Danny looked at himself in the mirror and was pleased with what he saw. His white face, balding head, red hair...everything, right down to the big shoes, was perfect. The only person, in his opinion, better at being Pennywise the evil clown from Stephen King'sIt was Tim Curry himself. Even then, Danny reasoned, he only gets the nod because he did it first.
He was all-out evil Pennywise, complete with the sharp teeth. Grace thought the costume was hilarious, and asked him what he was trying to be - a vampire clown? He'd tried to explain It to her, but she'd stared at him blankly and concluded, "Sounds stupid."
No risk of his daughter being coulrophobic. Fortunately, their Halloween party was a mixture of his friends and hers, so hopefully there would be enough people coming who would get it. It was a shame to waste this outstanding costume on an unappreciative audience.
He stepped out of the shoes since they were annoying, and he still had a lot to do to get ready for the guests to arrive. Grace's costume was a police uniform. To say she shared his sometimes sick sense of humor was a fair assessment. She knew how many laughs that would get out of her father's colleagues. Danny was praying that's all it was. If she was really thinking of becoming a cop, he'd have to lock her in a convent somewhere until she was too old and feeble to get through the academy.
They had cider and donuts, caramel apples, and bowls of popcorn and candy. The phone rang as he was stringing fake spider webbing from the table to the ceiling. Grace answered it for him since he was standing on a chair. Maybe Pennywise was kind of stupid-looking when he was trying to keep his balance on a chair and spread out dollar-store spider web at the same time.
"It's Uncle Steve," she said, handing him the phone. "He wants to talk to you."
"Hey," he said, taking the phone.
"Yeah, Danny, I'm not gonna be able to make it tonight. I'm not feeling so great."
"Nothing serious - I think it's just a 24-hour thing, but I don't want to show up and get everybody sick."
"Okay. You need anything?"
"No, I'm good. Just gonna lie down for a while. Have a great party. I'll see you tomorrow."
"You're sure you're all right?"
"Fine. Tell Gracie I'm sorry I missed the party. We can take her to see Ouija tomorrow if she wants."
"Rachel thinks she'll have nightmares."
"No I won't," Grace objected, walking into the living room and setting the bowl of red punch on the table.
"It's only PG-13, so there shouldn't be any F-bombs or naked sex," Steve reasoned. Danny laughed. It was like dealing with two little kids who were negotiating to see the movie.
"You just talked me out of it, then," he replied. "Okay, I'll tell her. I'll call ya tomorrow. Get some rest. Call me if you need anything or, you know, get sicker or something."
"Thanks, Danny. I will."
Danny was disappointed Steve was going to miss the party. He'd been dying to know what kind of costume Steve had since he'd refused to divulge it for the last two weeks. Danny wouldn't have put it past him to show up dressed like a Navy SEAL. He'd almost blurted out something he might regret when he said Steve would make a great Dracula. After all, Dracula was tall, dark, and handsome with brooding eyes. He'd managed to turn that into a joke, but Steve had looked a little too pleased with the costume suggestion, and the explanation. Danny had said more than he intended, because complimenting Steve on how handsome he was probably wasn't the best way to keep a lid on the feelings Danny had been fighting for a long time.
He didn't just love Steve, he was in love with him. It wasn't brotherly love, and it had passed "buddy" territory a long time ago. Danny had experimented a couple times with guys in college, but they weren't serious encounters and he liked women pretty well, so it hadn't been until Steve had blown into his life and taken it over that he'd really had to confront those kind of feelings for a man. They were there now, full force.
"That looks really good, Danno," Grace said, standing back to appraise his spider web job.
"Good. You wanna start sticking the spiders in it?" he asked. "Give me a few and I'll do the ones up here."
They worked together on finishing up the decorations just in time, before the first wave of zombies, vampires, aliens, super heroes, and other assorted characters arrived. It was a fun party with scary music, some weird lighting, and a few other haunted house style surprises Steve had helped Danny rig up earlier that day. Danny was thrilled Grace was excited about co-hosting a party with him for Halloween, so they wanted to make the most of it.
