Chapter 1: Quarantine
“But I was vaccinated for it when we thought we might be exposed in Los Angeles,” Danny complained from the inside of the quarantine area. How was it possible that he could be exposed to the smallpox virus twice in such short amount of time? No one else he knew had ever been exposed, except Chin and the guys from NCIS. But seriously. They weren’t even sure it was smallpox. Did they really expect him and Steve to stay in isolation for upward of 17 days? What were the kids supposed to do?
“I understand your concerns, Detective,” the doctor said from the other side of the glass. “But until we are sure that you were not exposed, you’re going to be required to stay in quarantine.”
Danny frowned at the tall, blond haired doctor who did not look like he was about to change his mind. Danny didn’t care that he was one of the foremost authorities on smallpox flown in by the Governor to make sure Steve and Danny got the best care possible. Danny was only interested in being released in time to pick the kids up from school.
“He’s right, Danno,” Steve said from where he was sitting in one of the plastic chairs. There were three in the room along with a double bed and a small, round table. That was it. There was a bathroom adjourning their isolation room but they weren’t supposed to use it without alerting the hospital staff first. There was some concern they could contaminate the water supply.
“What about Emma and John? Who is going to pick them up? Who is going to watch them while we’re trapped in here?” Danny demanded, his fists on his hips.
“Kono and Charlie are taking them in,” Steve assured him. He stood to cross over to Danny, wrapping one arm around his shoulders. “Come on. You may as well relax. We’re here until they say otherwise.”
“Stop being so calm,” Danny demanded, sitting in the chair next to where Steve resumed his seat.
“Ranting isn’t going to change anything, babe,” Steve pointed out. “How would you feel if you gave all of Hawaii smallpox by accident? Especially if the kids got it.”
“Ranting may not change anything, but it makes me feel better,” Danny decided.
“I know,” Steve said, kissing him on the head. “They’ll vaccinate us and they’ll know in just a few days if we have to stay here.”
“We don’t have to wear these gowns the entire time, do we?” Danny asked, looking down at the hospital gowns they had been given when their clothes were removed and burned. His seemed about to swallow him while Steve’s was barely decent, not that Danny minded that he could see all of Steve’s tattoos. He just wasn’t all that happy about everyone else seeing so much of Steve.
“We’ll provide you sweats,” the doctor assured them. “I’ll be back in a few minutes with the vaccines.”
“Thank you,” Steve said, kissing Danny gently. “Are you going to be okay?”
“I guess,” Danny sighed. “The kids can come, right?”
“Yes. They’ll be here as soon as Charlie goes to get them. He’ll explain what’s happened.”
Danny nodded, leaning against Steve’s solid, comforting body. “At least I’m not in this alone.”
“No you aren’t,” Steve promised, hugging him tightly.
Chapter 2: Lost & Found
“Don’t ever do that to me again,” Steve said, wrapping strong arms around Danny.
“Do what? What’s up with you?” Danny asked into Steve’s chest. It wasn’t that he minded being manhandled by his best friend. He was just a little surprised by Steve’s reaction.
“I didn’t know where you were,” Steve said, pulling Danny closer to the Camaro that he had parked illegally in front of Kamekona’s shaved ice stand. “You were gone and I didn’t know where.”
“What?” Danny said, looking up at Steve with a tiny frown. “What?”
“You said that already,” Steve said. “Are you okay?”
“I’m fine. Why are you freaking out?”
“I’m not freaking out,” Steve claimed. “I asked Kono where you had gone. She said she didn’t have any idea. I called you. I texted you. Kono tried to track your phone. She couldn’t find you. Where were you?”
Danny stood staring up at him, the line between Steve’s eyebrows deeper than usual which was saying something. “I told Chin I lost my phone when I was thrown off the boat and into the ocean. I went to get a new one. There was a lot of traffic and then your truck broke down, thank you so much.”
“Oh God. It overheated again?”
“Yes it did. I called a tow truck from here but it took longer than expected for them to come.”
“Why did you go to get a new phone? Your phone is Five-0’s responsibility,” Steve said.
“I know. But I asked for a new one and the governor’s assistant said it would be a week before I could get one,” Danny said.
“A week?” Steve said, frowning down at Danny. “That’s just stupid.”
“I thought so too. But she said since it’s my fourth one this month, I have to wait for the new shipment. I can’t wait an entire week so I went to get one. Why didn’t Chin tell you I left?”
“Chin left right after you did. I guess he forgot,” Steve said with a shrug. “I’ll take you back.”
“This is what I get for letting you take my car,” Danny said, getting into the Camaro. “Hopefully the police garage will be able to fix your truck this time.”
“I hope so. And next time, tell me your phone needs to be replaced.”
“I would have if you hadn’t been tied up,” Danny said with a shake of his head. “I’m really okay. You can stop with the freaking out.”
“I’ll take it under advisement,” Steve said as he pulled into the street going much too fast. Danny didn’t bother to say anything, just holding on more tightly as the goofball drove with a happy smile plastered on his face.
Chapter 3: Oh, shiny!
“Are you sure this is the ring you want?” Danny asked Steve. They had just had their engagement pictures taken, able to check it off The List, and had popped over the jeweler’s next door to find wedding rings.
“You don’t like it?” Steve asked, looking at the rings which featured a wave undulating in the center, the silver sky above a golden ocean.
“They are very traditional,” Mr. Schiffman said with a genuine smile. It wasn’t his I’ll smile so they’ll buy smile. It was one he reserved for friends and friendly acquaintances. Steve and Danny fell in the later category and he sincerely wanted to help them find the perfect rings.
“I like them,” Danny said, pitching his voice lower so that everyone in the store wasn’t privy to their conversation. Not that either of the other couples were focused on anything but their own purchases. “It’s just… I don’t know… shiner than I expected you to choose.”
“Really?” Steve asked, focusing on Danny. “You thought I’d go for something more subtle?”
“Subtle’s never been your style, babe,” Danny assured him with a smile that crinkled the corners of his eyes in a way Steve found entirely irresistible. Not that he didn’t think every single part of Danny wasn’t just as irresistible. “But it’s not like you ever wear any jewelry.”
“Wedding ring’s different,” Steve told him. “I want to make sure everyone knows to keep their hands off of you.”
“I see,” Danny said. “You want it as a warning beacon.”
“Precisely,” Steve agreed, turning his focus on the shop owner. “We’re getting married in six weeks. Is that enough time?”
“Absolutely, Commander. We’ll have them back in four weeks at the most,” Mr. Schiffman assured them.
“All right then,” Danny said with a nod.
“Do you know your ring sizes?” Mr. Schiffman asked.
Danny thought he had some idea but decided to measure his finger to be certain. Steve also had to measure his, having no reason to know his ring size.
“Do we need to pay you now?” Steve asked.
“You are welcome to wait until they arrive,” Mr. Schiffman said. “Do you want anything engraved inside? Many couples do but it’s entirely your choice.”
“Oh,” Danny said, looking up at Steve. “I hadn’t thought about that. What do you want?”
“I don’t know either,” Steve said. “Can we let you know in a couple of days?”
“Certainly,” Mr. Schiffman said. “They will be engraved right before they are shipped so you have plenty of time.”
“Thank you,” Steve said, shaking Mr. Schiffman’s hand and waiting as Danny did as well. They left the store together, returning to the Camaro.
“That makes it real, somehow,” Danny said as Steve pulled out of the parking lot.
“Even after the engagement pictures, the invitations, and picking out flowers?”
“Yeah,” Danny said. “Those are the trappings. The rings are just between you and me.”
“This is true,” Steve agreed, reaching over to take Danny’s hand and lace their fingers together. “This is true.”
Chapter 4: When Pigs Fly
“No,” Danny said again. He was trying to finish making dinner although having all four children under foot was making it more difficult than it should have been. It was one of their weekends back at their house where they could find a temporary reprieve from the demands of being the Governor’s family. They could have brought the residence’s chef, Lolhol Pu, with them but Danny enjoyed cooking for the entire clan when he had the chance. “None of you are going with Steve tomorrow. You have school. And you aren’t invited,” Danny said.
“But Danno,” Alicia said from where she was sitting at the kitchen table. As the oldest, she was often the spokesperson for them all. She didn’t mind and gladly relinquished the position to Grace whenever she was around. “He’s going to be gone an entire week. We can go with him and come back on Wednesday.”
“No,” Danny said, turning around to face the four children who were looking at him with equal expressions of hope and excitement and possibility. “No. You aren’t going.”
“Where aren’t they going?” Steve asked when he came into the kitchen. He was wearing one of his oldest, rattiest tee shirts and a pair of cargo pants that Danny had intended to throw out years ago. How they kept ending up in Steve’s drawer remained a mystery. Not surprisingly, they had fresh grease on them from his never-ending battle with the Marquis. Why he didn’t give up on that car was a question for the ages but it kept him happy so they never bothered to ask.
“They think they should go with you,” Danny said, waving a wooden spoon in the general direction of the children.
“Why shouldn’t they?” Steve asked, leaning against the kitchen cabinet right in Danny’s way. Which Danny knew he knew and was absolutely doing it on purpose.
