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Dynamite with a laser beam

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Steve is examining the contents of his fridge - can he wait two days before getting groceries as planned, or should he swing by Foodland on his way back home tomorrow? - when he hears a scratching noise coming from the living room. Frowning, Steve closes the fridge door and walks quietly towards the front of the house, hoping he doesn't have a rat problem.

There it is again, scratching and rattling and... Steve focuses on the front door as he realizes that it's not an animal: someone is trying to get in. Could it be a thug sent by Wo Fat? There's a loaded SIG Navy hidden in the bookshelf, and Steve grabs it before taking position by the side of the door. Whoever this is, their B&E technique is pretty sloppy: it's not even dark outside yet, and they're not trying to be that stealthy with the noise (he's seen better lock-picking, too). Steve takes the safety off the gun, and then frowns when there's a frustrated bang on the door, near the lock.

"Stupid piece of shit!" is grumbled. Could that be? There's pounding on the door now. "Steve? Steve, are you there?"

Mary Ann? Steve flips the lock and lo and behold, it's his little sister in the flesh who pushes the door open.

"Oh, hey, hi!" she says with a smile before her eyes go round. "Jesus, put that away!"

Steve realizes that he's kept his gun aimed at her forehead, so he moves it up and away, puts the safety on again, and then slides it in the back of his pants.

"Sorry, I thought someone was trying to break in."

Mary rolls her eyes. "Yeah. And of course that means you'll greet them with a bullet between the eyes. No, it's just my key; it's always been a pain in the ass with this stupid lock."

Oh. Well this explains that.

"I changed the locks," Steve says as he shoulders Mary out of the way to take her suitcase. "The old key won't work."

"What do you mean you changed them? Why didn't you tell me?" she exclaims and wow, just great, she's been back for less than two minutes and they are already arguing.

"Danny forced me to do it after a case we had. I was going to tell you, eventually, when you came over," Steve says.

"I sure hope so! It's my house too, you know," she says, going to the kitchen. Steve puts the suitcase down near the staircase; he'll take it to her room later.

"I told you I could buy your share," Steve says, and regrets it immediately when Mary looks hurt; she instantly covers it up with a sneer.

"How big of you." Mary stalks to the fridge and takes out a beer. His last beer. Dammit.

"Hey, it's just an idea," Steve says, raising his hands in defense. He didn't know she had an emotional attachment to the place, having left at an even younger age than he had, especially since she'd rented a house before she left the island to have her own space. And speaking of... "Hey, what are you doing here, anyway?"

"I came to visit my big brother. You aren't happy to see me?" she says sweetly, and Steve wonders if the deep, deep desire to strangle ones youngest sibling ever passes.

"I thought we agreed that it would be safer if you stayed off the island until we catch Wo Fat," Steve says, trying to gentle his tone.

Mary sighs deeply and hangs her head a little before looking back up again. "And how is that going?"

"Not as fast as I’d like," Steve says with a wince.

It's as if Mary deflates, putting her bottle on the counter delicately, and only then does Steve notice how tired she looks, as if stretched thin and about to snap. Without even thinking about it he's crossed the kitchen and pulled her into a hug. Mary makes a snort-laugh-sob sound before she clutches him tight.

"Hey," Steve says, chin hooked over her shoulder and rocking a little. "I'm happy to see you."

That makes her laugh, though it's a little watery. "Good. I just wanted to come home, you know?"

Steve hugs her a little tighter. "It's okay. You're here now."

He'll make sure she's safe and everything is going to be okay.

***

After the initial clash, things have smoothed out with Mary, and Steve is surprised at how easily they get along, for the moment at least. They're washing the breakfast dishes when Steve hears Danny enter the house without knocking, as usual. He shows up like clockwork at 0730 each morning to pick him up for work, though Steve's running a bit late today since he had to wait for the bathroom. Mary's not that early a riser, usually, but she seems to still be on West Coast time after 2 days.

"What's up; you didn't know which pair of cargo pants to choose this morning?" Danny asks as he struts in, though he stops short in the kitchen doorway when he spots Mary, who has her back to him. He blinks and raises his hand, ready to back out, emotions flicking too fast on his face for Steve to decipher. "Oh, sorry; I didn't know you had company, I'll wait outside."

As he speaks Mary turns around, smiling.

"Hey, Danny!" she exclaims.

Danny's face had settled into mild embarrassment but it morphs into a big grin. "If it isn't the one and only Mary Ann McGarrett!" He walks to her, opening his arms. "Come here, you!"

Steve grins as they embrace; Danny does give the best hugs, and Steve can't help the fleeting thought that it's been too long since he's gotten one.

"How are you?" Danny asks as they let go, though he keeps his arms around her loosely.

"Better now," Mary says, then smiles again and runs a hand down Danny's chest, right in the middle. “Wow, have you ditched the ties?"

"Some days!" Danny says with a grin.

Putting the last plate on the draining board, Steve wipes his hands on the dishtowel. "I'm done; let's go."

"Shush, just a minute; I'm talking with the fun McGarrett here," Danny says playfully, and Mary just beams at him. Steve knows it's a friendly jab, but he can't help but roll his eyes. "Are you back for a vacation, or longer?" Danny asks.

Steve realizes he doesn't even know and waits for the answer himself. Mary sighs deeply.

"I don't know, honestly. The place where I worked closed a month ago, and since it looks like I’m going to lose my roommate, I don't know if I can afford to stay in LA," she says.

"You didn't tell me that," Steve says, a bit annoyed. They don't talk often, but they did speak just last week and Mary never mentioned that she'd been having problems.

"I didn't want you to worry, and I thought I had a shot at another job, but it didn't work out. Pete sprung me the moving out news three days ago. I just needed a break from the crap, so I came here," Mary explains.

