Two weeks before his second Christmas on this god-forsaken island, Danny decides his place is definitely too small for Grace's Christmas. The apartment just frightens anyone not armed, and his baby girl deserves the best... so he ends up buying a huge box of malasadas on his way into the office, leaves them on Steve's desk, and waits for his partner to arrive.
Twenty minutes later, Steve walks by and waves on his way into his office. Less than a minute later Steve is standing in front of Danny with the bag of doughnuts in one hand, dangling as if it's a ticking bomb.
"Hmm?" Danny fixes his face in a casual look, and then gives Steve his cheesiest smile. "Oh, that! I just thought, y'know, you deserve-"
"And I need to borrow your place for Christmas."
"Thought I saw a string attached." Steve drops the bag on top of the report Danny had been filling out and crosses his arms over his chest. "Why exactly do you need my house?"
"Because I need somewhere that isn't the size of a postage stamp and Chin's a newlywed."
Steve tilts his head to the side, studying Danny's face with narrowed eyes, and Danny tries not to squirm under his gaze. Really, he kinda now gets why Steve was so successful in his SEAL days; that look would petrify a weaker mortal. Good thing Danny knows he's on Steve's side.
"Can I be there, or do you need me to be out for a few hours?"
"Dude, I'm not kicking you out of your own place on Christmas Day! Besides..." Danny grumbles, "Grace likes you."
That makes Steve grin suddenly. "Don't worry, Danno, at least you know she has excellent taste in men for the future."
"One, she's not allowed to date until she's forty. Two, shut up." Danny sighs and pokes the bag. "So can we?"
"Of course. I'll get out our Christmas stuff and get it up today-" Steve opens the bag and selects a malasada then takes a huge bite, adding around the flaky pastry, "And you're helping. See you at six."
Apparently Steve's mom hoarded all the ornaments her kids ever made. Or had a secret Christmas decoration fetish that Danny is not touching with a fifty foot pole.
"Yeah," Steve scratches the back of his head as he stares at the boxes they are currently hip-deep in. "I didn't realize we had so much stuff."
Danny absently nudges the nearest box with his foot and jumps when it jangles loudly. "What the-"
"Oh yeah, Mary thought we should put bells across the fireplace when she was little, so she could sneak down and catch Santa. When she didn't hear any bells she started crying and didn't stop until Dad brought us downstairs and-" Steve shakes his head, grinning a little at the memory. "Her face. It was awesome."
"Think I can talk Grace into-"
"No." Steve glances over at him with a raised eyebrow. "Grace is way too smart for that."
"Right." Danny leans down and hefts a box, grunting. "Jeez, did you decorate your tree with bowling balls?"
"You're supposed to wrap tinsel around the tree, not me!"
"I said I was sorry!" Steve grimaces as he tugs at the damnable sparkly material, only tightening it across Danny's back and almost sending him headfirst into the tree Steve has bought (and refused to let Danny pay even half of it). "Besides, it's not supposed to get stuck-"
"Don't tell me what it's supposed to do and just get me out!" It itches like a bitch.
"Did you forget to take your Midol this morning?"
"Shut up!" He can feel Steve's snickering and grumbles, "I saw that."
"I think that silver compliments your skin tones very well, Danny-"
"Oh my God, please, I will pay you to shut up."
Steve contemplates this for a moment. "Nah, this is too much fun."
"Steve-" Suddenly Steve jerks something, and Danny finds himself flying backward (good because he's free of the stupid itchy tinsel, bad because great now a back injury). He closes his eyes, waiting for the inevitable pain and screaming at Steve-
And opens his eyes when he feels warm and secure, Steve's face inches from his.
"You okay?" Steve's amusement is gone and he's breathing hard, which actually is kind of insulting because even if Danny's a pretty fit guy he's not that heavy. Then he sees the concern in Steve's features.
"Yeah, I'm good-" He swallows, because Steve smells... good. Like, really good.
And his eyes look really, really blue this close up...
"Good." And Steve drops him the final six inches between him and the floor, smiling but quickly excusing himself to go retrieve a vital box from the entry way while Danny is staring at the ceiling feeling very confused. And very uncomfortable in his suddenly too-tight jeans.
It takes a grand total of five hours to completely transform
casa de Mc
Garrett into Santa's Wonderland, as Steve calls it (Danny thinks that's overly generous). At the end Danny convinces Steve to let him order a pizza and Steve eats half of it while Danny sips on a beer. The usual comfortable air between them has been weird ever since the Christmas Tree Incident (TM by Danny) but Steve claps Danny on the back on his way out, and informs Danny that Grace is more than welcome to come over the next day to see the house, and possibly get a surprise.
