary.”

“Mary, what are you talking about, Mary, she’s still here, we had dinner just the other night!” Danny is starting to get ready to rant. By the time that Steve gets back, Danny’s going to be in full explosion mode. “Okay, okay,” he says, taking a deep breath and working towards a kind of calm. “I can handle this. I can handle Steve having a nervous breakdown and coming to my bedroom in the middle of the night. I am a professional with dealing with Steve’s brand of crazy.”

“Danny, if it’s any consolation, he’s probably not going to kill you,” Chin says.

“You’re so helpful. I can barely count the ways in which you are being helpful except that I can and they are numbered on one hand, one,” Danny deadpans. “Okay, scram, shoo, get, he’s coming back and you have bad guys to catch. Make sure you book ‘em just for me.”

“We wouldn’t think of anything else,” Kono promises. “Good luck, Danny.”

“Thanks, guys,” Danny says softly, hanging up and sliding his phone back on the dresser.

Steve is coming back up the walk and Danny is steeling himself for a knock-down drag-out conversation with no victor and a lot of spoils. At the last minute, he looks at what he’s been wearing – a white tank top and a well-worn pair of blue pajama pants – and throws on a button-down to try and make himself look just a little more presentable.

He’s left the door unlocked and it’s mere minutes before Steve comes inside and all of Danny’s well-thought plans go down the drain.

“You quit your job,” is all Danny can get out when Steve gets back to the bedroom. He’d intended to start with something else. Maybe he’d grab the food or maybe he’d make small talk, but it’s like the words have leapt out past his mouth before Danny could even do anything about it. “For me?” That’s what Danny’s not exactly clear of.

“Danny, listen…”

“Oh, this is gonna be good,” Danny mutters under his breath.

“I got shot.”

“You got what?” Danny explodes. “Are you kidding me? So not only did you quit your job, leave Hawaii, and practically scare the fuck out of me in the morning, you didn’t call to tell me that you got shot! What’s the matter with you!” Danny shouts, smacking Steve upside the back of his head. “I know it’s been different without me there, but did you lose what’s left of your mind? Is there that little sanity left that things like getting shot just slip away and get lost in the fabric of the universe like wayward socks and forgetting to call your grandmother on the weekend?”

Steve looks a bit hurt, actually, but Danny’s not backing down.

“Where did you get shot! When!”

“I got shot a week ago, it was just a through and through,” Steve protests, his eyes widening with every word, like he thinks that looking like a puppy is gonna do something about Danny’s mood.

He is sorely mistaken. Sorely mistaken.

“Thing is, Danny, I was alone. I got shot and I was alone until the ambulance came and that’s just not right. You were supposed to be there with me. You were supposed to use your stupid tie to try and stop the bleeding and then make a couple of jokes about how Superman can’t die from a bullet, but I got sirens in the distance. I got a crushing and overwhelming blanket of silence,” Steve says, putting the paper bag down on the table. “Things haven’t been right since you left. I haven’t been right.”

“Steve, babe,” Danny breaks in here, just to clarify. He waves a hand around, crossing his arms under his torso. “No offense, but I’ve always had this sneaking suspicion that you have never been right.”

“Hawaii isn’t right anymore and the last time that happened, I got on a plane and I left,” Steve says, so full of calm and reason. Danny suspects that even in Steve’s worst times, there is an ocean of calm just waiting to take over again. “So I made it right.”

“Okay,” Danny says, quietly. He nods his head like there’s a private beat he’s setting it to. “Okay.”

“Okay?”

“We are gonna have a discussion sometime about proper greeting protocol,” Danny says, starting to button up his shirt. “But yes, okay.” Steve grins and it’s like the sun peeking out from behind the clouds, it’s so bright and beautiful. He steps forward and takes hold of Danny’s shirt for him, buttoning it up the rest of the way before smoothing his palm out over the front.

“Okay,” Steve says, chipper as anything.

Okay, Danny breathes out one last time when Steve leaves the room and Danny is left to process this for himself.

*

Steve moves in that afternoon. There’s no conversation about hotels. One minute Danny had a nice two-bedroom apartment and the next, Steve’s moved his boxes into the storage space and made a groove for his ass in Danny’s bed.

