Chin glanced over at Steve for what felt like the zillionth time; someone had to make sure the other man wasn’t spilling out of his chair. Twisting in his seat, Chin peered out onto the beach, a smile twitching the corners of his lips.
Danny had adjusted and was sitting comfortably in the sand with Grace and Gabby, building sandcastles in the dark and chatting. None of them looked particularly inclined to be leaving, though Chin knew Grace had a bedtime and Danny was going to follow it strictly.
Chin also knew that Danny had been unofficially absolved of his Steve-sitting duties for the evening, which meant someone else was going to have to make sure Steve made it home ok.
Steve, who was listing almost dangerously to the right, seemed to be held up by the grace of God… and maybe the arm of the chair. He’d had a few when Danny was sitting with them, and had been loose, limber, goofy. After Danny had gotten up, Steve had gone from beer to shots, beckoning Kono to join him. She’d declined, eyes flicking over to Chin, asking for help. Chin had just shrugged; no one was going to stop Steve McGarrett once he’d set out to do a thing. The only person ever of a mind to try was Danny, and he was preoccupied.
So, Steve. Steve more than slightly inebriated, eyes glassy and a big, stupid smile plastered on his face as he gazed off towards the beach and Danny’s little family. Steve swaying slightly, hiccupping and giggling afterwards, grinning at his team before refocusing his attention on Danny.
“I dunno about you guys, but I’m ready to call it a night,” Kono piped up, stretching her back in the chair. Kamekona rumbled agreement, as did Max. She gave Chin a pointed look, one that said Steve was all his, and he sighed heavily; yup, Steve was his project for the night.
Standing, Chin raised his eyebrows at the team before announcing “I’m going to let Danny know what the situation is, keep an eye on our fearless leader,” before turning and making his way out onto the sand.
Grace was slumped in Danny’s lap, close to sleep, and his and Gabby’s voices were soft murmurs in the darkness. Hearing someone approach, Danny craned his neck back and squinted into the dimness before grinning. “Hey, my man, what’s up?”
“Nothing; we’re gonna head out… I’m going to try and wrestle Steve into the truck and take him home. You guys good?”
Danny glanced over at Gabby, who was grinning to herself, eyes on Grace, before turning his attention back to Chin. “I think we’re good; just, uh… y’know…”
“I’ll text you,” Chin said, shaking his head, smiling. “Catch you later.”
That done, Chin returned to the restaurant and found Max standing dutifully beside Steve’s chair, a look of determination on his face. Steve’s eyes had drifted closed, and there was a small smile on his lips; for all intents and purposes, he was asleep. Rolling his eyes, Chin clapped Max on the back and began the arduous task of wrestling Steve out of his chair.
It took about ten minutes, but eventually Steve was standing, most of his weight across Chin’s shoulders. He waved goodbye to just about everyone in the restaurant, words slurred and mushy in his mouth.
Another fifteen minutes, and Steve was propped up against the side of the truck, eyes half closed. “Chin…” he tried, eyes sliding closed before popping open.
“Yo,” Chin replied, fishing Steve’s keys out of his pocket.
“I love you guys, you know?”
Chin fought the urge to smile. “Yes, I’m pretty sure we established this earlier.”
“Danny looks really happy, huh?” Steve asked, allowing himself to be pushed and pulled into the cab of the truck, Chin hastily buckling him in so he wouldn’t tumble back out again. “I’m glad, he deserves to be happy.”
“He absolutely does; I can’t think of someone who deserves it more.”
Steve’s head rolled toward Chin, and his eyes were wet in the glow of the console. “D’you think he’ll marry her?”
Startled by the question, Chin paused, stopping at a red light and tapping his fingers against the steering wheel. “Hard to say,” he offered, glancing at Steve. “He’s been burned by marriage before. I think he likes being married, but he’s probably going to be a lot more cautious about it now, especially with Grace to think of.”
Leaning forward, almost to the point of touching, Steve asked “but d’you think he’ll marry her? Grace likes her, and… the team… you like her?”
“Dr Asano is very nice… seems like she’s Danny’s type, if nothing else. And she cares about him… brah, I just want him to have a break. Danny’s top of his class in the school of hard knocks, he deserves a break. Will Gabby be the one? I dunno. That’s their choice to make, not ours to speculate over.”
“Oh. Does Kono like her?”
Chin sighed; he had a feeling he knew where this was going. “Pretty sure, yeah. She seemed really excited about the prospect of hanging out with her tonight…” pausing, Chin threw another look towards Steve, before taking a breath. “What about you, Boss? What do you think of her?”
Steve seemed unprepared for the question, startling slightly. He stared at Chin, wide eyed, but didn’t reply. That was fine, they were just pulling in to the driveway as it was. Coming around to Steve’s side of the truck, Chin went to help him out but found his hands pushed away; it seemed the lovey, handsy phase of Steve’s drunkenness was over.
“I can get it from here,” Steve murmured, swaying on his feet the whole way to the door. “You don’t have to stay.”
“Actually, I’m pretty sure Danny would kill me if I didn’t, and I’d very much like to see my wife again, if you don’t mind. You’re stuck with me for the night, brah, get over it.”
Letting them in, Chin fumbled for his phone to double-check the alarm code, punching it in and locking up. He’d dropped off a bag of clothes earlier when he’d parked his bike at Steve’s, not sure if he’d need to spend the night or not; he was glad that he’d thought ahead.
