“What are you doing awake?” Danny hissed into the darkness. Steve was slumped over in his armchair in the living room, elbows settled on his knees and face hidden by his hands. “Steve? Steve, are you okay?” Danny’s mind flit through several possibilities: hurt, sick, angsting, brooding – all wholly possible with the walking ball of nerves known as his partner. Danny crossed to his side and sat his ass down on the edge of the coffee table, bringing his knees in close proximity to Steve’s, his hands making an aborted move towards Steve’s elbows before tucking themselves in his own lap.
“This is the first time Charlie’s slept through the night in months, McGarrett. Any sane person would be sacked out in bed right now, not thinking big, bad thoughts in the dark.” Danny was proud of his tone maintaining its usual fond derision, but found that he couldn’t hide the worried frown from his lips. “Now tell me why you aren’t upstairs in that big, beautiful bed of yours enjoying the first tear-free night in forever.”
Steve hadn’t yet lifted his head and Danny somehow kept from shaking him until he looked at Danny, though it was a close call. There was a long pause before Steve shifted slightly, still not raising his head. “I don’t know if I’m cut out for this Danny.”
Danny let out a long, slow breath, trying not to let all his normal bluster rise to the top, not when everything in him was dying to start shouting you told me you could, you told me this is what you wanted, I asked you to be sure, I told you to stay away if you couldn’t, Charlie doesn’t deserve this, Grace deserves more from you, you promised you wouldn’t do this– because the thing was, he knew what this was. He knew what Steve was feeling.
He knew because he’d felt it too. Those first few weeks with Grace at home had been some of the most beautiful and horrifying of his entire life. What if he dropped her? Or screwed her up some how? She was the most perfect thing he’d ever seen – who the hell thought that he could ever be good enough for her? Good enough to be her dad?
“Shut up,” Danny finally said. “Shut up McGarrett, you know that’s bullshit.” That got Steve to finally raise his head, eyes wide, hair wild from too many times tugging a hand through it in worry. “You’re good at this, you know you are. I know you are.” Steve started shaking his head.
“No Danny, I’m not. I say the wrong things and forget the stuff we need and I can barely remember to pick up the groceries half the time – how the hell am I supposed to be a dad?” Steve looked stricken. “I barely feel like a person some days.”
Danny wordlessly nudged Steve’s knees with his own, scooting forward until his own legs were tucked between Steve’s, his calves bracketing Danny’s, Danny putting himself into Steve’s personal space as much as physically possible. “Who picks up Grace every day after school?” Danny asked quietly. Steve made a face.
“I do, but Danny that’s hardly-”
“Shut up,” Danny said, not unkindly. “Shut up and let me talk for once.” Steve mouthed ‘for once?’ but Danny graciously ignored him. “That’s right, you pick up Grace. Who does Charlie’s morning routine, the whole thing, clothes, diaper, breakfast, bottle, carseat, etcetera, every day? Who remembers to put a note in Grace’s lunch on spelling test days reminding her that i goes before e except after c and also, to relax because she’ll do great? Who figured out that Charlie sleeps best hearing the ocean and moved around his whole office so that Charlie could have a crib-side ocean boombox no matter what?” Steve stared at Danny like he’d never seen another human before and Danny huffed out a long sigh. “You, obviously, you complete asshole. Yeah, you forget to pick up milk sometimes and sometimes Grace cries about Rachel and there’s nothing you can do to console her – but that makes two of us babe.” Danny settled his hands over Steve’s knees and squeezed. “We’ll figure it out together, I promise. All of it. You just gotta promise me that you’ll be around to figure it out with me.”
He tried not to look like he was holding his breath for Steve’s answer – not when Steve immediately started nodding, threading his hands through Danny’s and squeezing hard. “I promise Danny. I do, I swear, I just-” Danny managed a half smile and brushed away Steve’s words with a careless gesture.
“Yeah, I know babe. First time father jitters. We all get ‘em, don’t worry. Now, it’s time for bed you Neanderthal. Get your ass upstairs and prepare to be slept on like you’ve never been slept on before.” Steve choked out a quiet laugh, but obeyed quietly a moment later, leaving Danny to the dark living room and the sound of the ocean rolling in. If Danny tried hard enough, he thought, he could hear the soft breathing of his daughter and his son, matching the steady rhythm of the tide washing up on shore.