Danny should really have expected it, but he still feels a strangled sensation gripping him when he sees Steve walk into the precinct one day with two coffees in hand. He must go as pale as a sheet because Garcia is looking like he wants to get 911 on the phone to call an ambulance over. “Williams, you okay?”

“Yeah, but, Garcia, remember all that stuff I told you about McGarrett?”

“Yeah, the crazy ninja asshole with no regard for authority?”

Danny lets out a choked laugh. He’s got about five seconds before Steve’s within hearing distance. “Yeah, so I never told you any of that. And uh, I might have neglected to fill in a couple of blanks on that report that I’ll tell you about later,” he says, rushing the last words to get them out.

He plasters a bright grin on his face and tries to act like this is normal for Steve to just be dropping in on him at work. “Danno,” Steve greets, handing him a coffee. “It’s two milks and no sugar,” he warns. Typically, Danny’s coffee order runs closer to the lines of three creams, four sugars.

“Aw, come on,” Danny gripes. “Steve.”

“You’ve gained weight,” Steve says sternly, setting Danny’s coffee on his desk. “And you already had a couple of pounds to take off around your waistline. It’s an indicator of possible health problems, Danny.”

“Jesus, next thing you know, you’ll be calling my mother to get her on my ass about…” Danny trails off when he sees the guilty look on Steve’s face. “I swear to god, McGarrett, this is going to be the first exhibit in your murder trial.”

He finally remembers Garcia, glancing back to see his new partner watching the back and forth with amusement.

“Williams, I think I got a read on those blanks,” Garcia says with an apologetic shrug. He lifts himself out of his seat and leans forward, a hand extended to Steve. “I’m Anthony Garcia. I’ve been trying to corral this man ever since you cut him loose from Hawaii.”

Steve smiles that half-crooked grin and shakes Garcia’s hand and Danny can already sense that this is going to go poorly. It’s like Rachel and Steve all over again. Steve has basic social problems right up until the minute that someone is important in Danny’s life. Then he’s all perfect charm and handsome gentleman.

It’s just so irritating at the same time that it’s kind of charming.

Danny somehow becomes a third wheel with two men who are his partners. They talk about his life and shop-talk and Danny somehow ends up doing the paperwork for the last collar while Steve and Garcia laugh long and hard about old war stories.

And if Danny’s not mistaken, there’s even a conversation going on over there about ‘book ‘em, Danno’. “Hey!” Danny says sharply, looking up from where he’s jabbing dots on the page to make sure the paperwork is all done. “Both of you, you need time apart and I need my partner.”

Steve’s off the desk before you can say ‘AK-47’ and Danny waves his pen in the air like it’s a magic wand. “Not you, idiot, my partner,” he says again with only a heavy amount of inflection to make the difference.

There’s a real pinched look to Steve’s face, but Garcia just flashes an apologetic smile and Danny steals back his partner before Steve can do something Steve-like and convince Garcia to join a task-force or anything. “We’re going to interrogate a suspect,” Danny calls to Steve as they’re leaving. “Don’t you have that class thing on the base?”

“Yeah. Yeah, I do.” Steve just sits there, perched on Danny’s desk with his arms crossed. It tightens the polo shirt around his torso and makes Danny’s gaze linger just a moment too long. “I’ll see you at home?”

“Yeah,” Danny confirms with a hand lifted in the air. He thanks Garcia for holding the door as he leaves and is so busy thinking about Steve in that shirt that he doesn’t notice the unnatural silence between them for ten minutes. By then, he’s all the way past wary. “What?”

“In all your stories, you didn’t mention he was your person.”

“My what?” Danny scoffs. “My person? Is that the new ridiculous California thing? My person? Steve is my pain in the ass, of course, sure, and occasionally he’s good for a hostage situation seeing as he keeps a lot of weapons on him. And you know, the whole holding his breath thing can come in handy.”

Garcia, fuck him, just smirks.

“You have a kid,” Danny accuses. “You are going to hell for thinking what you just did!”

“Hey, man, you have no proof I’m thinking anything.”

“Just like any other day,” Danny says, feeling smug that at least he got that in. Garcia shoves at his shoulder and they get in the Mustang to go hunt down their latest suspects for an interrogation.