“Let’s get some water in you,” he called, fetching a water bottle from the kitchen and then escorting Steve up the stairs. Every step Steve took was measured, clearly the movements of a man who was very drunk but trying hard to act like he wasn’t.
Once in Steve’s bedroom, Chin left the water on the nightstand and kept a wary eye on Steve as the other man clumsily undressed and got into bed. Satisfied that Steve would stay put, Chin made his way to the guest room, getting ready for bed himself. He sent a text to Malia first, then settled in to let Danny know they’d gotten back without any issues.
‘good; thanks for 2nite’ Danny replied. Chin smiled; goofy thumbs.
‘you’re welcome. Have a good one!’ was the reply, and then Chin was rolling over, getting comfortable, and trying to find sleep.
Coming awake suddenly, Chin found himself momentarily disoriented, blinking at his surroundings before remembering that he was spending the night at Steve’s. Sitting up, he listened for what might’ve woken him, and heard noise from below. It sounded like the kitchen, but he couldn’t be sure. Frowning, he padded down the hall towards Steve’s room, poking his head in and finding the bed empty. Downstairs, then.
Steve was in the kitchen, the fridge wide open and the cabinets, as well. Blinking against the harsh light, Chin gingerly made his way into the room, careful to avoid stepping in what looked like pancake batter smeared on the floor.
“Boss? Are you ok?” he called, slightly surprised that Steve hadn’t heard him come in. Turning, Steve blinked at him before lowering his eyes and going back to mixing the contents of a bowl.
“Sorry I woke you.”
“Nah, it’s ok… what’re you doing in here? It’s barely two in the morning.”
“Pancakes,” Steve replied simply, showing Chin the contents of the bowl. Nodding, Chin glanced around the room and noted that most of what was on the counter made up pancake batter.
“Pancakes… at two in the morning? Are you still drunk?”
Steve whipped around, a tight little frown on his face. “No, I am not still drunk! Can’t a man have p-pancakes in his kitchen at—whatever time it is?”
Observing all of this quietly, Chin didn’t miss the way Steve stuttered or the clumsiness of his movements. He sat at the table, feeling that he should at least watch to make sure Steve didn’t narrowly avoid burning the house down for the second time in two days.
Batter was slopped onto a griddle, and Steve stabbed at the blobs almost angrily, still listing to the right a bit. After a few minutes, the spatula Steve had been using was thrown down onto the range and Steve himself managed to drunkenly storm outside. Chin hopped up, turned off the burners, and followed him, worried now that Steve might try to get in the water.
If Steve wanted to swim, he’d swim, but drunk like that? Not a good idea, not a good idea at all, and while Chin knew he was a decent swimmer himself, no way would he be able to keep up with Steve.
“I just want him to be happy!” Steve was shouting. “That’s all! Why does that make me such a bad guy?”
“Uh… you… Boss, it doesn’t. We talked about this, we all want Danny to be happy.”
Steve stomped himself around in a circle, sand kicked up and catching in the cuffs of his pajama pants. Eventually he got dizzy and flopped down on the sand on his ass, wrapping his arms around his knees.
“What if she hurts him, Chin? What if she hurts him like Rachel did.”
Kneeling down next to the other man, Chin carefully eased an arm around Steve’s shoulders. “You’re speculating on something that has infinite possibilities, Steve. We don’t know what’s gonna be until it happens. It took the guy three months to formally introduce his girlfriend to his daughter; he’s playing it safe, he’s playing it careful. You’re not giving either of them enough credit.”
Sniffling, Steve used his hand to wipe at his nose. “Huh?”
“Danny’s been around the block before, ok, he’s wary. But he really, really likes Gabby so he’s making an effort to put himself out there. That takes a lot, and it shows because he did finally make the move to have her meet Grace. And Gabby, well… I’m willing to bet she knows Danny’s story. Maybe not all of it, but enough to understand where he’s coming from.”
Tears eased their way out of Steve’s eyes, trailing down his cheeks. “I just love him so much. It hurts me to think he’d be hurt again.”
Something pinched in Chin’s chest, making him close his eyes and take a minute before easing himself into a sitting position beside Steve and tightening his hold. Steve slumped heavier against him, reeking of alcohol.
“Listen to me, Steve: Danny’s a big boy, he knows what he’s doing. If he senses trouble, he’ll ease off. They’re going at a pace that works for them; if it gets more serious, great. If not, well, that’s up to them, like I said. All you need to do is keep being there for him. You’re a good friend to him, brah, the best, and he knows that. He knows he can go to you if he has to. But you have to let him.”
Nodding against his shoulder, Steve wiped at his eyes. “He loves me too.”
“I know, your bromance is the stuff of myth and legend.”
Steve glanced over at that, took in Chin’s dead-pan expression and the dry tone of his voice before giggling.
“Yeah, we’re pretty epic.”
“That’s a good word for it.”
Silence, then “d’you wanna go inside now? I think… I might… my stomach…”
Sighing, Chin got to his feet and pulled Steve with him. “How’s that rhyme go? ‘Liquor before beer, in the clear, but beer before liquor, never sicker’?”
At the mention of alcohol, Steve got noticeably greener, prompting Chin to hurry their pace into the house and steering Steve toward the downstairs bathroom. He’d get to work on cleaning up the pancake batter in the kitchen; he drew the line at puke.