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The first anniversary of Steve's father's death falls on a Friday; Danny's had the date marked in his phone for months, with an appointment note attached that just reads "!!!". He's glad of the reminder, glad he took the time to figure out how setting them worked, even though he wouldn't have needed it--Steve gets testier and testier, the short fuse on his insanity growing ever shorter as the day approaches.

Danny goes in to the office on Friday expecting to find Steve there already, maybe threatening a suspect with a hot poker or staple-gunning someone to the wall. Instead it's quiet, empty, and he settles in at his desk with a hollow feeling in the pit of his stomach.

Chin comes in a few minutes later, looks at Steve's empty desk, and gives Danny a speaking look. Kono comes in after him and does the same, but follows it up with a gentle smack to the back of Danny's head.

"Right," says Danny, "so, I am suddenly feeling unexpectedly ill, oh, the illness, it is so terrible, I'll just be taking the day now."

"Hug the boss for us," says Kono.

"Make sure he's not drunk," adds Chin. "I used to have to pry his old man off the bottle in times of grief."

"Check and check," Danny says, gathering his things. "Any other advice?"

"Don't let him drive," they say together, and they all laugh a little uncomfortably. The truth is, Danny's pretty sure they're just as worried as he is by what he's likely to find at Steve's place, but he is McGarrett's Official Partner, and this is his job.

Some days, when Danny is feeling particularly down on his luck and the guys at the bar are looking particularly unappealing, he wishes he was actually Steve's partner in the non-work sense. Not for any reason, really, certainly not because he's madly in love with the lunatic, no, no, that would be crazy and in direct violation of his self-preservation instincts. Just because it would make it a little better, having to do all these things for Steve that a girlfriend would do, that a boyfriend would do, that a different kind of partner would do if he had one.

Then again, the chances of Steve finding someone willing to deal with his insanity on a regular basis are probably the same as Danny's chances at locating anyone able to tolerate his constant rage problem. They're more or less stuck with each other.

In any case, he drives to Steve's place with his apprehension growing, more than a little worried about what he'll find. Steve's truck is in his driveway, which doesn't necessarily mean he's home--he could be out for a swim or running up mountains or beating a criminal to death with an ice-pick, it's hard to know. Danny lets himself in through the front door and punches in the alarm code, figuring he'll wait Steve out if he's not around.

"Babe?" he calls, and winces. He has got to stop doing that.

"In here," is the response. Danny follows the sound of his voice to the study, where Steve is sitting in a chair, staring at the wall.

Which--okay, for anyone else this would look normal enough, a little bleak, maybe, but nothing to panic about. For Danny, who was the first person on the scene after Jack McGarrett's murder, it's a little more complicated. Steve's chair is sitting in the exact same spot as the one his father was tied to when he was shot; Danny would be willing to bet it's even the same chair, although why the hell Steve would have held onto that he doesn't know.

He's staring at the wall where the blood spatter was, once.

Danny's heart is in his throat, fellow-feeling welling up inside him, coiling sick in his stomach. He doesn't think, just crosses the room until he's right in front of Steve, blocking his view. He reaches out a hand and puts it on Steve's shoulder, and Steve just sighs and leans forward, sagging into him, his head on Danny's chest. The line of his back is a long, pained slope, and Danny can't help but reach down to rub it, as soothing as he can be. They're surrounded by decor Steve would never have picked himself, couches and curtains he hasn't changed at all, and Danny thinks mausoleum, wonders how he never saw it before.

"I think it's about time to get you out of this house, Steve," he says.

"Yeah," Steve sighs, "yeah, that sounds about right."

--

"You're not serious," the realtor says, looking between them like they're crazy. Her name is Nalani and she comes highly recommended, but Danny is starting to doubt her commitment to this venture. "You want to sell this place?"

"We do," Danny says, elbowing Steve in the side to keep him from using this as an excuse to back out. "Time for a change of pace, shake things up, everybody needs a little something new sometimes--"

"Don't let him get started," Steve warns. "He's been giving me this lecture for three days, he knows all the ins and outs--"

"That is because I know you, my friend, and I know that you will try to ninja your way out of this."

Steve makes a noise that means "fuck you very much for being right," which, coupled with the face he's making, makes Danny grin. He really is the biggest baby in the world, if you set the SEAL training and shark cages aside.

Nalani is laughing at them, but what else is new. "You two are adorable," she says, "and it's not that I don't understand--new relationship, new house--"

"We're not--" Danny starts, but Steve's the one doing the elbowing this time, giving him a look that says it's not worth it. Danny rolls his eyes but shuts up, and Nalani's grin fades a little as she glances between them.

"I also understand your desire to move given what happened here last year," she says, softer. "I'm very sorry for your loss, Commander McGarrett, but--"

"Steve, please."

"Steve, then," she says, sighing as she glances around. "It's a lovely property and well-located, but it's a small island. The recent of history of the house is going to make it difficult to unload, especially considering the remaining structural damage from--"

"He fixed all that," Danny says hastily, trying to salvage the situation. Steve will use this as an excuse to stay put, Danny knows he will, and staying put would be bad for his already decidedly lacking mental health.

"There's a bullet hole right there," Nalani says, pointing to a spot right about the fridge.

"Shit," says Danny.

"Knew I missed one," says Steve, too innocently, which is how Danny knows he shot a fucking hole in the wall to insure this very eventuality. Tricky bastard.

"Well," Nalani says, "in all honesty, I think your best bet is to play on the tourist market. You'll probably do better renting it out as a timeshare then you will trying to sell it right now--mainlanders aren't going to know the story--but…"

"But?" Danny prompts, not looking at Steve, who is making faces about the idea of tourists in his house, Danny just knows it.

"Well," Nalani says, "the decor is a bit…dated. Your average tourist is looking for someplace they can picture their family staying without having to change much--and obviously, if you were renting it out, they wouldn't be able to change things, that'd be your call. You should really consider redecorating, repainting--"

"Is there any specific way that should be done?" Danny says, before Steve can pitch a bitch fit about the house being fine as it is. "Colors, furniture, you know? Things people are looking for?

Nalani shrugs. "Use your best judgement. Generally anyone looking to rent a house this size is going to have kids, so you'll want at least one room that's child friendly, but other than that I'd mostly just try to make it look welcoming. Right now it's…"

"Careful," Steve says, in that half-growl of a voice that usually accompanies "Hands where I can see them."

"…a little old-fashioned," Nalani finishes, her eyes wary. She looks pointedly towards the sofa in the living room, which is, yeah, totally hideous. "The house has a lot of fantastic features--private beach, lots of windows, draws natural light. But it's a little on the dark side, as it is. You guys should really consider changing some things around; when you're done, give me a call, and I'll sell it if I can or give you some tips on how to break into the rental market, alright?"

She offers Steve her card, but Steve just glares at her, and Danny sighs and takes it himself.

"Thank you," he says, "and I apologize for him; his social skills are lacking on the best of days."

"It really is a lovely home," Nalani says, picking up her briefcase and following Danny to the door. "I'm just sorry I can't be of more help."

"Trust me," Danny says, smiling at her, "you've been very helpful."

--

"I can't believe we're doing this," Steve says for the sixth time. Danny sighs and manfully resists the urge to punch him in the face.

"I told you before," he says, "it's your own fault. You're the one that decided to handcuff a suspect inside the car wash and leave him--against my strenuous advice, you will recall, because it is crazy and against police procedure and crazy--so you can't blame me for this at all. If you didn't want to get dragged in here, you should have picked a different car wash, or, oh, wait, not done that--"

"Okay, fine, fine, shut up," Steve mutters. "Let's just get this over with."

They're in Pacific Home, which--okay. Danny may or may not have promised himself that he would never again enter this kind of store after the last time he and Rachel had a screaming fight in the pillow section of a Bed Bath & Beyond, but a good cause is a good cause. Steve's tense next to him, every part of him screaming that he doesn't want to do this, that he doesn't want change, and if Danny were an asshole he'd remind Steve exactly how they ended up making this call to begin with.

He's not, though--not a complete asshole, anyway--so he just kind of claps Steve on the back and lets his hand linger a bit longer than he means to.

"We're just looking," he points out. "This is not the traumatic incident you're making it out to be, my friend. Hell, if it makes it better for you, we can forget the tourist angle and just consider the whole thing an exercise in making your house less--er--"

"Old-fashioned?" Steve snaps, because he's still a little bitter about that.

"I was going to say 'full of painful memories,' actually," Danny says, quiet. "But we can go with old-fashioned if you want."

Steve swallows; Danny feels him shift under his hand, realizes his hand is still on Steve's back, and removes it at speed.

"Right," Steve says, sounding--god, Danny hates when he whips out that voice, the one that's half resolve and half confusion, the one with the hint of uncertainty underneath. Steve being uncertain is wrong, because Steve is always certain about everything, even things he shouldn't be certain about--things like handcuffing suspects inside of car washes and hanging people off roofs.

So Danny does the only thing he can think of to do, and grabs Steve's arm. He half-drags him over to the couch section, bypassing the beds (dangerous) and the office furniture (likely to remind Steve of his father's study). Couches are easy enough, and anyway Steve's couch is the part of his house Danny is best acquainted with, and it really does need to be the first thing to go.

"Look," he says, "just--if you were setting up a place of your own, without all the baggage, right, what would you pick?"

Steve steps forward a little and then stops, his head cocked. He looks past Danny with his eyes slightly narrowed, like he's trying to figure something out, and Danny refrains--barely--from throwing his hands up in despair.

"What," he says, "what, what is it now, where is the stumbling block in hypothetically picking out a hypothetical couch? Do you need one that's going to have a built in ejector seat, because I will find you one with a built in ejector seat, McGarrett, if it means you will actually consider attempting to make a decision. "

Steve laughs, his head tilting back ever so slightly. "Sorry, I've just--I've never really done this."

"What," says Danny, "bought a couch? Does the Navy have some kind of anti-couch policy that I don't know about?"

"No," Steve says, waving a hand at the store at large. "This, I mean. The whole…furniture thing."

Danny stares at him, waiting for the rest of that sentence, because surely Steve doesn't mean he's never bought furniture before. Steve just glances back at the couches, though, and Danny is forced to conclude that that is what he means.

"I'm sorry," he says, "I'm sorry, I am, but, okay, what? You are a grown man, Steve McGarrett, please do not tell me that before I met you you were sleeping on floors, because if that is the case I'm going to have to retroactively smack you for every time you ever mocked my apartment."

"Your apartment is a hellhole," Steve says easily.

"Not to a floor-sleeper!" Danny cries, which is not particularly sensical, but whatever. "Explain, please, for the sake of my sanity."

Steve shrugs. "Well, I was at Annapolis, they put us up, and then in the SEALs we just kind of went where we were told to go. I had an apartment I'd go back to when I was on leave, but I bought it furnished and never really had time to change anything around. When I was in Naval Intelligence I lived on the base."

"Oh my god," Danny says, "okay, please remind me to stop presuming that you're a normal adult in any aspect of your life, it only ever bites me in the ass. You've never picked out furniture before, alright, okay, you're a freak, you know that you're a freak, right?"

"I've been told," Steve says, looking amused now. "I like this one, kind of."

Danny follows the line of his hand to a couch, which…"No," he says firmly, "no, nope, not a chance, babe. This couch is white."

"You got something against white couches?"

"No," Danny says, "I have several things against white couches. Thing one, stains. Thing two, stains. Thing three, you would not be considering this couch if you'd even once had to deal with a small child for more than five minutes, because, I say again, stains. Thing four, even if your super-human ass never spilled so much as a drop of anything on this, I give it, like, a year before it starts to look all ratty and--"

"Okay, okay," Steve says, and he's actually laughing now, this is encouraging. Maybe all Danny has to do is carefully balance insults and insight for the rest of this process--and hey, really, that's practically his job description anyway, so it's not like it'll be hard.