Danny feels a little looser after that. It’s like someone took the heavy boulder of tension from off his shoulders and pitched it far, far away. His zennish calm does not last long because scumbags are scumbags regardless of where in the world they are and two of their suspects are really impolite in their trying to shoot him to death.

By the time he and Garcia are ready to call it quits for the night, Danny has bloodstains on his shirt from the suspect, his vest has got frayed threads from getting stuck on rusty nails at the pier, and he is exhausted – flat out exhausted. He keeps touching the area on his neck where the bullet went by, unconvinced that he hasn’t been shot, and gives Garcia a pitiful look.

“Go home, man,” Garcia says. “I got this one. But you owe me next time.”

“I owe you everything in the world,” Danny agrees, but he doesn’t need anything more. “You can catch a ride?”

“I’ll find a ride. Go home to your breathless wonder.”

Danny reverses the Mustang expertly while flipping Garcia the finger. It’s a talent no boy from New Jersey grows up without.

When Danny gets back to the apartment complex, he’s a little surprised to see Steve is back from work earlier than usual. Danny’s not sure if this is good news or if the world is about to end and Steve gets the night off as a result. He drops his keys in the bowl at the front hallway and wanders inside to find Steve setting the table for dinner. That, in and of itself, is a bit worrying. Steve doesn’t tend to cook unless it’s one of those ‘fresh from the ocean’ things, but here he is with plates and cooking and candles.

“…Steve? Is someone coming over that I don’t know about?” Danny asks, sliding his palm up his torso until he comes to the knot of his tie, loosening it with steady fingers.

Steve closes the distance between them and takes hold of Danny’s hands with his own, prying them away from the tie. He replaces them quickly with his own, his breath ghosting past Danny’s neck and becoming incredibly distracting.

“It’s just us, Danny,” Steve says, sliding his fingers deftly through the knot of the tie and prying it loose. “You looked happy at work.”

“Yeah, well, straight-up homicide cases put me in a groove,” Danny says, standing his ground and not moving as Steve winds the fabric of the tie out from under the collar of his shirt, popping it up like he’s some remnant of the eighties. “I tell you we got a hundred percent solve rate, Garcia and I?”

“You seem to work well together,” Steve murmurs. The tie is wrapped around his palm, but he hasn’t made a single move to step away.

Danny glances up and tries to read the temperature here. “Yeah, we do,” he agrees, just a bit wary. “You jealous of that?” He’s not even trying to get a rise out of Steve. He genuinely can’t tell if that stoic look on Steve’s face is ‘I’m horrifyingly jealous of your new partnership’ or ‘I’m glad to see you do so well at work’ or maybe just ‘maybe I should have put more garlic on the bread’.

Steve smiles in such a calm way that Danny’s thinking maybe somebody spiked his tea with drugs and that’s why he’s home so early. “It was weird to see at first,” he says with a shrug. “But I’m not jealous. Because you come home to me,” Steve continues, sliding the tie down Danny’s neck and starting to unbutton his shirt. He gets one, then two buttons off. He ought to stop where it’s appropriate, but he keeps going for the third. “I’ve been waiting for the right time to broach this, but it always seems to slip away. Now that I know you’re happy here, I think it’s time.”

Danny’s heart is making a run for it. It’s going to leap out of his chest and leave him a bloody and yammering mess.

“You live with me,” Danny says, his voice low and throaty. Somehow, Steve has managed to find a way to close the distance between them, even though Danny would swear on his life that they were out of distance to close. “Steve, you live with me and Grace is blocks away and she knows you’re here. You make this into just a sex thing or you fly the coop when you get bored of me,” Danny lectures in a patient and even tone. It’s his ‘I am so very serious about this that I can’t even pretend to be angry’ voice. “If you do that, I will have no problem calling the Governor of Hawaii and respectfully asking her to redact your ass.”

Steve slides his palms down and unbuttons another of Danny’s buttons, leaving only two between him and total shirtlessness.

“You’re serious about this, huh?” Danny breathes out.

“I came here for you,” is all Steve needs to say for Danny to get with the program.

Danny just shoves at Steve to get him going in the direction of the bedroom. “Dinner’s gonna be cold, babe,” he announces, another tense vice on his chest seemingly released just like that. “I got things I need to do to you. So many things, you have no idea.”

