Danny would cheerfully admit he'd be the first one to say Steve McGarrett was insane. First, last, and several in the middle, saying just exactly how insane McGarrett was. But this -- this was just weird.
He hoped his partner's recent behavior didn't mean Steve was having an actual psychotic break. Danny felt he had a handle on the regular, run-of-the-mill McGarrett insanity and he wasn't looking forward to learning a whole new set of triggers and responses if Steve had developed a brand-new form of psychosis.
He poked his head into Steve's office and watched for a moment as Steve sat at his desk, pretending to be working instead of staring at the wall like it was communing with him telepathically. Danny rapped lightly on the doorway, not so much as to announce his presence (which he knew perfectly well Steve had been tracking his movements for the last... well, two and half months. Possibly plus one week, right to the day they'd first slugged each other. But the knock was just meant to give Steve a chance to gather his thoughts and finish shoving down his paranoid delusions that Martians were landing, or whatever it was he'd been staring at the walls about lately.
McGarrett looked up, face clearing quickly from distraction to a sudden, laser-like focus. "What's up, Danno?"
"Would it kill you to not call me that?" Danny complained, despite the fact he'd had a fake errand all prepared so he could poke his nose into Steve's cave and see if he was ready to spill the beans about his current bout of crazy. Danny glared at the way Steve just grinned at him, as though pissing Danny off was the only reason he did it. Danny pointed at him, a very practised and effective stern, father-finger. It made Grace quail -- well, sometimes. Mostly it made her giggle. But she was well-behaved, was his point, and Steve could do with learning a thing or two from her.
Except for the part Danny wasn't about to let Steve near his little girl, for fear what Steve would be teaching her.
"Have you read over the Martino file?" Danny asked, remembering his fake errand.
Steve blinked, and Danny could practically see the gears whirring in his skull. "Martino, no, I... We aren't supposed to be in court for that until next week, right?" Steve glanced away at his desktop; Danny could see him checking his calendar.
"Yeah, I just wanted to see if you needed to, you know, go over stuff and make sure we're on the same page. I know you're not used to being dragged into court after you shoot the bad guys so I thought you might want a little help with your prep."
"Oh." Again with the confused blink, and Steve's laser-focus on Danny was slipping. Danny frowned as Steve shook his head. "I think I'm good."
He didn't sound good; in fact, he sounded distracted. Focused on him, sure, but like his eyes were working fine but his brain was just spinning lazily. Danny resisted the urge to wave a hand on front of him to see if he could catch the attention of Steve's brain.
A small bell was going off in Danny's own brain, the one which warned him when Grace was coming down with something or Rachel was about to demand dinner out with wine and roses and Grace staying with her grandparents for the night. Danny leaned against the doorframe and asked quietly, "You okay?"
Steve looked startled -- then a flash of guilt crossed his face before he smiled, easy and expression clear. "Sure. We can talk over the Martino case if you want to, but I'm fine. Lawyers love me," he added, and Danny could see how he was forcing the easy-going charm.
He nodded, however, because he could hear Kono and Chin coming into the office, which meant now was neither the time nor the place. He resolved to keep an eye on McGarrett the rest of the day and tonight would be soon enough to make McGarrett talk. Danny didn't worry too much about it as he went back to his own office. A case of the flu creeping in could be mistaken for psychosis, especially when one was dealing with someone like Steve McGarrett.
He had a feeling Steve wasn't the type to admit he was sick, even if he was dying. But that was all right, Danny knew how to buy cold meds and hide them in people's drinks. He could even buy strawberry Kool-aid and see how hard it would be to argue Steve into drinking it.
When the work day was finally over, Danny easily trailed Steve back to his place. His partner didn't even seem to notice when he failed to head back to his own apartment; Danny knew it was probably a sign that he'd maybe spent one too many evenings sitting on the lanai having a beer to unwind after work.
He grabbed a couple of bottles from Steve's fridge and headed out there now, not surprised to find Steve already sitting on a chair, staring out at the ocean. Danny handed over a beer and sat, looking at Steve. The other man's face was closed off, not unusually so -- Danny had seen him in this mood before, when he'd been fighting whatever demons had crawled into his head and taken up residence. But Danny was getting a feel for when it was okay to push and when it was better to back away, so he only waited a few moments before asking, "So, what's up?"
There was a long moment when it seemed like Steve wasn't even going to acknowledge the question. Then he glanced over, clearly trying to put on his game face. "What makes you think something's up?"
Sometimes Steve's need to deflect made Danny just poke harder. But this -- Steve seemed almost...Danny wasn't sure. Not upset, not freaking out -- not more than usual when McGarrett had to face the things normal people liked to call 'feelings.' But there was something different about it this time.
With a start, Danny realised that whatever was happening, Steve was scared. Scared, and trying hard not to show it. Danny set his beer down, but didn't move towards Steve, not pressing into the other man's personal space and spooking him. "Come on, you can talk to me," Danny said, keeping his tone calm.