Danny crushes her into another hug before kissing her cheek and letting go. "Good thinking, Hun. That's what family's for: to pick you up until you're ready to go again."

"You stay as long as you want," Steve adds.

The smile Mary gives him is slightly watery but definitely thankful. "Okay."

***

"Do we have enough to get a warrant?" Kono asks, worrying her bottom lip between her teeth as she observes the warehouse through the binoculars.

If their informant is right, there could be a big pile of live ammo in there. Steve is itching to bust in and search the place, but no, they have to wait for a damn piece of paper. It's not that he doesn't understand the procedure and why it has to be respected, it's just that it's frustrating. Obviously Kono is just as eager as he is for a little action.

"I see the crazy light in your eye, rookie; don't think I don't," Danny says, raising his hands like Kono would start running if he didn't. "I'm an expert in crazy these days, so I can see right through you. All we have right now is a tip - it could be true or false - and before we go in to search, we need to run a background check on the guy who rents this place. Then, maybe, we'll find a judge who will issue us a warrant."

Steve sighs: Danny could have answered "No", but he took the long way around, as always. His phone vibrates in his pocket from an incoming text message, and Steve hurries to fish it out. Maybe Chin got lucky on the info already.

buy milk

It's from Mary. Steve shakes his head. Really? Does she think he's her errand boy, now? He's about to put the phone back in his pocket when another message pops up.

and beer. mostly beer.

This time Steve sniggers and types back: anything else? it's not like I have other stuff to do, like catching criminals

He won't lie though: he loves the rapport they are developing, and it's nice to get home and have someone there, generally happy to see him. When Steve hits send, he notices that Kono and Danny are looking at him expectantly.

"So?" Kono asks.

They probably think it was Chin, so Steve shakes his head.

"That's Mary," he explains. "She says I should buy milk."

Kono blinks, and Danny's eyebrows climb up his forehead.

"Your sister is texting you to get milk?" Danny asks, as if he's not sure he heard right.

"Yeah, can you believe her?"

"Oh, that's not... I believe it all right. But we're waiting for important info, watching alleged criminals and you text her back?" he says.

Steve frowns because it's not as if it will stop an incoming text, or if he drew attention to their position. He always puts his phone on silent mode, after all.

"It was just... I was actually about to tell her to stop texting me on the job. She's not working, she can go buy milk and beer," Steve says.

"Well if you're short on beer -" Danny starts, but he's cut short by another text, and it's Chin this time.

info checks out: Jones is an associate of the HA, asking for warrant right now

Steve reads it out loud and everyone is suddenly more focused, determined. They'll get those suckers soon now.

 

***

In the end, waiting for the warrant was worth it, even if he didn’t say it out loud. They had frigging grenades, and the arsenal they discovered was like an early Christmas morning.

Steve goes to get some milk - and beer - anyway. Mary’s smug smile might be worth it, too.

 

***

Steve is buttoning his shirt as he comes down the stairs when he sees that Mary hasn't moved since he got in 30 minutes ago to shower and change. She's channel surfing while sprawled on the couch in a t-shirt and sweat pants; If it wasn't for some thumb action that assures that the television never stays longer than 3 seconds on a channel before moving on, he'd be worried she was in a coma, she's so still.

"Hey, we're going to Mike's; wanna come with?" he asks.

Mary's look of ungodly boredom morphs into a grin.

"Mike's? Wow, it's been forever. Gimme ten," she says, rushing to her room.

Fortunately it doesn't take more than 15 minutes - thank God, because Steve was starting to feel a bit catatonic with all the crap on the TV - before Mary is bounding back in the living room. In blue jeans, a pink top and a ponytail, she looks like a little girl. She even didn't paint her face too much, for once.

"Ready?" she chirps and yeah, it was a good idea to ask her along, she's been holed up in the house too long. Steve knows that part of it is his fault - he's worried about her safety and prefers that she stays somewhere he's secured at least a little bit - but Mary's never really coped well with being left alone. She'd followed him like a shadow from the time she had learned to walk and for years after that.

"I was ready 15 minutes ago," Steve says as he shuts off the TV and gets up.

"Yeah yeah," Mary says, heading for the door. By the time he finishes locking the door, she's already in the truck, ready to go. He definitely should let her go out more, and not just to go buy groceries and run little errands.

***

If a rough assignment is giving them grief and the team decides to go out, they'll naturally migrate to somewhere the music is loud and where it gets hard to think. But somehow Mike's has become their go-to joint when they wrap up a case.

There's rock music and a tiny dance floor, but rarely anyone on it. What draws the customers in, apart from the free over-salted popcorn and the 2 for 1 on the beer until 2200, are the two old-school pinball machines in the corner - one is Lethal Weapon 3, which gives a good idea of when they were manufactured - and four pool tables.

Steve has called dibs on the flipper, and he's about to reach an insane amount of points. He looks up, searching for Danny because he really needs to rub this in. Unfortunately, while he played the others have drifted to a pool table, and Steve can hear them laugh over the sounds of the metal ball bouncing and lighting up the machine. Distracted, he loses his focus trying to guess who paired off with whom at pool, and he totally misses one of the several balls that appear on the game. After a couple of curses, Steve gives up and goes to order a round at the bar before joining the gang at the pool table.

"I told you this was a bad idea," Chin is saying as Danny circles the table, looking for an opening, mouth downturned. There are only a few balls left, but most of them are striped and placed where it would take either a pool virtuoso or pure luck to sink them.

"What, you guys aren't man enough to concede that we're absolutely awesome?" Kono asks, fist-bumping Mary.

Well, the gesture answers the pairing question.

"Danno, you know that you should never bet against Kono," Steve says as he joins them. Mary looks more animated than she's been since she arrived two weeks ago. It's great that she's been welcomed into their little group.