*

Sometime over the last six months, Danny’s life has been kidnapped all over again. He would’ve said it was impossible to happen twice, but impossible is not a word that Steve McGarrett knows.

They get in the habit of having weekly dinners with Mary on the deck of their little apartment. Steve barbecues while Danny fetches drinks and it’s a little bit like having family again. Mary’s as good as his sister, he won’t deny that. They’re having one of those barbecues when Mary comes inside to help cook the side dishes with Danny. Steve is busy drinking beer and doing his thing outside with the grill.

“I got this,” Danny says with a look of confidence as he gestures to the spinach dip he’s putting together. “Old Williams family secret, we are good with an oven and an apron.”

“You’ll have to show me pictures,” Mary says with a slow smile. She casts a glance over her shoulder. “I wanted to ask you something about Steve.”

“Is he a lost cause?” Danny jumps right in without actually waiting for her to ask anything. “Yes, I’m sorry, but your brother is always going to have an idiotically happy reaction to things going boom. We tried to find a cure, but he’s too far gone.”

Mary just rolls her eyes. “You’re not as funny as you think you are.”

“That is total bullshit, but go on,” Danny encourages, a big grin on his face.

“Is my brother happy?” is what she has to ask.

And Danny, well, Danny’s big goofy grin probably puts him in the doghouse of happiness more than it does Steve, but Danny likes to think that it does the trick of answering. It’s enough for Mary, who comes around the kitchen island to nudge him with her hip and poke a finger into the dip before sucking it off.

“Not bad,” she says with approval. “Maybe I’ll tell Steve to keep you.”

He nudges her right back and they spend the hour bake-time joking back and forth about her being taller than him, ties in California, and Steve’s unfortunate hair in high school. No matter how the night varies, it always ends the same – the three of them tipsy, Danny and Steve sprawled out on the couch while Mary takes the chair, and with Steve’s fingers absently stroking Danny’s neck.

“You two are gross,” she accuses, sticking out her tongue as she sprawls forward and puts an empty beer bottle on the table with eight others. Her hair falls messily over her shoulder as she levels a look at them.

Steve’s fingers have progressed to stroking down Danny’s back. Danny’s exhausted from his day and the beer and his eyes aren’t even staying open anymore.

“You’re the one who wants me happy,” Steve says, accusing her lazily.

“Yeah, but can’t you wait til I go to bed?”

She takes the guest room like she always does and the minute she closes the door, Steve gets that Look on his face that he always gets when he has a couple of beers in him and he has an idea. Danny doesn’t even put up a fight anymore and just shakes his head.

“Do what you’re gonna do,” Danny says.

Which is how he ends up pressed against the wall, legs wrapped around Steve’s waist, gagged, and fucked by a man who has entirely too much strength in his body for his own good.

When they’re not entertaining Mary, they sometimes have Garcia and some of the guys from the department over. Somehow, along the way, the wives and partners started to come over with them. It’s all Garcia’s fault because he got one glimpse of Danny and Steve bickering over whether a sauce had to be refrigerated or not and said, “Next time, I’ll bring the wife.”

It’s a Friday when the kids come over with all the wives and their small apartment is so full of people that Danny’s actually afraid he’s going to step on someone’s baby before he knows it. He escapes the wrath of his book club by getting back to the kitchen and clasping his hands together in prayer. “Steven, beer me,” he begs. “I need a beer more than I have ever needed anything in my life, including that thing you did to me the other night.”

Danny’s learned that talking about sex in a public place makes Steve pull this really funny face that has a real effect on Danny’s libido. It’s both amusing and dangerous at once, but Danny knows he’s gonna behave, what with fifteen people under their roof and most of them underage.

Steve has a quiet look of panic on his face, like all the noise and all people is leading them in a dangerous direction.

“Okay, Steve, I know this is hard to believe,” Danny says as he bends over to fish out a new bag of chips to put out. “But the toddler playing on the coffee table is not an assassin from the ‘Stan that’s here for you,” Danny says, nodding his head. He bends over a little further, muttering to himself about salsa, which is when he feels his ass being grabbed. “If that’s your sister, we need to have words.”