“What about school?” Danny asked, hitting Steve with the spoon to get him to move. “What about rehearsals and practice and what-not?”
“What-not?” Steve repeated, looking at each child. “Are you engaged in what-not again?”
“Not me,” a chorus of voices said.
“There’s no reason they shouldn’t come, Danno,” Steve said, the kids agreeing. “It will be a good experience for them. You are coming.”
“You weren’t supposed to tell them that,” Danny said.
“Oops. Like they wouldn’t notice when you disappeared,” Steve laughed.
Danny shrugged, turning to look back at the children. “Fine. I give up. Go wash your hands,” he said, watching them run out with their excited voices staying behind. “When will you learn to say no to then?” he asked Steve, looking up at him with something resembling disapproval on his face.
Steve just laughed and kissed him. “I will say no just as soon as pigs fly.”
“I should have guessed,” Danny said, standing on his toes to kiss Steve. “You big softie.”
“Only when it comes to you and the kids.”
Chapter 5: Snuggles and cuddles
“I said no,” Steve said, his arms crossed over his chest, his face blank which was a dangerous sign all on its own.
“And that’s it?” Danny demanded, hands waving, feet pacing, blue eyes flashing in anger. “You said no so that’s that.”
“Yes,” Steve ground out between clinched teeth. “The discussion is closed.”
“No. No it’s not,” Danny retorted, pacing back toward him. A movement above his head caught his eye and he looked up to see Emma and John staring over the balcony at them. “Go back to bed,” his voice softer and reflecting his guilt that the children had been witness to one of their rare fights. That was the last thing either Steve or Danny would want.
“What’s wrong, Daddy?” John asked, his voice shaking. Next to him Emma was clutching her teddy bear in her chubby arms, tears streaming down her round face.
“It’s okay, babies,” Danny said, going up the steps. He could feel Steve right behind him. Danny picked up John as Steve scooped up the sobbing Emma. “It’s okay.”
“Why’re you yellin’?” Emma asked into the damp shoulder of Steve’s tee shirt.
“Daddies yell sometimes, baby. You don’t need to cry,” Steve soothed, kissing her head. “We aren’t mad at you.”
“We aren’t,” Danny added, carrying John into their bedroom as Steve brought Emma. They all piled up on the queen bed, Danny soothing their son as Steve tired to get their daughter to stop crying. “I’m sorry you heard us being angry. We aren’t angry at you,” Danny said, reaching over for a tissue to wipe away John’s tears. Steve was using the same care to try and mop up Emma’s tears.
“What were you yelling for?” John asked with a hiccup.
“We were yelling about Daddy things,” Steve told them, reaching over to kiss John on the head. “You don’t need to cry. We would never want to scare you.”
“But why?” Emma asked, her eyes wide and worried. The set of her mouth was directly from Danny and said she was no more capable of dropping the subject than her father would be.
“Your Daddy was talking about doing something I didn’t think he should,” Steve said quietly.
“Is it dangrus?” John asked, looking from Steve to Danny and back.
“No more than usual,” Danny said. “I know what I’m doing and it would be just fine.”
“It’s an unnecessary risk,” Steve said in the same quiet voice. “Please, Danno. Please tell me you won’t do it.”
Danny sighed and leaned over Emma enough to kiss Steve on the mouth. “All right. Now that I’ve upset you and the kids, I’ll give up the idea.”
“Thank you,” Steve said in relief. “Do you babies want to sleep with us tonight?”
“We aren’t babies, Daddy,” Emma claimed as she and John shimmed under the covers in the middle of the bed.
“You are our babies,” Danny reminded them with a smile. “Do you want to watch a movie?”
“A movie,” the kids cheered, all earlier upsetment forgotten.
“All right,” Danny laughed, going to the TV. “What do you want to watch?”
The kids argued about it for a few minutes before they decided, Danny putting on their chosen movie.
“Daddy and I are going to put on our pajamas,” Steve said, kissing the kids. “We’ll be right back.”
“’Kay,” John said absently, all of his focus on the movie they’d watched several times already.
Danny shook his head with a smile before following Steve into the bathroom.
“I’m sorry,” they said at the same time. That made them laugh, Steve gathering Danny close to kiss him.
“Thank you,” Steve said to the top of Danny’s head.
“I’m not sure you’re right but it’s not worth upsetting the kids for,” Danny said, burying his nose in Steve’s chest and inhaling the familiar scent. It was home. “Or you.”
Chapter 6: Explosive/ Big bang
“Come on, John. We’re going to be late,” Danny called down the hallway. Why couldn’t the kids just be ready when they asked them to be? This was the third Independence Day since Steve had been elected Governor. Surely they knew by now that they had to get to Pearl in the next 45 minutes if the ceremony had any chance of starting on time. Danny wasn’t sure where Emma was and had to take it on faith that she was ready to go. “John,” Danny yelled as he went down to the hall toward John’s room. “What is taking so long?”
Danny opened John’s door the rest of the way to find him hanging upside down from the twin bed where he usual slept, his bare feet in the air, his head invisible. “John? What are you doing?”
“I can’t find my slippahs,” John said, his voice muffled by his upside-down position.
“We have to leave in five minutes or we’re going to be late,” Danny said, coming closer to squat down to look under the bed. There were no flip flops there. All Danny saw was John’s upside-down head. “What about your closet?” Danny asked him.
John’s head disappeared and Danny straightened to see him getting off the bed. “I checked. They aren’t in there.”
“You need to find a pair of sneakers then. Please hurry up,” Danny said, leaving the bedroom to go down to Emma’s room. “Em?”
“Yeah?” Emma called from her bedroom.
“You ready?” Danny asked as he entered her room. She was sitting on the edge of her bed, her hair in a ponytail with a red ribbon holding it up.
“Yeah,” Emma agreed, coming around her bed to stand in front of Danny. “I’ve been ready.”
“All right,” he said, kissing her head. He looked down at her feet, pointing at her shoes. “Those are John’s.”
“Not any more,” she said with a giggle, leaving her room for the sitting room where Steve was waiting. “Hey Daddy.”
“Hey baby girl. What have you done with your brother and your father?” Steve asked.
“Don’t know,” she said, waving casually down the hall. She moved behind Steve when John emerged with his sneakers in his hand.
“Those are my slippahs,” John said, pointing down at Emma’s feet.
“We don’t have time to argue about this right now, Bud,” Danny said. “We need to leave so we aren’t late.”
“Why are you wearing John’s shoes?” Steve asked Emma, looking more closely at her feet.
She shrugged innocently and left the sitting room for the stairs.
“Why is she wearing your shoes?” Steve asked John.
“She left hers at the beach house,” John said with a frown.
“Oh,” Danny said. “Well. It doesn’t really matter. Come on. We can’t be late for the festivities.”
They made it to the reviewing stand at Pearl with 7 minutes to spare. They were all given their Independence Day leis of red and white flowers, blue ribbons woven through. Steve gave his speech, keeping it short because it was about the celebration, not him.
He sat between Danny and John, the high school band playing all the expected patriotic songs. Some of the cheerleaders were there to perform, Emma deciding she would rather sit with the family. It really was so much easier on the whole.
“When will they start?” John asked Danny, leaning closer to Steve to see his watch. “It’s been dark for 20 minutes already.”
“You sure are the impatient one,” Danny told him. “They’ll start when they start.”
“They’ll start when they start?” Steve repeated. “That barely makes sense.”
“Then tell your son to stop complaining,” Danny said, turning to listen to Emma.
“And then Leul told Dancy that Walkaen likes her but I said Leul likes her. You know, likes her likes her. But Dancy said it’s not true and anyway she doesn’t like Walkaen like that so it doesn’t matter what Leul said and she doesn’t want to go out with Leul either so I don’t know why she even cares or tells me what they tell her when she doesn’t even care.”
“Do I talk this much?” Danny whispered to Steve.
“All the time,” Steve said, his palm on Danny’s knee, a smile on his face.
“Who does Dancy like?” John asked Emma to the surprise of her fathers. They really didn’t think he had been listening.
“She says she doesn’t like anybody like that but I think she secretly likes Walkaen but she won’t admit it because she told me he’s cool and all but he isn’t someone she wants to go out with but I’m not even sure her mom and dad would let her got out with him even though he could take her to the back-to-school dance but who knows if he’ll still like her then it’s so far away and you know how it goes – you like somebody one day and don’t give a flip about them the next day. I’m thirsty.”
Danny laughed at that. “I’m not surprised. What do you want?”
“I don’t care,” she decided, looking over at the refreshment stand. “Coconut water.”
“I’ll go,” Henry said, standing up.
“You don’t have to,” Danny said. “I’ll get it.”
“It’s much easier for me to go,” Henry said, pointing at the line. “You may not make it back in time.”
“Thank you,” Danny said. “John? What do you want?”
“A coke,” John said, turning to talk to one of his friends sitting in the row in front of them. His father was a member of Steve’s staff, sitting in the row reserved for them.
“Governor? Danny?” Henry asked.
“Nothing for me, thanks,” Steve said.
“I’ll have some water,” Danny requested.
