It's dark when Steve gets home. The house is quiet, as quiet as an old frame house on a beach ever gets, quiet enough that he can hear the tick of the old clock in his dad's study as soon as he steps through the kitchen door.
He's gotten used to the quiet, mostly. Used to the dark, too, and he doesn't bother with a light; there's enough of a moon to brighten the windows, and anyway, he's not staying inside. Not yet. Not tonight.
He grabs the small cooler from the cabinet under the sink by feel, then pulls a six-pack from the fridge and heads out to the lanai, pausing to kick off his boots and slide off his socks before he makes his way down to the beach and the pair of weathered deck chairs that sit close together just above the high tide mark.
He almost crossed a line tonight. He can hear Danny now, because it wouldn't have been just any line — according to Danny he's already crossed almost every line known to civilized human beings anyway — but this line.... Yeah, he can hear Danny now: That's just creepy, Steven. You are a creepy man. I fear for your mental health.
Steve pulls a Longboard out of the cooler and rests the bottle against his cheek. From the way the cold glass feels so good against his skin, his face is probably as flushed as some of Kamekona's creatively cooked shrimp. Would it have been that creepy to have driven by the restaurant? Just once? One quick glance in the window — he knew Danny had reserved one of the tables that had a view of the beach just across the street — wouldn't one quick glance have been okay?
Not that he can't picture perfectly clearly what he would've seen: Danny and Grace and Gabby talking and laughing together, vivid even in the restaurant's too-low, too-romantic lighting.
Funny how just imagining something can sometimes make you feel it just as much as if you'd really been there and had actually seen it. Steve swallows half his Longboard in one determined go, licks a little stray beer from the corner of his lips, and sighs.
At least he's still got his dignity. Never mind that the birthday lunch he and Chin Ho and Kono had taken Danny out for hadn't been enough, and he'd poked and prodded at Danny until he got him to reveal his evening's plans. In the end, he hadn't crossed that line, even if he'd spent too much time thinking about it; he'd left Danny to his women, to the things that make Danny happy.
Danny deserves to be happy.
Steve's not so far gone in self-pity that he doesn't notice the quiet growl of the Camaro's engine as Danny's car pulls into his driveway, or the rustle of grass as Danny circles the house and crosses the lawn behind him. But he can't think of a single thing to say, even when Danny's "Figured I'd find you out here" is followed by Danny picking up the cooler from the seat of the other chair and dropping his ass down in its place.
Out of the corner of his eye he watches as Danny toes off his shoes and wiggles his feet out of his socks, loosens his tie, rolls up his shirt sleeves. His suit jacket is MIA, which is fine by Steve; Danny has nice forearms, he keeps in great shape, and the light from the moon is turning the hair on his arms almost silver. Steve really, really wants to just —
Get himself under control. Yeah, that.
He finally gets his mouth into some sort of gear. "Why aren't you out celebrating your birthday, D? The night's still young."
Danny shrugs. "Who says I'm not?"
"Ah," Steve says, because he's really got nothing else he feels safe in going with here, not with Danny sitting only inches away, with Danny here when he's supposed to be somewhere else, making cow eyes at his sweet, sexy museum director. He plants his Longboard in the sand and stands more quickly than he means to, moves a few steps closer to the water. Away from Danny.
Who's here, after the kind of romantic evening out you have that's supposed to end up with you at her place or her at yours; unwrapping birthday presents, if you want to call it that. Steve can hear Danny calling it that, can see Danny waggling his eyebrows, right before his eyes get serious. Before he and Gabrielle get serious....
Danny's sitting there saying nothing at all, Steve suddenly realizes, and he clears his throat. "Grace back at Rachel's?" It's lame, since he knows Grace's evening-out privileges expired at 9:00 PM sharp. He's just filling the silence.
Danny sounds amused."Yes, and Gabby is back at Gabby's."
Danny's amused by that? "That makes you happy?" Steve asks, feeling his way. Except — "How can that make you happy? Gabby makes you happy. I thought. Doesn't she?"
"Yes. Yes, she does." Fabric rustles behind Steve and then Danny's beside him, his arm brushing against Steve's. "You, on the other hand, make me crazy." Danny rubs a hand over the nape of his neck and heaves a sigh that seems to have originated in his kneecaps, it sounds so deep-felt. "It's a dilemma."
"It's a.... Excuse me?" That makes no sense. "What's a dilemma?"
Danny chuckles, but he doesn't sound all that amused anymore. "By the way, thanks for the champagne. The sparkling apple juice for Grace was also a nice touch. She loved it."
There's a strange edge in Danny's voice. Steve doesn't have any idea what to do with it, so he keeps his mouth shut.
"You think I don't know it was you? Babe, you seriously overestimate your subtlety." The edge in Danny's voice seems sharper.
"It seemed like a nice idea. That's all." Steve's aware that he's sounding defensive, and maybe a little pissed off, but what the hell? Setting up some Cristal to be served compliments of the house at a birthday celebration — what's so wrong with that?
Danny's voice lowers, softens a little. He bumps his hip against Steve's and sighs. "Oh, it was a nice idea, all right. What the fuck am I supposed to do with you, McGarrett?"
Steve closes his eyes. Danny's hip is still pressed against him, and God, that feels good — but Danny, Danny needs to be happy, with kids and his own home. With a fucking harem, if he wants; Gabby and Rachel, and the news anchor on KITV, Whatshername, why not, Danny gets half hard every time the news comes on —
"Tell me, huh?" Danny says, with another hip check that makes Steve clamp his teeth down hard on his lower lip. "Tell me what I'm supposed to do with you."