Once the evening was in full swing, Danny asked Chin to take over for him with keeping an eye on the underage guests and, throwing his big shoes in the passenger seat because they defied use on the gas pedal or brake, headed over to Steve's place. He couldn't shake the feeling Steve must be really sick if he backed off coming to a party they'd both worked hard to set up, and any time Steve missed his chance to do "uncle" duty with Grace, something serious was going on.
He got out of the car, put the big shoes back on, and grabbed the horn he brought along to give the clown costume its full effect. He'd even mastered the voice. He was waiting for the right opening to tell Steve, "We all float down here." He figured since Steve had a taste for silly horror movies, he'd get a laugh out of the whole thing; maybe it would even make him feel better.
Using his key, he let himself in. Evil clowns typically don't announce themselves, and if Steve was awake, he wanted him to get the full effect. If he was sleeping, Danny would do him the courtesy of honking the horn first.
He fully expected Steve would be upstairs, but instead, he was stretched out in his easy chair, feet up, watching a horror movie on TV. He must have been dozing, because he didn't move when Danny walked in. Unable to resist another classic line from It, Danny moved around so he'd be in Steve's line of vision.
"Beep beep, Steven!" he said in his best Pennywise snarl, honking the horn. He was totally unprepared for Steve to leap out of the chair, aiming his gun at him clutched in both hands.
"Get down on the floor! Now!"
"Steve, it's -"
"Get down, now, or I'll blow your fucking head off, you sick bastard!"
Danny knelt, holding up his hands, knocking his big shoes off in the process.
"Steve, it's me, for God's sake!"
Steve stood there a moment, staring at him, wide-eyed.
"What the fuck are you doing?" he demanded, and he looked mad as hell. What he didn't look was sick.
"What the fuck are you doing aiming a gun at a guy in a clown suit?"
"A crazy motherfucking clown with fangs in my living room? Why the fuck shouldn't I shoot it?" he shouted.
"Because evil clowns with fangs are typically people dressed up, not demons with a thing for grease paint and big shoes. Can I get up now?" he asked.
"Take that shit off or get out," Steve replied, lowering his gun and sitting back down.
"I don't know if I should be glad my costume is so good or busy figuring out which mental hospital I'm taking you to." Danny stood up. "What's with you? You don't look sick, by the way."
"I wasn't until you showed up." Steve wasn't looking at him. "I mean it, take off the damn costume or get out."
"Fine. The party'll be mostly over by the time I get home anyway. Mind if I use your bathroom, or do you want me to strip down here?"
"I don't care where you do it."
"Okay, geez," he grumbled.
"Take those fuckers with you," Steve said of the shoes Danny had knocked off his feet when he knelt so hastily.
"The shoes? Really? I can't leave my big shoes down here?" He honked the horn. "How about my horn?"
"Do that again and I'll stick it up your ass."
"Whoa, fine," Danny replied, carrying his big shoes and his horn with him to the bathroom upstairs. He'd need to borrow some of Steve's clothes, since taking off the clown suit would leave him in his shorts and socks.
He couldn't even begin to figure Steve's reaction, but one possibility was occurring to him. He dismissed it. No one who had seen the kind of action Steve had could possibly be...afraid of clowns?
It took him a while to wash off the makeup, but he did it diligently until every last drop was gone. Now that the skull cap was off, he roughed up his hair, trying to revive it from being smashed under the rubber covering. He found a t-shirt and an old pair of Steve's sweat pants and put them on. He wouldn't have bothered with the pants but he did have to drive home and, with his luck, the one time he did that in his underwear, he'd either get pulled over or called in for a case.
He rolled up the costume and stuck it in the guest bedroom. No point in pissing Steve off again.
"Pennywise is dead," he announced, coming downstairs.
"Go ahead and get all the one liners out of your system," Steve said tiredly. He was slumped in the chair again, staring at the TV but not really focusing on it.
Danny sat on the ottoman, close to Steve and facing him. There was a wealth of material in this moment, years worth of ruthless teasing, and yet, the thought of doing any of that didn't appeal to Danny even a little.
"I'm sorry. I thought you'd get a laugh out of it. I didn't mean to...do whatever it is I did."
"I fucking hate fucking clowns, all right?" He kept his eyes averted, wouldn't look at Danny.
"You just think they're stupid and annoying or they scare the shit out of you?"
