The club's mostly empty, it's still early evening and there aren't many people about yet. There's no sign of Steve, but Chin's behind the bar drying glasses. He looks up and smiles as Danny approaches and damnit, the man should smile more often, Danny thinks.
"Hey Danny," Chin says as Danny hitches himself up onto a barstool. "How’s it, brah?"
"S'good," Danny answers, but of course it's not. "Chin, is Steve here?"
Chin just looks at him, smile dying and it makes Danny shift uncomfortably in his seat.
"Steve's not been here for weeks, Danny, not since the two of you hooked up. You know that."
"Yeah, well, I just thought..."
"Is something wrong?"
Danny runs his hand across his face. There's no point in lying to Chin, no point in pretending everything's OK. Chin's spent too many nights behind the bar listening to clients pouring out their woes; Danny's got no doubt that Chin can see right through him.
"We had a fight."
Chin's just looking at him and damn the man for his inscrutability. And his silence.
Danny sighs. "We had a fight this morning. About money. I know he's not been working, and... well, I offered to help him out, to give him something towards his rent or whatever."
"Ah. I see. And how did that go?"
"How do you think it went, Chin? He, uh, 'declined my kind offer' and then he left. And now he's not answering his cell and I don't know where he is and I'm worried."
Declined his kind offer. That's one way of putting it. It's going to be a long time before Danny forgets Steve's particular choice of words and even longer before the memory of Steve's face closing down and shutting him out leaves him. The harsh click of the door as Steve closed it coldly and firmly behind him sounded like a gunshot in Danny's head.
Chin's speaking again, and Danny shakes himself from his miserable memories.
"Steve's not used to someone having his back any more, brah, it's been a long time for him. And he's got his pride. Just give him a chance to cool off and he'll come around."
"You think so?" There's no point in hiding anything from Chin, even if it does make him sound desperate. "I don't care what he does, Chin. I don't even care if he wants to go on doing... this, if that's what he has to do for the sake of his stupid fucking pride. I just want him."
The look Chin gives him is part benevolent pity and part... well, Danny's not sure exactly, but it makes him feel about six years old again.
"Danny, I'll tell you what I told him: you don't belong here, and neither does he." His expression softens and he reaches forward and puts his hand on Danny's arm. "You can't keep tiptoeing around his issues forever, Danny. You've got needs, too, he has to realize that or this isn't going to work between you. Now go home. If he turns up here I'll call you."
There's clearly no point whatsoever in arguing with Chin, so Danny goes.
He debates going to Steve's place, but he swung by there earlier and it was deserted and maybe Steve finding him there when he hasn't been invited might not be the best thing right now, so he goes home. He goes back to his messy, lonely, shitty little rathole of an apartment and spends a pointless couple of hours tidying things and trying to watch some crappy movie on his old TV. It sucks without Steve, and when did that happen?
Just after ten he hears a key in the lock of the door and Steve slides in.
He appears to be in one piece, there's no obvious damage and he's still wearing his cargoes and t-shirt, which makes Danny's heart unclench because that's not what Steve wears when he's out looking for business. He's also stone-faced and he's got his jaw set, so he's clearly not penitent, but he's here and that says a lot. Danny'll take it.
"Hey, babe," he says, getting to his feet and trying to look as though this is no big deal. "Where've you been? I was worried."
Steve's face is giving nothing away. "I'm not a child, Danny. I can take care of myself."
So that's how it's going to be. That's OK, Danny can do this, he's no stranger to difficult confrontations. Ask Rachel. "I know that," he says. "Look, about this morning… I'm sorry if I was out of line. It's just… I want to help, OK?"
Steve's expression is still as cold as ice. "I don't need your help. I was doing just fine before you came along."
There—that's a big fat lie and they both know it and it takes Danny's breath away that Steve's even got the balls to say it. But he's here, he's not running and that has to mean something. Hell, that means a lot.
Danny opens his mouth to say that it's OK, that he's sorry, again, but then Chin's words go through his head, "You can't keep tiptoeing round his issues forever, Danny. You've got needs, too…".
The thought brings a stark moment of realization and he feels anger bubble up inside him, sudden and hot. Before he can stop himself he blurts out "Really? Because it didn't look so much like it to me."
Steve looks like he's been struck, the cold expression on his face morphing into something altogether more frightening, all pinched lips and flared nostrils. He jerks his head up defiantly and spits out "It's none of your business, Danny. You're not paying for it anymore, you don't get to tell me what to do!"