“Danny, downward dog is always gonna get you this kind of attention,” says Steve, who is currently pressing the whole front of his torso to Danny’s back and breathing the words out against his neck, lips pressed snugly just beneath his earlobe. “Bend with your knees.”

“What and not get this kinda treatment?” Danny’s pretty thrilled, to be perfectly honest. He straightens up, pressing a bottle of salsa into Steve’s hands. “We got houseguests. You are disallowed from locking us in the bedroom.”

When Steve opens his mouth, Danny flicks his forehead.

“I wasn’t going to say anything,” Steve says heatedly.

“I’m sure I owed you one,” Danny promises, snatching the salsa back and pressing a kiss on Steve’s cheek. Just before he goes back out to feed the hungry masses, Steve remembers to hand him a beer and Danny feels this momentary lapse of judgment where he thinks he could forgive Steve a lot of things just for that.

The entertaining is good for them. It keeps them in the loop of things happening at the precinct and it’s not so much of a secret that Steve and Danny live together and in addition to being former partners are also current partners. Occasionally there’s someone who’ll put up a fuss, but Garcia’s pretty aggressive when it comes to reminding those troublemakers that anyone who has a problem with Danny has a problem with the department.

The ugly rumor mill tends to die down for a while after Garcia gives his polite reminders.

It doesn’t hurt that Steve has his own work that comes with a hefty amount of respect. Steve spends his days on the Naval Base. He’s thrown his hat into the ring to teach some of the more insane courses they offer, but he also does his share of work for the country. Most of the time, Danny doesn’t get more of an answer than, “It’s classified,” but Steve does things like let the papers slip slightly so that Danny can see the headings.

“Are you seriously doing cryptography for the government?” Danny finally breaks one night and asks when he finds Steve with a stack of papers in bed, glasses sitting low on his nose. “Steven, what is this, the Cold War?”

“Your lack of knowledge about current affairs, frankly, scares me some days, Danny,” Steve says distractedly, reaching over to pull the covers back and let Danny into bed with him. Danny gets in with his case files, wearing a full set of pajamas and a pair of socks, and props himself up with the pillows. “Also, it’s classified.”

“I’m gonna start doing shots for every time you tell me that,” Danny warns. “And then you’re gonna pay for my liver transplant.”

Danny shifts until he finds a spot that’s comfortable, which mostly involves splaying out reports on Steve’s hipbones and scribbling notes when he needs to. Every now and again Steve twitches and Danny has to hide a grin by ducking his head.

“I’m ticklish, okay?” Steve says defensively.

“I didn’t say a word, Steve, I think it’s adorable that your kryptonite is tickling. Good thing the bad guys in Honolulu didn’t know that an overeager kitten could fell you,” Danny says with a smirk, signing off on one more case file before stacking them on the dresser beside the bed. He steals Steve’s work from him, prying his glasses off and putting those aside too. “Sleep,” he insists, when Steve starts looking like he’s expecting an amorous interruption. “We stayed up way too late last night when you found my old high school pictures…”

“I regret nothing.”

“…and you have that thing in the morning, the deep-sea dive or whatever. Bed,” Danny says again, a little sterner this time.

Steve looks like he’s ready to launch one final protest and so Danny hauls out the big guns.

“Go to bed and tomorrow when you come home on your freakish adrenaline high, we’ll have sex and you can get me so riled up that I make our perfectly nice neighbors think we’re ungodly heathens,” he says.

Steve seems to take that as good enough because he settles down under the covers and slings an arm around Danny’s torso to haul him closer. “Promise?” he asks suspiciously as though Danny’s done this kind of thing before – twice, yes, admittedly.

“Yeah, Steve, swear on my glorious locks of hair,” Danny agrees.

He leans over to turn the lamp off and gets settled right back into the space that Steve’s left open for him. Being held captive by a Navy SEAL isn’t exactly so bad when their favorite method of torture seems to be really clingy sleeping.

Danny can deal with that kind of sleep deprivation provided that he gets to kick Steve in the shins when he starts snoring. There are some things that no amount of love can let you forgive, and a night spent listening to a lumberjack sawing away is so beyond the boundaries, as far as Danny’s concerned.