"Now this one," Danny says, leading Steve over to a weathered leather sectional, "this one is a shining paragon of all things holy. This, my friend, is a couch. This is--"

"Four thousand dollars," Steve says, sputtering, "Danny, oh my god, what the hell would I do with a four thousand dollar couch, does it grow legs, does it do the dishes for me--"

"Like you'd ever let a couch do your dishes for you," Danny scoffs. "The finished product would undoubtedly not live up to your stringent military standards."

"Just because you are terrible at washing dishes," Steve starts, but he's cut off by the approach of a salesgirl who looks, frankly, predatory.

"Hello," she purrs, having obviously latched onto what they appear to be, which is--goddamn it, why does Danny never realize this until it's too late--a happy couple looking for overpriced furniture. "Is there anything I can help you find today?"

"We're just looking," Danny says, because Steve has the This is A Social Situation I Can't Extract Myself From With My Usual Semi-Homicidal Methods face on, and that never leads to anything good. "We'll let you know if we need anything."

"This is a lovely model," she continues, breezing over this like Danny got down on his knees and begged her for assistance. She takes Steve's arm and pulls him towards the other side of the display, and Danny's frowning, meaning to follow, when his phone rings. He glances down to hit ignore, but it's HPD, so he sighs and picks up.

"Detective Williams," he says, and yeah, maybe he says it a little loud, maybe he's hoping to intimidate Little Miss Handsy a bit, what's so wrong with that?

"Williams," says Sergeant Lukela, "I tried McGarrett, but it went through to voicemail. Everything alright?"

"Yeah, he must've left his phone in the car," Danny says. He doesn't know if that's true, but he can't think of any other reason Steve wouldn't be answering calls right now. "What've you got?"

"Well," Lukela says, "we just got a call from a car wash in Honolulu; apparently there's someone handcuffed inside, screaming that he'll talk if they'll just turn off water. Figured I'd check and make sure it wasn't you guys before I sent the black and whites."

"Oh, Jesus, yeah, it's us," Danny says, already cataloguing all the ways they're never going to hear the end of this. "Don't send anyone; I'll tell McGarrett. We'll pick him up."

Lukela hangs up, muttering something that Danny doesn't catch about immunity and crazy haoles and proper procedure, which, honestly, Danny would probably agree with if he could hear it. He goes over to Steve, who is being regaled about the benefits of double-reinforced padding by the salesgirl.

Her hand is still on Steve's arm, but Steve mouths "Save me" at Danny over her head, so Danny isn't really that annoyed by it.

"I hate to break this up," he says, "but our perp is ready to be done with his spin cycle. They called HPD on us, McGarrett, do you know how embarrassing this is gonna be the next time I swing by the precinct, huh? I swear to god, if I wasn't afraid you'd hunt me down and kill me I'd make you try all these so-called crime solving techniques out on yourself first, just so I could know for a fact that you have a solid understanding of--why are you looking at me like that, you think we've got all day here, c'mon, c'mon."

"Stop back whenever you like," the salesgirl calls after them, sounding forlorn as Danny steers Steve out the door, keeping up a steady stream of chatter all the while.

"I'm not going back in there," is Steve's conclusion, when they've got their dripping perp in the backseat of the Camaro.

"No, you are not," Danny agrees. "That was a traumatic experience for all of us."

"Mostly for me," the perp mutters, but they ignore him.

"You're still not getting out of this, though," Danny continues. "Just because that didn't go well doesn't mean you can continue living this way. There are standards of basic mental health, Steven, and it is my responsibility as your partner to try and make sure you meet at least one of them, occasionally, and it's a hard task, okay, it is supremely thankless, one overbearing salesgirl is not going to break my resolve. And anyway you obviously need guidance, because you have, somehow, never done this before, and you do not understand the basic rules, which shouldn't really surprise me at all. White couches, I ask you."

"Was there a point somewhere in there?" Steve asks, slanting a grin his way.

"Yes," Danny says, "the point is, we're going to Home Depot and getting paint chips after we drop this guy off, and you are not allowed to buy a chainsaw to keep as a weapon. And I wouldn't be involving myself in this…ugh, this homemaking process for just anyone, McGarrett, so you will do what I say and you will be grateful."

Steve's face goes strange for a second, like he's got words in his mouth he's not sure how to say, and the hairs on the back of Danny's neck stand up all at once. There's a soapy criminal in the backseat of his car and a mountain of paperwork looming and he can't handle this face on Steve, doesn't know what it means, can't run it through the translator and come up with something rational.

But then Steve's smiling, a soft, goofy smile, because he's got that stupid heart under all his lunatic ninja stoicism and he is, in Danny's expert opinion, pretty shit at hiding it.

"Yeah, Danno, okay," he says. "Whatever you say, I got it."

--

Danny should have known better than to assume it would be that easy.

"Okay," he says, a hand to his forehead, "okay, I know you were--I know you were dropped on your head as a child and have been through a wave of apparently very damaging military training, I get that your worldview is based on the Navy SEALs, babe, I do, but these? These are not acceptable color choices."

"What's wrong with them?" Steve asks. He's all defensive again, because their slippery perp had been literally slippery this time, and he'd kind of wrangled free from Danny's grip and headbutted Steve in the face a little before they managed to subdue him.

Which is not Danny's fault, it's not, this is what comes of handcuffing people to the insides of car washes, but try and tell Steve and his bruised cheek that. Honestly, some people.

"They are," Danny says, waving his hands over the shades Steve has picked out, "camouflage colors. I recognize that there was that one time with the break in and the stun-gun, but I don't think it would have helped you if the walls had been painted to look like the forest."

"I like green," he says, and Jesus, Grace is more mature than this, how Steve manages to function in the real world is honestly beyond Danny most days.

"It's fine to like green," Danny says. "Green is totally fine as a color, that is great, you go ahead and like green all day long. But this is olive green, can you admit that, huh? This is the same color as all your cargo pants. You want a nice jungle green, fine. You wanna go with a healthy-looking spring green, you go ahead--"

"Are you naming Crayola crayon colors?"

"I have a nine year old," Danny reminds him. "The fact that you know that's what I'm doing is actually only embarrassing for you."

"You keep telling yourself that," Steve says, and hey, there's a hint of a smirk, maybe Danny can stop having heart palpitations over crazy thoughts like He's got a brain bleed he's not telling me about and Secretly his jaw is broken but he's trying to tough-guy his way around admitting it.

"Look," Danny says, despairing of the world, "the thing is, McGarrett, that I hate this store, I hate this store so much, there is no reason that shopping for home repair items should be an exercise in machismo and labyrinth solving skills, so I need you to just. Just, jeez, this isn't hard for normal people, just pick some colors you like, okay, so we can get out of here, please, please, I am begging you."

Steve looks at him for a second, a mixture of Confused But Willing To Negotiate and What The Hell Are You Yelling At Me About Now, Danno and…something else...on his face.

"I like blue," he decides finally.

"Blue!" Danny says, grabbing wildly at some paint chips. "Fantastic, we have a lead. You like blues, you like greens, these are what are known as cool colors, my friend--"

"What are you," Steve says, grinning at him now, "an interior decorator all of a sudden?"

"No," Danny says, "I am a man who survived ten years of marriage, and contrary to popular belief wives do actually notice when you don't listen to them. I learned these things because I had to, okay, now shut up and pick your favorite ones so we can go."

Fifteen minutes later, they have what feels like every single paint chip in the goddamn store thrown across the backseat of the Camaro, because Steve turns out to somehow be worse than Rachel about making these kinds of decisions. He's humming under his breath, though, and tapping a beat against the steering wheel, so Danny can't really bring himself to mind.

--

And that's kind of it, for awhile. They get caught up in a case involving the Governor's childhood best friend and some international terrorists, which is more than a little time consuming, and it's not like Danny actually lives with Steve. He asks about how it’s going a few times, on stakeouts and running for pizza, but Steve just grunts at him about having more important things to worry about.

Then the case ends right before Danny's weekend with Grace, and he spends Saturday and Sunday in a Steve-free state of paternal bliss. It's only after he drops Grace at Rachel's that his phone buzzes with a text message, and he fishes it out of the cup holder at a red light to see what it says.

Text from Steve McGarrett to Danny Williams, 7:45 PM HST
you should bring me beer

Danny frowns at his phone, confused by the lack of perfect grammar and uncharacteristically cheerful emoticons that normally adorn a text from Steve. He has time to dash off a quick response before the light turns green.

Text from Danny Williams to Steve McGarrett, 7:46 PM HST
What?

Text from Steve McGarrett to Danny Williams, 7:47 PM HST
Nevermind didnt mean to send have a good night

"Right," Danny says to himself, veering off the road to stop at a gas station for a six pack, "let's go see what that's about."

--

Steve's drunk.

Danny's not really surprised--he'd kind of figured, given the texts--but he is surprised by the impetus of the binge, if only because he should have seen it coming. Steve's in his attic, surrounded by half-unpacked boxes, photos spilled out across the floor around him. He didn't notice Danny come up--sign enough that he's trashed out of his mind--and he's kind of swaying a little, even sitting down.There's a shot glass and a bottle of Scotch sitting by his feet, the label worn enough that it could have belonged to Steve's father.

Which it probably did, Danny realizes, and sighs.

"Doing some excavating?" he asks, knocking lightly on the wall. Steve jumps anyway, jerks unsteadily to his feet in a defensive stance, and then blinks, confused, when he realizes who it is.

"Danno," he says, and he's starting to smile when he sees the six-pack. His face falls. "Oh, hey, hey, buddy, you didn't really need to--you know. I just kind of wanted you to come out here, you know, only I don't really think I meant to. Uh. Shit."

"Beer's for me, McGarrett," Danny says, overlooking the rest of it out of the kindness of his heart. "You obviously don't need it. You wanna sit back down and tell me what's happened here?"

"You are," Steve says, plopping back down without ceremony, "a detective, and I know because you're always telling me, man, all the time, about your detecting, alright? So you should solve this mystery yourself, because I don't, uh."

"Want to talk about it?" Danny supplies, when it becomes clear that Steve's not going to finish that thought.

"Yeah," Steve says. "That."

"Okay," Danny agrees. He pops one of the beers open and takes a long swig, considering the best way to go about this. He decides to try the direct approach--a drunk Steve is still Steve, after all. "Well, it looks to me like you decided to start cleaning some stuff out--which is a step in the right direction, Steven, let me go on the record as encouraging that, by all means continue to take steps down this most enlightened path--but I'm guessing you found some shit you didn't expect to find, huh?"

"He told us he threw it all out," Steve says, apropos of exactly nothing. Danny takes another swig of his beer and waits him out, folding down onto his bad knee to sit next to him. "My dad, I mean, said he tossed it. My mom's stuff. After she died."

"And it turns out he didn't?"

"You're a good detective," Steve says, slurring it a little, turning to stare at him. "A really good detective, I should pay you more."

"I'll remind you you said that in the morning," Danny says.

He looks Steve over then, takes in the dark circles under his eyes, the twist to his mouth, and wants to punch something. There are days--whole weeks, sometimes--where he can forget about the fact that Steve's crazy is layered like a goddamn onion, peeling back to reveal new depths of "oh shit, that's fucked up." Then again, Danny's pretty sure that between the two of them they've got enough family issues to occupy a therapist for life, so maybe he's not one to judge.

Mostly he wants to forget about the therapy thing, wants to forget about the sick feeling in his chest that wells up when Steve looks like this. He'd like to reach out across the space between them and pull Steve in, but he knows better than to let his feelings get the best of him.

He nudges Steve with his elbow instead, gentle, prodding.

"Hey," he says, "hey, McGarrett, let's make a deal, alright?"

"That depends," Steve says, "on the deal."

Danny shouldn't find it encouraging that Steve can still be a stubborn ass this trashed; he shouldn't, and does anyway. "How about I do this with you, huh? Because, and do not take this to mean that my life wouldn't be better without you, I can count at least ten ways my existence would improve without your constant crazy presence--but I will, begrudgingly, admit that I kind of like you, and it's hard to pick up the slack when your partner's suffering from liver failure, alright?"

"I'm not going to have liver failure," Steve mutters, sullen. "Not even how medicine works."

"Yeah, yeah," Danny says, "let's get you up, alright?"