"Shut up, Steven; we ain't dead yet," Danny says.

Chin makes a face that proves he's not so sure that the situation can be salvaged, and Steve laughs. "You tell yourself that."

Merely five minutes later Kono and Mary whoop as the eight ball drops in the pocket, and follow their post-win celebrations with enthusiastic high fives. Steve had no idea Mary was that good, and it makes him wonder about all the things he doesn't know, which makes him a bit sad. After they're done crowing, Mary starts to put the balls in the rack again.

"So, what about another round?" she asks.

"You bet!" Danny says, but Chin has put his cue away already and is backing up slowly, hands raised.

"Oh no, I've had enough; I'm sitting this one out," he says.

"Awww, come on, don't abandon me, man!" Danny whines. "It was a fluke, we'll get them this time."

Chin is shaking his head no, but since Steve wants in it's perfect.

"I'll play with you," he offers Danny, already trying to find a cue that is good enough, though the selection sucks.

Danny grins. "Excellent. McGarrett vs McGarrett, I can't wait to see that."

"Don't forget the trusty sidekicks," Kono chirps, offering her fist to Danny.

"Of course not," he says, brushing knuckles with her. "They'd be nothing without us."

"I hope you aren't as pathetic as you were when we used to play at Uncle Hank's house," Mary says.

Steve laughs because he remembers that summer vividly; how they'd spent weeks running in the fields playing fetch with their uncle's dogs and then trying to beat each other at pool at night on the old table downstairs. Steve had been right in the middle of an incredible growth spurt that threw everything off, but even more so he'd been trying to hit the ball hard for show instead of relying on angles and strategy.

"Let's say I've gotten some practice in since then," Steve says. Service men of all allegiances have a knack of finding pool tables wherever they go, and saying 'some practice' might be a gross understatement.

Chin keeps the beer flowing as they play several games, laughing like they haven't done in a while. Steve and Mary can't help but become more and more competitive, but what else is new? They used to play vicious rounds of Monopoly and other board games as kids, with no pity. Steve still resents the fact Mary almost always won at Battleship.

They are pretty evenly matched in skills where pool is concerned though, with Steve at a slight advantage with ball placement, but Mary is using dubious tactics to distract them when it's Danny's and his turn to shoot. When it comes to bothering Steve, Mary relies mostly on teasing, but she's getting great at riling Danny up with a seemingly innocuous comment that starts a rant - fair enough as a guerrilla tactic, Steve has to admit. Right now Danny is trying to focus on his next move, the tip of his tongue showing at the corner of his mouth because he's ridiculous like that, and Mary crowds in close.

"Mmmm, I'm not sure you have a shot," she says, now all but plastered to Danny's side, bending as if she's trying to judge the balls from Danny's current angle.

"That's what you're hoping for, you menace," Danny says.

It's only when Steve sees Danny dart a look down Mary's shirt for a fraction of a second that Steve realizes that there's something else going on. Is Mary flirting? Or maybe she is just trying to distract Danny using her body, which is working to a certain extent. Steve can't even find it in himself to be annoyed that Danny looked, since Mary is definitely doing everything in her power for it to happen. Danny didn't look for long, anyway. And oh god, Steve doesn't even want to think about anyone eyeing his sister's boobs; it's just not right.

Steve should probably have noticed Mary's little game before now: if he thinks back on the last couple of hours, she’s been more touchy feely than usual with Kono as a diversion tactic, which Steve would probably have picked up if one half of two girls feeling up each other hadn’t been his sister. More so, Mary has been bending and posing for Danny's benefit from the start. And again, no. Because frankly, Steve's not sure how he feels about that: he's not used to thinking of his sister as a grown woman; even less so about her trying to pick up a man. But to flirt with Danny in particular? There's a little spark, there and gone, that screams to Steve that it's just not right.

Steve shakes his head and he wonders if he drank too much, before he decides to put all of those disturbing ideas out of his head. And if Mary thinks using her body as a distraction tactic is fair game, Steve's got some looming to do. He's always been good at hovering, and it tends to make people nervous. If it will work on Kono and Mary, that's yet to be seen.

***

Steve just doesn't get it: most of the people in the files he's examining look intelligent and sensible, and in general they have excellent jobs. How they managed to all fall for a con man selling fake time-share condos, he'll never know. When Chin enters his office, Steve leans back in his chair and throws his pen on the desk, frustrated.

"Why did we get this case again?" Steve asks, even though he knows the reason perfectly well.

"The governor's cousin..." Chin starts and Steve cuts him off.

"Yeah, I know, she got conned and he wants this to be dealt with ASAP. But why us? Surely HPD or maybe the Feds..." Steve knows he's almost whining, but he hates cases where there's more paper than action.

"Honestly? I am pretty sure it's a test," Chin says.

Steve perks up and makes a go on motion. "How so?"

Chin puts an USB key on top of the pile of files Steve was examining, and sits down too. He then leans back and links his fingers across his stomach.

"We've got a reputation," Chin says. "Flashy high profile cases, firefights, explosions..."

"Yeah, and? We get results, too," Steve replies.

"True, but HPD has had its thunder stolen more than once, and I think the Chief might be pressuring the new governor to bring us down a notch," Chin says with a shrug.

"With a boring case?" Steve frowns, because that sucks.

Chin grins. "Not boring, different. A case that needs some old school detecting and that shows we've got brains and not just brawn."

"We've got lots of brains!" Steve protests, because come on. He didn't make his way into naval intelligence by luck, and the rest of the team is made up of some of the smartest people he knows. He has no idea why someone would even think they're too dumb for regular investigations.

