The heavy 'thunk' of a cardboard box landing on his desk caused Steve McGarrett to look up in surprise from the file he was reading. Standing in front of him, hands resting on the box, was Dan Williams, a concerned look on his face.
“What have you got there, Danno?” he enquired of his second-in-command. “And why the long face?” he added, studying the familiar features and recognizing the not-so-subtle signs of worry and frustration.
“This box,” Danny began. “And the one just like it on my desk, are the archive files on the Stedman case you requested from HPD.” He opened the box flaps and pulled out several loose sheets of paper. “There's only one problem. HPD records section is in the middle of a massive reorganization project. Files are being pulled and scanned onto the microfilm system, then put back into storage.” Dan waved the papers around in the air. “The result? The entire Stedman case paperwork was out and scattered for scanning. The clerks just dumped it all back in the boxes and handed it over!”
“Are you finished?” Steve asked calmly. In the privacy of his inner sanctum, with nobody else watching, he allowed himself a quick appreciative smirk at the younger man. “You know I like seeing you all wound up, Danno! But over paperwork...?!”
Danny sighed, then relaxed a bit under Steve's teasing gaze. “Chin is in court all day, and Ben is still on the Big Island...” he paused. “That just leaves... us.”
Steve gave Danny's shoulder a lingering squeeze of encouragement. “Bring the other box in here,” he suggested. “We can lay it all out on the desk, and search for the details we need as we sort it out.”
Two hours later Dan put down the final sheet of paper from 'his' box. “There!” he exclaimed. “That's it! Everything in its place!” He straightened his aching back and looked over at his boss, who was still engrossed in the paperwork on his side of the desk. “But I still can't find any pattern in the transactions that are documented. Maybe it's just not there, Steve!”
“Hmm,” came the response. “Perhaps we're going about this the wrong way,” Steve said musingly. “How have you sorted out the files? Alphabetically, or chronologically?”
Danny frowned. “Alphabetically. By customer name.”
“And I've done mine chronologically, by the dates on the invoices.” Steve shook his head. “There's no pattern that way either, not that I can see, anyhow.”
There was silence for a moment as each man contemplated the piles of paper on the desk. Steve finally stood, looking toward Danny and asking, “Any suggestions?”
A faint grin lit the younger man's face. “Well, actually, I do have one,” he said. “I'll try yours if you try mine!” At Steve's slightly blank look Danny's grin broadened. “Sorting methods, Steve, sorting methods! What did you think I meant?!”
Steve attempted a stern frown, instead managing only an exasperated glare at his smirking partner. “All right, Danno, let's do it,” he growled. “We've already wasted too much time on this file as it is.”
“Sure thing,” Danny said agreeably, and settled back down to the paperwork on the desk.
O o O o O
Steve wheeled his big Mercury into the parking area for the restaurant, bringing the car to a tire-squealing stop near the front entrance. Turning off the engine, he looked expectantly at the young man in the seat beside him.
Danny barely restrained himself from rolling his eyes at Steve's obvious impatience. This spontaneous jaunt out to a new restaurant near the Palace was supposed to be a relaxing break after their intense afternoon of casework in the office. “Come on, Steve, let's go in,” he said. “I've heard some good things about this place.”
A single raised eyebrow was Steve's response; his skepticism was almost palpable as he gestured at the brightly lit sign. “The Mojakka Bowl? Really, Danno, what kind of a restaurant is this?”
Inside, the decor was about as far removed as possible from the tropical flavour of the Hawaiian Islands. The colours were muted; sage green, brown, and grey were the dominant shades. Artwork on the walls depicted scenes of snowy landscapes, bleakly rolling tundra edged with stands of evergreen trees, and brilliant, icy-blue lakes against a backdrop of white-topped mountains.
Steve stared in disbelief, the eyebrow climbing higher as he turned and fixed his gaze on his grinning partner. “You've got to be kidding me,” he muttered softly, for Dan's ears only. As the hostess approached, however, he forced a more neutral expression onto his face as he nodded in response to her friendly greeting.
“Tervetuloa! Welcome to The Mojakka Bowl, gentlemen.” The fair-haired, middle-aged woman pronounced the name 'moy-a kah' in slightly accented English. “It is a little piece of Finland, right here in the middle of your tropical paradise! Please follow me to your table.” She led them to a secluded corner of the dining area, to a table next to a rock arrangement with water bubbling gently over it. A large photograph of a glacial-looking stream dominated the wall above the table. Despite his misgivings, the artist in Steve came alive as he studied the image, taking in both the familiarity and alien (to him, anyway) appearance of the moving water.
Danny looked around the restaurant, which was humming with customers at this, the dinner hour. He spotted a familiar HPD face and gave a quick wave; turning to his dinner companion, he nodded in the direction of a table on the other side of the room. “Steve, I need to go and have a word with Ed James. Just a quick follow-up to a witness statement from earlier in the week.”