He hauls Steve to his feet, his bad knee screaming bloody murder at him, and guides him downstairs to the best of his ability. Steve, nothing if not predictable, gets drunk like he does everything else--like he's hell-bent on it, like it's his goddamn mission in life. He wavers between belligerent and oddly sweet, but Danny's used to that, has seen him trashed before; when Steve tries and fails to put in him a headlock as Danny steers him towards his bedroom, he gives it up and takes them both downstairs.

"No sleeping," Steve says, when he's sunk into the couch, feet kicked up on the coffee table. "Too early for bed. Wouldn't be, you know. Very hooyah."

"Okay, first of all," Danny says, "you are smashed at eight P.M. on a Sunday, did it ever occur to you that maybe that's the worry here, and not your bedtime? Because, I am just saying, healthy habits these are not. And secondly, did you just use hooyah as an adjective?"

"Hooyah," says Steve, apparently in agreement. He's grinning at Danny like an asshole, head back against the hideous couch, eyes playful for all they were heartbroken ten minutes ago.

And, okay, yeah, you know what, Danny's a little--hell, goddamn it, maybe a lot--in love with this jackass. It's not like anyone has to know about it.

"Stupid military habits," Danny mutters.

"My habits are not stupid," says Steve, "they are hooyah."

"Can I get you to break up with that word for the next half an hour or so?" Danny asks, figuring that's about how long he'll have to wait before Steve passes out like a champ. "Just, you know, a little time apart, might do you and 'hooyah' some good, take it from me."

"You don't say it right," Steve says. "It sounds stupid when you say it."

"It sounds stupid when I say it," Danny repeats. "McGarrett, I said it the same way as you, you are deranged."

"Nope," Steve says, "nope, nope, I have--superior--senorit--something, okay, I have a thing, it's like when we're doing a thing, only this is a thing that is just me. My thing. The thing."

"We are never doing a thing," Danny says, "it's always just you, and I think the only thing you've got right now is a seriously looming hangover."

"Hooyah," Steve says, smug, listing a little to the left as he says it. Danny snorts, giving him up for a lost cause, and fishes the remote out from between the couch cushions.

He flicks through the channels until he comes across Sunday Night Football and leaves that on, the sound of it washing over him as he relaxes. Except for the way Steve's laughing at nothing, it's a lot like any other night they end up winding down together--volume on low, the sound of the ocean outside, Danny's beer chilling the pads of his fingers. He's halfheartedly yelling at the television after a bad call when he hears a snore.

Steve's asleep, head tipped back against the couch, mouth wide open.

And it's not that Danny's watching him sleep, exactly, because that would be creepy and invasive and creepy, thank you very much. It's more that--well, he should leave, right, he should definitely leave, except that he's comfortable and the game's not over and the idea of Steve waking up to an empty house is…upsetting, somehow. So he keeps checking, little glances, making sure Steve's where he was five seconds ago, which is stupid. It's stupid, it's not like he's going anywhere, but Danny just feels better, making sure.

Steve looks different when he sleeps; it's hardly the first time Danny's noticed it. They've been on stakeouts together, after all, and no one has forgotten the terrible day when Steve, three days awake, had passed out at his desk and drooled all over their paperwork. And so Danny knows, knows about Steve's sleeping face, knows how he looks somehow softer and fiercer at once, like he's gearing up for battle.

He knows too about Steve's tendency to sprawl everywhere, the way he's always taking over any space he's in, awake or not. This is why he shouldn't be surprised by the way Steve is suddenly slumped into him, head tucked into the curve of Danny's shoulder, breathing soft against his neck.

He's surprised anyway, because his life is just like that.

"Damn it, McGarrett," he mutters, and Steve just shifts, and Danny's hand is on his back now, how did that happen, why did that happen, he has to go. He has to go, because he's in over his head here, has maybe been over his head this whole time. Steve's hair is brushing against his jaw, cropped close, probably threaded through with sand from his morning swim. Danny could find out, if he wanted to, could bend his neck a little and press his mouth to the hint of a widow's peak and--

"Right," he says, shoving him a little, "going home now, you lush, seriously, problem drinking, this is what it looks like."

Danny slides free and stands up, has to catch Steve by the shoulders to keep him from crash-landing in the vacant spot. Steve smiles, kind of, when he settles, his head flat against the ugly fucking cushion, and Danny can't help himself; he grabs a pillow and tucks it under Steve's head. And that should be that, he should be done, except that Steve reaches out and catches him by the wrist, wakes himself up just enough to blink up at Danny in the faint blue glow of the television.

"Danno?" he says, and his voice is a scraped raw rasp, and Danny's never wanted to kiss anyone so much in his entire goddamn life.

"Yeah, babe," he says, because Steve's half-asleep and entirely drunk and it's not like he curbs the urge that much anyway. "I'm going home before I get drunk just from breathing the same air as you, someone's gotta hold it together tomorrow, am I right? Drink some water or--Steve, give me back my arm, can you do that, huh?"

Steve frowns for a second, his brow furrowing, like Danny's said something confusing--like Danny's said "No, don't throw the grenade" or "You know what's so funny is how I don't want to jump off that cliff," or "It's salt, McGarrett, it's not going to kill me." Then he winces and lets Danny go, rubbing his forehead.

"Yeah," he says, "that's, yeah. Water. I'll just--do that."

"Okay," Danny says, and the pressure building in his chest is ridiculous, it's pointless, but he can't deny it, has to get out of here before it crescendos and leaves him to do something he'll regret. "Okay, I'll just--see you tomorrow, alright?"

"'Kay," Steve mumbles, and Danny's out the door so fast even he can't believe it.

"Fuck," he says, putting the car into gear and peeling out of the driveway, "shit, fuck, fucking fuck, Williams, what the hell is the matter with you, Jesus Christ." Because the thing of it is, right, the thing of it is that he's hard, has been hard since Steve's head hit his shoulder--since before that, even, since the first sidelong glance he'd cast at Steve's sleeping face. And hell, if you want to look at how long he's been hard up, how long he's been jumping at every goddamn touch, it's been weeks and months, it's felt like years.

And hard--hard is the last thing Danny wants to be right now, okay, he'd take anything over this, take the shark tank or a bullet hole, take divorce court all over again. The way his dick is straining against his boxers, creasing the damn inseam, might as well be torture, because this whole thing is torture, because he can't do this, can't play house with Steve, can't put himself in this place.

He can't do this, but he can't not do it either, because the idea of Steve going it alone is...worse, somehow. Is not something Danny wants to consider.

He settles for driving home faster than he should, faster even than Steve would, for stumbling up the stairs to his shitty apartment and slamming the door. He can't even make it to the couch--he crashes into the nearest wall, one hand braced against it, and reaches a hand into his pants like he's going to die if he doesn't come. And maybe he will, you know, maybe that's just one of the side effects of his life right now, it wouldn't really be any crazier than any of the other shit that's been going on. But it doesn't matter, not really, because Danny's pulling at his dick with a desperation he hasn't let himself near in fifteen years, Steve's name on his lips, on his tongue, caught at the back of his throat.

When he's done--when he's let it rip out of him, staining his boxers, leaving him sticky and spent but nowhere near sated--he glances up. And the thing of it, right, okay, the real bitch of it is that the color he's painted this place, the color he'd let Gracie pick out, that he'd bought without even thinking about it--he recognizes that color now. He knows its name and its collection from the paint chips still sitting in the back of his car, from the way Steve had lingered over it in the store.

"Goddamn it," Danny says, and then he laughs like he's choking on it, like he's lost his mind, until his neighbor starts pounding on the wall.

--

Steve’s hungover the next day, which is a surprise to exactly no one. Between the two of them--Danny with circles under his eyes, Steve with sunglasses permanently attached to his face--they’re even more of a mess than usual. Kono takes one look at them, says “Whoooo boy,” and heads right back out of the office; Chin just sighs resignedly and turns the computer table on.

“I think we should do some team building exercises or something,” Steve says, and he even sounds hungover, and Danny has to bite down on the urge to force some greasy food into him.

“I think you should stop drinking on Sunday nights,” Danny says. “Actually, I think you should stop drinking in general, you are an embarrassment to yourself and others when you’re plastered. And you scared the rookie.”

“I am not scared,” Kono yells through the open door. Steve winces at the volume, and Danny is torn between feeling something like schadenfreude and something like pity. “I’m taking a few cleansing breaths of fresh air, because at least one of you reeks.”

“That’d be Captain Hangover here,” Danny calls back, and, okay, it’s mostly schadenfreude now. “Seriously, did you even shower?”

Steve makes a face, and then, somehow--because Danny’s life is a terrible parody of itself, that’s probably why--he ends up being the one to usher him down to the locker room.

“Towel,” Danny says, handing him one. “Soap. Use them, or stop talking up what a hard ass you are all the time, honestly, over a little bit of a hangover, my confidence in you as a leader right now, it is not high.”

“Team building,” Steve says again, and then, more hopefully, “and coffee?”

He’s pulling his shirt off as he says it, revealing all those stupid muscles, and Danny’s cock twitches in his pants. It is the first--and hopefully last--time he has ever considered dick-punching himself, because, seriously, had the whole thing last night done nothing for him, is his brain actually damaged, what is happening.

But then Steve makes that face at him, the one that’s half affection and half frustration, and Danny’s resolve crumbles like it was never there at all. He gets the bastard a coffee, and when Steve comes back he looks a little more like a human being, and Danny can’t resist the urge to bump their shoulders together, just a little, just the once.

Steve smiles at him and it’s like a pressure valve coming loose, it’s like he’s lost his mind, it’s like the goddamn sunrise. Danny swallows hard and turns to the latest crime scene photos, blames the brutality in them for the sting behind his eyes.

--

“Danno,” Steve says, eyebrows up, when Danny shows up at his door the next night. “Wasn’t expecting to see you so soon.”

Danny can’t really blame him for being surprised--the last time they saw each other was three hours ago, and Danny’d more or less ripped his fool head off. Not that Steve didn’t deserve it, not that this whole...project thing...they’ve got going on makes his behavior any less horrifying, oh no. Steve pushed someone in front of rush hour traffic, okay, and the fact that he’d pulled the guy back before he was actually splattered into a million pieces does not excuse the action. Steve’s in the deep shit, he is on Danny’s list, he’s going to be in trouble for the rest of the decade--but that’s work, isn’t it, and this is different. Danny’s trying to learn to draw the line.

“We,” Danny says, waving a hand, “are going to forget about your little transgression--for now, Steven, just for now, not forever, do not doubt my commitment to making you suffer for that--in the face of the greater good. Because I am a deeply magnanimous guy, okay, and also it occurs to me that we’re not going to get any further on the road to you not being crazy by ignoring all of your issues.”

“Are you my therapist now?” Steve asks, but his mouth’s quirked up a little. “You want to run me through a physical? Do you need my insurance card?”

Danny does, very much, want to run him through a physical, but he’s not going to mention it. “Like anyone would insure you, god, you’re a walking liability,” he says instead, pushing past Steve into the house. “Go get the boxes from my car, they’re in the backseat.”

“Boxes?” Steve says.

“Yes,” Danny says, “boxes, made of cardboard, good for packing up things that you don’t want to look at anymore, which, babe, I’ve gotta tell you, is most of the things in this house. And while I am not your therapist, it doesn’t take a lot of medical knowledge to diagnose you drinking alone in your attic as a thing, am I right?”

“Danny--”

“Steven.”

Steve meets his eyes, and his jaw’s set, and Danny’s pretty sure this is going to be a fight. He feels his blood go up for it without warning, because he’ll beat Steve’s head in if he has to, he really will--but then Steve’s sighing and going out to the car without a word. It’s almost discouraging, Danny would almost be worried, except for the way he’s smiling when he comes back.

“You brought beer,” he says.

“Yeah, well,” Danny says, “we’re cops, aren’t we? Rule back in Jersey was always that it’s not problem drinking if you’re not doing it alone.”