"I'm not saying we don't; I know we do." Chin looks like he's about to start laughing. "It's just time to show it and do this by the book, that's all. I've gotten a couple more interviews about how the actual con went down on that stick," he adds, nodding to the USB key.

Steve sighs. "That's what I said, boring. Okay, so everyone goes through those and we put our heads together in the war room in an hour?"

"Got it; I'll tell the others," Chin says, getting up as Steve sighs and plugs the key into his computer. This is going to be a long day.

***

It had indeed been an incredibly long and tedious day, making lists of everyone the con man would have had to contact with to organize his conference and reunions to try and lure people in to hear his sales pitch on the time share. Most of the victims had been contacted directly, so they were also searching to see if they were connected in such a way that the contact information could have been leaked to the con man by an organization. It was boring as fuck. As soon as 1700 had rolled around, Steve had dismissed everyone so they could go and clear their heads, and then went straight home to change into his swimming trunks before hurrying to the ocean.

Too little action makes him antsy - he's aware of it - and the burn of pushing his limits physically makes everything fall into focus again. The repetitive stroking motion and controlled breathing clear his head and allow him to take a step back, ridding his head of the clutter to focus on what pinged weirdly in everything they had. He isn't expecting an epiphany or anything like that, but he knows that when he looks at the case details next time, he'll have a better view of the big picture. On top of that, the water is perfect and he's always been a sucker for the endorphins of a particularly good workout.

It's with almost rubbery legs and aching arms that Steve gets out of the water and grabs his towel. He's starving though, and he wonders if Mary has started something for dinner. They have fresh pasta in the fridge, which would be great with a salad. Steve is toweling his hair when he hears laughter coming from the kitchen.

"Okay, show me," Mary says.

There's a tsking sound and Danny's voice next. "That's not how it goes, and you know it. You wanna see, then you gotta pay."

By the time Steve's at the sliding door he can make out that they're playing poker on the kitchen table. They both have open beers and there's a pile of Cheese-it by Danny's elbow, a bit less in the middle of the table, while very little on Mary's side. They turn their heads towards him as he enters the house, and both smile, which makes something warm up in Steve's chest as he smiles back.

"Hey, Danny! Something new on the case came up?"

"No, nothing like that," Danny says with a shrug. "I just dropped by to see how it was going; you seemed pretty keyed up earlier. Usually when you get that jittery it means explosions in the near future."

He actually looks concerned, and Steve waves it off as he gets his own beer and leans against the counter. He catches Danny staring at his chest, and looking down Steve notices he's still dripping wet, so he pats himself with the towel before Danny starts complaining that he's going to get water everywhere.

"Nah, I'm good now, no explosions," he says, taking a sip.

"Excellent," Danny says, and he's now focusing on his cards intently. "My mind is almost at rest."

"You know, Danny, you can admit that you came over because you missed me; it's okay," Mary says with a big smile, and Danny laughs.

"You see right through me, babe," he answers, and Steve is blindsided by the way his gut twists at the use of the endearment. It's stupid because Danny uses it with everyone, even perps, so why should it be different for Mary?

His good mood has turned sour, so Steve clanks his bottle on the counter and decides he's got to get out for the moment.

"I've got to shower," he says, and when he passes Danny he grabs a handful of Cheese-it from his stash before popping some in his mouth. The outraged spluttering with a loud "Hey!" that results might start to make him feel better already.

***

They have a lead on their con man, at last. He managed to pay cash for everything at the apartment complex he used for his set up. The only exception is that he sent a single email from a hotel instead of a no-trace cell phone, and that might be the break they need. The hotel internet time where the IP address originates had been paid by credit card, which leads them to a paper trail and possibly their perp's identity. They just need to check if James Smith - surely an alias, but they've nonetheless managed to track him down - matches the physical description of the con man.

The address is in Waikiki though, and they're in the middle of an argument in the car - what else is new - on how it would be best to approach the guy, when Danny's phone starts playing "Killer Queen". A new custom ring tone, and Danny grins when he hears it. He winks at Steve before he answers.

"Hey beautiful! What's up?"

A woman, then - one he's already comfortable with - and Steve had no idea Danny was seeing anyone. After the whole Rachel fiasco 2.0, Danny has been real quiet about his love life - or Steve supposes his lack of thereof. Save from that other disastrous dating experience that had been Gabby, but Steve thinks it's better if no one remembers that. Danny looks happy right now though, and that's supposed to be good; Steve should be happy for him, too. Hey, he even told him so that one time, in the car.

"I'm doing fine, thank you, this is shaping up to be a good day. Even better now, in fact," Danny says, slumping in his seat and getting comfortable, the hand that's not on the phone gesturing expansively.

Steve wants to ask who it is, because maybe he knows her, too. She better not be leading Danny on. He deserves someone who'll love him unconditionally and won't shatter his heart like Rachel did.

"Oh yes, yes. And what about you, what's up? Are you having a nice day?" Danny asks.

Some humming and a laugh. "Is that so?" Danny then hits Steve's upper arm. "You're out of milk again," he says, before going back to speaking in the phone. "There, message delivered. Why didn't you call him directly; I'm not a receptionist."

That's Mary Ann. The new girl, with the Killer Queen ring tone, is Mary. Steve feels the now unfortunately familiar pang in his chest, and grips the steering wheel hard.

"I'll get some," Steve says, relieved that it comes out normally.

And why is Steve having such strong feelings about this, that's what he'd like to know. Mary's a grown woman, whether Steve likes it or not, and Danny's a real good guy, so he should be happy for them. But Steve knows them both and he's convinced that they are never going to work in the long term: too much fire in them both, and it's going to end spectacularly bad. It's not like he can say anything though, not right now while Danny is happily chatting some more, so Steve stays silent and steps on the gas. He really hopes James Smith is their con man and that he tries to run. He feels the need for a hard flying tackle, at the very least.

