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Dinner Talk

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Friday comes all too soon, and Steve is nervous. He spends longer than normal deciding what to wear, and is still not ready when Danny returns from his own place dressed in clean clothes to collect him for dinner at Rachel's.

On the upside, he's still feeling pretty good about last night. Danny offering to let Steve fuck him was a surprise, but a good one. He hasn't done it with anyone for a while and it was a little nerve-wracking knowing he was Danny's first, but the whole thing was incredible. Although Danny may not be walking quite as straight as he was yesterday, he's been full of smiles for Steve all day; enough that the team has probably worked out that the abandoned pool might have had some answers already. Steve's not letting on though, and he also isn't about to tell them that things on that score could easily flip.

But now it's nearly time to go, he hasn't been thinking about what happened last night. Instead, he's worrying about Rachel's intent at inviting them over, and he's not sure he's ready to deal with any crap she may throw at them. She's always been impeccably polite to him before, but now he wonders if she wants to warn him off Danny or something even more frightening, like staying away from Grace.

"C'mon, Super-SEAL, what happened to that being prepared thing you guys always are?" Danny says, grinning widely at Steve's open shirt and bare feet when he bounds up the stairs and finds Steve dithering in front of the closet.

"That's the boy scouts," Steve throws over his shoulder, trying hard to smile as he thinks to hell with it and starts buttoning up the dark blue shirt he's wearing.

Danny moves in behind him and slides his arms around Steve's waist, peering around him at the mirror. "Looking pretty hot, babe. You trying to impress someone?"

Steve manages the buttons despite Danny's attentions and turns in his arms so he can lean in and kiss him. "Only you."

"Well, color me impressed. Those pants hug your ass perfectly," Danny mutters against his lips, rubbing his hands up Steve's back and grinding into him, "And the shirt sets off your eyes."

Steve can't help laughing as he puts his own hands on Danny's ass and pulls him even closer, so they're both starting to breathe unevenly. "We won't make it to dinner if you keep up with the flattery."

"Not sure it's the flattery that'll get us in the end," Danny grins back at him, and then nips at his neck. "God, you smell good."

Steve's about ready to forget dinner himself, but Danny suddenly pulls away, adjusting himself through the fitted black slacks he's wearing. He looks good enough to eat too, with a crisp white shirt open at the neck and shiny black shoes, but his expression says he's just remembered where they're supposed to be.

"Shit…" he lets out, spinning away and letting out a long breath. "You make me forget myself sometimes."

"Sorry," Steve tells him, taking a deep breath himself and moving to find his shoes. "I should have been ready before. I just…" He shrugs and sits down to get his boots on.

"You're as worried about this as I am, aren't you?" Danny asks, watching him.

"Yeah. I don't want her to… if I'm the reason she decides Grace can't see you so much… I'd hate that."

"I know, babe, I know." Danny looks worried too, but he manages a smile. "Let's go put us out of our misery, huh?"

~//~

Rachel comes to the door to meet them with a smile that looks easy enough. Grace comes running down the stairs as they're exchanging pleasantries and Danny's handing Rachel the red wine he's brought along.

"Danno! Uncle Steve! Charlie's learning to crawl! Wanna come see?"

She doesn't wait for an answer, grabbing their hands and dragging them back up after her to Charlie's big playroom where Stan is sitting on the floor with his son. Sure enough, Charlie is commando crawling slowly towards Stan, who looks up and smiles at them as they watch Charlie's progress.

"Hey, Danny, Steve," Stan says, getting to his feet and picking up his son as he comes to shake their hands.

"He'd do well in the Navy," Steve tells him, nodding at Charlie.

"Yeah," Stan laughs, "Or maybe as a vacuum cleaner. Seems to pick up everything he finds and put it in his mouth as he goes."

Danny and Steve huff polite laughs, and Grace thankfully suggests they should go eat some 'horse's doovers that Mommy's made', so they don't have to make any more conversation just now. They all head downstairs again and Stan hands Charlie over to Rachel while he gets them all drinks. Rachel takes Charlie into the kitchen to feed him and Grace tags along, saying she's the only one who can make him eat his carrots. Danny and Steve take the glasses of beer Stan's poured and stand side by side, both obviously as unsure about the situation as each other.

"I was a little surprised to hear your news," Stan tells Danny, but he doesn't look hostile or uneasy about it. "Congratulations are probably a little premature, but…" He holds up his glass in a toast. "To both of you."

"Thank you," Danny says, sounding sincerely surprised.

Steve nods his own thanks and sips from the beer as Stan gestures for them to have a seat.

"Rachel… she wasn't exactly easy about it, as I'm sure you realized, but we've talked since then, and I think she understands it's got nothing to do with what was between the two of you," Stan tells Danny. "And that she was being a little… insensitive… about Grace seeing you together, when we're doing much the same things in front of her too. I mean… we're married, but these days, it doesn't make any difference, right? I can't imagine you're letting her see you…" He hesitates, looking from one to the other of them and swallowing before he goes on, "…see you do anything uh… well, you know what I mean?"

Danny looks at Steve incredulously. Can you believe this guy? his expression clearly says.

Steve shakes his head slightly and smiles at Stan. "Thank you," he says. Stan's being the voice of reason here – surprisingly enough – and he's grateful for that. Maybe Rachel has invited them tonight as a peace offering after all.