They work their way through the house together, because Danny doesn’t trust Steve with his feelings and Steve doesn’t trust Danny with his stuff. They start with the living room and work their way up and around; Mary’s room is easy, Steve’s childhood bedroom less so. Steve lingers over things Danny wouldn’t have expected to find--a collection of baseball cards kept messily, a frayed piece of junk that Danny gathers was once a stuffed animal. The master bedroom only takes them five minutes, because Steve had apparently taken all his father’s things and shoved them into a drawer when he moved back in--”Creeped me out,” he says, shrugging, when Danny asks, “to think about what he might’ve, you know. Done in here.”

“You mean sex,” Danny says, relishing the look of horror on Steve’s face. “So this is the only room where that was a possibility, huh?”

“Don’t,” Steve says, pulling a face and laughing a little, “oh, god, Danny, don’t even go there.”

“I’m just saying,” Danny says, “I’ve seen the photos, he was kind of a silver fox, your dad. He was probably--”

“If I never sleep again I’m blaming you,” Steve says, a piece of packing tape twisted around his index finger, and Danny grins at him, and hey, hey, maybe this is going alright.

Then they end up in Jack’s study, and everything rapidly goes all to hell.

“Huh,” Steve says. It’s soft, uttered on an exhale, and Danny’s not facing him; he’s face-deep in the desk, digging around in what must be an entire lifetime’s worth of receipts. Steve wasn’t kidding when he said his father was a pack rat, and Danny’s trying to sort through how much of this he can just toss out, but he freezes when he hears Steve’s voice. He doesn’t even need to turn around to know this is a disaster--Steve only sounds nervous, careful like that, when he’s come across something he doesn’t know how to attack.

“What?” Danny says, turning, and yeah, there it is, Steve’s face frozen in that rictus of No Of Course I’m Not Having A Feeling, with his eyes too bright. Damn it.

“It’s nothing,” Steve says, and Danny tears his gaze down to the object he’s holding. It’s a trophy, one of the cheap plastic ones you can pick up in most sporting goods stores, and there’s what looks like an egg on the top. “It’s just--my dad and I won this egg toss when I was in, I don’t know, fourth or fifth grade. It was, he was always busy, you know, at HPD, but there was this--we did it every year, and I always wanted to win. Only time we ever did, though; I always caught too hard and cracked the shell. Mary was better at it, but this one is ours--my name’s on it, see? I didn’t think he even remembered.”

“Of course he remembered,” Danny says, before he can help himself. “Look, there’s--it’s kids, okay, when it’s your kid you remember that shit, trust me. You know when she was six months old Gracie won a cutest baby contest? Rachel entered her, right, and I thought I was gonna kill her, because--pageants and shit, you know, not my thing, but then she won, and it was just a stupid little contest, but I was all puffed up about it for weeks. I’ve still got the certificate somewhere, Grace hates it when I tell the story, says it’s embarrassing, but--”

“It’s just,” Steve says, and runs a hand through his hair. “Sometimes I think about what it would have been like if I’d never left the island, you know? The what-ifs.”

“Yeah,” Danny says, “and I get that, but it wasn’t really your call, was it? I mean, don’t get me wrong, but there’s not a lot you could have done.”

“Right,” Steve says, “right, I know, but I had this whole life and then I--”

“I think that’s just how it goes, sometimes,” Danny says. He crosses the room carefully and pulls the trophy out of Steve’s hands, because it’s about time someone did. “You can’t--you know, there’s what was and what is, right? You gotta live in one or the other.”

“Deep, Williams,” Steve says. His voice is a little off, like he’s trying at a levity he doesn’t feel, but at least he’s trying. Danny claps him on the back and presses a little with the pads of his fingers, just enough to say he’s there, because for all he’s good with words he’s a pretty terrible liar, and god knows what he’d say if he opened his mouth. Steve leans back into his hand, just for a second, takes a deep, calming breath before he moves on.

My father died in this room, he doesn’t say, and Danny doesn’t say, I know, I know, man, I’m sorry, but it hangs between them anyway, thick in the air. And Danny’s going to take all the furniture in here and burn it if he has to, if it makes Steve stop working his jaw like that, if it lifts that tired ache from his eyes. For now he contents himself with trashing receipts and taping boxes closed, with climbing to the attic and straining his back, with shutting the door on Steve’s past, at least for a little while.

“More beer in the car,” he says, when the house is clean of history, when they’ve finally, finally got a clear slate to work with. Steve looks gutted, and the first thing Danny’s going to do is wipe down the counters where dust has formed, a chalk outline of the things they’ve pulled away. But it’s a slow process, right, it’s baby steps, and Steve’s got a Longboard in his hand and fire in his eyes.

Danny follows him out onto the lanai, watches as he lets the salt air clean his wounds, and does what he can, for all it probably isn’t enough.

--

It’s like a switch goes off in Steve’s head.

That’s the only way Danny can think to explain it, the only description that makes sense, because it really is like some kind of button has been pressed; before he’d been dragging his feet about the whole renovation business, coming up with reasons not to go there. But now, apparently, he’s decided to do it, and once Steve has decided to do something...well. Danny keeps catching him looking at furniture online, finding him with fabric swatches in his pockets.

Kono thinks they’re both crazy and says so, often, constantly. “Seriously,” she mutters, “this is not the lesson in ass kicking I was expecting today, you guys. Can we put down the interior decorating for a minute?”

“Cuz,” says Chin, who has gotten into this enough for the both of them, “have a heart. Just because your apartment is the size of a shoebox--”

“Not helping,” she says, “and also, we have criminals to catch. Am I the only person worried about that?”

“You’re starting to sound like Danny,” Steve says, grinning at her.

“Maybe this is a test,” Danny adds. “Maybe we’re, I don’t know, confirming your resolve, huh? You should trust us.”

“Okay,” Kono says, narrowing her eyes. “Is it is a test?”

“Er,” says Danny.

“Well,” says Steve.

“I think you should go with the eggshell blue in the living room,” says Chin, and catches Kono’s wrist before she can punch him. “C’mon, don’t be like that. This is better than some of the shit they make us do by a long shot.”

“I’d rather be cliff-diving,” Kono says. “Or busting a drug ring or something, you guys, this is boring, how can you not see that this is boring? We’re an elite crime fighting team, do you think we could maybe fight some crime?”

“I’m sorry,” Danny says, turning to Steve, “it’s me you think she sounds like?”

Steve grins at Kono, who rolls her eyes back at him, and then they get a call, a line on a hot pursuit. It’s arms dealers, because it’s always arms dealers on Wednesdays, and Danny is not exactly comforted by the identical looks of glee on Kono and Steve’s faces.

“It’s you and me against the lunatics, Chin,” he says, not even bothering to put up a fight as Steve grabs his keys and hits the door.

“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” Chin says, and pockets the paint chip. “You’re all crazy. It’s me against the world.”

Danny considers letting that bother him, but ten minutes later he’s in the middle of a high-speed car chase, Steve whipping around corners like he’s a race car driver instead of, you know, an over-enthusiastic jackass. Danny’s grip is white knuckled on the door and Steve’s got that unholy look of joyful focus on his face, and they’re arguing about tile grout.

Tile grout. In the middle of a pursuit. While they’re being shot at.

Damn it, Danny thinks, Chin’s fucking right.

--

Here’s the thing about becoming embroiled in a project Steve McGarrett has decided to devote himself to: once you’re involved, you can’t become uninvolved.

Not that Danny would like to become uninvolved, exactly. It’s just that this whole situation is not really helping his more personal problem, vis a vis the whole...Steve...issue. Because now that Steve is doing this he’s really doing it, okay, he is doing it as crazed and hardcore as he does anything, and it’s too late for Danny to say, “Just kidding about helping you, need some space so I don’t jump you, see you at the office, buh-bye.”

So he’s at Steve’s house, three, four, six nights a week. He’s at Steve’s house so much that he starts packing a bag and leaving it in the room that used to be Mary’s, where he ends up sleeping more often than not. It’s just painting clothes, at first, shirts and sweats that he doesn’t mind getting covered in spackle and primer, but then Steve says “Danno, driving to your apartment every morning is kind of a hassle, bring some work clothes or something,” so Danny does.

He doesn’t notice how bad it’s gotten until a Friday rolls around, a Friday the precedes his weekend with Grace, and he realizes he hasn’t been at his apartment since his last weekend with Grace.

“Shit,” he says, mostly to himself, staring at the wall of his office.

“What?” Steve says, because he does that sometimes, sneak in places on his stupid SEAL feet and scare the living daylights out of people. “Everything okay? “

“Yeah,” Danny says, smiling, trying to cover the, you know, screaming terror, “I just, I’ve got Grace this weekend, I’m going to need to rescue some of my shit from your guest bedroom.”

“Oh,” Steve says, the corner of his mouth turning down, and really, really, he’s got to stop doing shit like this, he’s going to give Danny the wrong idea. He puts his hand on the back of his neck, a little awkward, and tries on something like a smile.

It’s not a smile. It’s more like a grimace. Danny wants to wince, looking at him, but is better at controlling his impulses than that.

“I actually wanted to talk to you about that,” Steve says.

“You wanted to--” Danny starts, and stops. “Okay, Steven, I am going to give you the benefit of the doubt here and assume you’re not actually about to, to ask me to skip a weekend with my daughter in order to help you--”

“No!” Steve says, and he actually looks offended, and Danny lets his hackles go down a little. “No, Danny, of course not, what the hell. No, I just--you know, Nalani, the realtor, she said there should be a kid’s room, that’s all.”

“So?” Danny says.

So,” Steve says, like Danny’s being stupid just to irritate him, “I am not a kid, and you are not a kid, but you have a kid. I thought maybe Grace could...help. Pick out the colors and the, um, the furniture and stuff. If she wanted.”

“Oh,” Danny says, and knows immediately that it’s a terrible idea. Grace is already too fond of Steve for anyone’s good, least of all Danny’s--Grace is already too ready to hug him and laugh at him and draw him pictures while she’s watching television. And she’s only nine, and the things she could end up thinking...

...but then again, he remembers painting his apartment with her, the way she’d squealed with delight and splattered him with pigment, the way she’d looked proud when they were done. He remember her furious focus at the hard bits and the report she’d written about it for school, how Rachel, with her eyes softer than they usually were then, told him she’d decided she wanted to be a painter that week.

“You guys could both stay over,” Steve says, and he’s talking too fast now, like he’s taking Danny’s silence as a bad sign. “And it wouldn’t have to be--you know, we can do other stuff, it just, I thought it might be fun, but if you don’t--”

“No,” Danny says, and then holds up his hands when Steve’s face falls. “No, I meant stop trying to convince me, I’ll ask Rachel, that sounds--yeah, Steve, sure. I’ve gotta run it by Rach first, wet paint, you know, co-parenting, whatever, but, yeah, it should be fine.”

“Good,” Steve says, and then his face splits into a grin and he says, “Great, yeah, okay,” and really, Danny’s in so far over his head that it’s not even a little bit funny anymore.

--

“So,” Danny finishes, when he’s gotten through the whole admittedly strange explanation, “what do you say?”

Rachel’s staring at him like she can see right through him, and oh, man, Danny’s forgotten what this is like, the force of her million-watt stare. He shifts his weight from one foot to the other and tries not to feel like he’s forgotten to take the trash out, like he’s conveniently neglected to mention that his parents are coming over for dinner.

“You and Commander McGarrett...are redecorating his house together,” she says finally, in doubting tones.

“Well,” Danny says, “it’s really mostly Steve, it’s Steve’s thing, I’m just helping, because he’s basically helpless, okay, it’s very sad, all that training and he’s still, you know, kind of a moron, and actually he’s never even picked out furniture before, we had to have that conversation, and--jeez, Rach, stop looking at me like that, just say no if you want to say no.”

“I don’t want to say no,” Rachel says, a slight smile playing at the corners of her mouth. “It’s just...Daniel, is there anything you want to tell me?”

“No,” Danny says, and he’s rambling, why does she still do this to him, make him lose control of his vocal cords like this, “no, nope, nothing, can’t think of a thing, fresh out of things, he just--we just thought it might be fun, you know, for Grace, that’s all, nothing else.”