The surprise worries Danny more than the Christmas Tree Incident.
"Gingerbread houses?" Danny stares at the kitchen surface, covered with ingredients, and then at the cookbook open wide next to the oven, then at Steve who is wearing an apron. It says "Real Men Wear Aprons" across the chest but still, an apron.
Danny wonders if he can get a snapshot of it and make it the default wallpaper for all the desktops at the station.
"Please, Daddy?" Grace tugs at his hand with excitement, and Steve's grin is as wide as hers. "Please?"
"Yeah, c'mon, Danno, you can't deny the kid one of the basic Christmas traditions," Steve adds.
"Not helping," Danny grumbles. He sighs, pinches the bridge of his nose, and asks, "Do you know how to bake, Steve?"
"Sure, I grill loads of times." Steve shrugs a shoulder. "How different can it be?"
"All right, but she's," and Danny points at a bouncing Grace, who might dislocate his shoulder from her movements, "in charge. And I'm supervising."
Famous last words, Danny is thinking twenty minutes later when they are all caked in flour from head to toe, the cookbook has a large smear of frosting and melted jelly beans across it to the point of illegibility, and a bright blaze is coming from the oven along with the smell of burnt plastic.
Grace hides on the other side of the island while Danny fishes out his phone (thankfully not covered in flour) and Steve pulls out a fire extinguisher from a cabinet. Danny contacts the non-emergency number for the fire department as Steve finishes off the flames.
"What did we learn from this?" Danny asks as he hangs up.
"Uncle Steve is never allowed near an oven," Grace pipes up. Steve glares at her, mouthing 'traitor.'
"Jelly Beans and Root Beer should never be added to gingerbread mix."
Danny grabs both of them by the collar and frog-marches them to the guest room shower.
Danny never really liked men in... that way. His interests run toward the ladies and always have, but now there's Steve. Steve happens to be his partner, his best friend, and Danny has a sneaky suspicion from the way his breath caught from Steve rescuing him with the tree and his forcing himself across the house when Steve showered off the flour that he feels more than that.
He confides as much to Kono after a few shots of Jack Daniels, a week before Christmas.
She promptly starts laughing so hard she has to cling to the bar to keep from falling off her barstool. Danny wonders why he even bothers being friends with these people.
When she catches her breath, however, she stuns him stupid by asking what took him so long.
"Ties are good," Danny pauses at a display in the one department store on the island and starts to reach for a green one that would look hot on Steve, but Kono slaps his hand away.
"Steve'll never wear it and he'll only see it as a diss on his professional wardrobe. You want something that'll mean more..." She drags him past the clothing and shoes and straight to jewelry, silencing his protests with a sharp look. "You want something that he'll use all the time but that is nice enough he wants to take good care of it, something that'll make him think of you every time he sees it..."
"Should we have matching necklaces that say 'best' and 'friend?'" From the way Kono elbows him Danny wonders if she ever had one of those.
Kono leads him to the watches and forces him to examine each one with excruciating detail.
After a thorough study he finally stands back. "Steve has his dad's watch." Kono frowns when he glances over at cologne. "Is it too-"
"Feminine? Yes. You are not buying him cologne."
They walk over to the shoes (only because Kono wants to try on a pair of heels she spotted earlier) and then head to the hardware area. Kono voices her opinion that tools are too impersonal, but Danny then spots the perfect thing. She actually agrees with him and even offers to hide it at her house.
As they walk out Danny glances at his watch and realizes it took three hours.
"I hate shopping," he informs her dryly.
"What did you get Grace?" she asks instead of retorting. He freezes and swears before turning sharply and running back toward the toy department.
Kono's laughter floats after him. "Run, brah, run!"
"Suspect at the Four Seasons, patrol car just spotted him." Kono hangs up the phone and shouts, "Boss!" to get Steve's attention.
Steve is pulling out his gun as he starts, "Okay, Lori, Kono and Danny with me, Chin is still in the lab-"
His voice trails off and Danny looks over to see what is the matter.
"Okay, who put mistletoe above my door?" Steve glares from the doorway to his office, and Lori and Kono quickly disappear as Danny steps closer to investigate. He leaves a wide berth in case it constitutes as too much of a come-on.
"It's just mistletoe, McGarrett. You can always ignore it."
"No I can't." Steve glances to the main office where two heads (blond and dark) duck out of sight. He scowls. "I'll never hear the end of it."
"So stupid..." Danny rolls his eyes but asks, "Want me to get it down?"
"Yeah..." Steve squints up at it, and groans. "It looks wired into the door jam though."