"I don't know, Danny. Put up with me, I guess." He means it to come out easy, a joke, but Danny's relaxed stance suddenly goes tense.
Then Danny moves. Away. "In case you haven't noticed, I already do that, you jerk."
"What is your problem?" Steve snaps that out too fast, too cold, but he misses Danny's warmth next to him, and why Danny's getting so bent out of shape over a bottle of champagne and a couple of glasses of apple juice is beyond him. He hadn't barged in on Danny's date with Gabby. He hadn't even let himself —
"My problem?" Danny's back and standing in front of Steve now, right in Steve's face, practically vibrating. "My problem is that you make me crazy. Didn't I already say that? Were you not listening?"
He's got a finger jabbing at Steve's chest and he knows better, Danny knows better than that, so Steve doesn't feel any guilt about immobilizing that jabbing hand. But it's Danny's birthday, so he uses an easy hold, one that just wraps his hand around Danny's and stills it without doing anything more.
He's practically vibrating now too. There are buttons even Danny shouldn't push.
Danny looks down at Steve's hand, but he doesn't pull away, "I put up with you, asshole, I think it's time I got some perks. And it is my birthday. That should count for something."
He tilts his head back and looks at Steve with his eyes half closed. The moonlight isn't bright enough to show Steve more than that, to let him read the expression on Danny's face, and he doesn't know what Danny wants here. Doesn't know what to give him.
Except that Danny's free hand has moved up to Steve's shoulder, is gliding over the thin cotton of Steve's T-shirt towards the side of Steve's throat, and Steve can't quite stop his breath from catching audibly.
"Yeah, yeah," Danny murmurs, as if to himself, "I thought so." His thumb rubs along the line of Steve's jaw, and Steve doesn't have to worry about his breath catching so revealingly any longer, since he's fucking stopped breathing at all.
Then Danny's hand moves on until his palm is cupping the back of Steve's neck. "See," he says, still a murmur, and Steve can barely hear him over the thrum of blood singing in his ears, "you see, Steven, I like happy, I do. But maybe I like crazy even more. Which is totally your fault, you realize. Overexposure."
Then Danny's hand is tugging Steve's head down for a kiss that would've been better — and a lot longer — if Steve had remembered to get at least some air back in his lungs before they started it, and Danny is groaning and dropping his head to bang his forehead against Steve's shoulder.
"Some SEAL you are. How'd you get through BUD/S anyway, if you can't hold your breath longer than that?" Then he's trying to pull the hand Steve's still got trapped between them out of Steve's grip, and Steve has to dig deep to make his fingers uncurl enough to let Danny go, even though he knows Danny's not going far.
Not tonight. "Inside," he offers, because Danny hates sand.
Because he wants Danny in his house, for this. For whatever it is that Danny wants this to be.
Because he pretty much wants Danny in his house always.
A shiver runs through Danny's body. Steve sees it; can almost feel it, Danny's still close enough. "What?" Steve says, feeling cold again: maybe Danny doesn't want —
"You. That.... You." Danny stops there, seems to think that's an answer. He's got his eyes closed, and his fists are clenched, and no, that's not really working for Steve as any kind of answer.
"What, Danny?" Danny's changed his mind. Or maybe that's all he wanted: one kiss, an experiment. Steve feels like shivering himself, feels like crossing his arms over his chest and shutting all this out.
"Voice. Your voice."
That's not enough of an answer either. Steve's throat feels raw deep down, yeah, the way it does when his voice has dropped to its lowest register and scraped around a little before it can make its way out, but Danny still isn't telling Steve what he needs — needs — to know.
Danny plants his palms flat against Steve's chest and pushes Steve backwards.
Crowds Steve, and gives him another push.
And just like that, Danny's Danny again, talking. "Inside, the man says, a very sensible suggestion, and now all he can do is stand around like some kind of giant vocabulary-challenged statue that keeps saying 'What'?"
Another push. "In. Side. You and me. We'll get there faster if we don't just stand here and wait for tectonic plate movement to shift the house over to us, I promise."
"Tectonic.... Danny," Steve says, planting his feet firmly and ignoring Danny's next push. He's got plenty of breath back in his lungs now, and the house won't mind waiting a few more minutes for Danny to fill it. He drops his head, angling his mouth towards Danny's lips. "Happy birthday," he manages to mutter just before his lips meet Danny's.
This time the kiss is good.
The kiss is fine.
The kiss is better than fine. It's fierce and tender, it's fuck you and fuck, yes; it's Danny.
"'Happy birthday', huh?" Danny says breathlessly, after Steve's kiss turns into Danny's kiss, and Danny's kiss turns into a string of kisses both of them try to claim until Danny pulls back just enough to give Steve another push towards the house. "You mean that, you won't make me unwrap the rest of my birthday present outside. On a beach. With sand. And flying biting things." He waggles his eyebrows.
Just like Steve knew he would. "I think you're overestimating your subtlety there, Danno," Steve says. He has the feeling he's grinning like he's completely lolo and he doesn't care.
Danny shakes his head. "Inside," he says. He's smiling too, but his voice is as serious as Steve's ever heard it. "Inside, babe. Now. Unwrapping."
Right. Danny's right, Danny's —
"I'm always right," Danny says.
Steve doesn't argue. Not tonight; it's Danny's birthday, after all.