“If it’s that you expect me to be angry,” Rachel says, “you’re not really giving me enough credit.”

“There’s nothing for you to be angry about,” Danny says, which is god’s honest truth. “It’s, look, if there were anything to tell you I would, okay, but there isn’t. This isn’t--it’s not a thing, okay?”

“If you say so,” Rachel says, and Jesus, she’s laughing at him now, of course she is, he can hear it in her voice. “Grace will be thrilled, of course, you know how fond she is of Steve.”

“I know,” Danny says, and can’t help smiling a little as he says it. The look Rachel gives him is kind and sharp all at once, a warm sort of scrutiny.

“Daniel,” she says, “I’m sure I don’t need to tell you this, but if it should turn out to be a...thing, as you so eloquently put it, I trust you’ll be the one to talk to our daughter about it.”

“Yeah,” Danny says, a little annoyed, “well, yeah, Rachel, of course--”

“Because it would be rather cruel to her,” Rachel continues, “to allow her to get overly attached without explaining what’s going on.”

“There is nothing going on,” Danny says. “Nothing, look, I promise you, nothing, I will come to you, I will tell you if things change, which they’re not going to, because--”

He shuts up, but obviously not fast enough, because Rachel’s gaze has gone softer now, laced with a little bit of pity.

“Ah,” she says, “well. You always have been a bit obtuse about these things, haven’t you?”

“What the hell is that supposed to mean?” Danny demands.

“Nothing, Danny,” Rachel says, sighing. “I’ll just go get Grace, shall I?”

She vanishes up the stairs, leaving him in the foyer with its high ceilings and natural light. Danny finds himself looking at the sconces with interest and wants to shoot himself in the face.

But then Grace is barreling down the stairs, yelling, “Danno, Danno, are we really going to hang out with Steve all weekend, are we?”

“Hello to you too, Monkey,” he says, scooping her up. “How ‘bout a ‘Hi, Danno, nice to see you,’ huh? Is that so much to ask? Maybe a little hug, I’m just saying, I haven’t seen you in a couple of days, might be nice.”

“Hi, Danno, nice to see you,” Grace says, throwing her arms around him dutifully. “Now, are we really going to Steve’s?”

Danny sighs. “Yes, yes, we are. God help us all.”

“Alright,” Grace yells, pumping her fist in the air, and Danny has just enough time to catch Rachel’s speaking look before they’re out the door.

--

 

Grace picks out a bright yellow for the walls of the room that used to be Steve’s, after spending 45 minutes with color choices spread in front of her like battle plans. “This is important, Daddy,” she says when he tries to hurry her along, sounding so much like her mother that Danny’s chest hurts a little. “I’ll pick when I’m ready.”

“Take all the time you need,” Steve says. He’s smirking at Danny over her head; one of these days they’re going to make obnoxiousness into an Olympic sport, and Steve is going to fucking medal.

“Thank you, Steve,” Grace says, and gives Danny a look that says, See?, and really, when did everyone turn against him, that’s what Danny wants to know.

“Smart kid,” Steve says, when they’ve somehow both ended up in the kitchen--Danny to get a soda and Steve, he suspects, to get Grace a bowl of ice cream. “Weighing her decisions carefully, good for her.”

Danny snorts. “You’ve never weighed a decision carefully in your life, McGarrett, don’t even try.”

“That’s not true,” Steve says, and when Danny glances up from the fridge Steve is looking at him, intense and focused. “There are some decisions I don’t take lightly at all.”

Danny swallows hard, but can’t bring himself to look away. “Is that so?” he says, and hey, at least his voice sounds normal, there’s today’s small victory. “You wanna look at the evidence there, because I can think of six--twelve--twenty times you’ve recklessly endangered yourself for no good reason, and that’s in like, the last month alone--”

“Yeah,” Steve says, still too serious, “that’s not really the kind of thing I’m talking about.”

Danny stares at him over the fridge door, and this, this is why this was a bad idea. Steve probably means the military, or, or shit with his sister or something, the things Danny is extrapolating here are probably not rational, are definitely not rational, and Steve’s too close to him, too intent by half.

“Um,” Danny says, his tongue thick in his mouth, and then Grace is calling “Okay, I’ve got it!” and the moment is broken.

They take her to Target, and Danny says “Don’t spoil her, Steve,” to little avail. He leads her shamelessly down every goddamn aisle, pointing out things she could choose--bedspreads and sheet sets, posters for the wall.

“Remember that this is for, you know, a tourist kid,” Danny says at one point, because Steve is trying to help her decide between two different bright pink coverlets. “And also, you picked yellow for the walls.”

“I trust Gracie’s taste,” Steve says, but he has the decency to at least look a little shamefaced about it. Grace, on the other hand, has suddenly never had less shame in her life. She’s throwing things in the cart with aplomb, and Danny resolves to have a talk with Rachel about setting an allowance for her or something, because this whole ‘I want it and I shall have it’ attitude is really not becoming.

Not that Steve minds. Not that Steve’s doing anything to discourage it. Not that Gracie hasn’t found the perfect loophole.

“I think that any kid would like this Hannah Montana poster,” she says, pointing it out to Steve. “Everyone likes Hannah Montana.”

“Okay,” Steve agrees, because he knows nothing at all about kids and it’s up to Danny to be the voice of reason. Again.

“Steven,” he says, “you, my friend, are letting my daughter pull the wool over your eyes. You know about her poker face, right? Because I taught her the poker face, okay, you’re getting taken for a ride here, and, because it’s your house, I don’t have the authority to stop her without...you know.”

“Without what?” Steve says, tilting his head.

Danny waves a hand, uncomfortable suddenly. “Without, you know. Implying. Things. About co-ownership, okay, I don’t want to confuse her more than we’ve probably already confused her--but she’s bleeding you dry here, is my point.”

“She’s having fun,” Steve says, shrugging. His shoulders have gotten tense, and he looks decidedly less happy than he did a minute ago; Danny doesn’t have time to figure out why, because Grace calls him ahead to look at a lamp. Danny hangs back with the cart, feeling like an asshole but not sure why, and so he only catches the tail end of the conversation Steve and his daughter are having with the salesgirl.

Unfortunately, the tail end of that conversation is the salesgirl smiling at Gracie and saying, “It’s awfully nice of your father to let you pick out all this stuff.”

Danny’s not sure what the worst part of it is, if it’s the way Steve’s whole body goes completely still or the way--even though it’s irrational, even though it’s not Steve’s fault--he wants to punch Steve in the fucking face. He just stands there with his mouth open like a beached whale, trying to get a handle on his own stupid Stan-related ridiculous inadequacy feelings that have nothing to do with Steve, okay, or the salesgirl or anything, anything but the idea that anyone but him is Gracie’s father. He stands there, and Steve, next to him, looks terrified, and this is maybe the first time since the day they met that neither one of them has the capacity to be any kind of backup.

He stands there, and Steve stands there, and then Grace--who is, jeez, Danny’s the luckiest guy alive, she’s the best kid in the entire goddamn world--takes Danny’s hand in one of hers, Steve’s in the other, and glares.

“Steve’s not my dad,” she says. “Danno’s my dad. Steve’s his partner.”

Steve’s shoulders relax by half an inch, and Danny nudges Grace a little with his foot, because now that he can breathe again he’d like to get that expression off Steve’s face. “And my friend,” Gracie adds, turning to smile up at him. “And he’s not being nice, he’s redecorating. I’m helping.”

“Oh,” the woman says, and she obviously thinks Gracie meant partner in a very different sense. Danny can’t really be fucked to correct her. “I’m sorry, I didn’t--”

“It’s fine,” Danny says.

“Fine,” Steve agrees, sounding strangled.

“C’mon, Monkey, let’s go look at the rugs,” Danny says, because Steve’s looking like he’s maybe gonna need a minute.

“Okay!” Gracie agrees. She lets go of Steve’s hand and tugs on Danny’s arm, and when he glances back Steve’s looking resolutely up at the ceiling, like there’s something in the tiling he finds utterly fascinating.

Maybe there is, Danny thinks, kind of desperately, as he help Grace pick options to show Steve. Maybe he wants to change out the ceiling in the living room. Maybe it’s not a family thing at all.

He’s not really fooling anybody, but it doesn’t hurt to try.

--

They put up a primer coat in Gracie’s room--in the kid’s room, the random tourist kid, it’s not Grace’s room, it’s not--when they get back to Steve’s house, because she’s too excited to wait.

“This way we can put up the yellow tomorrow!” she says, waving her hands. “So I can see it before you have to take me home.”

The way she says home makes something tighten in Danny’s chest; he doesn’t even notice it until Steve knocks into him, until the contact makes the feeling lessen somewhat.

“Sorry,” Steve says, looking anything but, and there’s paint on Danny’s arm, but he can’t bring himself to mind.

Steve talks about going to a movie when they’re done, but Danny takes one look at Grace--her drooping eyelids, the way she’s stifling yawns--and shakes his head at Steve behind her back. “Let’s order a pizza, huh?” he suggests. “We can watch a movie here, you’ve got Netflix, right?”

“Netflix?” Steve says, blank, and it figures this is the one part of the internet he doesn’t know about.

“Yes,” Danny says, “Netflix, Steven, it’s--”

“You don’t know about Netflix?” Gracie demands. “You have to get it, Steve, you’d like it, everyone likes movies.”

“We can use my account,” Danny says, rolling his eyes at Steve’s still-blank expression. “Even I can set it up, and that’s saying something. Gracie, baby, what do you want on your pizza?”

“Pepperoni,” she says, in the same tone of voice she’d use if telling him the sky was blue. He smirks at Steve, waiting for a diatribe on the whole ham-and-pineapple thing, but it doesn’t come. Steve just grins at her, agreeable, and orders the pizza while Danny screws around with his laptop and the requisite cords.

“You would have the most complicated television in the world,” he says, when he’s finally gotten the damn thing set up. “You’re not replacing this, I’m not going through this process again, you understand?”

“You’re coming in loud and clear,” Steve says, grinning, and goes to the door to get the food.

They watch Up, eating out of plates on their laps, Grace sandwiched between them on the hideous goddamn couch. She passes out about halfway through and lists to the right instead of the left, her head landing on Steve’s bicep. He goes still at once, glancing down at her every few seconds like he has no idea what to do, and Danny’s sense of vindication is probably inappropriate.

“I’ll take her up,” he says, when she’s been out for long enough that she won’t wake. “I’m going to put her in the guest room, okay? There’s probably not fumes in her--in the kid’s room anymore, but I’d rather not risk it, you know?”

“Yeah,” Steve whispers, still frozen. “Yeah, that’s fine, I’ll get the pizza shit cleaned up.”

“Language,” Danny says, but he’s mostly joking; from the eyeroll he gets in return, he knows that Steve knows it. He gathers Gracie up, surprised as always by how big she is--in a couple of months he won’t be able to do this anymore, and it’s kind of a terrible thought.

“Danno?” she says, when he’s got her tucked in. Her eyes are only half open, and she’s yawning even as she says it; he brushes her hair out of her eyes and checks her covers one last time.

“Yeah, Monkey?”

“I had fun today,” she says, turning into the pillow.

“Yeah,” Danny says, “me too. Go to sleep, okay? That room isn’t gonna paint itself tomorrow, you gotta be awake, you hear me?”

“Mmmhmm,” Grace says. “Love you, Danno.”

“Love you too,” Danny says, and stands there for a long moment before he goes back downstairs.

Steve’s waiting for him with a beer when he reaches the living room, and Danny follows him out onto the lanai without really thinking about it. He sinks down into one of the chairs, clinks the neck of his Longboard absently with Steve’s, and stares out at the ocean.

“It’s nice,” Steve says, after a few quiet moments. Danny jumps a little without meaning to, jerked out of thoughts he can’t even remember now. “The ocean at night, I mean. Peaceful.”

“Steve McGarrett talks peaceful,” Danny laughs, leaning back against the chair. “Alert the criminal element, their sworn enemy is calming down.”

