Really, it was a no-brainer that this was going to be a bitch.
‘This’ being Danny having to explain the actions of one Matthew Williams to his parents.
Steve sighed as he pulled up in the passenger drop-off zone of Honolulu International. “Danno, I really wish you would let me go with you,” is what he said in the seconds after the sigh.
“Why, so Mom and Pop can blame you, too?”
They’d had this argument…discussion…verbal sparring match…umpteen times in the last few days, ever since Danny had decided he had to do this in person rather than over the phone. No way, no how, did his partner want him along, and Steve wasn’t sure whether to be insulted because Danny didn’t think he could handle being there for his best friend, or relieved because Steve wasn’t sure he could handle an entire upset Williams clan.
Now it was Danny’s turn to sigh. His hand was on the latch that would open the Camaro’s passenger door. His bag was on the seat directly behind him. But Danny didn’t move. Steve put the car in Park, took his hands off the wheel and turned his body as much as he could in the tight fit his legs forced on him.
Danny didn’t look at him. But he didn’t make a move to get out, either. “Dammit,” he breathed, hand coming off the door, thumb and forefinger digging hard into his eye sockets. When his hand came away and he blinked his eyelids open, the result was that his eyes were bloodshot.
Steve suspected Danny had done his fair share of shedding tears since Matt’s departure, but he knew better than to ask whether it was so. “I’ll stay out of the way,” he offered in one last, desperate attempt to not let his partner go through this hell alone. “I’ll stay in a hotel; they won’t even have to know I came with you.”
This got Steve Danny’s full-faced attention. “Why wouldn’t you want them to know you were there?”
Steve half-shrugged. “It’s not that. It’s just…I’m trying to figure out why you don’t want me to come along, and offer solutions for whatever those reasons might be, is all.” There. Truth always worked wonders. Well, most of the time.
Danny shook his head, a wry smile on his face. “Babe, if you came with me to do this, I wouldn’t be hiding you in some hotel,” he said.
Steve cocked his head, a little smile on his face. “Yeah?”
“Yeah,” Danny confirmed, then looked down at his hands. “Shit.”
“That’s it,” Steve said, coming to a decision. He turned back to face front, put the car in Drive, checked his side mirror and pulled out into the busy airport traffic.
“What? What’s it? Where are you going?”
“With you. And I’m not taking no for an answer, Danno. Not this time. I don’t care if you think you need me there or not. I’m coming.” Firm. Decisive. Same way he’d pulled Danny into Five-0, come to think of it.
“Fine,” Danny acquiesced and Steve was so surprised at the immediate capitulation that he almost missed the turn-in for the parking garage. “Assuming they have an open seat.”
“They’ll have one. I’m the head of the state’s task force. They’ll make one.”
“You just love throwing your weight around, don’t you,” Danny stated as a matter of fact more than as a question.
“If it gets me what I want, then yes,” Steve confirmed as he took the ticket from the parking gate, shoved it onto the car’s dashboard and sped off to find a spot.
“You’re impossible,” Danny replied. “You don’t even have an overnight bag.”
Steve shrugged. He found a spot, pulled in, cut the engine. “I’ll just buy whatever I need. You can show me your famous Jersey malls.”
“You want me to take you to a mall? Are you insane?”
Steve winked and grinned as he unlocked the car doors. “According to you? Yep. Come on.”
And so they were on their way. Steve sent a quick text to Chin telling him what was going on, asking him to hold down the fort and telling him they’d be back in a week, provided the stifling smog-filled New Jersey air didn’t permanently damage his lungs.
Chin LOL’d back through the text, told him Good luck, brah. And then, as an afterthought, also, good decision.
Steve smiled as he stepped up to the United Airlines counter. “I need to be on the same flight as my partner,” he said as Danny pulled out his e-ticket and handed it over.
“I’m sorry, sir, but that flight is over-sold as it is.”
“To Newark?” Steve asked incredulously. “That many people go from here to Jersey?”
The counter attendant grinned even as Danny clucked his dismay at Steve’s continual dissing of New Jersey. “Actually, you’d be surprised.”
“Ha,” Danny said.
Steve scowled, pulled out his badge. “It’s official business. I’ll take the jumpseat if I have to,” he said to the short Hawaiian woman as he shoved his badge across the counter.
“Oh!” she exclaimed, color rising up her face. “Commander McGarrett, of course, I apologize. I’ll have it all arranged in just a moment.”
Steve glanced down at Danny, who rolled his eyes, and Steve knew he had a nice, smug grin on his face. “Thank you,” he said, turning his smile back to the attendant.