"The second option," he mumbled, still not looking at Danny.
"You're not yanking my chain to make me feel bad for not knocking?"
"No." He sighed. "Go ahead. Rip into me and get it over with."
"All my life, I've either had to hide my claustrophobia or take shit for it. Why would I rip into you about this?"
"Not like I've never given you a hard time about tight places."
"Yeah, you can be a dick sometimes," Danny replied. When Steve didn't laugh, he patted his knee. "Come on, babe, why would I get some big kick out of making fun of you?"
"Because it's funny. Navy SEAL who's afraid of Bozo."
"A lot of people are afraid of clowns."
"Not people like me. I couldn't even tell my dad. He would have thought I was a sissy. My mom figured it out because they had a clown for my third birthday party and she said I cried at the top of my lungs through most of it and hid behind her. I only vaguely remember that. She never had another clown at one of our parties, and she managed to not take me to the circus at any point in my childhood. We never really talked about it, she just kept me away from clowns. It's not that I can't see one in passing or on TV or something without flipping out. It's just a matter of degrees I guess."
"I hear ya. My claustrophobia is similar. It's not every tight space, just some of them." Danny ran his hand over his face. "Man, I'm really sorry. I was just trying to pull a joke on you. I never would've done that if I'd known."
"It's okay. I never mentioned it."
"Are you all right?"
"I'll probably have nightmares for several months, but otherwise, I'm okay."
Danny stared at him a moment until Steve's mouth quirked up at one corner.
"I'm fine. Now that I know you're not really a possessed clown here to kill me," he added, laughing.
"Is that why you didn't come to the party?"
"I heard you telling Kono about your costume, and I didn't really think I'd enjoy spending a whole evening with Pennywise."
"I don't suppose you ever saw that movie."
"Are you nuts? I saw The Exorcist four times but I wouldn't watch the commercials for It."
"Gee, if I'd known you weren't sick, I'd have brought you some food from the party. Why don't you come back to my place? There weren't any other clowns there, I swear."
"I can't very well show up with no costume. Besides, I said I was sick."
"It'll be mostly over by the time we get there. Then we can take Gracie out for breakfast in the morning, spend the day with her."
"Okay. Sounds good."
"I have to, um, go get Pennywise." Danny gestured at the stairs. Steve gave him a look but didn't say anything else about it.
Danny found a duffle bag in Steve's room and stuffed the clown paraphernalia in it. It was one of the rare times Steve didn't make a move to take over driving duty. When they arrived back at Danny's place, most of the cars were gone. Inside, Chin, Kono, and Grace were grazing on the last of the party treats, slumped on the couch, watching one of the Halloween sequels. It was strange to see a cowboy, a zombie, and a cop all hanging out together. One of the reasons Danny found Halloween pretty amusing.
"He lives," Chin joked when he saw Steve. "Feeling better?"
"Yeah, thanks," Steve said, smiling and sitting on the couch where Grace had shifted over and patted the cushion for him to sit. "Great costume, Gracie," he said, high-fiving her. Ah, that explains it. He should have smelled a Steve-Grace conspiracy a mile away on that one.
"Mom hated it," she said, laughing, tilting the popcorn bowl toward him. "She thinks I wanna be a cop now. I told her I was thinking about it."
Kono laughed out loud at that. "I thought you were interested in forensics."
"I am, but being a cop wouldn't be all bad, either," she said, calmly munching her popcorn. Overhearing that from the bedroom where he was putting away the offending clown costume, Danny chose to let it slide without having a stroke. He had until she was eighteen for that thought to fade.
"You're going to college first, whichever thing you do," he said as he walked through to the kitchen to get himself a beer. "Anybody need drink refills?"
"I should hit the dusty trail," Chin said, in keeping with his cowboy costume. He stood up and located his cowboy hat, putting it on. "Hey, zombie girl, you're my ride," he said to Kono.
"It's early yet," she protested.
"Yeah, let her see the ending," Grace chimed in, gesturing at the TV. Michael Myers had dispensed with most of the cast, but there were a couple bloody, exhausted souls still crawling around, fighting for their lives.