“Fuck you,” Steve says easily. “SEALs don’t calm down, we just get scarier with age.”

“I hear that,” Danny says, and takes a pull from his beer.

They go quiet again, and Danny realizes all at once that he’s happy, that he feels good, that shit is, with a couple glaring exceptions, exactly the way he wants it to be. And he can live with a few exceptions--he figures everyone has those, things that aren’t quite the way they want them. He can work around it, he thinks, given enough time.

“Yeah,” he says, taking a deep breath of the salt air. “You’re right. It’s nice.”

--

They paint the kids room the next day, and the guest room too, because Gracie doesn’t want to stop painting and Danny doesn’t want her to stop smiling. They’re all kind of wiped out by the time he takes her back to Rachel’s, and Danny’s back is killing him, on fire from his night on the couch. It’s worth it, though, for the way she’s talking a mile a minute when she hits the door, telling her mother about everything they did like it was the best weekend of her life.

“Still nothing to tell you,” Danny says, when Rachel raises an eyebrow at him. “What, did you think I was lying before? I’ll tell you if there’s ever something to tell.”

“There doesn’t need to be something to tell, Daniel,” she says, shrugging. “I’m...willing to talk about it, if you need an ear.”

“Thanks,” Danny says, surprised. It’s not like he’s ever going to take her up on it, but... “Thanks, I appreciate it.”

“As I believe I have mentioned,” Rachel says, “I don’t think you give me nearly enough credit.”

“Probably true,” Danny admits, and she smiles at him, and this is nice too, this communication that doesn’t feel forced. It’s been better for awhile, the thing with him and Rachel--a lot better, since what happened with Matt--but it still feels good, being able to do it right.

He drives back to Steve’s house without thinking about it, already looking forward to a beer and maybe some Chinese takeout. It’s only when Steve raises his eyebrows from where he’s cooking a steak--one steak--on the grill that Danny realizes they don’t actually have a project to work on.

“You’re back,” Steve says.

“I...am,” Danny agrees, feeling like an idiot. “I, uh, sorry, autopilot, I guess. I’ll just--”

“No!” Steve says, too quickly, and then, more calmly, “uh, I mean, no, I was...going to call you. Because.”

“Because?” Danny prompts, hoping against hope that Steve has some kind of reason for him to stay here. The idea of going back to his apartment now is...oh, god, it’s almost unbearable. Danny wonders what’s going to happen when the house is finished, when there’s nothing else left to do, and finds he can’t even consider it.

He’ll figure something out. Something will come up. He’ll break shit if he has to--no, that’s crazy, it’s crazy, but he can’t--the idea of not--

“We need to put up another coat,” Steve says. “Of paint. In the rooms we did today. It, um. I read a thing that said that three coats is better.”

“Oh,” Danny says, latching on to this like a crazy person, “yeah, that’s...right, I forgot about that, we’ll have to do another coat in the other rooms, the ones we’ve done already, because we only did--”

“Two coats,” Steve says, “yeah, that’s right, isn’t it, my bad, I guess we should have thought of that.”

“Yeah,” Danny says. “That’s--yeah.”

They stare at each other for a second, and then Steve kind of smiles at him and gestures at the grill. “You want dinner?” he says. “I actually have another steak in the fridge, I just didn’t know that you--I mean, I hadn’t realized, you know. That you’d be back before I could call. I figured you’d get something while you were out.”

“I could eat,” Danny says. “I’ll just...go get it?”

“Okay,” Steve says, and lets out a breath like he’s been holding it in, and smiles properly. “Top drawer, next to the--”

“I know where you keep the meat, McGarrett,” Danny says, waving a hand, and it’s not until he gets to the fridge that he realizes that’s probably part of the problem.

--

Three coats of paint is a stupid amount of paint, and Danny knows it. He helps Steve put it up anyway, anything for the excuse, and doesn’t realize that it’s going to mean fresh fumes and another night on the couch until it’s too late.

“Urgh,” he says, trying to get comfortable after Steve’s gone upstairs. His back feels like there are people stabbing it, and every position he tries just makes it fucking worse. He spends an hour, and then two, shifting around, but he can’t get comfortable enough to fall asleep for more than five minutes.

At one in the morning he gives it up for a lost cause and gets up, figuring even the floor will be better than this. He pulls the blanket and pillow down with him, muttering under his breath, and he’s feeling...well, he’s feeling a lot like he’s lying on the fucking floor, actually, when he hears Steve’s feet on the stairs.

“Do you ever not make noise?” Steve says from above, his voice sleep-scratchy and annoyed. “Seriously, you’re like an elephant, what are you doing down--Danny, what the hell.”

Danny glares up at Steve, who’s standing over him now, arms folded across his chest. “Your couch is a menace, okay? A fucking menace, a man cannot sleep on exhaustion alone, all I ask for is a hint, a hint of comfort, Steven, that is all. I am no stranger to sleeping uncomfortably, alright, the bed in my apartment is not exactly made of feathers and rainbows, but that thing is a goddamn torture device.”

“Well, you’re not sleeping on the floor,” Steve says, reaching a hand down to help Danny up. Danny takes it, but only because he’s really fucking tired.

“What, exactly, do you suggest?” Danny says. “You got another bedroom hidden in here I don’t know about, because the floor is better than inhaling--”

“My bed is big enough for two people, Danny,” Steve says, rolling his eyes. “Could you just stop arguing and come on, please, it’s the middle of the goddamn night.”

Danny should argue. He should definitely argue. He should get in his car and drive home is what he should do--is what he should have done when he realized the couch wasn’t a feasible choice, why didn’t he do that, why didn’t that even occur to him, oh god. He should argue, but it is the middle of the night, and he’s so fucking tired he could die, and his back hurts something awful, and Steve’s offering to take him to bed.

He doesn’t mean it the way Danny wants him to mean it, but he still just doesn’t have it in him to turn him down.

Of course, he should know better than to think it’ll be easy. Steve slides back under the covers and is out again in seconds, but Danny can’t even bring himself to close his eyes. The heat radiating out from next to him would be distraction enough, but then there’s the breathing, the soft, barely-there snores, and the fact that it’s Steve, it’s Steve, it’s fucking Steve. Danny hasn’t shared a bed with anyone in more than two years, barring a few brief and ill-advised one night stands; he hasn’t shared a bed with someone he was in love with in a lot longer. This is worse than the couch was, worse than anything would be, because of all of the ways it’s so much better.

Then--oh, god, then Steve’s rolling over, sprawling the way he does, splaying an arm out across Danny’s chest in his sleep. And Steve’s just like this, isn’t he, always reaching out even when he doesn’t mean to, even when he doesn’t know he’s doing it; Danny knows that about him, but it doesn’t make it any easier to bear. His arm is warm, too warm, practically burning a hole through Danny’s t-shirt, and Danny wants to remove it from his person. Wants to never remove it from his person.

Wants to lick it up and down, the curve of every muscle, each whorl of that damned tattoo.

Control yourself, he thinks, staring at the wall. Think of anything, Daniel, anything, anything, Grandma Williams naked, the fucking periodic table, anything, you can’t think about him, you can’t even think about thinking about him, he is right there, what is the matter with you?

Steve shifts a little then, so Danny’s back and his chest are pressed together, and Danny’s going to scream, he’s going to explode, he’s going to catch on fire. He is cuddling, okay, he is cuddling with Steve McGarrett against his will--against both of their wills, for fuck’s sake, how is this happening, how is this his life.

“Steve,” he says finally, nudging back a little, “Steve, hey, you’re a little--”

“Shuddup,” Steve mumbles against the back of neck. “’M sleeping, Danny, god.”

And the thing is, it’s still torture, it is, Danny’s balls are so blue that they’re probably glowing neon by now. It’s still torture, but Steve said his name, okay, which means he is aware enough to know what the hell is going on, a little, kind of. Which means he’s not going to wake up and shove Danny out of the bed and then kill him with some kind of ninja SEAL technique, which, yeah, probably not a rational worry, but Danny can relax a little, can let a couple of muscles go loose.

He’s not sure if it’s exhaustion or the rush of Steve’s breath against his shoulder that takes him the rest of the way, but he’s out in ten seconds flat.

--

It’s three days later when he cracks and goes to Rachel.

She is, all things considered, probably the wrong person to turn to. A year ago, he would have swallowed his pride and called Matt; six months ago he would have called no one, sat in his own misery for the rest of his days, and tried not to think about it. He would ask Chin or Kono about it now, but “Hey, I’ve got it bad for our boss,” would put them in kind of an awkward situation. If it were about anything, anyone else, he’d go to Steve, but he’s kind of shit out of luck on that front.

And he trusts Rachel again--has always trusted her, really, even if he’d hated her for a minute there. There are bits and pieces of her he’s lost, parts of their relationship he’ll never get back, but they’d been best friends until they weren’t even friendly anymore, and it’s hard to let that go.

“I am,” he says, when she opens the door, “I am so fucked, okay, Rach, I just, I’m sorry to make you drop everything like this and this probably--I mean, yeah, I know, that this is not something you want to hear, I’m sure it’s not, or maybe it is, I don’t--”

“Daniel,” she says, stern but fond. “Breathe. And come in, the neighbors will think we’re under attack, you look atrocious.”

“I haven’t slept,” he admits, following her into the kitchen. “I mean, not since Sunday, I slept great Sunday, I slept so good I can’t even believe it, I slept like a baby, okay, but since Sunday it’s been not so much, with the sleeping.”

“And what happened on Sunday?”

“I slept with Steve,” Danny says, and then waves his hands when Rachel’s eyebrows hit her hairline. “No, no, I mean...I mean literally, okay, I mean we shared a bed in like, in like a platonic, buddy-buddy, help a guy off the couch kind of way--”

“You shared a bed in a buddy-buddy kind of way,” Rachel repeats slowly. “Daniel, you’re not making any sense.”

“You think I don’t know that?” Danny demands, throwing his hands in the air. “You think I don’t know about the crazy, because I know, Rachel, oh, do I know, I know so much more than you do it’s not even funny, I am a scholar of crazy, okay, I am the fucking foremost expert on crazy, nobody knows crazy like I know crazy.”

“One lump or two?” she asks, perfectly calm, which is when he realizes that she’s made tea.

“Four,” he says, dropping his head into his hands. “Seven. A million, fuck, fuck, what is the matter with me, huh? What’ve I done here?”

“Well,” she says, putting in only three lumps because she’s heartless, “to be entirely fair, I can’t really answer that question until you tell me what’s happened, can I? So why don’t you start at the beginning--slowly, Danny, please--and tell me exactly what’s going on. “

Danny...starts at the beginning. And the beginning, it turns out, is before the first anniversary of Jack McGarrett’s death--the beginning is before Pacific Home and Home Depot and the stupid bottle of Scotch. The beginning is those nights at the Kahala Hotel Steve bought for him and Gracie, and Meka’s funeral, and pushing that rust bucket junker car up that hill. The beginning is Steve saying “Maybe you’re not as alone on this island as you think,” and Danny doesn’t even know it until he tells her, can’t believe he’s missed it all this time.

Rachel’s smiling when he’s done, half sad and half gently mocking, like Danny’s a turtle on his back, his legs windmilling in the air. “Oh, Daniel,” she says.

“Really?” he says, staring at her. “Really, that’s all you’ve got, it’s just ‘Oh, Daniel,’ huh? Because, I mean, this has to be kind of weird for you, I get that, I do, but I’m pouring my heart out over here, you haven’t got more for me than ‘Oh Daniel,’ is that really what you’re telling me?”

“Do you know what book Grace is reading right now?” Rachel asks, and Danny groans.

“Does right now seem like a good time for a parenting quiz?”

“This isn’t a test,” Rachel says, rolling her eyes. “As if that’s been in question, honestly, must you be so paranoid? Just answer the question, please.”

“Okay,” Danny says, “yeah, okay, she’s reading--what, James and the Giant Peach, right, and that one by the guy who wrote those Wayside School books she used to love.”