“My God,” Danny groused five minutes later after he and Steve had been given new tickets and boarding passes that listed them as official travelers for the State of Hawaii and gave them seats in First Class – much to the dismay of two men dressed in suits who were, at this very moment, being told they’d been bumped. “Do you always get what you want?”
The question caught Steve off-guard. “Not always,” he replied, then saw Danny’s look. “What?”
“There’s something hiding in that two-word response,” Danny said as he plopped down into a chair near their gate. “But I’m too tired to figure it out right now.”
“Relax, Danno,” Steve told him as he settled in the chair between Danny and a little toddler whose hands were a mess from whatever strange ice cream concoction she was currently trying to eat. “This time, I’ve got your back.”
He knew Danny was looking sideways at him, but concentrated instead on scanning the gate and what he could see of the terminal with military-like precision. It never hurt to be prepared just in case some weirdo got through Security. It also was a good excuse to not be confronted with Danny’s questioning eyes, which Steve could see well enough out of his peripheral vision.
When at last Danny looked away, pretending to study his ticket and boarding pass, Steve relaxed a fraction. He was going to do this. He was going to see Danny through this tough time. He was even going to meet Danny’s family, whom he’d heard so much about.
He wasn’t really looking forward to the family angst.
But he was looking forward to seeing Danny in his natural element. He suspected that maybe the reason Danny hadn’t wanted him to come along was because he didn’t want Steve to see him there for some reason.
It didn’t matter now, though. Because they were going. Together. Steve elbowed his partner, who elbowed him right back.
“Goof,” Danny said fondly.
“Bigger goof,” Steve replied.
This time, their eyes did meet.
It was only the boarding call for their flight that made them look away.
Being that it was ten o’clock at night, and the Williamses didn’t even know their boy was coming, let alone their boy and his partner, Danny decided the best thing to do was check into a nearby hotel. So he did that while Steve took their rental car down the street a ways to a 24-hour Wal-Mart to get enough clothing for a few days.
“Wal-Mart,” Danny had said. “You’re going to Wal-Mart for clothes.”
“Where else do you think I get my shirts?”
“Cargo pants, too?”
“Special order online, so shit outta luck there.”
“Oh, my God, you’re going to be wearing something other than cargo pants?” Danny spluttered, feigning horror. “I may never recover.”
“Oh, I think you’ll recover just fine,” Steve replied with a smirk as he pulled away from the front circular drive of the…Holiday Inn.
Holiday Inn. Steve wasn’t sure he’d ever stayed in a Holiday Inn. Ah, well, new experiences all the way around, seeing how he’d never been to Jersey, either.
Newark was…dirty. Smoggy. The people drove like they were insane. Steve was surprised that he made the two-mile drive to and from the Wal-Mart in one piece. He was also quite pleased with what he’d found, and had rather enjoyed the ogling looks from the cashier whose line he’d graced with his presence. But now it was back to the hotel, back to find out what kind of room Danny had managed to get for him and back to plan Danny’s next day, when he showed up at his mother and father’s door, said, “Surprise!” and then proceeded to tell them the worst shit he could possibly have come to tell them.
Steve hated family crap. He really did.
But he loved Danny, so he’d deal.
His foot slammed on the brake as he came to a stop in the middle of the Holiday Inn’s parking lot.
“Oh, crud,” he murmured, squeezing his eyes shut until another impatient guest honked their rental car’s horn at him. He swiftly pulled into the nearest open space, ignored the one-finger salute from the other driver, and put the car in Park. “Man,” he breathed as he shut the car off. “Oh, man, oh, man.”
Nothing like figuring something really good out at the worst possible time. Steve concluded, as he grabbed his bags from the trunk and proceeded toward the front entrance of the hotel, that he had the worst timing ever.
He walked up to the front desk. “I believe my partner reserved a room for me,” he said to the young man in the grayish vest and long-sleeved button-down white shirt standing there. “McGarrett? Or maybe Williams.”
The young man tapped on his keyboard a few times, then nodded, grabbed a small envelope off the counter and handed it over. “Yes, sir, this is your key to the suite.”
“Suite?” Steve asked. “He got a suite for me?”
“For the two of you, sir, yes,” the man replied.
Steve made a questioning face but thought it was probably one of those two-bedroom deals and thought okay, that’s pretty cool. “Thank you,” he said.
“No problem. Elevators are to my right, tenth floor.”
Steve nodded and headed for the bank of elevators.
He pushed the button marked 10.
He rode up.