"Yeah, Chin, don't be a party pooper," Danny said, sitting on the arm of the couch near Steve and handing him a beer. "He should have these people wiped out in about ten more minutes, right, Gracie?" Danny said, referring to the knife-wielding killer in the movie.
"Seven, if you count the commercials," she added, laughing.
"Where's your costume?" Chin asked Danny.
"I got sick of the big shoes," he quipped.
"I gotta hand it to you, that makeup job was good, brah," Kono said. "You were one ugly clown."
"Normally I wouldn't like hearing that from a woman, but in this case, thanks."
"Didn't you go over to Steve's with your costume on?" Chin asked. Shit, nothing like trying to get away with anything in a room full of cops.
"The costume was epic," Steve said.
"What were you gonna wear, Uncle Steve?"
"I had a vampire costume," he said. "Not real original, but you can't miss with a classic. Not a sparkly vampire, old school," he added, and she laughed. Danny wondered if his swallow was audible to anyone else but him, and if his dick was going to behave itself at that mental image. With the exception of coming to the party as Tarzan in nothing but a skimpy loincloth, Danny couldn't think of anything sexier than Steve in a swirling black cape, preferably sucking on his neck in a dark corner...
After the movie ended, Chin and Kono went home. Halloween landing on a Friday night was a happy situation for Grace, who figured she could negotiate staying up late for another movie. Danny sat on the other side of her and they chose Frankenstein on one of the classic movie channels to complete their evening. Grace outlasted both of them; it wasn't until she got up and announced the movie was over that Steve and Danny rallied again.
After she had gone into her room, they picked up a few more remnants of the party and then headed into Danny's room. Steve didn't stay over at Danny's often, but on the few times he did, he usually slept on the empty side of Danny's bed. His long legs weren't that comfortable folded up on the couch, and Danny didn't have a guest room in his two-bedroom rental house.
When they finally turned in, both of them shed their socks and pants, getting into bed in their t-shirts and shorts.
"Not making a big deal out of...you know..."
"You're welcome." Danny smiled. "It could work to our advantage, though."
"How do you figure that?"
"Well, just hear me out. If the criminal elite of Hawaii knew the commander of Five-0 was afraid of clowns, we could have most of the Yakuza running around in clown suits...trying to get away running in their big shoes."
"Shut up, Danny," Steve said, but Danny could hear he was trying not to laugh.
"Instead of those flashy big SUVs, there'd be like, forty of them crammed into a little car driving down the highway." Danny could feel Steve shaking with laughter by now. "Next time we see Wo Fat, he'll - "
"I know, be wearing a clown suit," Steve said, still laughing.
"I was going to say, 'be riding a unicycle', but the clown suit is a given."
"It sounds nuts when you look at it that way," he said, his laughter fading.
"It's not nuts, but you might as well laugh at it. Takes a little of the threat out of it."
"I guess it does," Steve agreed.
"So are you still gonna dress up in that vampire outfit so I can see it?"
"Sure, I'll wear it to the office Monday," Steve replied sarcastically.
"You got to see me dressed up like an idiot. Fair is fair."
"You're the one who broke into my house and scared the shit out of me. I didn't ask you to do that."
"Did you try it on?"
"The vampire outfit? Of course, I tried it on. Wouldn't do me much good not to and then have it not fit when I needed it."
"I just think you'd make a good vampire, that's all."
"Thanks, I think," Steve replied, laughing. "You're weird, Danno."
"I suppose," Danny agreed, sighing.
Steve was quiet a moment. "That wasn't meant as an insult, Danny. I was kidding."
"Then what's eating you?" Steve asked, turning on his side, leaning up on one elbow, looking down at Danny. He really wished Steve hadn't done that, because now the warmth and the presence of him was close, a trace of his cologne...
"Why do you think something's eating me?"
"Because one minute we were joking around and now you're all serious again, as soon as I said you were weird."
"Not like it's the worst thing you've ever said," Danny replied, trying to spar, but it was weak. He'd been trying to flirt with Steve, and he'd gotten called weird. For a while, he'd thought maybe flattering Steve a little wouldn't make him weird. Maybe it would turn Steve on, get him interested.
Of course, telling someone they'd made a good vampire wasn't exactly a clear-cut compliment. So he decided to push it a little farther.