“Be right back,” Henry said, climbing down off the reviewing stand. Danny watched him go over to the refreshment stand, all those in line deferring to him and insisting that he go directly to the front. Henry had that affect on people when he didn’t even intend to. One more reason he was so helpful as a member of Steve’s personal staff.
“…and I would have cheered too but it’s so hot and then I’d be in the papers and Daddy said that was okay but doesn’t it get old?” Emma was saying when Danny tuned back into her. “Doesn’t it, Daddy?”
“Yeah, baby, it does,” Danny agreed, feeling Steve laugh next to him, knowing Danny had only heard part of what she had said. “The choice was yours not to cheer, right?”
“Right. Coach said it was completely voluntary and we didn’t have to unless we wanted to and told me she understood if I didn’t want to and wanted to sit with you instead.”
“Good,” Danny said with a nod. He accepted the water from Henry as he distributed the other drinks. Danny got one sip before Steve reached over for it, drinking half in one go. “I thought you didn’t want anything.”
Steve shrugged, handing what was left of the water back to Danny.
“I see,” Danny said. “You wanted mine but not your own.”
“Shh…” Steve said. “Fireworks are starting.”
“And I need to stop talking for that?” Danny asked, looking up at the explosion of colors.
“No. Just stop in general,” Steve teased, making Danny snort at him.
Chapter 7: Full Disclosure
The full moon shining in the window dappled the ceiling with gold and black, shadows cast by the trees that provided shade to the bedroom. Steve watched the quiet swaying of the light and dark over his head and knew sleeping was, again, out of his reach.
How long had it been since he had last lay down, closed his eyes, and opened them again only when the full sun was streaming in to greet him? He couldn’t remember. Maybe sleeping was an illusion, a memory from a different lifetime, one in a world that made sense. His no longer did. He was back home, with a new team, a new purpose, and a heartache that he was certain would kill him if the person causing it didn’t do it first.
He’d broken the first rule of command. He’d fallen in love with one of his subordinates. How many times were they told during training that emotions had to be set aside for effective leadership? ‘Don’t let your heart hold sway over your head.’ That advice had been easy enough to follow in the Navy. Civilian life was a different case entirely.
And the reason for the sleepless nights with the accompanying self-doubt was a short, loud, discontented transplant who wanted nothing more than to escape back to ‘civilization.’ It hurt Steve when Danny disparaged his islands but not as much as the idea that Danny just might get fed up with tsunamis and jelly fish and sand in all the wrong places and flee back to the mainland. But as long as Grace was in Hawaii, Danny would be. At least Steve could count on that. He didn’t know what else he could actually count on. Those truths he once could count as certain had been slipping away little by little.
Where did that leave him? He needed to consider this situation as though it was a strategic op. What was the optimal outcome? Could he admit to himself that his greatest hope was that Danny’s heart would lead him to Steve as Steve’s heart had led him to Danny? Alone in his bed in the middle of the still night, he could almost allow himself to have those thoughts. That if the plans were made carefully enough and the steps untaken with sufficient skill, he would have Danny’s heart.
How could he go about capturing Danny’s attention and hope that his heart would follow? Grace was already in his camp. The affection he felt for that little girl was genuine and enduring. He automatically discarded any strategy that used Grace as a pawn. No, that was untenable.
He and Danny already spent most of their time together. Where was the key to turning the inevitable into the intentional? How did he make Danny understand that he wanted to be with him all the time, that Steve was not beside Danny solely because of the job? He’d never had trouble attracting attention or companionship. But he was usually the one being hit on. Had he forgotten how to successfully hit on someone he was interested in? What were the key steps in the Successfully Seduce Danny strategy?
He could ask Danny to dinner. Except they ate almost all their meals together. He could invite Danny over but that too was commonplace. He could suggest a hike but their last attempt at seeing the petroglyphs hadn’t turned out the way Steve planned. He could… well – what was left? After eating, coming over, sharing an experience, what could he try?
Steve took a deep breath and gave up pretending he’d be able to go back to sleep. Instead he went down and out onto his beach, admiring the giant moon taking up so much of the sky. Seemed appropriate while he was mooning over Danny.
‘Look at it logically,’ a voice inside his head advised. ‘What would you want if he was trying to attract your attention?’ Honesty had always been Steve’s default. Was that what he had been missing? Telling Danny how he felt? But what if Danny didn’t have the same feelings? “Well,” Steve told the moon. “Only one way to find out.”
The moon shone in approval on Steve’s decision until he faded out with the rising of the sun.
Chapter 8: Another Cup of Coffee
Thank you to everyone who has left comments and/or kudos on these snippets! I apologize for getting behind in replying. Don't take my delay as a sign that I don't appreciate your notes. Because comments are love! So thank you again!
“Here,” Danny said, putting a steaming cup at Steve’s elbow.
“What’s this?” Steve asked, looking down at it.
“I believe it’s known as coffee. At least that’s what we called it in Jersey,” Danny said with a smirk, leaning back against the edge of Steve’s desk, nearly close enough to touch Steve’s thigh with his own knee.
“I see it’s coffee, wise guy. Why are you bringing it to me?” Steve asked. He was looking up at Danny with his ever-changing eyes a dark green. Danny thought he looked more delicious than usual but decided this wasn’t the time or place to admit to his feelings. He was beginning to despair that there would never be an appropriate time or place to admit how he felt.
“To assuage my guilt,” Danny admitted.
“Assuage,” Steve repeated, rolling the word around on his tongue.
“Diminish, ease, lighten, mitigate, mollify.”
“I know what it means, Mr. Roget. Thank you.”
Danny shrugged, sipping his own coffee. “How’s the paperwork coming?”
“That’s what this is about,” Steve said in realization.
“Duh,” Danny said.
“You told me I had to do it myself this time,” Steve reminded him.
“Doesn’t make me feel less guilty about it,” Danny said, his words soft and sincere.
“You don’t have to do all of our paperwork, Danno. I told you that how many times?”
“Except when I do it, ‘shot a hole in the asshole’s boat because we didn’t care if we killed him’ becomes ‘prevented the suspect from fleeing’ and the charges stand a better chance of holding up in court.”
“Our conviction rate is just fine,” Steve told him firmly.
“Statistically speaking, it is 47.5% higher on those cases for which I do the paperwork,” Danny said.
“I had Jenna run the numbers,” Danny admitted. “So if you’ll buy me lunch, I will do your paperwork.”
“No,” Steve said, shaking his head. “I’m going to do it. And I’m going to do it right.”
“Fine,” Danny sighed. “Don’t submit it without showing it to me first, please.”
“Since you asked nicely, I’ll show it to you first,” Steve agreed with a smile that Danny tried telling himself did not, in fact, make his heart beat a little too fast.
“Thank you,” Danny said, leaving the office before he could say something that he couldn’t easily take back.
Chapter 9: Go The Distance
When Steve is shot and develops a high fever, he goes into "warrior mode." It'd be funny if it didn't worry Danny quite so much.
Okay - I'm not sure at all about this one. I nearly deleted it twice. So I'm posting it before I decide it really shouldn't see the light of day.
If you like it, thanks. If you don't, well, I can't say that I blame you. Either way you should let me know. Or not. You know, whatever works for you.
(Oh - this 'chapter' does reveal the not-really-a-secret about what is engraved in their wedding rings. That might help redeem it?)
“Lieutenant,” Steve barked. His voice sounded rough, used, like it hurt for him to talk.
“Yes sir,” Danny said from where he stood beside the bed. Where Steve had been laying for the past two days in and out of consciousness. He handed the Commander a cup of cool water which he drank after peering into it.
“Why are all these civilians in the zone?” Steve demanded, trying to focus on the three unfamiliar shapes looming over him.
“This is a medic, sir,” Danny said, his hand brown against the white sleeve he was touching. “She needs to check you over. Make sure your wounds aren’t festering.”
“I’m wounded?” Steve asked, looking down at his body above where the covers started. He didn’t see any dressing, didn’t feel the customary pull of stitches.
“You were shot, Commander,” a gentle female voice said. Did she report to him? There were no female SEALs. What game was she playing at?
“Lieutenant,” Steve said, looking for the short one with blond hair.
“Sir,” Danny responded making sure Steve could see him.
“Who is this?” Steve asked in a quieter voice but no less hard.
“The doctor,” Danny said in a reassuring tone.
“Doctor. I’m in the hospital?” Steve asked, straining to look around him. It didn’t smell, look or sound like a hospital. It seemed to be someone’s house.
“No sir,” Danny said. “You’re in…my house.”
“Your house,” Steve said, frowning. “You don’t have a house in the zone.”
“We aren’t in the zone any longer,” Danny explained. “We came home.”
“Home,” Steve repeated, again trying to focus on the others watching him. They were probably under orders to guard him. But whose orders? That was the problem. “Did we accomplish the mission?”
“We did,” Danny confirmed. “You were shot as we were… cleaning up.”
“Where? Where was I shot?” Steve asked. “I don’t have any bandages.”
“Here, babe,” Danny said, moving the covers aside to show him the white cloth over his entire right thigh.
“Babe,” Steve repeated in a dangerous tone.