***

James Smith is their guy but he just stays there, smirking, as they book him. It's disappointing.

Steve "forgets" the milk.

***

The thing that really gets to Steve is that whatever is going on seems to work for Mary. She's smiling more, is in a better mood than she's been since she got back - or since ever, if Steve's honest - and it's a good look on her. Of course he's not an asshole; he does want his sister to be happy. It's like she's making more of an effort for them to get along at the house too, keeping her stuff mostly in her room and cleaning up after herself more often than not.

Danny seems a bit more relaxed too, as if some kind of weight has been lifted off his shoulders, and if Steve had known that having a woman pay him interest would have done that, he would have tried to fix him up with someone a long time ago. Maybe that's why Danny made the mistake of going back to Rachel; he just needed to feel appreciated, and she was right there, swayed back into Danny's arms when her marriage to Stan crumbled.

The little devil on Steve's shoulder doesn't stop whispering about how it's only the 'getting to know each other' phase, that will undoubtedly turn into the 'we can't keep our hands off each other' phase that already has Steve's skin scrawling with unease. And, eventually, they'll get to the 'yelling and tearing each other apart limb by limb' phase, and that's when the shit will definitely hit the fan. Steve's going to be stuck between a rock and a hard place when that happens, and it's going to suck, hardcore.

***

"So?" Steve asks, ready to go.

"They're almost in position; hold your horses," Danny says, listening to his phone, hand raised.

A last weapon check, and then Steve tugs on Danny's vest, making sure it's secure. You never know what can happen with these crazies. They'd got wind of the location of the meth lab a couple of hours ago and got the HPD and the S.W.A.T. team on the case, too. The house that supposedly holds the operation in its basement is in the middle of a rough neighborhood, but there are civilians all around and therefore they need to be careful.

Danny hangs up. "They're going to move in one minute; we're taking the rear."

"What about Chin and Kono?" Steve asks.

"Chin's going in from the street, and Kono's been appointed to cover the exits with a rifle, in case we have an armed perp that gets out," Danny answers.

"Okay, fine," Steve says and lets Danny fuss at his vest in his turn, making sure the Velcro straps are secure. "Ready?" he asks Danny.

"I'll be right behind you," Danny says with a nod.

Of that Steve never doubted: Danny always has his back. As soon as Steve sees the S.W.A.T. team move, he runs for the back door and they kick it in. There's a lot of yelling after that, unexpected flash bangs and everything goes bad real fast. Druggies are fast on the trigger and soon there are bullets flying. Steve leaps over a table while trying to take cover and he can hear Danny yelling behind him to someone who came out of one of the bedrooms. Steve has a look over his shoulder, but Danny's with the S.W.A.T. guys, huddled behind the kitchen island; he'll be fine. Steve hurries towards the front of the house, careful to make sure his position is known so the forces that got in from the front don’t accidentally shoot him.

Steve sees someone form HPD take down the main shooter, and from there things calm down a lot. Except in the back of the house, it seems.

"Hey, hey, you, show me your hands, right now!"

That's Danny, and Steve turns back, risks a look in the kitchen. There are a couple of suspects laying down on the floor, hands crossed over their necks, but there must be another one that is out of Steve's line of vision because Danny and the two S.W.A.T. guys are aiming towards the corridor that leads to the bedrooms again.

"Everything okay?" Steve shouts.

"It will be, in a second," Danny says before talking to his perp again. "See? There are more of us and only one of you. Don't be stupid; put the gun down. I haven't seen you shoot yet, kiddo, that's good. You might be in trouble, I'm not going to lie, but don't paint yourself into a corner."

"Fuck you!" is yelled back. "You're just waiting for the perfect opportunity to kill me; I know it!"

There's way too much panic in the voice, and that makes the guy dangerous and unpredictable. Chin gets by his side and Steve motions to stay put.

"No, no, I'm not! I have absolutely no desire to shoot at you, even less to kill you," Danny says. "Put the gun down, slowly, and everything is going to be okay."

"You're lying!" comes the retort, hysterical, and Steve can't let this continue; he needs to get into a better position to be able to take down the possible shooter and protect Danny.

"No, I'm not! Look, I'm going to come out now, take it easy..." Danny says, and Steve can't believe he'll risk something like that.

Steve makes the executive decision to enter the kitchen, diving for the cabinets, and there's a shot fired. For one second Steve thinks that Danny took the diversion he made as an opportunity to take a shot at the suspect, but then it's Danny crumpling to the ground. Steve freezes, and when he looks at the boy in the corridor - he can't be more than 16 - the kid has eyes round as saucers, looking shocked, and he's dropping his gun to the floor.

Normally, Steve would have reacted two seconds ago, but he's frozen in place, his brain stuttering to a stop. Danny is down, Danny is not moving, and it's like Steve is paralyzed. Fortunately Chin and the S.W.A.T. guys are not, and they are moving in, while there is more yelling as the young guy surrenders to them. Finally something unlocks and Steve rushes to Danny’s side. He's too still and is face down in blood pooling by his head.

"No. No, no, no," Steve says as he turns Danny onto his back. "Shit, hang on, man; I've got you."

There is blood everywhere - too much blood - and Danny has a vest, dammit; this should not be happening. Steve finds the wound, right at the edge of the Tac vest near a shoulder; those damn wide shoulders. Danny should wear a larger vest; he's thought about it before, why didn't he say anything? He's applying pressure the best he can to stop the bleeding, and Danny groans in pain.

"Fucking ow!" he says, and Steve stops his hysteria and laughs, even though it sounds a bit broken. Danny's still conscious and that's good, and even better are the sounds of an ambulance getting nearer.

"Easy, now," Steve says. "The medics are coming."