*

Danny gets home from seeing Grace and finds Steve waiting for him with a beer and a gentle smile on his face. Danny takes the beer, chugs half of it down, and lets his attention drift away at least for just a second. He hates this feeling. He hates coming home and being away from Grace for another week. He’s worked out new custody arrangements where he gets to see her one night a week in addition to every other weekend, but it still isn’t enough.

“You know,” Steve says, after the appropriate amount of time has passed and he knows that Danny is ready to talk. Danny wouldn’t be surprised if somewhere hidden in their apartment, there is a half-started Danny Williams Manual that Steve pulls out to consult and contribute to on a constant basis. “I think maybe I get a little bit of what you were feeling in Hawaii.”

“Yeah?” Danny’s not even close to as drunk as he’d like to be, so his confusion is purely because Steve isn’t making any damn sense. “How’s that?”

“I kind of hate Rachel.” Danny’s eyes widen and he’s practically laughing because Steve, the man who wanted to have tea the very first time he met Danny’s ex-wife, that very same man, is now professing to hate the woman.

This is gonna be good. “Yeah?” Danny replies, bemused. “Why’s that, babe?”

“I don’t mean that I hate her. I don’t. She’s an incredible woman who raised a beautiful daughter.” And there’s the respectful Steve that Danny knows has just been lingering around the corner. “But I hate that she moved, because it means that she moved you with her.”

Danny’s starting to get it.

“And I had to come after you.”

There’s a heavy pause now as Danny tries to calculate what the next move is. He could roll with this and continue on a casual note. He could pull out a couple new beers and commiserate about just how much Rachel can make their lives hell because she’s loyal to her new husband. The thing is, Danny thinks, the thing is that he has to stop and think about this for a minute because the issue is a lot deeper than just ‘man, can Rachel suck and I’m not talking about the good way, although…’

Danny leans forward, pressing his palms on his thighs and splaying his fingers out. “Steve, you didn’t have to follow me.” Danny hadn’t been anything more than a partner on the verge of something else. It’s not exactly the same situation as Danny and Grace.

Steve didn’t have to follow Danny across the ocean. But he did anyway and that says so much without even putting anything into words.

“Danny, ask Chin and Kono sometime,” Steve says, so sober, so serious, so Steve that it practically places a pain in Danny’s chest that he thinks he can only make go away by kissing Steve as hard as he can. “Ask them what happened when you left.”

“I’m guessing,” Danny says, his tone light in an attempt to keep the mood up, “I’m guessing maybe you were a pain in everyone’s ass. I’m guessing you probably shot someone that you shouldn’t have shot. And I’m guessing you tried to use my absence to put new policies into effect that everyone hates. People need coffee in the morning, Steve, you can’t just ban coffee!”

“In the quantities that the rest of you drank in, yes I could,” Steve says with that serious and determined look on his face. “You would have lived longer if I got my way.”

“No coffee bans,” Danny says sharply. “But yeah, Steve, I’m guessing you weren’t a real peach to live with.” He debates his next move here and in the end, he thinks that the only way this is going to work is if he goes with total honesty. “Listen, babe,” Danny says, turning on the couch so he’s facing Steve. “That feeling’s not gonna go away, so I’m about to give you some advice. Be a normal human being and nod right now so I can pretend you’re at least listening.”

Steve nods -- good boy -- and Danny is at least slightly assuaged.

“One day, you’re gonna wake up and realize that if you don’t figure out what to do with all those, those feelings,” he says, balling his hands up tight in a shadow mimicry of the anger he used to feel, “then it’s just gonna devour you whole. So one day I realized that I’m the one who made the choice. I chose to come after Grace and yeah, it makes me a good dad, it makes me a great dad,” he allows. “But it still means I chose. I chose it, Steve. Wasn’t Rachel’s fault for moving on. She just got there first.”

So now, now comes the part that involves Steve.

“Look, Steve,” Danny says. “I know your life was pretty shitty when I left, but you still chose to come out here. And I’m giving you the option to go back. I am not that kind of girl, Steve McGarrett, that’s gonna cry if you go. I will not shed a single tear because, quite frankly, I am sure you’ve made a dozen girls cry in your lifetime because your special hunk-love wasn’t bestowed upon them and I refuse to contribute to that.”

Steve is getting a pinched look on his face and he mouths ‘hunk-love’ very slowly. Danny’s going to lose the point if he doesn’t hustle to get it back on track.