That's it, fucking Steve, how dare he?
"Maybe this isn't about you! Maybe this is about what I need! Maybe I need to help you. Is that so hard to understand? That maybe I want to help you because that's what friends do, that's what partners do, they help one another out? That maybe I don't want you to have to go back to fucking strangers for money because I care about what's best for you and not just because I want to fuck you? Huh? Is that so hard for your Neanderthal brain to understand? Did they not teach you about partners and backup in the fucking Navy?"
It's a low blow and he knows it. He sees it hit Steve like bullet to the gut. Fuck, he's gone too far, Steve's going to turn round and leave again and that will be it.
For a long, long moment Steve just glares at him and if looks could kill Danny's sure he'd be a dead man. He steels himself for the sound of the door closing again, for the pain he's going to feel when Steve walks out...
Then in the blink of an eye it all changes. Steve's shoulders slump, his chin drops; the fight goes out of him just like that. He ducks his head, looking sideways and avoiding meeting Danny's eyes and he mumbles, he fucking mumbles into his boots.
"I went to the Navy offices, OK?"
Steve's head comes up and now he does look at Danny, with a mix of challenge and vulnerability that takes Danny's breath away.
"I went to see someone about my disability retirement pay."
Ah. It's a big thing, and Danny knows it. He knows how proud Steve is, how important it's been to him to take care of himself, to not rely on anyone or anything. He knows what Steve's laid on the line to do this. What a big step forward this is for Steve.
He takes a deep breath, wills the tension to drop out of his body. "What did they say?"
Steve looks at the floor and then looks at Danny again, and this time his expression is... scared. "They think I'm entitled, but I've got to undergo another psych eval before they'll give me any money."
Another psych eval means that Steve will have to talk about what happened in Afghanistan. He'll have to tell a stranger about the dreams, about how he hears Cassidy screaming, about exactly what happened to his team. He'll have to tell a stranger all about Cassidy and Jones and Hathaway and Lee. Even Danny only knows who they are because sometimes Steve wakes sweating and shaking with their names on his lips.
Danny suspects that Steve would rather be flayed alive and dipped in salt than talk to a stranger about what happened to him and his team. He's fought so hard and so long to lock the memories away and to protect himself from what happens if he thinks about it. The psych eval and all it involves is too much to ask, and Danny knows it.
He risks a few steps forward, getting close enough to Steve to touch him, he's itching to touch him, but he keeps his hands off.
"Hey," he says softly, "It's OK, babe, you don't have to do this. We'll find another way."
Steve's still looking at him, he's still pale and he still looks like the world's ending, but then he takes a deep breath, lifts his chin and pulls his shoulders back.
"No," he says, and his voice is shaky but determined. "I've been thinking about it all evening. Cassidy and the others, they wouldn't have wanted... I think I've got a chance, Danny and it's possibly my last chance, and I'd be a fool... so I'll talk to the shrink."
Damnit, Danny's not going to cry, he's really not, he's a grown man and a fucking police officer, for Christ's sake. He doesn't wail like a baby because his boyfriend's just proved he's got more balls than the entire Honolulu Police Department put together. So he pulls Steve into a hug, swallows down the sudden lump in his throat and buries his face in Steve's shoulder for a long moment until he can trust his voice to obey him.
"Alright then," he says, pulling back and going for a grin. "Just remember, babe, you're not doing this alone. Partners, OK? I've got your back, all the way."
Steve opens his mouth to say something and maybe he's going to argue or maybe he's going to say something sappy, Danny doesn't know, but he's putting a stop to all this emotional stuff right now before anyone embarrasses themselves. So he pulls Steve down for a kiss, throws all he's got into it and is gratified to feel Steve respond in kind.
"C'mon, babe," he says, making his grin as dirty as he knows how and tugging Steve's shirt up so that he can get his hands on skin. "D'you know what the best thing is about having a fight?"
Steve shakes his head, so Danny hooks his leg around Steve's and tumbles him down onto the pullout, stretching himself out over Steve's long, lean body.
"I don't know, Danny," Steve says and he's grinning now, too, his hands sliding down to cup Danny's ass and really, Danny loves how fucking huge Steve's hands are. "What is the best thing about having a fight?"
Danny lifts up to get a good look at him, to drink in the sight of him and knows that he's completely lost and that it's all there in his face for Steve to see. "The best thing about having a fight, babe," he says, "is the make-up sex afterwards..."