"Nothing to talk about," Steve replied with a sharp shake of the head. He kept staring out at the water, drinking his beer. Danny could see the way his shoulders tensed, like he was ready to jump to his feet and flee. No doubt towards the ocean, Danny thought sourly, where he wouldn't be all that likely to try to follow. Hard to talk in the water anyhow, which might just make it all the more enticing to McGarrett.
Danny sighed. It wasn't like he thought this would be easy. "You know if something was bothering you, you could tell me about it." He tried to sound casual, not pushing too much, but not letting up, either.
Steve shot him a quick, dirty look. "I said nothing's wrong." He took a long drink of his beer, not breaking eye contact with Danny, not backing down from his blatant lie.
Danny waved a hand. "Buddy, there are a million things wrong with you, up to and including the way you keep a survival knife in the silverware drawer. I could make a list," he offered, smiling a little and glad to see McGarrett roll his eyes at the accusation. It was familiar ground, at least, giving Steve a chance to relax a little. Then Danny leaned forward, reached out to put his hand on Steve's arm. "But there is something wrong. And you know it. If you don't want to tell me--"
"I'm not talking to a fucking therapist," Steve suddenly spat out, tone nearly venomous. Danny jerked back in surprise, but quickly scooted forward, close enough to grab him again, but not doing so just yet.
Whatever was wrong, Danny realised, it was seriously wrong. Steve's eyes were wide, strained, and Danny could see the way the tip of his beer bottle shook, slightly, as Steve's hands trembled. Usually when shit hit the fan Steve either shoved it down so hard he couldn't even remember the name of what was bugging him -- or he blew things up until he felt better.
It was like this was something he couldn't even get a handle on, couldn't figure out how to react much less know how to cope. Whatever it was, it was making Steve genuinely afraid.
"So what is it?" Danny asked, quietly, coaxing ever so gently. It was likely Steve still might spook, judging by the way Steve's entire body tensed again and his feet shifted, ready to leap up.
"Nothing," Steve spat out. He shook his head. "You'll think--"
"That you're crazy?" Danny hazarded, and Steve's face closed off so fast Danny could practically hear the doors slam shut.
"Danny, so help me if you say one more word--" Steve began, but the threat was cut by the slice of fear in his voice and the way his words dropped into a whisper.
Carefully, knowing perfectly well Steve could break him in half if he wanted, Danny put his hand back on Steve's arm. He left it there, not moving, not squeezing his grip, just letting Steve know where he was. "I promise, I won't. I won't laugh or tell you you're psycho, and I promise, swear to God, I won't tell you to get help. I will sit here and I will listen, and I will say nothing at all if you want me to do that. Or, if I know something that might help, I will suggest it. Steven, all I'm asking is that you tell me what's wrong. I can't help if I don't even know what's going on with you."
He didn't even try to think about what it might be. With Steve, and the sheer amount of crazy chaos he'd brought to Danny's life, there was simply no predicting what it could be. If Steve said he'd been kidnapped by aliens and teleported to another planet for a day, Danny had a feeling he'd believe him.
He'd want proof, sure, but he suspected he'd end up believing him.
Steve shook his head, but Danny could see the walls crumbling, just a little.
"Just one word. One sentence, tell me what's going on. Just start there."
With a sideways glance, Steve opened his mouth, but said nothing. The look in his eyes was a punch to Danny's gut, though, and his fingers reflexively tightened on Steve's arm. Fear, despair, desperation, maybe, and Danny wanted to grab him and haul him in, and make promises about everything being just fine and Danny would do everything in his power to make it true.
"I promise not to judge, or say anything stupid," Danny offered. "That's a lot, I think, coming from me." He smiled, and was grateful to see a sort of ghost of a grin flicker across Steve's face.
Then Steve shook his head and said, "I'm seeing things."
Danny flinched, knew Steve noticed but he didn't say anything. He waited, and then he nodded, as Steve didn't elaborate. "What kind of things?"
"You'll think I'm crazy," Steve accused, then he looked down at his feet. "God, Danny, I think I'm going crazy." His voice broke and Danny just moved in, then, unable to help himself. He pulled his chair forward with one foot hooked around the leg, shifting until he could get one arm across Steve's shoulders and he leaned in, pressing his cheek against Steve's arm.
He didn't try to get Steve to look up, he just whispered, keeping his voice down, secretive so Steve wouldn't have to feel like the whole world was going to know. "Tell me what you're seeing."
Steve looked at him then, surprised. "You're not telling me I'm crazy."
Danny shook his head. He wanted to -- hell, why not, so he raised his hand and let his fingers trace the curve of Steve's cheek, cupping the side of his head. What he wanted to say would wait; now wasn't the time if he wanted to find out what was going on with his partner. "As much as I tell you that you're crazy, I do actually know the difference between doing shit I don't approve of and...something being wrong," he ended, trailing one finger alongside Steve's temple.
It was possible Steve was losing his mind, and the thought made Danny's chest tighten. But if he was, then they could get help, real help, and modern medicine would eventually make everything better.