“What I am saying!” he says, using his hands, “is that you are not bound here by me. You get to choose now, McGarrett, just like I chose to accept that I’m the one who followed Grace to Hawaii. Your call.”

Steve purses his lips and his attention veers sideways, away from Danny. He watches Steve warily, not sure what’s going to happen next, and while he might have just given Steve an out, he is practically begging with the whole universe that Steve does not actually take it.

“Is trash day tomorrow?” is all Steve asks.

Danny’s eyes bug-out, go wide, and he must have missed the rest of the conversation. He is sure that Steve hit him on the head and he’s just gone unconscious and he has actually missed all the subjects that bridged the gap between Rachel and trash-day. “Come again?”

“Trash day,” is all Steve says. “Tomorrow?”

“We are having a serious discussion!” Danny shouts, aware that they’ve had complaints from the neighbors already – Danny’s been at fault twice with sex and arguing and Steve had accidentally blown the oven door off during an experiment. “You are supposed to make a decision now and then tell me because that is what people in relationships do!”

Unless you’re Danny and Rachel and have effectively pioneered a system of glares. He doesn’t know that it’ll work with him and Steve. It’s very hard to learn when not at a young age.

“Danny,” Steve says in that way he has, that ‘I got this,’ tone that makes people trust him. “I decided. I decided a long time ago. Now, seriously, trash day. We’ve missed the last few weeks because you’ve forgotten…”

“Oh, I’ve forgotten, I’ve forgotten, I’m the one who’s been doing stakeouts all night, not sleeping in our cushy bed and able to put the trash out leisurely in the…”

“Because it’s going to start smelling, Danny! And that’s how we’ll get pests…”

“And let me tell you something, I am the one who took it out last time. I remember because I got a lot of comments from our nice elderly neighbor about how I need to wear more clothes out if I intend to meet people along the way. Did you know that apartment etiquette, Steve? Because I didn’t, I did not know my house robe was not good enough for old Mrs. O’Leary next door.”

“She bakes me cookies,” Steve says smugly. “She says I’m a perfect example of a young gentleman and you can learn from me.”

“Of course she does,” Danny says with a sigh. He waits just a moment, just one, for the dust to settle and the teasing to fall by the wayside. He leans forward and nudges Steve’s knee with his knuckles. “You’re sure about this? You made your choice?”

“Yeah,” Steve says with a nod. “Yeah, I did. Danno, it took me four months to make sure it was the right one, but I don’t have a single doubt in my heart. I made my choice.”

Danny doesn’t need any more convincing than that.

*

This week, Danny gets Grace on a Tuesday night.

She’s finished her homework and has eaten every last green from off her plate – Steve cooked, which means it’s a salmon and broccoli kind of night. Danny’s just finished putting her to bed in the guest room and sits beside her, his palm stroking her hair, unable to leave without lingering.

She’s his baby girl and one day she’s gonna grow up and he’s barely going to recognize her anymore, but right now on this Tuesday night, she’s his and that’s all that matters. He closes the door gently behind himself and walks down the hall to see what Steve’s up to – if Steve’s up to anything dangerous or if he’s decided today is when he reveals his plan to take over the western half of the states.

Steve looks relatively harmless. In that he’s got Danny’s cell phone in hand and is just talking away.

Danny arches a brow and mouths, ‘Who is it?’ and of all the people it could’ve been, Danny didn’t expect for Steve to whisper, “Your mother,” back at him. And they’re off, Danny’s heart rate accelerating into panic and beads of sweat forming on his upper lip. He hasn’t exactly come around to mentioning to his mother that his live-in ex-partner has become something of a serious boyfriend to him.

He’s been waiting for an opportune moment. Maybe Christmas when everyone has drank too much and his sisters are shouting at each other about what they want to do for New Years. Yeah, Danny’s thinking that’d be the perfect time.

“Steven,” Danny commands sharply. “Steven, give up the phone. Steven John McGarrett, you will not like the unholy retribution that will rain down on you if you don’t…” Somehow, he ends up standing on the couch and smacking Steve on the back of his head, snatching the phone in the melee.