“Sir,” Danny amended. “Apologies, Commander.”
Steve stared at him before looking down to consider his thigh which was tightly wrapped. “Infected?”
“Yes sir,” the female replied. “You have a fever as a result. I need to take some blood and you need to take your medication.”
“How do I know you didn’t give me something to make me sick?” Steve asked, staring at her.
“I’m a doctor, Commander. It’s my job to help,” she said gently. If she was rattled by his accusation, she showed no sign of it.
“Who are you?” he asked the man and woman standing behind her. They looked familiar but he didn’t know any of them except his Lieutenant.
“I’m Chin,” he said, taking a step closer. “A friend from here at home.”
“And I’m Kono,” the slender woman said. “Also a friend from here.”
Steve studied them before turning to Danny. “You cleared them?”
“Yes sir. They check out. They are friendlies. As is the doctor. If she says you need to take your medication, you do,” Danny said in a no nonsense tone.
“And you need to draw blood?” Steve asked her, daring her to lie to him.
“Yes,” she said. “I would allow Danny… Lieutenant Williams do it but he’s not trained.”
Steve nodded slowly. “Did you insert this IV?”
“I did,” she said. “Is it hurting you?”
“No,” he decided, looking at the needle taped to the inside of his arm. “When am I going to be released?”
“Not for several more days,” she said, swabbing his arm before inserting the needle for the blood.
“That’s unacceptable,” he told her. “We need to complete our mission We must go the distance.”
“We completed our mission, sir,” Danny said. “We neutralized the target. We withdrew to await new orders.”
“Why are you discussing this in front of civilians?” Steve asked him, clearly angry at Danny’s violation of the classified nature of their missions.
“They are aware, sir,” Danny told him. “They are undercover intelligence agents.” Danny had to shrug when Kono and Chin gave him sharp looks. He had to tell Steve something to get him to calm down.
“Agents,” Steve said, staring at them. “They don’t look like agents.”
“That’s what makes them so effective,” Malia told him as she covered over the puncture.
“Why are there pink princesses on this band aid?” Steve asked, frowning down at it like he could make them disappear by sheer force of will.
“I borrowed it from the children’s ward,” Malia told him. “I didn’t bring any others with me.”
“Children’s ward,” Steve repeated. “You said we weren’t in the hospital.”
“We aren’t, sir,” Danny assured him. “She just left duty at the hospital.”
“You are dismissed,” Steve said to the other three.
“I’ll be dismissed as soon as you take your medication,” the doctor informed him, three pills cupped in her hand.
“What are these?” he asked, looking at them suspiciously.
“Anti-biotic and aspirin for the fever,” she said.
“The third?” he demanded.
She sighed softly, looking over at the blond lieutenant.
“It’s a pain pill, sir. You need to take it in order to sleep,” Danny explained.
“Absolutely not,” Steve said in refusal. “Unacceptable.”
“All right,” the doctor said, removing one of the tablets. Steve accepted the remaining two and a fresh cup of water from his lieutenant to wash them down.
“You may go,” he said. “Not you, Lieutenant,” he said when Danny started for the door.
“I need to brief them, sir. I’ll be right back.”
Steve considered his words for a moment before nodding in approval.
Danny went into the hallway with Malia, Chin and Kono, closing the door almost the entire way before leading them further away from it.
“I didn’t think it was this bad,” Malia said quietly.
“It’s been worse since he woke up,” Danny said. “At least he trusts me.”
“That’s a blessing,” Chin said. “What do you want us to do?”
“Can you stay out of sight? At least for now? I’m going to need to stay with him or he’s going to try to overthrow the neighbors.”
“Of course,” Chin said. “Anything you need, brah. You know that.”
“Yeah,” Danny said with a sigh. “You tell the Governor?”
“I did,” Kono agreed. “He said if there’s anything you need, just let us know and we’ll call.”
“I still think it would help if one of the Admirals would come and relieve him of duty,” Malia said.
“If he’s still like this tomorrow, I’ll let you call,” Danny agreed, turning toward the door when Steve called for him. “I’ll be right there, Commander,” he called back. “Can you go heat some broth? I don’t know if I’ll get him to drink it but I need to get something inside him.”
“Of course,” Chin agreed. “You better get back in there before he brings you up on charges.”
“He’s welcome to try,” Danny said. “Thank you all.”
“I need to get back,” Malia said with a gentle kiss to his cheek. “Call me any time.”
“I will,” Danny said, turning to reenter the bedroom. “Yes sir.”
“They’ve left?” Steve asked, staring over at the door.
“For now,” Danny said, sitting in a chair next to the bed. He didn’t particularly care that Steve was frowning at him for violating military protocol. He’d barely slept for the past three days since Steve forced his way out of the hospital. Danny thought in retrospect he had already been slipping into warrior mode and that’s why he wouldn’t stay in enemy territory. Danny had witnessed warrior mode once before and if he never had to live through it again, he’d be grateful.
“Where’s your wife?” Steve asked him, his eyes narrowed, a penetrating expression on his face.
Danny glanced down at his left hand where his wedding ring was gleaming against his tanned fingers. He didn’t know if he should point out the matching one Steve wore or not. “I… uhm… I don’t have a wife.”
“That’s a wedding ring,” Steve said in accusation, catching Danny in a blatant lie.
“It is,” Danny agreed. He picked up Steve’s left hand, showing him the identical ring he wore.
“What is this?” Steve asked, studying the unfamiliar band. “I’m married?”
“You are,” Danny said.
“I have a wife,” Steve said like it couldn’t possibly be true.
“No. You are married to me,” Danny said gently.
Steve stared at him before shaking his head. “I can’t be married to you. A subordinate. We would be court-martialed.”
“Don’t ask don’t tell was repealed. You don’t remember. There is no reason we shouldn’t be married,” Danny said sadly.
“I… are we in love?” Steve asked in the same hard tone he’d asked everything else.
“Very much so,” Danny said. “I’m not really in the Navy.”
“Explains your civilian attire,” Steve said. “Why did you lie to me?”
“I didn’t lie,” Danny said. “You believed I was your lieutenant. That was much easier than trying to explain that I’m in fact your husband.”
“Husband,” Steve repeated, looking at his wedding ring again. “I don’t believe you.”
“I’m not surprised, sir,” Danny said.
“What are our orders?” Steve asked, his left hand under the covers so the supposed wedding ring was no longer visible.
“We are to wait until you well. Then we will get new orders.”
“How can I trust you?” Steve asked, his jaw clinched.
“I don’t suppose you have any reason to,” Danny admitted. “Except you have since you woke up. What does your gut tell you?”
“That you are… you would not lie to me,” Steve said a little softer on the edges.
“There you are then,” Danny said. “I wouldn’t lie to you. I never have. I never will.”
Steve nodded at that, looking sharply over at the door when there was a knock. “Check for hostiles.”
“Of course,” Danny said, going over to the door. Chin was on the other side with a cup of broth which Danny accepted with his thanks. He returned to the bed intending to hand it to Steve.
“Who is Danno?” Steve asked as he studied the ring he’d been told was his wedding ring.
“I’m Danno,” Danny replied.
“Danno loves you,” Steve read. “Danno.”
“Yes,” Danny said, taking off his ring and handing it to Steve. Inside his was Steve loves Danno.
“I should remember being married to you,” Steve said thoughtfully.
“You have a fever. You were shot. You have an infection. When these things happen, you go into warrior mode,” Danny said, trading his ring for the mug. “Drink this.”
“Is it safe?” Steve asked.
“Who is it you think is trying to poison you?”
“The hostiles,” Steve said before sniffing the broth.
“Chin made it. He’s not a hostile. He’s one of our closest friends.”
Steve continued to frown at the cup until Danny took it back and sipped from it. “There. If I’m not dead in 5 minutes, you know it’s safe.”
Steve frowned at him before sipping it then nodding. “Warrior mode?”
“Yes. It’s a matter of self-preservation. Your missions are classified but I can only imagine that there were times when you would have died if you hadn’t powered through.”
Steve nodded slowly. “How long have we been married?”
“Six months next week. This is our house.”
“It seems…familiar,” Steve said.
“What do you know for sure?” Danny asked wondering if it was a good idea. Steve knew who he was and had a vague idea who Danny was. He thought those were a win. But he didn’t recognize the house where he had grown up. Nor did he know Chin or Kono. Those two facts were almost more troubling than the fact that Steve didn’t remember being married to Danny.
“That’s classified,” Steve said sternly.
“Let’s start with the easy stuff. Tell me your name.”
“Lieutenant Commander Steven J. McGarrett, US Navy SEALs.”
“You are in the reserves now,” Danny told him.
“That can’t be right,” Steve said.
“Where are you from originally?”
“Hawaii,” Steve said.
“Where do you think you are right now?”
“If you don’t know, I am not at liberty to tell you,” Steve said.
“I do know, you goof. I need to know if you know.”
“Yes, you are my goof. Not my commanding officer.”
“If you aren’t a member of the Navy, I cannot discuss my location with you.”
“I’m right here too. I clearly know where I am. I’m not the one with a fever cooking his brains inside his thick skull,” Danny told him.