“Louis Sachar,” Rachel confirms. “Holes, it’s called. Stanley and I have been reading it her at--oh, for god’s sake, Daniel, don’t make that face, Stan is allowed to read to her, control yourself.

“I just don’t see what this has to do with--”

“I am getting there,” Rachel says, and sighs. “There are two characters--and don’t think it’s lost on me that I have to use a children’s book to explain this to you, because it certainly isn’t, believe me--but there are two characters who are in love, but afraid to say so. And the one is a handyman, and so the woman--Kate, I believe--has him come over to fix things.”

“Okay,” Danny says, “it’s not that I don’t get, kind of, ish, what you’re driving at, but--”

“And when he’s fixed everything in the house,” Rachel continues, “they invent things to fix, and they fix things that aren’t broken, because it’s not really about the house at all. Daniel. Honestly. Three coats of paint?”

“Okay, but,” Danny says, “I mean, the walls do look really--”

“Let’s try this another way,” Rachel says, exasperated. “You remember Mikey, I assume?”

“Mikey,” Danny says, “Mikey, my partner of seven years Mikey, no, no, don’t know who you’re talking about, doesn’t ring a--yes, Rachel, of course I remember Mikey.”

“Well,” Rachel says, “then tell me this. When’s the last time you and Mikey had a sleepover, hmm? When’s the last time Mikey asked you into his bed because the couch was uncomfortable?”

“Well,” Danny says.

“And if you’d told Mikey it was time to redecorate his house, he would have--”

“Told me to fuck off,” Danny says, “but Steve’s--”

“And if somehow,” Rachel says over him, “if, somehow, he didn’t tell you to bugger off, if he asked you to spend the night helping him paint and spackle and whatever else you and Steve have been up to for months and months on end, would he have invited you to bring Grace over to decorate a room of her very own?”

“It’s...the kids room...” Danny says, but he recognizes that it’s a weak play.

“It is honestly beyond me how you two manage to solve crimes,” Rachel sighs, and puts her hand lightly on top of Danny’s own. “Daniel. Danny. It’s not about the house.”

“I,” Danny says, but then his phone is buzzing with a text message in his pocket. He glances down before he can help himself, and when he looks up Rachel is smiling at him, her hand pulled back from his and curled around her mug.

“Go on, then,” she says. “See what he’s got to say.”

Text from Steve McGarrett to Danny Williams, 6:03 PM HST
Hey, where’d you go? Chin said you left right after you finished booking Anderson. I’m putting the last coat on the living room trim, if you want to come help. Out of beer, if you think of it.

“It’s not about the house,” Danny says, trying it out on his tongue. He can’t tear his eyes away from the screen, because--because they’ve put the last coat on the living room trim four times already, the living room trim is fucking drowning in paint, and Danny’s supposed to pick up beer. He’s supposed to pick up beer, because they’re out of beer, because Danny drank the last one in the guest bedroom last night, trying to stifle the urge to wander down the hall and slide under Steve’s sheets.

They’re out of beer, and they’re both idiots, and it’s never been about the damn house.

“Go,” Rachel says, when he looks up. “It would be a favor, actually. I’ve far too much to do to coax you into any more emotional revelations tonight, and Grace will be home from her play date soon. Go on, you are officially uninvited from my kitchen--oh, for heaven’s sake, don’t look at me like that. Is it so hard for you to believe that I’d like you to be happy?”

“No,” Danny says, and she looks so surprised when he says it that it breaks his heart a little. “Rachel, I--thank you, okay, seriously, I don’t know what--”

“You’re wasting valuable time,” Rachel says, grinning. “Get out of here, Daniel.”

Danny goes.

--

Steve’s in the living room when Danny gets in, without beer, because the prospect of stopping to buy it seemed overwhelming. He kind of regrets making that call now that he’s here--Steve’s shirtless, with little droplets of cream paint dotting his shoulders.

He is also standing in front of that leather couch from Pacific Home, and yeah, Danny could go for a drink right about now.

“You don’t have my Longboards,” Steve says, frowning. “I know I phrased it like a suggestion, but I meant it more like a command.”

“You bought the sofa,” Danny says. “You--the four thousand dollar couch, Steven, does it turn out to wash your dishes after all, why would you spend that kind of money on a--”

“You liked it,” Steve says, shrugging. “And it works in here, I think--Chin said it did, anyway, and he’s been right so far. I figured--”

“You figured that you’d,” Danny says, and stops. “What, you figured you’d lure me in with the--oh my god, McGarrett, Steve, babe, we are such idiots, you and me, okay, we are just such jackasses that I can’t, I keep thinking about and I just cannot believe how fucking stupid--”

“What are you talking about?” Steve says, and there’s a paint roller still in his hand, and it knocks into the perfect goddamn triple-coated eggshell blue wall when Danny kisses him. They’re going to have to paint it again, and Danny doesn’t care, he doesn’t give a flying fuck, because Steve’s mouth is opening up under his and the roller is dropping from his fingers and his hands are sliding up under Danny’s shirt.

“Wait,” Steve says, “wait, you said that we’re--wait, how long have you--”

“The whole time,” Danny says, and runs his hands down Steve’s bare back. “The whole fucking time, Steven, what the hell did you think I was doing here every night, huh, did you think I was indulging my secret interior decorating fantasy, is that what you thought--”

“Well what do you think I was doing,” Steve says, “I dragged you into bed with me the other night, how much clearer was I supposed to get, did I need to send you a memo or something?”

“I thought you were being,” Danny says, waving his hands, “I don’t know, nice, I guess, what the hell was I supposed to think, okay, I didn’t even know if you liked guys, it’s not exactly the kind of thing you usually talk about--”

“We’re idiots,” Steve says, blinking.

“That,” Danny agrees, “is what I am saying here,” and then Steve swears and grabs him by the shoulders, hauling him in.

Danny’s never shed his clothes so fast in his life, tossing them haphazardly, tripping over them as they wrestle their way up the stairs. Steve’s hands are everywhere at once, it’s a feat of science, it has to be--they’re undoing his pants and tangling in his hair, pulling at Danny’s tie like he’s personally offended by it. Danny’s giving as good as he gets, shoving Steve against every available surface and kissing him like he’s thought about, fuck, like he’s thought about for so long now that it almost feels like he’s dreaming.

But he can’t be dreaming, can he, because he knows the layout of this house like the back of his hand, like he’s going to get to know every inch of the map that is Steve’s musculature. He knows this house so well that he doesn’t trip over anything but his pants and shoes, which just won’t come clear fast enough, and Steve’s laughing at him as they crash onto the bed.

“You’ve got paint,” Danny says, “everywhere, everywhere, McGarrett, if I get that in my mouth we are calling Poison Control, I refuse to submit to your, your field medicine, okay, you’d try to fix me with a twig or something--”

“I can think of part of my body that definitely doesn’t have paint on it,” Steve says, and Danny groans.

“You are not smooth,” he says. “Whoever told you that you were smooth was a fucking liar, you understand? You gotta know that right now, because--oh, fuck, Steve.”

Steve’s got his hand on Danny’s cock, and how did it even get there, how is he so ninja fast all the time? He’s got one hand on Danny’s cock and another hand is reaching into his bedside table, is pulling out a little tub of lube, and--

“Hey,” Danny says, “hey, hey, who decided you were gonna be the one doing the fucking here? Did we have that conversation, because I don’t remember it, where you going with that lube, what are you--”

“Danny,” Steve says, pupils blown wide, mouth bruised already, “if you think I haven’t thought about every way this could go, you’re crazy.”

“I,” Danny says, “what?”

“I don’t care,” Steve clarifies. “Top, bottom, hell, you can just give me a hand job like we’re in the eighth grade--”

“You were doing this in the--”

“Danny!” Steve yells. “I have been thinking about this for months, I don’t care how we do it, I’d just like to come at some point tonight in the same room as you, okay?”

Danny wants to say something easy and light, something like “That can be arranged,” or “Eager much, McGarrett?” but he can’t. The way that Steve is looking at him, breathing hard out of his nose, his fingers still tracing lines of his shoulders like he can’t bear to pull them away--Danny feels the urgency drain out of him, leave him with something bigger and harder to ignore.

“Okay,” he says, “yeah, that’s--I--yeah, babe, okay.”

He reaches out, lets the pads of his fingers bump against the splatter of paint at the edge of Steve’s jaw, and sighs before he can help himself. It’s a soft, contented sound, comes out more reverent then he really intended, and when Steve kisses him again that’s soft and contented too. He licks his way into Danny’s mouth, slow and careful, and Danny lets his hands drift everywhere, slide down Steve’s thighs, catch in the hollow behind his left knee.

And this is really happening, isn’t it, they’re really doing this, it’s real, this has turned out okay. Danny smiles, feeling the relief of it wash over him; he grins hard into Steve’s mouth, tugs at the back of his neck, loops a leg over his calves to pull him that much closer.

“Danny,” Steve says, pulling back just enough to tilt Danny’s chin up, to press a kiss into what is, almost certainly, Danny’s jugular--he would be like that, Danny thinks distractedly, probably knows every weak spot on my body, the creepy freak. “Danny, oh, Christ, Danny, I want to--”

“Fuck me?” Danny suggests. “Because I would be really interested in that myself, I’m just saying, it’s definitely something to put on the table.”

Steve frowns at him, braced on one of those stupidly muscled arms. Danny leans up and bites down lightly on the edge of that tattoo, just because he can; Steve groans, but the expression on his face doesn’t go away.

“But you said,” he says, “Danny, you pitched a fit about this three minutes ago--”

“I did not pitch a fit,” Danny says. He’d like to be annoyed at Steve, but he can’t get the smile off his face, so that’s probably a lost cause. “I objected to you being all--you know, unilateral decisions, you control enough of my life already, okay, and you’re always driving my car, and I would just like some say in what goes in my ass, you know?”

Steve makes a choking noise, and Danny can feel him getting even harder against his thigh, and oh, hey, McGarrett’s an easy lay, who knew?

“I’ve decided your dick is the best candidate for the position,” Danny says, “and, hey, also probably your fingers, it’s been awhile--but if you’re going to keep staring at me like that, we can just scrap this whole plan and--”

The noise Steve makes this time doesn’t make him sound like he’s choking; it makes him sound like he’s dying, and he crashes back down into the kiss, pulling Danny’s lower lip into his mouth. Danny grinds up into him and arches his back, and Steve catches him in the position--Steve holds him like that, braced with one hand, while he lubes up three fingers on the other. They hiss together when he slides the first one in, Danny from the sensation and Steve from...well, Danny can’t be sure, but he’s gonna guess it’s from seeing him laid out like this, more or less at Steve’s mercy.

“I could still take you,” Danny says, which is completely nonsensical but feels necessary to point out. “Just to be clear. You may have me a little--aah, fuck--a little bit over the barrel here, Steven, and maybe I’m, you know, maybe I just don’t ever want you to stop doing that, oh, fucking fuck--but just because I’m all, all stupid about you doesn’t mean that you can just start doing whatever you want. “

“Yeah,” Steve says, breathless, licking his lips, “yeah, sure.”

“You’re not even listening to me,” Danny says, but there’s no heat behind it. He moves around Steve’s fingers, clenching a little, and there’s the heat, right there. It’s on Steve’s face, in the parted crease of his lips, the way his eyes are fixed on Danny’s body like it’s some kind of apparition; it’s in Danny’s ass, radiating out from where Steve’s fingers are coaxing him open, are pulling him so deftly apart.

“Danny,” Steve says, “Danny, is this--can I--”

“More,” Danny says, “Jesus, who do you think I am here, you think I wouldn’t tell you if I didn’t--Steve, yeah, c’mon, I can take it.”

Steve’s got three fingers in him now, working him wider, and Danny’s thinking suddenly of all the places Steve’s hands have been, of all the things he’s done with them. Steve’s hands have been across the world and back, because for all Danny makes light of it, that SEAL thing is no joke--Steve’s hands have been places Danny’s own will never go. And they’ve been here too, in this house, in every version of this house, painting the walls and stripping the counters, brushing against Danny’s arm in the darkness.