“…but Danny’s been overprotective with his sisters since high school…”

“Ma, it’s okay, you can stop lying to Steve, I’m here,” Danny says, glaring right back at Steve – who has decided to turn his hurt puppy glare on Danny. It doesn’t work, it doesn’t work at all, and Danny is not going to feel so guilty later that he’ll probably give Steve an Apology Blowjob. He swats at Steve to make him go away so he can at least have a decent conversation with his mother.

“Daniel, sometimes I worry about you,” is the first thing his mother says to him.

As far as the Williams family goes, it’s not even that hefty a guilt-inducer. There’s just been so much worse.

“Steve tells me that you nearly got shot.”

Nearly! Nearly, Ma, focus on the nearly,” Danny practically howls in his defense before he remembers just how close Grace is and the last thing he needs is to wake her up. “Steve worries too much, next thing you know he’s going to start throwing salt over his shoulder just in case, just in case, and this is a Navy SEAL. If a Navy SEAL is throwing salt to ward away demons, I am not living with said SEAL anymore.”

“So then things are going well?”

Danny pauses and watches as Steve finally gives up on getting the cell phone back. He roams around the apartment tidying up and putting away the cupcakes they’d had for dessert. He’s wearing yoga pants that make his ass look, frankly, fantastic and a long-sleeved Naval Intelligence sweatshirt.

“Yeah, I mean, they’re not half bad,” Danny admits. “Me and Garcia busted a drug ring,” he boasts proudly. “Even got my picture in the paper. I mailed a copy to you and Dad, and this time, no spelling mistakes,” he goes on, something warm pooling in his chest as he watches Steve glance back over his shoulder and smile proudly in Danny’s direction. “You okay there? Dad okay?”

“Your father needs something to occupy his time. He’s bored.”

“Ma, I think he’s just enjoying his retirement. Let the man be! So what he’s not working all the time anymore, it’s good for him, it’s good for the both of you. I mean, maybe, maybe you should start thinking about taking a trip out here,” Danny suggests, looking down the hallway like he’s already doing the math on where everyone will stay.

Now that he’s said it, he wants it. He wants it more than he’s wanted anything since he wanted Steve with him (and he got that). He wants his father to see the good work he’s doing and he wants both his parents to see how big Grace has gotten. He wants Steve to be able to shake his father’s hand and Danny wants to tell his mother that he thinks he’s done and that second time’s the charm.

“We’d love to come out and see you, Danny,” his Mom says in that soft and hushed way that comes when Danny does something surprising. The last time he heard her sound like that, he’d bought her a dozen bouquets of roses for Mother’s Day. “You wouldn’t mind?”

Steve has finished unloading the dishwasher and comes back to the living room, standing in front of Danny – who has yet to move from his position, standing on the couch cushions. Steve just looks at him in that unyielding way that says he wants to know everything about the situation – the man is secretly a gossip whore who hides it behind Naval training, Danny is convinced.

“No, Ma,” Danny says, soft as anything as he reaches his free hand out and cups Steve’s cheek with it, brushing the line of his jaw once before letting that palm slide down Steve’s neck. He presses it atop his heart and just lets it rest there. “Me and the family,” he says, not taking his gaze away from Steve’s for a single moment.

Get this, he wills. Understand this.

“Me and the family, we want you here.”

He knows the conversation goes on past that. They talk about New Jersey and he gives them updates about Grace and they all say their ‘I love you’s, but Danny’s pretty sure it all passes in a haze. Steve’s only moved so far as to sit down beside Danny on the couch and when Danny finally says goodbye – for the third time, his Mom has a tendency to bring up cousins and their updates at the last minute – he pries the cell phone away.

“The family?” Steve says as he shifts their bodies, sliding until Danny is on his back and Steve is comfortably straddling him. “I didn’t know you and Rachel were doing that well.”

Danny just laughs.

He laughs. And then he laughs some more, and when Steve starts getting a hurt look on his face, Danny kisses him while the laughter bubbles past his lips. “God, Steve, you’re so lucky that you’re an attractive idiot,” is all Danny has to say to him. “You’re my family, too,” he reminds him of what he once said in an airport so very far away.

Steve closes the distance between them and on a Tuesday night, Danny knows that whatever he might have done in his life, he did something very right to get him to this.

And he knows that second time’s the charm.

THE END