"I'm gonna wait right here," Danny slurs and shit, he's going into shock.

Both hands pressing hard on Danny's shoulder, Steve tries to assess his condition a little bit better, noting how his eyes are getting glassier, the pallor of his face, how his skin seems already colder and his are lips turning blue. Shit, this is not good.

"You better. Don't quit, you hear me? You've got to hang on, just a little bit more."

Suddenly Danny's gripping Steve's shirt, and he's trying hard to focus, "Steve, Steve, I've... I've got to tell you something..."

"Shut up," Steve cuts him off, suddenly furious. He doesn't want Danny to tell him to take care of Grace, because he's not dying. "Shut up and keep your strength, you hear me?"

"But..." Danny tries to protest, wrinkling his nose comically, and Steve is overwhelmed by the desire bend down and kiss Danny silent, to make him feel better and - whoa, where the hell did that came from? He's still shocked by his reaction when the EMTs get to his side and take charge, trying to push Steve aside to better work on Danny.

"We've got this, Commander; let us work now," the boss of them says. Richards - Steve knows him; he's good - so he does reluctantly lets go of Danny. In a manner of seconds IV bags appear and someone's taking Danny's vest off while another person applies continuous pressure on the entry wound.

It's like Steve is experiencing an out of body experience, watching it happening. He's standing right at the edge of too close, useless, and when he feels a hand on his shoulder he suddenly remembers he has to breathe.

"Steve," Chin is saying, probably has been a couple of times. The medics are putting Danny on the stretcher, all efficient movements, and Steve can't take his eyes off his face, too pale behind the oxygen mask. "Come on, I'll drive you to the hospital."

Steve was already walking towards the exit on the EMT's heels, but Richards spares him a look as they slide the stretcher out on the back porch. He shakes his head. "We need the room, you'll get there just as fast with your flashes," he says before the appartment's door shuts in Steve's face. He's stunned for a second, about to protest that he'll stay out of the way, but he can hear the ambulance tearing away already, sirens blaring, which slams the urgency of the situation to the forefront again. Shit, shit, shit... Steve's forearms are gripped strongly, and it surprises Steve enough that he's about to twist to get out of the hold when Chin shakes him a little and he comes back in focus.

"No, you don't want to do that," he's saying patiently. Steve is about to ask what the fuck Chin is talking about when he realizes that he had been about to link his hands behind his neck in dismay. All he can do, now, is stare at them, covered with Danny's blood. He whips around to evaluate the puddle on the floor and it's bad, too much blood for sure, but less than he feared at first.

S.W.A.T. has the kid up and cuffed, now, dragging him out of the apartment, and Steve itches with the desire to shoot him for hurting Danny. Their eyes meet, and his fury must show because the kid recoils, eyes panicked.

"I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I didn't wanna hurt him! Something moved, I jumped, the shot got loose, God," he's pleading, unable to look at Steve for more than a second, ducking his head and curling his shoulders up and forward around his ears.

The words are like a bucket of ice over Steve's head: he's the one who moved, darting into the kitchen. If he'd stayed put, the kid could have put his gun down, Danny would not have been shot. This is all his fault.

The kid hurries in front of the HPD officer escorting him out of the apartment, and after a beat Steve follows, guided by Chin's hand on his arm.

"Come on, let's go," Chin urges.

***

There is nothing worse than waiting for news at the hospital. Steve just wants to be told that Danny is going to be alright. It's not too much to ask; it's like going through the Sarin incident all over again, the uncertainty making Steve's stomach churn. He remembers feeling just as helpless then, and he hates it; hates it with a passion. Danny is the most alive person he knows, and Steve needs him, of that he's sure. He resolutely tries not to think about his earlier revelation that his feelings might go further than friendship and family; he doesn't have the luxury right now, and he'll examine that later, when he can breathe without the weight that crushes his chest.

Danny's in surgery for what feels like hours; long enough that Rachel shows up with worried eyes and a hand protectively curved around her belly. As she enters the waiting room, Steve feels a hot jab of intense anger at her, at how she ripped everything out of Danny's grasp for a second time and made him miserable. She had him, they could have been happy, how could she throw that away? But a bit like with the shooter earlier, Steve remembers that why it didn't work out is partly on him, too. If he hadn't got arrested, Danny would have taken that plane to New Jersey, and maybe Rachel would have chosen Danny and not gone back to Stan, since her marriage was falling apart anyway. Steve wants Danny's happiness, but he's been messing with his chances for a while, and now with his life.

"What happened?" she's asking, and Steve can't take her genuine concern and has to move, get some air, something.

He takes the stairs instead of the elevator and runs all the way up to the door leading to the hospital roof. It's held open with a block of wood, no alarm ringing, and that’s good enough for Steve. He pushes the door and gets out, making a couple of nurses and orderlies turn towards him in surprise. He ignores how a young guy guiltily stubs out a cigarette, though it doesn't seem to deter the others. Steve barely glances at them and takes a couple of steps in the sun before taking deep breaths, eyes shut and his palms on his face. He can't lose it now, and he just needs a couple of minutes to re-center.

"Um, sir? We're not supposed to be here, so if you wouldn't mind," someone says.

"Just a second," Steve says, voice rougher than he'd like.

"Is everything okay?" It's the young nurse, Steve's pretty sure.

"No. No it's not okay. They won't tell me anything, and it's been forever." Steve might sound a little bitter.

"Is your partner in surgery?"

Steve turns to the guy, surprised. Tall and wiry, the nurse doesn't look more than 25 years old, with short brown hair and intelligent dark eyes. Steve might have seen this guy before at the ER: they come over frequently enough, for cases or little injuries.