"I'm seeing...." Steve began, and his eyes shifted away from Danny again. He didn't try to move, though, so Danny stayed where he was. "Sometimes I just catch it out of the corner of my eye. It's big and dark, and... I thought maybe it was a ghost," he said, almost sounding calm. "I went and talked to a kahuna and she said I wasn't...." He stopped, swallowed, and glanced at Danny. "She didn't know what was following me."
"Did she see it, too?" Danny asked, and he saw Steve's surprise that he hadn't derided everything Steve had just said.
Steve shook his head. "She didn't, and she said...she didn't actually know if there was something. She gave me some things to try, but I saw it again this morning."
"So. Big, dark... Anything else? A shape, does it make noise?"
He could feel Steve shaking, now, as he whispered, "Sometimes I think it's saying my name."
Danny brushed his hand through Steve's hair, then pulled him over, placing a kiss on the top of Steve's head. He didn't stop to think about it -- goodness knew he'd been toying with the idea of kissing Steve a lot, lately, but this was definitely not how he'd planned to finally do so. Steve either didn't notice, or was too wrapped up in whatever it was that was happening to him to comment on it.
Then Danny blinked. "Big, dark... Does it look like a horse? Or a giant rabbit?"
He felt Steve freeze, then Steve's head popped up, eyes wide. He looked torn between amazement and anger that Danny was laughing at him despite his promises.
Danny sighed. "Calls you by name, does he?" Danny looked over, saw the half-full bottle of beer he'd left sitting on the deck. He reached down and took the bottle from Steve's hand; it was a third full, still. Together it would be enough, for now.
Danny set the bottles aside, and stood up, tugging at Steve's hand. "I tell you what. I can't guarantee I can make him go away, but I will say this: I've seen him too, and you are not crazy. Not any crazier than you were before, that is, which in my opinion is pretty crazy. But it appears to be the sort of crazy that I like -- I don't know why, I was dropped on my head as a kid and I spent my entire childhood talking to púcas. Which is what you have, and if he says his name is Harvey, don't believe him."
Steve was just staring at him, jaw dropped open. "What the fuck, Danny," he began. He had clearly decided to go for anger.
Danny didn't mind, because he could definitely see Steve's reasoning, so he just pointed behind Steve, towards the beach, where the púca was watching them and looking significantly at the two bottles of beer Danny had set aside. Steve turned and he froze again, then he was on his feet and whirled back to Danny, eyes gone wide in fear again. Danny caught his arms and said, carefully, "If we leave him some beer, he'll be happy. If you want to talk to him, you can, but he will hang around for years if he likes you. It took my mom five years to make him leave me alone, and that was after my first grade teacher wanted to send me to a special school because I kept talking to the wall."
Danny shrugged. "She couldn't see him, so that's what it looked like."
"You... wait. You're telling me...." Steve paused, tilting his head thoughtfully. The fear was fading, now, and in its place was the set-jaw of determined curiosity. Danny groaned and thumped his head against Steve's chest.
"No, you may not study him, McGarrett. Don't piss off a púca, is what I'm saying. Steven, are you listening to me, here?"
But Steve was turning, slowly, to face the púca. He stared, and the púca stared back, then Steve took a hesitant step forward. Then he stopped and leaned down, picking up the bottles and carried them forward, setting them on the railing between them and the púca, making the offer clear.
Then he stepped back, and Danny watched as the púca watched them, expression unclear through the darkness of its face. Danny had been better at that when he'd been a child -- or maybe he'd simply been more innocent, then, and more open to what he'd been befriended by.
"What...." Steve turned back to him.
Danny shrugged. "Let's go inside. Maybe he'll go, maybe he'll stick around. But -- you're not crazy, you get that? Or we both are, in which case we're a matched set."
"So...what do we do?" Steve glanced back at the púca again, tensing as he caught sight of it, but relaxing as Danny kept a grip on his arm.
"You and I are going to go inside, he is going to drink his beer -- and there's more in the fridge, there's a bottle opener on the counter," he added, raising his voice slightly. As a kid he'd shared his cookies and juice and the púca had always been content. He had a feeling that beer and pizza would go over equally well, now.
Then he stepped back, pulling at Steve's hand again, glad when McGarrett followed him back inside. He kept glancing back, but the púca remained where he was until they'd gotten all the way inside. Then Danny saw him walk casually onto the lanai and sit down in Steve's chair, reaching down for the bottles of beer.
Steve turned to him. "What--"
Danny shut him up by kissing him. When he broke it, Steve was staring at him, looking a little dumbfounded, but grinning. From over Steve's shoulder Danny could see the púca watching the ocean and raise his beer in salute.
Danny pulled on Steve's arm and dragged him towards the stairs. There was probably something to be said about the púca re-appearing here and now, and Danny would have been offended at the idea that he'd needed such a huge push from the supernatural to finally make his move. But thinking about it was distracting him from the fact Steve was pushing him up the stairs, now, and his eyes held something that was dark and deep and wasn't about fear, at all.
But he was still crazy. Danny figured he could probably live with that.