Danny wants to learn them, all at once, wants to pull them into his mouth and taste every dip of the skin, every long-since faded scar. It’s just that he wants Steve in him--really in him--a little more.

He hauls himself up, balancing his weight on Steve’s shoulders to do it, and licks into his mouth hot and dirty. Steve must get the message, because he’s pulling his fingers out, and Danny’s dripping from the lube already, messing the sheets up. He’s more or less in Steve’s lap, he realizes, scraping his teeth along the line of his jaw, and that’s probably not dignified. It doesn’t matter, though, because Steve’s reaching around to pull a condom from the drawer and tearing it open, and his hands are shaking, his fucking hands are shaking, and Danny’s not exactly sure why that makes him want to die.

“I’ll do it,” he says, “I got it, babe, just gimme a second here, huh?”

Steve kisses him again while he’s trying to get the damned thing on him, and Jesus, it’s not like Danny doesn’t get it, it’s not like he hasn’t been waiting on this forever himself but--“Hold still, McGarrett, god, you impatient--”

“You trying to tell me you’re feeling patient right now?” Steve says, and Danny’s pretty sure he meant it to sound cocky. It mostly sounds unsure, and thank god he’s finally got the condom rolled out over Steve’s dick, because really, really, what the hell.

“No,” Danny says, “no, would you just--come here, okay, okay, just, c’mon, I want you to--”

“Yeah, yeah, I’m--” Steve says, and then, oh fuck yes, then he’s sliding home.

When Danny’s imagined doing this--which has been once or twice or maybe a thousand times, it’s hard to tell, he’s had trouble keeping track--he’s pictured it a hundred different ways. He’s sure Steve doesn’t leave his ninja skills at the bedroom door, he’s probably some kind of black belt in sex, and Danny’s not exactly lacking in the imagination department. He’s thought about it standing up and sitting down, in the back of the Camaro and on Steve’s stupid pristine desk, up against the wall and down by the ocean. He’s though about it every way there is to think about it, but fuck, he’s glad now for the goddamn missionary position, because he already feels like he's going to catch on fire.

Steve feels huge inside of him, gigantic and aching and whitehotgood, and Danny’s so full that he can't think. He can't do anything, really, except pant desperately into the curve of Steve's neck and scrabble his hands along Steve's back, and he hasn’t felt unhinged, undone like this, in maybe his entire life. He’s struck dumb and blind, and Steve’s pounding into him with that furious intensity he brings to every fucking table, and when Danny does manage to choke a word out and it's “Please, fuck, please.”

He doesn't even know what he's asking for, if he wants it harder or faster or just more,
if he's asking Steve to push deeper or to just...to not stop, to never fucking stop, Jesus Christ.

Steve’s saying something, he’s babbling something, there are words, Danny knows there are, but he doesn’t know what they mean. He clenches his ass around Steve’s cock and fucks himself desperately onto it, and he can’t understand, can’t begin to piece together what Steve is saying in the face of how good it feels. He’s lost to it, and he chokes on his breath and closes his eyes until his orgasm punches out of him, without so much as a hand near his dick, whiting out his vision and coating Steve's stomach.

When he shakes himself into a clearer head space, he looks up, and Steve’s face is wrung tight and desperate, like he’s not really holding himself together at all. He's still pushing into Danny, thrusting with all he’s got, but he doesn't have any rhythm anymore; it's just these little jerks, like he can't control himself, can’t help it. Danny’s never seen Steve like this, sweating and shaking all for him, and he stares, fascinated, until Steve opens his mouth.

“Danny,” Steve says, and it’s mostly sob, like just the act of saying it is more than he can bear, “Danny, Danny, oh god.”

Danny doesn’t have to think, not for this, not when what Steve needs is so glaringly, stunningly obvious. He jerks his hips up as much as he can manage, boneless still, and buries a hand in Steve’s hair. He pulls at Steve’s shoulders until they’re pressed together everywhere, the contact leaving his own body lit up with warmth, and rubs his thumb against the back of Steve’s neck.

“C'mon,” Danny says, as low as he can manage it, “hey, hey, c’mon, come for me, babe, you’re right there, you’re so close, yeah, Steve, c’mon.”

Steve cries out, just a little, a strangled yell that’s mostly muffled into Danny’s shoulder. His whole body shakes when he comes, every part of him that’s pressed to Danny alive with tremors, and Danny grins into his shoulder and hangs on. He hangs on even after Steve’s stilled, after he’s collapsed completely into him, their chests stuck together, their breathing shallow. Danny would stay like this all night, actually, except for how it’s disgusting, a little, or it least it should be.

Also, he can’t really breathe.

“Steve,” he says, jabbing him lightly in the stomach, “hey, McGarrett, babe, you gotta move, we gotta get cleaned up. A towel or something, go get a--”

“Mmph,” Steve says, because he’s apparently the type who goes all useless after sex. Danny probably shouldn’t find that as endearing as he does. “You do it.”

“Well,” Danny says, “I would, but I got this person on top of me, you know?”

“Bitch, bitch, bitch,” Steve mumbles, but he rolls off, sliding out of Danny in the process. Danny feels loose and empty without him, stretched too wide, except for how Steve’s still right there, his free arm draped across Danny’s chest. He pulls the condom off and ties it one-handed--Danny knew he brought his ninja skills to bed with him--and tosses it in the direction of the trash can without looking.

Then he casts an arm over the side of the bed, feeling around blindly until he pulls it back up, clutching--

“That is my tie,” Danny says, taking it and swiping it across his stomach anyway. He wipes Steve off with it too, because it’s ruined already anyway, and he might as well. “You weren’t even looking--you did that on purpose, didn’t you?”

Steve's face is half hidden against the pillow, and he’s stretched out everywhere already, tree-limb legs splayed into Danny’s space. He cracks his one visible eye open and smiles, shit-eating, at his happiest and his smuggest all at once--and hell, who is Danny kidding, they’re probably associated states for him, he probably can’t tell them apart.

“I hate you,” Danny says, far too fondly to be convincing.

“You’re a liar,” Steve says, and his smile’s just gotten bigger, and god, god, he’s fucking right.

Danny shouldn’t reward this kind of behavior; he knows better than to give Steve McGarrett an inch, knows all too well he’ll take more than a mile. He slides down and kisses the stupid grin off his face anyway, sex-slow, languid, in this house they’ve rebuilt for themselves.

--

In one of those coincidences Danny’s pretty sure Steve has engineered somehow, his lease comes up for renewal two days after they finally declare themselves done with fixing up the house. It’s been three months since they abandoned their desperate attachment to paint chips for a desperate attachment to something else, and Danny’s been kind of amazed to realize how much slower the renovation process is when it’s not fueled by sexual tension.

When he shares this with Rachel, she laughs at him until she cries. Danny can’t really blame her at all.

The point is: he’s slept at his apartment exactly once in three months, Steve bitching about the sofa bed the whole time, but he still feels like he’s got to consider the decision to give the place up. There’s the whole “It’s crazy to move in with someone you’ve only been with for three months” thing--Danny knows that it doesn’t really apply when you’ve been more-or-less platonically married to the guy for over a year, but still--and then there’s...well. He doesn’t want to presume anything, right, because who knows what could push Steve over the edge into commitment-phobia, he’s not exactly the most stable guy in the world on the best of days, is he?

“You’re being an idiot,” Kono says. “A gigantic idiot. Seriously, I doubt your intelligence more with every passing day.”

“Don’t look at me,” Chin says, “I never had much faith in it to begin with.”

“Why do I get this feeling,” Danny says, “that whenever I leave the room I’m the butt of every joke?”

“Because you are,” Chin says, impassive.

Kono grins. “Well, no. Sometimes it’s Steve.”

“Or you and Steve,” Chin adds. “But yeah, brah, the mockery, you draw it. Sorry.”

“Fantastic,” Danny says. “That’s great, the love, I am feeling it, thanks so much. Anything else to crush my spirit with, while we’re on the topic?”

“Eh,” Kono says, “it’s too easy when you offer it up. Takes all the fun out of it. Can we get back to work now?”

Danny tries to talk to Rachel next, but she’s all aboard the “You’re a moron,” train, not that he really expected any different. Hell, even Gracie gives him a look when he asks her if she’d be okay with him leaving his apartment, one that says she’s maybe a little bit ashamed to know him.

“Danno,” she says, “why would you keep your apartment when you’ve got a house?” and yeah, okay, she’s kind of got a point.

He bites the bullet and asks Steve in the end, the lease papers unfolded on the table in front of him, after work one night. Steve glances up from his dinner, mostly disinterested, and shrugs.

“Your call,” he says.

“My,” Danny says, “I’m sorry, my call? What kind of answer is that, my call? I ask you about giving up my lease, which, Steven, is a decision you should have a part in, because I do not mean give up my lease and live on the streets, okay, I mean--”

“Look,” Steve says, “if you want to keep paying for an apartment you don’t use, that’s none of my business--it’s your money you’re throwing away, not mine. We both know you live here, so, yeah. Your call.”

“Oh,” Danny says, staring at him. Steve’s eyebrows are up, a small, knowing sort of smile tugging at his mouth, and after a second Danny smiles back. “I, uh. Oh. Well. Okay, then. Thanks for your input, I guess.”

“You want another slice of pizza?” Steve says, and that turns out to be the end of that.

The party is Steve’s idea; Danny knows this because he doesn’t even realize it’s a party until it’s already underway. He’d thought it was just going to be the team grilling out after a long week, but hey, there’s Kamekona and his girlfriend, there’s Sargeant Lukela from the precinct, there’s Rachel and Gracie and, Jesus, even Stan coming through the door.

“You could have mentioned it to me,” he says, mostly on principle, as Steve grins and ushers them inside.

“Where’s the fun in that?” Steve says.

“It’s a housewarming, Daniel,” Rachel adds, laughing as she presses a bottle of wine into his hands. “Try to be a little warm about it, hmm?”

The truth is, he can’t really help but be warm about it. He’d kind of like to, if just for the sake of driving home a point, but he’s a little too happy to care. His apartment is empty, his house is full, his daughter’s dragging Chin up the stairs to see her room...yeah, he’s doing alright.

It’s about fifteen minutes in when Kono, who’d said she’d be a little late, comes through the door. She’s with a woman who--hey, wait a second--

“Babe,” he says, nudging Steve with his elbow, “isn’t that--”

Nalani?” Steve says, staring, and yeah, okay, that’s what Danny thought too.

“Commander McGarrett,” she says, smiling “and Detective...Williams, am I right? Nice to see you again.”

“Oh, god, call them Steve and Danny, please,” Kono says, before either of them can say the same. “You wouldn’t want me to feel like I’m at work, would you?”

“Definitely not,” Nalani says, and she slips her hand into Kono’s, and wow, okay, some detective Danny is. He hadn’t known Kono was seeing anyone, although when he thinks about it, she has seemed happier than usual lately.

No less crazy, of course, but Danny’s pretty sure Steve’s had that effect on all of them.

“I gotta say, guys,” Kono says, her eyes sparkling, “I was kind of nervous about bringing Nalani out tonight--introducing the girlfriend to the boss, you know how it is--but then she told me the strangest story when we pulled into the drive.”

“I didn’t realize you’d turned the house around so much,” Nalani says. Her eyes are approving as she looks around, and Kono’s holding back her laughter, and jeez, this is definitely up there on the list of embarrassing moments in Danny’s life. “I could probably sell it now, actually, if that’s still something you’d like to pursue--Kono said she didn’t think you were interested anymore, but it never hurts to ask, right?”

Danny doesn’t know what to say--there’s not exactly an easy way to explain it, is there, especially in the wake of what they’d let her think during their first meeting. He’d thought then that Steve needed fresh space, a new start, and had found out the long way around that they were both looking for something else entirely. He wouldn’t move out of this house now if his life depended on it, not after all he and Steve have poured into it, not now that they’ve gone and made it theirs.

Steve puts a hand on the back of his neck, warm and friendly, and solves his problem for him.

“We’re not on the market,” he says. Danny leans into his touch, knows it’s the truth, and smiles.