“Sure, Danno, go ahead.” Steve picked up his menu and started to read. “Take your time.”
As Dan headed away from the table, he failed to notice the slow smile spreading across his partner's face. He also paid no heed to the waitress as she passed by, order pad at the ready. But when he returned, several minutes later, the almost serene look on Steve's face sent his intuitive sixth sense into overdrive. “Steve,” he began cautiously. “What...”
“I hope you don't mind, Danno, that I took the liberty of ordering while you were talking to your friend.” Steve looked positively angelic across the table. “Our meal should be here in a few moments. I also ordered a couple of appetizers; I hope you don't mind.”
“Um, no, that's great, Steve. Thanks.” Dan began to look worried. As he had been learning as their relationship developed, a whimsical, mercurial Steve could be a dangerous combination, and he was staring both in the face.
A short time later, their waitress bustled up to the table, carefully balancing a large tray laden with exotic-looking dishes. Quickly and efficiently she unloaded the tray, placing several plates and bowls in front of the two men. “Hyvaa Rulkahalua! Enjoy your dinner!” she said, smiling at them both.
“Thank you.” Danny's reply was automatic. He stared at the plates in concern, then glanced up at Steve. “This looks ... interesting... What is it?” he asked warily.
The expression on Steve's face became even more equable. “Well, Danno, your appetizer is 'poronkielta', with onion marmalade on the side. And I've got smoked Baltic herring with yogurt carrots.” He pointed at a bowl which contained a creamy looking stew. “That is kalamojakka; in my bowl is mojakka ja Leipa. And your main course is filee hirven, while I'm having baked salmon with a barley pancake.” Steve picked up his fork and waved it at Dan's plate; his cobalt gaze met the lighter blue eyes of his lover in an open challenge. “Go ahead, dig in!”
Danny hesitated for a moment, uncertain of what he was about to consume but equally unwilling to let Steve claim any sort of victory. A sudden gleam came into his eyes; lifting his own fork in a mock salute, he said confidently, “Sure, let's eat!” Smiling mischievously at his lover, he added “Tell you what, Steve... I'll try yours if you try mine!”
O o O o O
Arriving home much later that evening, Steve climbed wearily out of his car and headed for the welcome sanctuary of his apartment. After a very ... interesting ... dinner at the Finnish restaurant, he and Danny had returned to the Palace to tidy up the last of the paperwork on the Stedman case. The two detectives had worked until darkness had settled outside, and finally Steve felt that enough work had been accomplished for them to leave. He had sent Danny out first; the younger man had offered a token protest before grabbing his jacket and almost running out of the office and down the stairs to his car. Steve smiled tiredly as he pulled out his key and unlocked the door. His second-in-command did NOT enjoy paperwork, instead preferring to be more actively involved in the investigative process; an entire day sorting files had had him almost ready to climb the walls!
Once inside the apartment, he noted the signs of Danny's earlier arrival: a discarded suit coat draped over a chair, keys tossed onto the table, and ... the sound of the shower running. Slipping out of his own jacket, he headed for the kitchen to put on the kettle.
“Steve.” Dan's voice drifted into the kitchen. “I saw you pull in; I'm glad you're finally home!” A second later he himself padded in, and Steve's tired eyes widened in appreciation at the sight of his lover, clad only in a comfortable pair of board shorts and a welcoming grin bright enough to light the whole room. “What's that for?” he asked, pointing at the kettle still in Steve's hand.
“Danno.” Despite the lateness of the hour, he felt a bit of the stiffness in his shoulders ease as he smiled back. “I thought I'd make a cup of tea, something to help me relax a bit.” He set the kettle down and plugged it in. “Join me?” he inquired as he reached for the teapot and the canister of fragrant leaves beside it.
“Well...” Danny drew the word out as if in thought. Walking across the room to Steve's side, he reached up and slowly, casually began to undo the buttons on his shirt. “You know, Steve,” he said, his voice deepening. “There's more than one way to ... relax ... after a hard day at work.” Finishing the buttons, his hands moved lower to his belt buckle; at the same time he brushed a light kiss across his lover's mouth. “Say, a long, hot shower? I've got it warming up right now. And maybe a relaxing massage afterwards...?”
“Danno.” Steve said again, his tone strangled as he struggled to speak. Unplugging the kettle and pushing aside the tea, he clasped Danny's hands and began leading him from the kitchen toward the bedroom. “Tell you what, Danno.” He smirked broadly as he uttered the words that had followed him throughout the day. “I'll try yours if you try mine!”
A/N: This story was a response to a writers' group challenge to write a restaurant scene. Do you think Danny enjoyed his meal of reindeer tongue, fish stew, and fillet of elk?! The Scandinavian game animals are a little different from the standard North American tastes! My other half's background is Finnish; my father-in-law actually speaks the language! The idea of a Finnish restaurant transplanted into tropical Hawaii was just too much fun to resist! -J