"I meant because you're tall, and dark-haired, and your eyes...you'd make a good Dracula."
"My eyes? I have vampire eyes?"
"Brooding, intense...piercing..." Danny wondered if he was blushing as much as he thought he was, and prayed Steve couldn't see it in the shadows of the room. "Just go to sleep, Steven."
"Okay, whatever," Steve said, flopping on his back and then turning over with his back to Danny. "G'night," he said, yawning.
"'Night, babe," Danny muttered, staring at the ceiling. It had been a long week, and he was tired. Plus, having Grace asleep down the hall and Steve sleeping in his bed gave him as much of a sense of peace and serenity as he ever had. Before long, he was asleep.
Danny resisted opening his eyes. He'd been sleeping deeply, but something was disturbing him. He opened his eyes and looked over at Steve's side of the bed. He was gone. Must've gotten up for the john, that's what woke me, he decided, yawning, rolling onto his side. Something made him uneasy, and he opened his eyes again, glancing toward the bedroom door. A bit of moonlight coming in the window landed on a tall, dark, cloaked figure standing there. He knew he should reach for his gun, but he couldn't take his eyes off it.
The figure took a few steps forward, its long cloak stirring with the movement. The moonlight hit its face, and Danny let out a breath, then laughed.
"Okay, you got me back for the clown thing," he said, but Steve didn't respond. His expression didn't change. He just kept moving forward, slowly, toward the bed. "Come on, Steven, I get it. I'm sorry about popping in on you like that. But this is fucking creepy." He sat up in bed, scooting up against the headboard as Steve walked around the foot of the bed and approached Danny's side of it.
"You wanted to see my costume," he said, but his voice was low, husky...sexy. He was dressed in a white shirt, open at the neck, black pants, black dress shoes, and a long black cape lined in red satin. His eyes were dark, brooding, and piercing in the odd hue of moonlight. Danny swallowed, his heart pounding. He almost expected Steve to suddenly pounce on him and drain him dry...not that he would have minded that, but blood wasn't the bodily fluid he was willing to part with.
"It's great," he managed. He couldn't stop looking into those eyes. Steve wasn't giving him any escape, either.
"What do you want, Danny?"
"Huh?" Danny's brain was short-circuiting, and most of his thinking ability was moving much, much lower.
"Tell me what you want," he said. His voice was still sultry, but it was commanding. This man wouldn't need rank to command anyone to do anything. All he'd have to do is stare at them with those eyes and simply speak with that voice, and they'd do anything.
"I want you," Danny said, the words tumbling out before he could stop them.
Steve leaned over him, kept moving in on him, until he was compelled to slide down in the bed, lie flat on his back. Steve caressed his cheek with fingertips that felt a bit too cool. He leaned in close and the touch of his lips were feather light on Danny's left cheek. Then on his right cheek. Then on his forehead. Finally, Steve captured his mouth. That was the only way to describe it because it wasn't just a kiss. It was lips and tongue and heat and conquest. Danny responded, his tongue meeting and dancing with Steve's, but he was being conquered and taken in every sense of the word.
Skilled hands slid under his t-shirt and pushed it up, urged him to move so it could be removed. Steve straddled him and trailed hot, wet kisses down the middle of his chest, cool hands caressing his sides, thumbs moving up to tease his nipples, making him moan and reach for the tie that held the cape in place. He untied it, watching the cape slip fluidly off Steve's shoulders and onto the bed. Steve kissed his mouth again, taking his breath away while he worked the buttons of Steve's shirt. As his hands skimmed over Steve's perfectly sculpted chest and shoulders, pushing the shirt off, Steve's skin felt warm, flushed even, beneath his hands. It wasn't cool the way Steve's hands had been. It was a small detail, but one that nagged at the back of Danny's mind, not quite allowing him to go with the fantasy.
This was a dream, wasn't it?
Vampire Steve laying claim to him in the shadows of the night?
He gave up thinking when Steve seized the waistband of his shorts and pulled on it. He obligingly lifted his hips off the bed and felt the garment pulled down and off. He heard two telltale thuds that were Steve's shoes hitting the floor, and Steve moved away briefly to dispense with his pants and underwear. Then Steve was back, the press of his warm body, the slide of his skin against Danny's, his insistent mouth sucking hard on Danny's neck, though the sharp pierce of teeth never happened. Just more kisses and licks around the spot.