"Yes, he got shot, it nicked an artery," Steve says, gesturing to his shoulder. Steve got his own tac vest off at some point - he thinks Kono has it - but he still has his thigh holster, and the knees of his cargos are stiff and maroon with dried blood. He must look like hell, and it's no surprise that the other employees have left, their break over and busted on top by an armed man, but this one is eyeing him with compassion. Or he's just the guy responsible for the door being shut right so as not to set off alarms; who knows?

"I'm sorry to hear that. Maybe I could try to get a time frame for when you'll have news?" he asks, and Steve nods, touched by the offer.

"That would be great, thanks," Steve says, following the guy back into the hospital and down the stairs to the ER once the door to the roof is securely shut again.

When they enter the waiting room, Kono is sitting with Rachel, and Chin throws Steve a concerned look. "You okay?" he mouths, and Steve nods as the nice nurse enters the door leading to the operating rooms. He comes back not two seconds later with a little smile and a doctor in tow.

"That was surprisingly easy," he jokes before explaining. "Doctor Balestra was on his way. My break is over; I’ve got to go."

"Thanks anyway, I appreciate it," Steve tells him. The gesture went a long way towards calming him, and he’s finally going to have some news.

"No problem," the young guy says with a wink, and Steve turns all of his attention to Dr Balestra as the others come close to hear what he has to say.

"Doctor?" Rachel asks, leaning on Kono a bit. "Is Daniel going to be ok?"

"Detective Williams' injury was severe, but he's been stabilized. He's going to be transferred to the ICU for a couple of hours, just to be on the safe side," Balestra says.

Steve frowns. He should be sent to recovery after surgery, unless something went bad. "What happened?"

"The blood loss was severe, and Mr. Williams came close to hypovolemic shock," the doctor says, but must notice their confusion because he explains as he continues. "That's when the heart can't pump enough blood through the circulatory system and therefore doesn't provide enough oxygen to the tissues. We don't think there was any tissue or organ damage, because we proceeded immediately with a transfusion."

Rachel brings her hand her mouth, looking horrified. Steve has to shove his own hands in his pocket so no one notices they are shaking. He will not think about organ damage and about possible lack of oxygen; he will not. "What about his shoulder?"

Balestra smiles. "Thankfully, no nerve damage, though the tear in the muscle will undoubtedly require physical therapy."

Okay, okay, that's pretty much par for the course, even if Danny is bound to bitch and moan about it. But at least he'll be alive while bitching and moaning; that's something.

"Can I see him?" Rachel asks the doctor, and again Steve is blindsided by anger. Why should she be the one to see Danny first? They are family too.

"Visits are limited in the ICU, so I'll only permit a couple of minutes, one at a time."

Rachel surprises Steve, after that, by looking at him.

"Can I go when you come out?" As if it's a given that he's going in first, and Steve's anger dissipates; he feel like a moron for his mental tantrum in the first place.

He re-learns his manners and forces himself to say, "You surely need to go back to Grace, and -" He gestures at her belly, which she's still unconsciously stroking. "Why don't you go first, and then leave watching Danny to us? We'll call you when there's something new."

Rachel smiles and nods. "Thank you, Steven," she says before following the doctors down the corridor, while Steve finds himself sitting down heavily on one of the dingy chairs in the waiting room, hands crossed over his bowed head. He's been pacing for hours and everything is catching up on him. Chin puts a comforting hand on his shoulder for long seconds, silent but strong, and Steve tries to breathe in his calmness. When Chin goes to sit with Kono, just beside her and ankles touching, Steve thanks whatever deity is watching over him for his ending up with such a great team.

 

***

It's only been three days, but already it's automatic that Steve makes his schedule with frequent visits to the hospital. Danny's been taken out of the ICU, so they can spend more time with him. After the horrible first days where he was totally out of it, too pale and looking far too fragile, Danny's been building some strength and has even started complaining about everything, which is proof enough he's on the mend. He's still sleeping a lot though, and Steve's spent quite a lot of time watching over him, calmed by his regular and steady breathing. Since it's late afternoon, Steve's pretty sure he'll walk in on nap time, but he's surprised to hear Danny talking about the atrocities of daytime soap operas. He stops just outside of the room, listening in like a creep, but it’s to let the normality of Danny being well sink in - not to snoop - so he thinks he’s entitled.

"I should not say this, because I am pretty sure I signed a non-disclosure agreement in the divorce that tells me it's a taboo subject, but Rachel watched one of those. You won't say, right?" Before the visitor can answer and be identified, Danny continues. "Okay, so I might have seen a bit, okay most of it, for a while, as she'd record the shows and pass on what had happened fast-forward at night, over dinner. They are oddly addictive, I'm just saying. That was, at least three years ago, and I managed to shake the habit pretty fast when everything went to hell and never watched it again. Well I've watched today, right? And everyone is now matched with someone else. It's insane."

Mary's laugh makes Steve jump: he was sure Danny was with either Chin or Kono.

"Yeah, I know. I might, and I say only might, with copious amounts of margaritas to make it more interesting, have been watching those while basically on house arrest."

Danny chuckles. "Under the influence? That’s an idea, and I am pretty sure the painkillers do help a little. But hey, you know Steve only wants to keep you safe, right? He could be a bit more subtle about it, but..."

"I know, I know. But I've never dealt well with being cooped up."

Steve hovers in the corridor and feels like this is the worst time to walk in: he doesn't want to fight with Mary, which happens every time they discuss the security measures. And, well, he was coming over to give Danny some company and he has some right now, so. He'd better go back to the house, take a shower and change since there's still some mud on his pants, and possibly under his pants from that chase in the woods today after a rainfall that made everything slippery.

"As much as you protest about it, I think you share a lot of personality traits with your brother," Danny teases and yeah, Steve is not sure he wants to hear that either. He'll come back later; it's better that way. Over the sound of Mary protesting that Danny is a lying liar who lies, Steve hightails it towards the exit.