Steve looked at him, his head tilted. He didn’t look angry. Mostly he looked amused which did Danny’s heart a world of good to see. “Where are we?”
“We are in Hawaii. That’s where we live.”
“You’re not from Hawaii,” Steve informed him.
“No, I’m not. I’m from New Jersey. That’s where I was born. Now I’m from Hawaii. This is my home as long as you and Grace are here.”
“Grace,” Steve said with a soft sigh.
“You know who Grace is?” Danny asked.
“Not precisely. But the idea of her is comforting.”
“She’s my daughter. If you are feeling up to it, she’ll be coming over this weekend.”
“Your daughter? Not mine?” Steve asked.
“No. She’s mine from my previous marriage. We won’t discuss my ex-wife. I don’t want to make your blood boil as well as your brain.”
“Rachel is better than she used to be,” Steve said casually before frowning. “Rachel?”
“Never mind,” Danny said waving it away. “Some things surface faster than others. Finish your broth. Then you’ll need to get some sleep.”
Steve seemed resigned to doing as he was told, drinking the last of the warm broth before handing the cup to Danny. “You’ll stay?”
“Of course,” Danny promised. “I’m going to get some work done but I’m not leaving the bedroom. It’s completely safe for you to go to sleep.”
“That is acceptable,” Steve agreed, lowering himself in the bed. Careful of the IV, he turned on his side where he could see Danny in his chair.
Danny glanced up from his computer to smile at Steve who was watching him with heavy-lidded eyes. “What? Go to sleep already.”
Steve nodded but didn’t close his eyes, content to simply watch Danny working. “What are you doing?”
“Paperwork,” Danny said. “Something you abhor.”
“I do remember that,” Steve said.
“Not surprised as much as you hate it.”
“The medic…doctor,” Steve said but then stopped.
Danny could see the worry on his face. “Yeah?”
“Is there any reason to believe I will not fully recover my memory?” Steve finally asked in a carefully neutral tone. He could have been asking for the weather report for all the emotion he was displaying.
“You’ll be fine,” Danny assured him gently. “This isn’t the first time you’ve done this. It’s the fever. Once it breaks, you’ll be back to your ordinary cantankerous self.”
“Cantankerous,” Steve repeated.
“Yes,” Danny said. “Stubborn. Bull-headed.”
“Aren’t those the same?”
“Not when it comes to you. Bossy. Know-it-all.”
“If I’m so awful, why did you marry me?” Steve asked. It was clear he was teasing which was another excellent sign pointing toward his recovery.
“I ask myself that on a daily basis,” Danny claimed with a smile that negated his words.
“Because you love me.”
“Maybe. You can’t be sure,” Danny said, standing up long enough to kiss Steve’s overheated forehead. “Stop fighting it and go to sleep. I’ll be right here when you wake up.”
“Don’t you need to eat?”
“Someone will bring me something eventually. I’ll take it on faith it’s not poisoned,” Danny told him. “Do you want some water?”
Steve shook his head and finally closed his eyes. Danny would have resumed his seat but Steve had wrapped his hand around Danny’s forearm, not that Danny was surprised. Even when Steve didn’t know him, he wanted Danny close by.
Danny waited until he was absolutely sure Steve was asleep before slipping out of his grasp. That Steve didn’t wake reassured Danny that he wasn’t having fever dreams which were the worst.
“Danno?” a familiar voice was saying as he surfaced. He was cramped from sleep, a low throbbing in his head.
“Hey,” Danny said with a smile when he saw Steve watching him. “How are you feeling?”
“Better,” Steve decided. “Why were you sleeping in that chair?” he asked as Danny moved to sit on the edge of the bed.
“You know who I am?”
“Of course,” Steve said, frowning. “Why? What happened?”
“You were in warrior mode,” Danny said, soothing the wrinkles on Steve’s forehead.
“Not again,” Steve said with a sigh.
“Yeah. Who are Chin and Kono?” Steve told him, Danny nodding in approval. “Sam Denning?”
“The Governor. I’m fine, Danno, really,” Steve told him. “I’m sorry.”
“You have no reason to be,” Danny assured him. “Just don’t bring me up on charges for insubordination.”
“I promise,” Steve agreed, taking a deep breath. “Can you help me to the bathroom?”
“If you let me take most of your weight. You still have a bullet wound in your thigh.”
“Shit,” Steve said, looking down at his leg. “That must have hurt.”
“I’ll say,” Danny said, hoisting him up. Steve was leaning on him and the IV stand he had to roll along with them. “You need a shower,” Danny said, wrinkling his nose.
“I don’t think Malia would approve,” Steve said, letting Danny lower him onto the toilet.
“Probably not,” Danny agreed.
“I really need to brush my teeth.”
“That’s fine,” Danny agreed, coating his toothbrush and handing it to him. “You need to eat something.”
“Okay,” Steve said. “Is it night?”
“It is. It’s 2:30. I’ll run downstairs when you’re safe back in bed.”
Steve carefully brushed his teeth before spiting and rinsing. “I’m not going to stay awake long enough to eat.”
“All right,” Danny said. “You can take your medicine and go back to sleep.”
“Will you sleep with me?” Steve asked with giant puppy dog eyes.
“If you promise not to fight with me all night,” Danny said, hoisting him off the toilet and helping him back over to their bed.
“I’ll do my best,” Steve said, carefully getting back under the covers and waiting as Danny joined him after he took his medicine. Steve rolled onto his side, putting one arm on top of Danny, instantly asleep. Danny smiled at his goof and followed him into sleep.
Chapter 10: I Get Around
They were at Hickam Air Force Base to talk to one of the colonels about a possible suspect within his ranks. The colonel assured them they would have his full and complete cooperation. With that, Steve and Danny turned to follow the hallways back out to the parking lot when an attractive woman wearing fatigues and a smile stopped in front of them.
“Hello Commander,” she said, her voice low and unmistakably seductive.
“Lieutenant,” Steve returned, his smile almost as bright as hers.
“What brings you here?” she asked, not even glancing over at Danny who felt as though he’d been rendered invisible. An all too frequent occurrence when he was with Steve.
“Official Five-0 business,” he said vaguely.
“I see,” the lieutenant replied, still smiling up at him. “I got off at 17:00.”
“I’m…uhm… busy,” he said, waving down the hallway before easing away from her.
“Call me,” she said as Danny trailed behind Steve toward the exit.
“Friend of yours?” Danny asked as they emerged into the bright sunlight.
“Something like that,” Steve said, opening the driver door and folding himself in.
“Uh huh,” Danny muttered, looking out his window.
It happened again at the restaurant where they went to interview the maître ’d about one of their cooks.
“Well hello sailor,” the hostess said as they were leaving.
“Hi, Brenda,” Steve said, smiling vaguely down at her.
“You haven’t been in for a while, Steve. We’ve missed you,” she said, looking up at him with an air of expectation.
“I’ve been… busy,” he said with a one-shoulder shrug.
“Call me,” she said as he hustled Danny out the door.
“Friend of yours?” Danny asked.
“At one time,” Steve deflected.
“Uh huh,” Danny said before getting into the car.
The next day they ended up at a local hair salon that catered to the wealthy of Honolulu. There was a chance the salon was at the heart of a crime ring that was targeting that same population. Danny was a step behind Steve when an attractive man stepped in Steve’s path.
“Steve,” the man said with a tone of familiarity. “How have you been?”
“I’ve been good, Tako,” Steve said, his body rigid.
“Good,” Tako said, sweeping Steve with his eyes. “It’s been too long.”
“I’ve been…busy,” Steve said, looking past Tako. “Is Iwanaka here?”
“She’s in the back,” Tako said, pointing toward a closed door. “Call me.”
Steve smiled tightly and nodded before brushing past Tako who did not move aside to let Steve by. Danny stared at Tako before following Steve into the large office behind the salon.
“I’m not saying you are involved, Iwanaka,” Steve was saying, his arms crossed as he stared down at the woman looking up at him with a familiar gleam in her eyes. “I’m saying someone may be using your schedule to rob their houses.”
“I’ll keep an eye open, Steven,” she said in a tone that was promising her help with more than the case.
“Thank you,” he said, his stance still rigid. “Call me if you hear anything that is at all suspicious.”
“I certainly will,” she agreed too readily. “You could call me. Anytime.”
He nodded curtly and turned to retreat. Danny followed silently, studying the tension in the lines of Steve’s muscles.
Their next stop was a local playhouse that also seemed tied to the robberies. The theater was supported through donations and there was a chance their donor list had been compromised. Steve knocked on the door that led to the box office, Danny congratulating him on his restraint in not simply kicking it in.
“We open at…oh,” the man behind the glass door said before smiling. He unlocked and opened the door, gesturing them in. “Hi Steve. What brings you here?”
“Benny,” Steve said. “Is Alfred here?”
“Not until 4,” Benny said smiling up at Steve. “Can I help you with something? Anything?”
Steve explained about the robberies, Benny occasionally nodding. Danny had the feeling if there was a test about the words Steve had said, Benny would not pass. If it was a quiz on the color of Steve’s eyes or the shape of his tattoos, Benny would score an A+.