"I want you, Danny... Tell me it's okay."
"Yeah, it's okay, babe," he replied, kissing Steve, feeding on his mouth like a vampire feeds on a lover's throat. The surprise, fantasy, whatever...it was wearing off and the reality of Steve was all that mattered now. The feeling of his arms, his hands exploring, his eager lips and tongue placing hot, wet kisses across Danny's chest and down to his belly. And then a careful, slick finger touching him there, rubbing circles around his center, finally slipping through the barrier and stretching him, opening him, getting him ready.
He was hard, panting, pulling Steve toward him for more kisses, wanting him up there for kissing and down there for what he was doing to Danny with that slick, gentle but assertive, finger. Another joined it and pushed deeper, and when he bit his lip to stifle his cries, he wondered if he'd draw blood.
Steve withdrew his fingers. Danny's knees were drawn up now; he was beyond any inhibitions about welcoming Steve into his body, urging him there, even. He expected it to be a little difficult at first, but Steve was so gentle, so careful as he eased inside, that it wasn't painful.
"Wanted you so long," Steve breathed into his ear. "Love you, Danny."
"Love you, too, Steven." They kissed again, and Steve was starting to move, carefully, gently. They found their rhythm, hands caressing and touching wherever they could reach. Danny knew Steve had to be getting close, because he began to stroke Danny in time with their movements. He gasped and felt his whole body arching into the waves of pleasure. They came almost at the same time, muffling their cries in each other's mouths with hot, urgent, almost bruising kisses.
When it was over, Steve moved slowly out of Danny and lay next to him, pulling him close, so they were in each other's arms, on their sides. They stayed like that, silently, letting their breathing even out, pounding hearts slowing a bit.
"How come your hands were cold and the rest of you wasn't?"
"I stood in the kitchen and held a cold beer bottle in both hands for a while before I came in here."
"You ass," Danny said, laughing.
"Short of taking a bath in ice water, I couldn't really get the effect all over."
"I was half expecting weird eyes and fangs." Danny wasn't about to admit just how much of a dream he'd thought most of the experience was.
"Yeah, well, I had white contacts and the teeth, but I wanted to set a mood, not turn you off."
"I'm not sure you could turn me off if you tried, babe." Danny kissed him, gently, slowly, tasting his mouth and reveling in having Steve like this. Finally.
"I've wanted to get you naked for four years," Steve admitted, and they both laughed.
"You've seen me naked before."
"This is the first time I could do anything about it," he said, caressing Danny's side, running his hand down his hip and to his thigh. "Did I ever tell you you've got an amazing body, Danno?"
"I think I'd remember that conversation."
"Yeah, well, I could get used to yours, too," he said, kissing Steve's chest, making a mental note to experiment sometime and see if you literally could bounce a dime off Steve's abs. "So, what should we dress up as next year?" Danny asked, smiling, caressing Steve's head, running his fingers into Steve's hair.
"If you ever dress up like an evil-ass clown again, I'll divorce you."
Danny paused in the enjoyable activity of nuzzling and kissing Steve's neck.
"I said, if you ever dress -"
"Yeah, yeah, the last part."
"What, that I'd divorce you? I was kidding, Danno. Try and get rid of me." He hugged Danny close, nipping at his ear.
"To get divorced, you've gotta get married first."
"What's wrong? Don't you wanna marry me?"
"I didn't know there was an offer on the table."
"Say there was."
"Okay, then I'm offering."
"Great." Steve yawned widely, and pulling Danny tighter against him, seemed to go boneless and ready for sleep.
"Love you, babe."
"Love you, too, Danno." He paused. "Admit it, I had you going there for a while, with the whole vampire thing."
"Don't start with me. You tried to shoot me in my costume."
"Touche," Steve replied, laughing. "I think we redefined the meaning of 'trick or treat'."
"Maybe we'll just stay in and not wear anything next year," Danny replied, smiling, burrowing into Steve's arms.
"It's a date," Steve replied, squeezing him and kissing him one more time before they dozed off, wrapped around each other.