"Great." Danny steps closer, daring, and Steve's eyes immediately dart to him but Danny forces himself to look up at the offending greenery rather than hold his gaze.
"Well, you're not tall enough-"
"Do not make a crack about my height or I'll get Max to come in here and cross your threshold." A lightbulb goes off in his head at the idea. "There's a ladder in Max's office-"
"No, that'll take too long. Besides, we don't have anything here to get it down."
"I can get one of the girls to step in-"
"They won't do that." Steve is staring at him a little too intently. It makes Danny uncomfortable.
"Then we're at an impasse. Get over the damn tradition and get out."
Steve sighs and adds, "Sorry."
Steve quickly smacks his lips against Danny's cheek and flees from his office, heading toward the door as he adds over his shoulder, "Lori said to check out the Four Seasons, right?"
"R... right." The skin on Danny's face feels like it's burning and he swallows hard.
The Governor's invitation for the gala arrives the same day as Max's email invite. Kono holds the embossed card up to the computer screen then examines the .gif Christmas Tree bouncing along the screen as she says, "Everyone, we have a dilemma."
"On one hand," Lori continues gravely, "we have a five course dinner by a world renowned chef and an open mini bar..."
"And on the other we have a happy Max with the possibility of avoiding an evening in formal wear."
They all fell into silence as they contemplated the two invites.
"There's no way we can talk Max out of-"
Danny's voice trails off at Lori and Kono's two glares. He winces, remembering only too well being on the opposite side of Max's hurt from the movie night. And missing out on an evening with Lori dressed as Sandy.
Steve's expression indicates he is thinking the same thing.
"Oh hell," Steve finally sighs and reaches for the Governor's invite as he fishes out his phone. He steps away and they all listen to, "Governor, this is Commander McGarrett... I'm sorry but we're not going to be able to make it to the dinner. We have previous plans."
"No way, brah." Chin struggles against both Steve and Kono's grip as they drag him out of the office toward the front of the building. Danny watches with amusement from the front, holding the door open helpfully. Chin does not appreciate it.
"C'mon, it means a lot to Max," Steve is conjoling him, and Danny pauses in his amusement to admire how strong Steve's biceps look.
"It is stupid and I don't want to-"
"Do it or I'll tell them about that one time after my semi-finals when we went out drinking with your friends." Chin freezes at Kono's words. "What was his name?"
"You win." Chin grumbles and shakes off their arms, storming past Danny, and Steve grins while actually winking at Danny as he passes him. Kono catches the look on Danny's face then snorts.
"Seriously, just marry him. You know he wants it."
"He does not. Shut up." She gets this look on her face and Danny groans, "Stop picturing the wedding night."
"But it's so tempting!" And now Danny has the visual in his head and has to force the scarf Max hands him to drape in the right place. Kono snickers under the huge elf hat Max drops on her head.
They drive to a residential neighborhood that has been pre-approved by all of them (far enough away from anyone that knows them yet safe enough to not warrant potential work). Max pulls up the huge van he has rented to the end of a block and starts handing out thin laminated books.
"So we all have the same versions of the songs that Lori and Kono have so graciously chosen for us and in case of inclement weather." They all look up at the clear blue sky and then at their short sleeves and shorts due to the supposedly evil weather. "I maintain a tenor range; Lori shall take the alto and Kono the sopra-"
"Max, we're just caroling, not opening for the Met." Steve wraps his own scarf around his neck and clears his throat. "Okay, first house?"
They walk, Steve accidentally smushed against Danny on the narrow sidewalk, and Max leads,
"We wish you a merry Christmas, We wish you a merry Christmas..."
At the tenth house the owners actually give them wassail, which Danny only knew about vaguely from that one carol. It tastes pretty awesome, and the owners are actually members of the city counsel and let them have two refills each.
By the twelfth house they are all smashed and cheerfully roaring out "Rudolph."
Danny drapes against Steve while informing him, solemnly, "I like wasssssail." It's a really hard word to say, for something that is very tasty.
"Really now?" Steve actually is smiling, an arm around Danny's waist after he almost falls head-first into the sidewalk. It is very nice of him to take care of Danny this well, and Danny informs him of this. Steve's mouth quirks even more. "Something tells me you're going to hate me tomorrow."
"Never hate you, Steve, I looo..." Danny looks at the car they are approaching and squints. "Hey, thass our car."
"Yup." Steve's voice sounds strangled.
"You 'kay?" Danny asks, sincerely concerned. It's not that cold out but who knows what monstrosities of illness could lurk in this godforsaken weather? The air feels humid enough to carry germs. And maybe Steve got a sick part of the wassail
. That last part doesn't make as much sense in his head when he rethinks it.