“This could be disastrous for us,” Benny said even though his smile never faded.
“Can you tell Alfred to call me as soon as he gets here?” Steve requested.
“Of course,” Benny agreed. “You should give me a call. It’s been way too long. We could catch up.”
“I’ve been…busy,” Steve said with a nod before turning for the door.
Danny didn’t say anything even when they were in the car. All he could do was look over at Steve who was resolutely staring out the windshield of the unmoving car. “Do you know everybody?” Danny finally asked in a quiet voice.
“I…” Steve turned to him, a lost look on his face. Lost and guilty. The guilt should have helped but it only annoyed Danny more.
“You know what,” Danny said, waving a hand in a familiar gesture. “Never mind. Forget I asked. It’s your business.” He turned to look out the passenger window, trying to ignore the waves of discomfort radiating off of Steve. Trying to pretend he wasn’t there much as Steve had done to him for the past two days. Or longer if Danny was really honest with himself.
“Danny,” Steve said.
“No. It’s your life. It’s your business,” Danny said, refusing to look over at him.
“Will you let me explain?”
“There’s nothing to explain,” Danny said in a hard tone. “We need to get back to the office.”
Steve took a deep breath before starting the car to return to the Palace in heavy, uncomfortable silence.
Chapter 11: Blast From The Past
The team was having lunch before dispersing for the weekend. They didn’t have any open cases and the paperwork was done and filed. They had worked practically non-stop for the past three weeks so Steve called for an early end to their day on Friday.
They were laughing at Kono as she told the story of the time she accidentally found Chin’s stash of girly magazines.
“They were totally tame,” Chin protested with a laugh.
“Tame or lame?” Danny teased.
“That was the best part,” Kono said, her hand on Chin’s shoulder as she laughed, her entire face lighting up. “He had hidden them in the shed but they were swimsuit magazines. You see more skin in this restaurant.”
Chin’s face was a delightful shade of pink as Danny and Steve ribbed him.
“Such an innocent,” Danny said with a laugh.
“Have you ever seen a girl naked?” Steve teased, making Danny and Kono laugh even harder.
“Stop,” Chin said. “Just stop.” He was smiling, not minding at all being the cause of their amusement. It was good to see them laughing after the cases they had had.
They were still laughing at him when a man with dark hair and dark eyes hesitated then stopped by their table. “Danny?”
Danny looked up at the sound of his name, standing when he saw who had said it. “Tom,” Danny said, excited to see the man in jeans and a blue polo shirt. “What are you doing here?”
“Vacation,” Tom said, holding his hand to Danny with a smile. Danny used his hand to pull the other man into a hug. “Your islands are beautiful,” Tom said when there was some distance between them. Danny was still smiling up at him.
“They aren’t really my islands,” Danny said, his eyes crinkling at the corners. “God it’s good to see you.”
“You too,” Tom said, glancing at the three others staring up at them.
“Oh,” Danny said with a small start. “Where are my manners? This is Tom Westchester. We went to school together. This is Steve, Kono, and Chin.”
Steve and Chin rose enough to shake hands, Kono’s smile dimpling her cheeks as she looked up at him.
“Do you want to join us?” Danny asked, gesturing at an empty chair at the next table.
“I wouldn’t want to intrude,” Tom said in some uncertainty.
“Please,” Danny said. “We haven’t seen each other in, what, three years?”
“Four,” Tom said with a laugh.
“Right,” Danny said, dragging the empty chair over and placing it between his chair and Steve. Tom sat in it, requesting a beer from the waitress who appeared at the table.
“So you’re from Jersey?” Steve asked, passing him the peanuts.
“I was. Now I live in Missouri,” Tom said.
“Are you here with your family?” Kono asked, sounding completely innocent. But Danny recognized the look on her face. She was probing to her own ends.
“Nope,” Tom said. “All on my own.”
“So what happened to…what was his name?” Danny asked with a smile.
“Morris,” Tom said with a shrug. “We parted ways a couple of years ago.”
“Sorry,” Danny said. “You still with Anheuser-Busch?”
“I am,” Tom agreed. “Offer’s still open.”
Danny shook his head at that. “How many times do I have to tell you no?”
“What offer?” Kono asked, her smile slipping. She glanced over at Steve who was not pretending to smile.
“I told him any time he wants a job with a great salary and even better benefits, I’d get him on,” Tom said.
“And I told you I like being a cop,” Danny said with a laugh.
“You’ll come to your senses one day,” Tom said, looking up at the waitress when she returned with their orders.
“Did you want something to eat?” Danny asked as he accepted his lunch.
Tom was about to accept until he glanced over at Steve who was staring at him. “I don’t think so,” Tom decided, a smile barely appearing. “I’m going to go soak in some of your fabulous sunshine.”
“Where are you staying?” Danny asked, standing when Tom did. “We should have dinner while you’re here.”
“Sure,” Tom said, shaking Danny’s hand. “I’ll give you a call.”
Danny nodded but frowned before sitting back down. The chair Tom had been sitting in had been returned to the neighboring table, Steve focused on his burger, Chin and Kono watching Danny. “What?” Danny finally said, returning their looks with one of his own.
“Never mind,” Chin said, reaching for one of Kono’s fries.
Danny frowned at them before looking over at Steve who was doing everything possible to avoid Danny’s gaze. “What?” Danny asked again. “What’s with the hostility? Because he’s a haole?”
“He knows where he’s not welcome,” Kono finally said.
“Not welcome? How is he not welcome? He’s a friend from back home,” Danny said, looking at his friends.
“More than a friend?” Steve demanded, putting his napkin down to stare over at Danny.
“What kind of question is that?” Danny asked, frowning at Steve like he had never met him. What the hell was he talking about?
“Never mind,” Steve said, turning his body to talk to Chin and Kono in a way that left Danny out of the conversation. Danny gapped open mouthed at him, not having any idea what to say in response to Steve’s ice cold shoulder.
“I have no idea what just happened,” Danny said as much to himself as to his friends. He couldn’t say he was surprised when they did not answer him.
Chapter 12: Sports Illustrated
“Oh. My. God,” Danny said. He was sitting on the floor in the closet of what had been Steve’s childhood room, which they converting into Grace’s bedroom. He had discovered a box of magazines in the back corner of the closet and had cautiously peered inside. He had expected to find Steve’s stash of porn. Every guy Danny knew had one.
Instead he found a box of Sports Illustrated. The oldest edition was from Steve’s senior high school year, the article inside speculating on where the top high school prospects would go to college. The next one in the pile featured Steve running for a touchdown in his Annapolis uniform. Top NFL Recruits Playing College Ball Today it said. The third one didn’t have Steve on the cover but looking through it, Danny found an article on why the Naval Academy was at the top of the heap that year. Steve’s name seemed to be mentioned at least twice per paragraph.
Further down the stack he found a copy of the Sports Illustrated from Steve’s senior year at the Academy. Will He or Won’t He? was written in bold red letters across his impressive thighs.
“Danny?” Steve’s voice said from the doorway. “Where’d you go?”
“I’m in here,” Danny said from the closet. “Looking through your past.”
“My past?” Steve said, coming into the closet. “Oh. I forgot I had those.”
Danny looked up from the magazines, amazement on his face. “You never mentioned any of this.”
Steve shrugged, sitting down next to him. “Didn’t seem relevant.”
“But you were a major talent. Nationally ranked. You could have been an NFL quarterback.”
“Not if I wanted to serve my country,” Steve said, closing the magazine in Danny’s lap to look at the picture. It felt like the person on that cover was someone entirely different.
“You couldn’t be drafted?” Danny asked in awe.
“Sure. But I couldn’t play until I’d served the five years,” Steve said with a shrug. “I didn’t want to commit to the NFL when the Navy was where my heart was.”
“Wow, Babe,” Danny said. “I knew you were good. But this… this is something else entirely.”
“It was a long time ago,” Steve said in dismissal.
“Wow,” Danny repeated, leaning closer to kiss him. “I’m dating the star quarterback.”
“Should I order you a cheerleader outfit? I’m sure I can find one your size,” Steve said with a leer.
“I’ll cheer for you anytime, baby,” Danny said making it sound like a promise, sealing it with a hard, passionate kiss. If it hadn’t been about to become Grace’s closet, they would have gone for the proverbial touchdown right there. But Danny called for a time-out and moved the action to their bedroom. Score!
Chapter 13: Birthright
“Hey, cuz. What’s up?” Chin asked Kono when he sat down beside her on the sand. Kono had a thoughtful, considering expression as she turned toward him.
She had been surfing until about 15 minutes ago, her board standing up beside her. Her hair was damp and still beautiful. The bikini she wore was dark blue with white polka-dots, brand new, Chin thought.
“Do you ever feel like this is… I don’t know. Like it’s all too much somehow?” she finally said.
“Too much?” Chin repeated, looking out over the sparkling blue of the ocean as she gestured to it.
“We’re so lucky to live here,” Kono said slowly, weighing her words carefully. “The sun and the ocean. The sand… everything. Do you ever feel… guilty?”
