Danny remembers when going to bed before midnight was laughable. He remembers this most clearly when his phone vibrating through his pillow wakes him up at eleven thirty, still in his work clothes from the day, a heavy crease in his cheek from sleeping rough on the sheets.
“Williams,” he croaks, and levers himself up, joints creaking. He wipes at the drool on his cheek.
“Danno,” Steve’s voice crackles in a low drawl through his phone. There’s giggling in the background, and Steve’s answering rumble, before a couple of shuffling noises and a burst of static.
“This is a call for backup,” Kono says seriously, and then bursts into peals of laughter.
“Are you drunk, Kalakaua,” Danny says, and rubs at his eyes. He twists his neck until the pressure eases with a crack.
“Book us, Danno,” Kono says, and her voice is suddenly serious. “Book us a ride home.” She sounds tired, now, and drawn. Danny remembers the way she’s looked the past couple of days, since her surfer mentor or whatever had died, and the tight set to Steve’s jaw when he thinks about his dad. Danny sighs and fumbles around for his keys.
“Where are you?”
Kono and Steve are in a neighbourhood park, lit sickly yellow by half burned out streetlamps. Steve is slumped on a wooden picnic table, picking at green paint chips with the tips of his fingernails. Kono looks up when Danny approaches them, crouched in long green grass. Her eyes are glassy, but she dimples at him, and holds her hands out. Danny leans close and sees a green gecko curled in the cup of her palms.
“His tail’s been cut off,” Kono says in a whisper, “but it’ll grow back.” She drops her hands to the ground and the gecko moves in a long curve, like lightning, into a nearby bush. Steve looks up, his fingers stained, and the purple black bags under his eyes grow in long dark shadows under the weak light. Danny offers Kono a hand and pulls her to her feet.
“Come on, girl scout,” he says, and beckons at Steve, “boy scout.” Steve tries a smile that turns out more like a facial twitch, but he slips off the bench, moving like his bones ache, and they walk to Danny’s car together.
Steve leans against the door, and Danny can smell the tequila on him from three feet away. He opens the front door for Kono, and she balks, swaying. “The front is for you and Steve,” she insists, and instead of waiting for Steve to move off the backdoor like a normal person, she grabs the frame of the open passenger side window and jumps through into the back like the raging action star lunatic she is.
“You’re a lunatic,” Danny says, just to be clear, and shoves at Steve until he slumps into the passenger seat. Danny presses his head against the steering wheel for a full five seconds before turning the engine over. Steve leans his head against the door and closes his eyes.
“Where’s your place, rookie,” Danny asks, tilting the rearview mirror to see Kono curled in the backseat like a cat.
“How’d your date go?” she asks instead, and Danny points the car towards Steve’s.
“It didn’t,” he says lightly, and here’s where Steve comes in with his blundering attempt at psychiatric bullshit in an attempt to help, but he remains quiet. Danny rolls up the window and Steve presses his temple against the glass without opening his eyes.
“Good,” Kono says, and Danny catches a glimpse of a long tan limb stretching against the upholstery.
“Good?” Danny asks, offended, and Kono hums. Danny mutters something about a giant Hawaiian conspiracy to make him miserable and alone and possibly with malaria from all the fucking mosquitoes.
“I like to see you happy,” Kono says, and her words are softer, the syllables rounder. She sounds drowsy. “I like to see the Boss happy too.”
“What?” asks Danny sharply, but Kono murmurs something, her accent thick and heavy, and her hair falls across her face as her breathing evens out.
Steve opens his eyes when Danny parks in front of his house, and scrubs a hand through his hair.
“Kono passed out and my place sure wouldn’t fit you both,” Danny says, and spins his keys around a finger nervously.
“Your place doesn’t fit you,” Steve says. His voice is rougher than it was on the phone. He sounds older. The streetlamp flickers above them and Danny licks at dry lips, tasting blood.
“Everyone’s a critic,” Danny says finally, and in the back Kono stirs.
Kono smashes her face into Steve’s couch and snuffles, like a little kid, and Danny remembers picking Grace out of the back of the car, Rachel’s hand on his shoulder. He shakes himself a little and goes to find her a blanket, stepping over the trail of shirt and shoes and socks Steve had shucked on the way to his bedroom.
“Danny,” Kono says, blinking, and Danny smoothes the blanket over her legs.
“Go to sleep,” he says, and she smiles at him, a real smile.
“Aloha oe,” she mumbles, and he smiles at her.
He walks down the hall and sits on the edge of Steve’s bed. Steve is already lying under worn-soft sheets, turned facing away from Danny. He can’t tell if Steve is sleeping or not. Danny swings his legs up onto the bed, shoes still on, and stares at paint globs on the ceiling until his eyes get too heavy to keep open.
Danny jerks awake, startled from a dream he’s already forgotten, and an ocean breeze cools the sweat prickling under his jaw. The sheets are rumpled where Steve had been lying, but the pipes are quiet--he’s not in the shower. It’s still dark outside, and the sound of the ocean rolls loudly. The floor creaks under Danny’s feet, and he steps out of his shoes and socks before padding out to find the couch empty. He has a sudden vision of what Kono and Steve usually get up to left to their own devices, but then he glances out a window and sees Steve’s silhouette on the beach. The sun is just creeping over the horizon, and when Danny goes outside he can just barely see something bobbing on the waves--Kono, sitting astride a surfboard, waiting for the sun.
Steve is standing ankle deep in the surf, foam frothing around his calves. Danny steps up beside him, and takes a breath, then another.
“You’ll ruin your pants,” Steve says, and Danny feels the wet fabric tug at his waist as it gets heavier.
“I’m thinking about trading these in, actually,” Danny says, “get some floral board shorts, maybe.” Steve ducks his head like he’s thinking about smiling. Danny squints out at Kono, dipping and rising with the swell of the water.
“My dad I used to watch the sunrise,” Steve says, “sometimes.” Danny struggles to find something to say. “This island is beautiful in the sun,” Steve says, and bends to dip his fingers in the water.
Danny steps a little closer and his feet sink into the sand like twin anchors. He wiggles his toes a little and feels the weight of the sand on his skin.
“Is it really so bad here,” Steve asks, and Danny tilts his head. His eyes are gritty with sleep.
“Hawai’i has its... aspects,” Danny says.
“Certain aspects,” Danny says, and gropes for words again. “I’d miss these aspects if I left.” Danny leans a little closer until their shoulders brush when they breathe out, inhale exhale.
“I’d miss those aspects too,” Steve says finally. Danny leans harder into Steve’s shoulder and closes his eyes for a while.
When he opens his eyes again the sun has broken over the water and everything is grey-golden. Kono is backlit in a halo of sunshine, head tilted into the warmth.
“You missed it,” Steve says, but his voice sounds smoother, less like broken glass and more like sandpaper worn soft.
“There’ll be others,” Danny says, and licks sea spray off his lips.
“Yeah?” Steve asks, and in the distance Kono turns her back on the pull of the ocean and starts to swim back to them, straight and strong and sure. Steve leans back against Danny and takes a deep breath.
“Yes,” Danny says.