"I'm fine." Steve helps him in the car, a hand cupping the top of Danny's head. "Careful, don't hurt yourself..."
"'m not..." And that's the last Danny remembers of the very last time he is ever going caroling.
Steve texts Danny on Christmas Eve, wanting to get his final approval on the house before Grace shows up tomorrow. Danny's thumb hesitates over the "N" button to start a message indicating his inability to come over (due to mortification over his behavior and his boycott on wassail, a clearly evil beverage) but then his phone beeps again:
Need to give you your Christmas present too.
Well, he can hardly say no to a present. And he wants to give Steve his present alone, not in front of Grace.
He sighs and texts back,
When do you want me to come over?
Steve immediately texts back,
Twenty minutes later Danny pulls up in front of Steve's house; it took twice the amount of time it usually would due to stopping by Kono's to pick up the gift. He cradles it under his arm carefully as he makes his way up the driveway to the front door. Before he can knock, Steve opens the door with a huge smile on his face.
"A Santa hat, seriously?"
"What?" Steve looks up then at Danny with those eyes that resemble a puppy dog's. Danny sighs and lets Steve guide him inside, where the lights are off except for the sparkling multicolored vines Steve used to line his hallways leading to the Christmas tree.
"The package for Grace?" Steve asks, making conversation on their way into the living room.
"Actually..." Danny's neck heats up. "Um, it's actually for you."
Steve stops and turns around to face Steve, his eyes widening slightly. "You got me something?"
"You got me something too!" Danny protests.
"Uh..." Steve smiles sheepishly and halts them in front of the tree. "Yeah, but mine's kind of-"
"Don't worry about it, here." Danny awkwardly thrusts the package into Steve's hands, watching Steve grunt at the unexpected weight. "Just... I thought... just open it, okay?"
His partner raises an eyebrow but carefully shreds the paper off, peeling back the wrapping and then the tissue. Danny wonders if Steve always is this meticulous about removing layers and immediately halts that train of thought. It seems perverted to get a hard-on in front of a Christmas tree.
And then Steve lets out this sound as he reveals the item, then looks up sharply at Danny.
"It's a toolbox." Danny shifts with discomfort. "I know you have your dad's, but it's technically evidence so I know you can't use that, and you're kind of a hands-on guy and need all your shit together in case you try to do something stupid and heroic, and-" he cuts himself off and examines his shoes, his ears burning. It feels so stupid now.
"You got my name engraved on it."
"Yeah, well..." He hears the soft thud of the box being put down. The box resembles Steve's dad's toolbox, except it's camo-colored and with the steel mini-plate on the front. He looks up to see the look on Steve's face and it catches his breath.
Steve bends down to get a box from under the tree, never tearing his gaze from Danny's, and hands him a small box, maybe about the size of his hand. "This isn't as great... but I think you'll like it."
Danny takes the box and swallows, his mouth dry, but forces himself to look down and tear off the wrapping quickly. Steve's eyes weigh on him as he opens the box, and he frowns at the empty contents. "Steve?"
He looks up, and suddenly Steve's mouth is on his.
The box drops out of his limp hands as his lips part under Steve's, his eyes shutting. Steve's tongue demands entrance but is gentle, caressing, sending pure liquid heat straight into Danny's belly. He places his hands on Steve's waist, thumbs finding the loop to his jean's belt line, and his tongue slowly plays with Steve's.
Steve pulls him closer, firmly, as an arm wraps around Danny's waist, and Danny tilts his head to the left and suddenly they're on the floor with their hands clutching at the other's body, hips aligned and grinding, and Danny groans as Steve bites his lower lip.
"Christ," Danny mutters when Steve lifts up to let him catch his breath.
"Nah, just Steve." Steve grins and leans down to continue.
The lights blink around them and Danny realizes he is totally okay with doing anything in front of the Christmas tree, as long as Steve's hand doesn't move from there.
Grace is dropped off at nine o'clock, and doesn't comment on the fact that Danny is wearing one of Steve's old shirts. Nor does she mention that Uncle Steve seems to be walking a tad funny.
She does, however, lean over when Steve is opening a set of books she bought him (all military histories) and whisper to Danny, "Thanks, Danno."
"For what?" he asks quietly.
"For giving me a new daddy for Christmas."
He almost swallows his tongue at that and opens his mouth to speak, but then Steve is smiling widely and thanking Grace, who hurries over to jump in his lap and hug him with her own wide grin, and Danny realizes that he's vastly outnumbered. And he is okay with this.