“Guilty,” Chin said, giving her question the serious thought it deserved. “No I don’t,” he decided.
“I shouldn’t either,” Kono acknowledged. “This is the land of our ancestors and we nearly lost it completely. Maybe I’m not grateful enough to those who made sure we’d have the chance to sit here and watch the tourists make fools of themselves on their boards.”
“You became a police officer to protect your home. That’s pretty grateful,” Chin reminded her.
“You think so?” Kono asked, looking over at him.
“But we aren’t regular police officers,” Kono said, still carefully deliberating on each word before using it.
“The job we have is harder,” Chin told her. “Danny says so all the time.”
“How would he know?” Kono laughed. “He’s so busy pining for Steve he can barely think of anything else.”
“There is that,” Chin said. “They are quite the pair.”
“We should tell them and put them out of their misery,” Kono suggested.
“Not our business, cuz,” Chin said, a warm hand on her shoulder. “You okay now?”
“I guess. I guess Ian’s death really hit me harder than I thought. It’s been nearly three months.”
“I understand that,” Chin assured her. “We mourn in our own time, in our own way. There are no rules.”
“Yeah,” Kono said. “I can’t imagine living anywhere else.”
“This is our birthright. We honor that. That’s all anyone can expect.”
“Yeah,” Kono repeated, focusing fully on Chin. “Why are you here?”
“Danny was walking by with Grace and said you looked a million miles away. He thought I was better equipped to talk to you.”
“Grace is here?” Kono asked, searching the beach.
“They are over there,” Chin said, pointing down the beach where Kono could see Danny and Grace on a blanket. Danny was coating Grace with sunscreen as she tried to stand still. But it was clear what she really wanted to do was run down to the water’s edge where Steve waited.
“Let’s go say hi,” Kono said, standing up and retrieving her board.
“Of course,” Kono said, her smile finally reappearing and dimpling her cheeks. “If nothing else, we can eavesdrop as Steve and Danny yell at each other.”
“That will be different,” Chin said with a shake of his head, following Kono down the beach.
“Hey,” Kono said in excitement when she approached them. Grace slipped out of Danny’s reach and raced over to her, throwing her arms around Kono’s waist.
“Kono,” Grace squealed. “Chin. Come swim with us.”
“Sure,” Chin agreed, following Grace to Danny. “She done?”
“I think so,” Danny said with a smile, studying Kono. “You okay, babe?”
“I am. Thank you,” Kono said, going with Grace who was tugging on her hand.
“You’re welcome,” he said with a wink. He watched them go into the ocean, very soon disappearing before jumping out like a pod of dolphins. Steve launched Grace into the air until she landed in the water with barely a splash. She had twisted her body to dive into the ocean like she was born to it. Apparently she was a water-baby who had found her true home. Danny was just happy she was surrounded by her water-family who would keep her safe no matter what.
Chapter 14: True Colors
this is the last one. At least for now.
Thanks for all the comments and kudos!! Each and every one makes me smile!
“Uhm… Dad?” John said to Steve on Saturday morning. Danny and Emma were at the grocery store as usual, Steve assigned house-cleaning duties. Mostly that meant he vacuumed everything that needed to be vacuumed, scrubbed all the toilets, and changed all the beds. Danny’s only objection to doing any of those chores was that he never seemed to do them to Steve’s complete satisfaction.
“Yeah Bud?” Steve asked, pausing in his war on the germs he knew were lurking in the sink in his and Danny’s bathroom sink. Sure it looked clean. But it wasn’t clean enough for him.
All 4 feet 10 inches of John shuffled, his hands deep in his pockets. Steve didn’t need to see the pink painting John’s cheek to know there was a confession in the offing. It had been the same for all of John’s 11 years.
“What, John? Just tell me,” Steve said, knowing Danny would disapprove of the hard edge on his voice. But John was stalling and Steve knew it.
“I know I’m never supposed to fight at school.”
“No you aren’t,” Steve agreed, standing straight and turning to look at John instead of watching his reflection.
“Do you know?” John asked quietly.
“Yes,” Steve confirmed, putting a firm finger under John’s chin to tilt his head up so John would meet his eyes. “Dr. Greer called me yesterday.”
“You aren’t mad?” John asked, surprised.
“I should be,” Steve admitted. “But he told me that you were protecting Zach. How can I be mad about that?”
“They were calling him names. And they said we weren’t really family,” John said.
“We are ohana,” Steve said. “That’s even more important.”
“Is Danno mad?”
“No. He understands too. It’s a part of who you. Part of what makes you our son. He said we weren’t going to say anything if you didn’t tell us.”
“Oh. I wouldn’t keep that from you,” John said in relief.
“I know that, Bud. Next time, try to tell your teacher instead of hitting the bullies yourself. A lot less trouble that way.”
“Right,” John agreed with a nod. “You need any help?”
“Sure. Grab a sponge,” Steve said, kissing his son on the head before they returned to their war against dirt and grime.
Chapter 15: For Want of a Button
It's all about the buttons and their need to be set free.
Written for rocsfan. She knows why.
(See the end of the chapter for notes.)
The meeting was endless. The Governor asked the same questions repeatedly. Did he think asking them differently would bring about a different response? Steve was amazed at Danny’s patience as he explained, one more time, why Chin needed that particular piece of hardware or Kono couldn’t just make do with the rifle she had been using. Steve had witnessed that level of patience from Danny only when he was dealing with their children. Maybe the kids had mellowed them both. Steve couldn’t say for sure. Danny still ranted more than anyone Steve had ever met, and more often than not, Steve was the reason. Or the excuse. Not that Danny ever really needed one.
As Danny showed the Governor the meticulous Excel spreadsheets he had prepared to justify all the seeming “exorbitant expenditures,” Steve kept himself occupied by watching the flex and bunch of Danny’s muscles under the fabric of his dress shirt. This was one of Steve’s personal favorites – blue and yellow strips that always clung to Danny’s chest and shoulders like it couldn’t bear to be away from him. Steve knew just how the shirt felt. He wondered how Danny continued to defy the laws of physics to keep the shirt closed. The buttons strained against their holes, doing their best to escape confinement and share the beauty that lay beneath with the entire world.
“Isn’t that right, Steve?” Danny said. There was a twinkle in his eye that told Steve he knew he’d been caught. Well. No matter. The distraction of contemplating the death-defying buttons was worth it.
“Absolutely,” Steve said with a decisive nod. Danny knew he had no earthly idea what he’d just agreed to but the Governor was apparently convinced.
“And there is no other option?” the Governor asked, studying the spreadsheet.
“None that we’ve found, sir,” Steve replied. Danny winked in approval, turning his ‘serious business’ face back to the Governor.
“Very well. Submit the requisitions and I’ll sign them,” the Governor said.
“Thank you, sir. We’ll have them to you first thing Monday,” Steve said, standing as the Governor did.
“Very well. Thank you for your time,” Denning said with a brisk nod, leaving to their wishes for his pleasant weekend.
Danny gathered up all of the paperwork he had brought, intentionally avoiding meeting Steve’s eyes.
“Do I want to know what I agreed to?” Steve asked, watching Danny’s fluid, efficient movements which caused even more pressure to his buttons.
“Nope,” Danny said. “If you hadn’t been so busy eye-humping me, you’d know.”
“Eye-humping is not all I plan to do to you as soon as I get you home,” Steve said in a low, seductive voice. That tone never failed to send shivers skittering over Danny’s body.
“Then it’s probably a good thing Emma and John are staying at Rachel’s tonight,” Danny said with a wink.
“They are?” Steve asked, frowning.
“Yes, Steven,” Danny said with a sigh. “Our children are going fishing on Stan’s boat tomorrow. So they are spending the night at their house.”
“Oh,” Steve said. “And you told me this?”
“Several times,” Danny confirmed.
“Was I eye-humping you when you said it?”
“Probably. You usually are,” Danny said in a stern voice.
“Oh like you mind,” Steve laughed, rounding the table to kiss Danny on the mouth.
“I never said I minded,” Danny corrected, smiling up at his goof-ball husband. “Why don’t you call the office and tell everyone to go home for the weekend?”
“So we can?” Steve asked, leaning down to kiss Danny again.
“Exactly,” Danny said.
“Excellent idea,” Steve said, taking his phone out of one of his many pockets. It didn’t take long for him to call Chin and let him know their work-week was finally over. Because 78 hours was enough for anyone. Even Hawaii Five-0.
“Do we have anything in the house to eat?” Danny asked as they got into the Camaro. The papers were carefully stored in the backseat, no longer needed until Monday.
“You,” Steve said.
Danny laughed and looked over at Steve. He had an expression that he usually saved for chasing down criminals and scrubbing toilets. When Steve turned it on him, it usually meant they would forget to eat dinner. And Danny was very much okay with that.
Danny didn’t try to engage Steve in conversation on the trip home. They had barely seen each other over the past week, sleeping a luxury that had mostly dispensed with. Danny usually made it home in time to feed the kids and catch a few hours of sleep. Steve had hardly been home at all. They had a lot of catching up to do.