Danny narrows his eyes at Steve, like he doesn't believe this is all there is to Stan's speech, but he nods at him. "Yes, thank you. We have no intention of being any more openly affectionate in front of my daughter than you and Rachel are."

Stan smiles uncomfortably, but doesn't say any more on the subject. "So, Rachel tells me you're surfing now, Danny?" he asks instead and they get into a conversation about boards for beginners and whether Steve entered any competitions when he was younger.

Strangely, it's a comfortable situation and Steve's actually starting to relax by the time Rachel returns with Charlie, and Grace drags her father off to see something in another room. Stan offers to take Charlie upstairs for his bath, and Steve blinks as he realizes he's been left alone with Rachel.

"Dinner won't be long," she tells him, and offers to refresh his drink. He gratefully accepts and follows her into the kitchen as she starts talking again. "I'm sorry about what I said to Danny last weekend."

"Uh…" Steve feels extremely uncomfortable and suggests, "Maybe you should tell him that."

"I will, don't worry," Rachel offers quietly, lifting the lid on a pot of something delicious-smelling and stirs it. She looks like she has more to say though and Steve stands still, resisting the urge to gulp the whole glass of beer in one shot. "I wanted to talk to you too, though."

Steve blinks some more, unable to find any words to encourage her.

"This is extremely awkward." Rachel licks her lips and smiles uneasily at Steve. "But I can't help it. I just… I need to know that you're serious about him?"

"Serious?" Steve echoes stupidly.

"Steve, you do know that Danny's never been with another man, don't you?"

"Of course. He's told me all that," Steve tells her, "but I don't see what it has to do with anything." He's completely confused now.

"I'm assuming… and this is none of my business really, but… I do worry about him." She has that earnestly curious look on her face that Steve's noticed her use when she's questioning something Danny's suggested. "I'm assuming you're gay and that you have more experience in relationships like this?"

"Bisexual, actually." Steve's defensive hackles are starting to rise and he puts his glass down on the counter between them before going on. "But yes, I do have more experience when it comes to men. Not relationships so much though; he was with you longer than I was with anyone before."

Rachel looks a little surprised at that, but she nods without commenting on it. "I just want to be sure he won't get hurt."

"Hurt?" Steve asks in stunned surprise, "What makes you think I'll hurt him?"

"You just said it. You haven't been in a long-term relationship before. What if you decide to move on?"

Steve seriously can't believe this and he laughs, although it's distinctly unamused. "If I move on? Seriously, Rachel, if that's what you think…" He puts a hand up to his mouth, rubbing it over his lips as he tries to formulate some kind of polite reply, but his anger is starting to take over. "I don't think you realize how insulting that is. He's the one who's more invested in women; maybe he'll leave me. I could be the one who ends up getting hurt!"

The door behind them swings open and Steve turns to see who's there, swallowing hard at the fury evident in Danny's eyes. How much he's heard, Steve can't say, but he launches straight into Rachel.

"Who do you think you are?" Danny spits, fists clenched at his sides. "No one is leaving anyone. Steve says he loves me and I happen to believe him. He's no more likely to leave me any time soon than you are to fly – unless it's on a broomstick. And, for your information, I love him too, and as far as I'm concerned, I'm staying with him for the rest of my life."

Rachel looks completely taken aback and she blinks hard at Danny before swallowing and then looking back at Steve like she knows how much of a mistake she's just made. "I'm sorry," she manages, which under the circumstances is actually pretty big of her.

Danny deflates at the apology, his fists unclenching and his shoulders drooping. Steve's anger has fled too, though he's still confused as to why she felt the need to say any of this. He's also completely amazed by Danny telling Rachel what he just did.

Her lips trembles a little before she speaks again, but she clamps her mouth shut to control it before opening it to go on. "I worry about you, Daniel. I worry about Grace too; about her feeling so strongly for someone that she'd hate to lose, but if you say you… you love each other…" She looks from one to the other of them, and then drops her eyes. "Then I have to believe that."

She manages a smile when she lifts her head again. "I just want you to be happy, Danny. I really do. I'm sorry; maybe this dinner wasn't such a good idea."

She looks close to tears now and Steve feels extremely awkward; even more than he did when this conversation started. "No… it's fine," he tries, though he's not feeling the least bit hungry now.

Danny gives Steve a look that Steve takes to mean he should leave the room, and he's grateful for it and backs out of the kitchen with alacrity. He has no idea what Danny's going to say to her, but he wonders if they'll need to make their excuses and go.

He stands in the middle of the living room, thinking through the whole exchange. So it's mostly Grace that Rachel is worried about; concerned her daughter already cares too much for Steve that she'll be hurt by a split between him and Danny, she's just being a mother trying to protect her daughter. She may couch it in terms that include Danny, but he's not her main concern. Steve has to admire that she's so fiercely protective of her daughter's happiness, despite the pain she's tried to cause him.

Grace hops into the room and Steve looks up in surprise. She gives him one of her beaming smiles and he feels a lump in his throat, offering her what he hopes is an equally happy smile back.

"What's wrong, Uncle Steve?" Grace asks, coming over to take his hand.

He crouches down to her level and offers her a hug. He'd never hurt this child; no more than he'd intentionally cause harm to her father. How could he? Grace holds on tight, like she knows something's badly wrong and wants to make it better.

They're still wrapped up in each other when Danny appears in the doorway, Rachel two steps behind.

~//~