The doors swished open. He looked at the envelope in his hand. Room 1038. He looked up at the signs in the hall, and went to the right. When he reached the door for 1038, he slid the key card from the envelope, opened the door and was surprised to find the room very, very dark.
He was also surprised to smell chlorine, and to hear something that sounded vaguely like bubbling, gurgling water.
“Yeah, in here.”
Steve frowned, walked in, made sure to lock the door behind him, and moved past the bathroom and into the large room. It was about twice the size of his own bedroom. He came to a screeching halt when he walked by where his partner’s voice had come from, which also happened to be the place the chlorine smell and the bubbling, gurgling sounds were coming from.
“Is that…are you in a hot tub?” Steve asked incredulously, placing his bags on the nearest of two beds.
“That’s my bed, Steven, move your shit. And yes, Commander Obvious, I am in a hot tub. I got this suite because it has a hot tub. I wanted a hot tub because I need to relax. From the sound of things, you need to relax too, so get in here.”
“I, uh…didn’t bring my trunks,” Steve said, turning and looking, letting his eyes adjust to the relative darkness, lit only by a faint glow coming from around the curtains over the windows at the far end of the room.
“Neither did I, so what? Get in.”
Danny was sitting in the hot tub naked?
He wanted Steve to join him?
Well, shit. Steve wasn’t going to argue with that. Not after his tiny little epiphany out in the parking lot.
Then why’d he feel so nervous as he pulled his shirt off over his head?
“I knew you couldn’t resist an opportunity to get shirtless again.”
“Getting a lot more than shirtless here, Danno.”
“Who cares, it’s just us.”
Who cares, he said. I care, Steve thought, untying his boots and pulling them off. Socks were next. He unbuttoned his cargo pants fly. Shoved the pants down and pulled them off one leg at a time. He was in his briefs. He stopped, looked at Danny.
“Ew, not in your underwear, have you no sense of common courtesy?”
“It’s more courteous to get into a hot tub with my partner naked?” Steve asked in disbelief.
“Yup,” was Danny’s succinct reply and damn, Steve couldn’t see his face well enough to know what kind of look he was getting. Talk about flying blind.
“Fine,” Steve said and in one swift move, his underwear was off and thrown into the pile with the rest of his dirty clothes. “When in Jersey…”
Danny chuckled as Steve climbed carefully into the small hot tub that wasn’t even wide enough for Steve to stretch his legs out in. Danny seemed to notice. “Sometimes it’s nice having shorter legs,” he said as he nudged his feet under Steve’s knees. “Now just relax.”
“Isn’t that what I’m here to help you do?” Steve asked, legs and the rest of him tingling from the contact.
“Yeah, so start doing,” Danny said.
“Bossy,” Steve muttered. By now he could see well enough to note that Danny was smirking at him.
“You’re only just now realizing this?”
Steve chose to ignore him and instead sank down so that his shoulders were covered by the hot, churning water. This had the effect of his ass settling quite nicely against Danny’s thigh and knee.
“Any idea how you’re going to handle tomorrow?” Steve asked after a few moments of comfortable silence. Or uncomfortable, since all he’d been able to think about was his bare ass touching Danny’s leg.
“I’m not thinking about tomorrow yet. It’s still fifty-four minutes away,” Danny replied.
Steve opened his eyes and looked at Danny. “Okay,” he said, only then realizing that Danny was staring at him. “What?”
“For being here? I tried for days to convince you to let me come along and you didn’t want me to.”
“Why didn’t you want me to come along?”
Danny looked down. He pulled his legs away, knees rising. Steve suddenly felt bereft at the loss of contact. “I don’t know,” he finally said.
“Danny, we’re sitting naked together in a hot tub barely big enough to fit a munchkin. Why did you fight me so hard?”
A few long seconds, then Danny looked up.
And Steve knew the answer without his partner needing to say a word.
His heart started to pound.
This time, there was no airline announcement to tear their eyes from each other’s.
There was no clothing separating everything that they were from each other.
There was nothing but very hot water, very nice-feeling jets of it shooting into their bodies from all angles, and two pairs of eyes that didn’t seem to want to look away.
“Danno?” Steve whispered, mesmerized by the sounds of the hot tub and the eyes he knew were blue, but which looked so dark in their very dark room.
But Danny didn’t say a thing. Instead, he scooted sideways, around the perimeter of the hot tub, until he was so close there was barely an inch separating them from each other.
Their gaze never broke.
And Steve knew without a doubt that he was either about to kiss his partner for the first time, or have a coronary event that would end his Naval career in thirty seconds flat.
“Steve,” Danny finally whispered.
And Steve made his move.