Steve barely had the engine off before he was out of the car, waiting impatiently for Danny to leave his side. When he did, Steve grabbed his wrist and practically dragged him up the walk.
“You are still a Neanderthal, after all these years,” Danny complained, pressing up against Steve’s back as he unlocked the door.
“Yes I am,” Steve grunted, opening the door to pull Danny through. As soon as they were inside, Steve shoved Danny up against the door and attached himself to Danny’s mouth like he had been deprived of oxygen and only Danny could cure him.
“I’ve missed you,” Danny said as Steve kissed down his jaw to his neck, mouthing the thrum of his heartbeat.
“Mmm…” Steve agreed, nipping Danny’s neck beneath the collar of the shirt. “Too many clothes.”
“If you’ll get off me, I’ll do something about it,” Danny said, his hands firmly on Steve’s ass, holding him as close as he could.
Steve shook his head as he licked his way down to Danny’s chest, Danny shivering from the sensations Steve never failed to stir. He was rock hard and if Steve didn’t touch him soon, it wouldn’t matter.
“Steve,” Danny pleaded, thrusting his hips to increase the amount of delicious pressure on his cock. “Do something about this.”
“I will,” Steve said, looking at Danny with a wicked smile before sucking a mark into his neck.
“What? What is that look? Nothing good ever comes from that look,” Danny complained. It was pro forma. He had no choice.
Steve laughed, a deep throaty sound that went straight to Danny’s erection. Danny thought Steve as planning to bite a line down his chest until he felt a sharp tug on his shirt followed by the unmistakable sound of ripping fabric.
“You animal. Did you just bite off my button?” Danny demanded. Steve smiled at him, the evidence still in his teeth. “This is one of my favorite shirts,” Danny protested as Steve spit out the button and bit off the next one. “You are buying me a new one,” Danny whispered, the sight of those strong white teeth removing each button more than Danny could stand. “You can touch me or I can come without it,” Danny whispered into Steve’s hair. Steve laughed, biting off the last button before using his teeth to open Danny’s belt. Danny was glad he was leaned up against the door because his knees had gone weak. It got worse when Steve opened his pants the same way. Danny tried to hurry things along by pulling himself out of his pants but Steve slapped away his hands.
“This is mine,” Steve growled, Danny kissing Steve’s head.
“Always has been,” Danny confirmed softly.
Steve shoved down the offending pants and pressed kisses on the line from navel to where Danny’s cock bounced against his stomach. Danny moaned when Steve blew a cool stream across the weeping tip.
“Please,” Danny moaned, trying to shove Steve’s mouth lower. Steve took the hint and went to his knees, finally, finally taking Danny into this mouth. “Oh God,” Danny whispered, his head banging against the door. “Oh God. Just like that.”
Steve hummed around him, Danny shivering in pleasure.
It wasn’t long before Steve’s expertise in all things Danny had Danny spilling down his throat, Steve taking it all in before releasing him. He kissed his way back up Danny’s stomach and chest, easing him bonelessly onto the floor.
Steve sat pressed next to him, entwining their fingers as he waited for Danny to return to him. Danny finally focused enough to turn and smile at Steve, bliss written all over his face.
“I’m sorry about your shirt,” Steve said, looking at the holes he’d made.
“Ehh…” Danny said, waving it away. “It’s just a shirt.”
“I was my favorite,” Steve said, mourning its loss. But what a way to go.
“You should have thought of that before you attacked me like the animal that you are.”
“Yep,” Steve agreed with an innocent smile. “Let’s take this upstairs and see what other articles of clothing we can destroy.”
“You are on,” Danny agreed, allowing Steve to help him to his feet. They’d find all the buttons in the morning so the kids wouldn’t know what had happened to the shirt. Some things your children just did not need to know.
I may write a sequel from the button's POV. Or I may not. Yes, I'm very decisive. I think. But I'm not sure.
Chapter 16: One Button's Story
CRACK. Pure and total crack. OMG. I can't believe I'm even posting it.
I'm sorry. Really.
His story was not so different from that of his brothers. He knew his place and stayed in it. Except on those rare occasions when he slipped through and left the yeoman’s share of the work to his closest neighbor.
He was Button Number Three. His was a place of honor coveted by all other Shirt Buttons. To be anointed Button Number Three meant leaving the top of Shirt open just enough to offer a glimpse but not the entire picture. Button Number Two left too much to the imagination, Number Four not enough. And Button Number One was scorned for being too high (and mighty some of the other Buttons gossiped to one another in the dark of the closet.) Five and Six lived in those nether-regions whispered about but never discussed in polite Button society. It was rumored to be hot there, stuffed as they were inside The One’s trousers. But Button Number Three lived in the fresh air, the sunlight reflecting off his mother of pearl surface.
Button Number Three held it all together. He got all the attention. He was the last put in place, the first freed from confinement when Shirt was done for the day. Shirt took all the credit for the stares they garnered but Button Number Three knew he was the one they were all looking at, the one they all admired for doing his job so gracefully and so well.
Except - Tall Man looked at him with burning in his eyes. Tall Man’s touch was rough as he shoved Button Number Three through his hole, impatience making his fingers clumsy. Tall Man tried blaming Button but he would never snag on purpose. The One never had trouble sliding him through and settling him in place. Tall Man could learn from The One on how to treat Buttons with the respect they were all due.
Button Number Three loved The One to whom they all belonged. He was jealous that Shirt was in contact with The One in ways Button never could be. Shirt got to cling to The One, caressing his skin and showing off his muscles. Shirt got to see all of The One. Button Number Three spent the majority of his time looking at Tall Man’s hard stomach. And because Tall Man refused to wear a real Shirt, there were no Buttons for Button Number Three to commiserate with. Maybe if Tall Man wore a respectable Shirt once in a while, he’d treated The One’s Shirt and Buttons with more care, with honor rather than as a barrier standing in the way of what he wanted.
The air was charged with something like static the fateful afternoon. Tall Man was staring at Button Number Three in such a way that if he had skin, it would be covered with goosebumps. There was a familiar fire in Tall Man’s eyes, a fire Button Number Three had seen time and time again. Nothing good came of that look. It meant Shirt would be discarded roughly, in haste and thoughtlessness. There were rumors of what occurred between The One and Tall Man after Shirt was tossed shamelessly aside but none of the Buttons could confirm the stories. Number Three suspected Five and Six knew more than they were saying but they kept their secrets sewn up tight.
Button Number Three’s view of the ride in Car was obscured by the seat belt but he knew instinctively where they were headed. He was going home. The One’s work day was over. Shirt would soon be in the hamper with his brothers, waiting until he was refreshed and hung lovingly back in the closet.
Number Three could feel the heart racing under him. He hadn’t seen enough coffee go past him to account for the speed of The One’s breathing or heartbeat. He suspected Number Five and Number Six knew the truth about exactly how and why The One was reacting, but Number Three wasn’t in a position to inquire.
He was momentarily free to see their house when Car came to a screeching halt. But all too soon, Tall Man was looming over him, manhandling The One and straining Number Three’s hole. Number Three could see that Tall Man’s breathing was equally fast, his Shirt stretching and relaxing to accommodate his reactions to The One. Button Number Three did not enjoy being squished up against the hard planes of Tall Man’s back when The One draped himself there. What was The One doing? He did not need to be encouraging the brute-like behavior of anyone who had no respect for Shirt.
Tall Man shoved Shirt up against the closed door, attacking The One with his mouth. Shirt hated it when that happened. It made him wet and he would begin to wilt. Shirt liked standing tall and proud but Tall Man so often made that impossible. The Buttons knew they would be next. Tall Man would use his work roughened fingers to shove them aside, revealing the treasures that they worked so hard to protect.
But…but this time, Tall Man didn’t release Button Number Three from confinement. There was Button Number Three, one moment glaring at Tall Man’s ridiculous tee shirt. And the next, the next moment there was only darkness. And steamy air soaking his surface. What? What was happening? Why were Tall Man’s teeth showing? Wait! What was he doing?
Button Number Three struggled to slip out of his hole, to give Tall Man access to The One’s body. But he was too slow. And his delay was his undoing. Tall Man… the savage… the animal… bit through Shirt, jarring Number Three loose, away from his friends, the only family he’d ever known. Button Number Three was disoriented, confused. He was singular, unbound, unsewn….alone in the dark.
He resigned himself to living within the murky depths of Tall Man. It wasn’t a fate he’d ever envisioned for himself.
Neither was he prepared for his flight from the Tall Man’s mouth through the air to come crashing onto the hardwood floor. The indignity of landing face down, under the end table, up against Tall Man’s ridiculous boots. He’d never been warned that such things could happen. How was this possible?
Shirt lay in tatters. Brother Buttons lay strewn about the floor like tiny victims of a material massacre. And Tall Man laughed…laughed at their demise. Like he’d won a prize.
Maybe he had, Button Number Three thought as the last threads of life left him. Maybe he had been the enemy the entire time and only now, now when it was too late, did he understand that The One was willing to sacrifice them all for what he truly wanted. Because Tall Man was more important than all of them combined. If only he’d understood that sooner. Perhaps Five and Six could have warned them. But it was too late. Too late….