***

Steve has played poker a lot – he could and would recycle the explanation of servicemen with nothing better to do here, since it applies - and he's done pretty well. His secret weapon is the 'I so got you' smirk, which has had multiple people fold on a bluff. But now Danny - Danny and Grace - are totally steamrolling over him, taking all of his crackers.

Grace grins as her full house beats his two pairs of figures to the ground and chirps a "Thank you, Uncle Steve!" that both warms his heart and gives him the feeling he's being mocked. Judging by the huge smile on Danny's face and the way Kono is cackling, there's probably a bit of mockery involved indeed.

"When I say you are an open book of tells that could be taken down by an eight year old, I really meant that literally. As we have proof," Danny says, high-fiving his daughter.

"You, Miss, are a card shark," Steve says mockingly with an accusing finger, which makes Grace giggle.

“I have to agree with that,” Kono says dejectedly, eying the few crackers she has left.

"Oh, please, Steve’s never had a poker face to save his life." It's Mary, leaning against the hospital room doorframe and looking in, smile in place but visibly a bit nervous. Steve wonders why until Danny speaks up.

"Hey, do not diminish my daughter's prowess at cards!" He protests, and then does the introductions. "Gracie, this lovely young lady is Mary-Ann McGarrett, Steve's sister. Mary, this is the sunshine of my life, also known as Grace."

"Nice to meet you," Mary says with a genuine smile, and Grace chirps a hello back.

"Come on, take a seat," Danny says, gesturing to the chair next to Kono. "Let's see if the lessons I gave you the other day stuck or not."

“Sure,” Mary says, and then shoulder bumps Kono with a crooked smile. “Hey there, partner.”

Kono smiles right back. “Hi! I didn’t know you were still in town!”

“I don’t know; I like it here,” Mary shrugs innocently. “Might stay a little while, after all, see how it goes.”

That makes both Kono and Danny beam, and even if Steve is frankly happy to hear it too, he wonders when his socially awkward little sister learned to make friends this easily.

***

It takes five days, but Danny is finally released with the promise of not overdoing it. Unsurprisingly, he shows up to work the next morning.

"What are you doing here, brah?" Kono asks while crossing her arms.

Danny rolls his eyes. “I’m here to save you from the backlog of paperwork that is surely about to take on a life of its own and take over Honolulu."

Kono tilts her head to the side, immediately mollified. “You’d do my paperwork? Even Steve’s paperwork?” she asks, stressing his name as if the idea is ludicrous.

“Hey!” Steve protests, because if Danny does some paperwork it indeed should be his, since he’s got team leader responsibilities to attend to that Kono doesn’t.

Danny totally ignores him and grins, “I’ll start with yours if you get me some cocoa puffs.”

Kono beams. “Deal! Welcome back, Danny!” she singsongs, and how is Steve supposed to put his foot down and ask Danny to go back home to rest after that? He’d sound like a nagging sore loser. Anyway, headquarters has been too quiet, and having Danny there means that Steve will be able to keep an eye on him and check that he takes care of himself.

***

The thing is that Steve has underestimated the difficulty of having to spend a lot of time with Danny again. Oh, he’s got experience in dealing with unwanted – or possibly career endangering – crushes and repressing the hell out of them, but he’s got the nagging impression that Danny has guessed something is up, as he keeps shooting him weird looks.

Plus, at home, it seems that Mary cannot shut up about his team, Kono this and that, and even more about Danny: how much of a good guy he is, how he’s great with his little girl, and Steve just can’t take it anymore because he KNOWS that, has known for way longer than her. That’s another thing that gets on Steve’s nerves: since when is Mary even interested in kids? He remembers her swearing up and down from a young age that she’d never, ever have kids, and that she would never fall into the trap of societal pressure saying that it’s a prerequisite to affirm her feminity.

Fifteen years later and her face lights up when Danny shows up with Gracie at the house, and the two girls disappear into Mary’s room, giggling like they are best friends. Danny scoffs good-naturedly, very pleased under the attitude, and asks for a beer that Steve is more than eager to provide.

“What are they up to?” Steve asks, a bit bemused.

“Surely nothing good,” Danny agrees.

For a while, sipping their beers on the beach, it’s like nothing’s changed, and Steve starts to relax for the first time in weeks. He digs his feet in the sand and he’s half listening to Danny’s rant about the torture of physiotherapy, letting it wash over him like white noise.

It lasts up until the time Grace and Mary-Ann come back out, smiles splitting both of their faces as Mary twirls in her pretty summer dress and strikes poses while Danny wolf whistles appreciatively. There are lots of clips and what looks like butterflies holding Mary and Gracie’s hair up, and quite possibly a hint of glitter on their face. Gracie is adorable, no surprise there, and even Steve can get over the brother mindset and find his sister beautiful. He’s kind of struck between fondness and the urge to protect her, but Danny’s obvious admiration makes the beer in Steve’s stomach turn sour.

“How do I look?” Mary asks, shameless.

“Like a Disney princess!” Grace says, making them all laugh.

“Got that right, monkey,” Danny says. “You’re both gorgeous, sweethearts.”

“Very pretty,” Steve adds sincerely, and then feels like a tool to resent her when Mary beams at him, touched.

“Thank you, thank you. We’re all ready to go then!” Mary says, making Steve frown.

She has a date with Danny and Grace is coming along? Or is he supposed to watch over the kid and no one thought to tell him? The situation gets weirder when Danny looks expectantly at him.

“You’re coming right?” he asks, and Steve is even more confused.

“Where to?”

Mary makes a scoffing sound.

“Ah, geez, I thought it was all set up!” she exclaims.

For some reason it makes Danny scowl at her. “And I thought you’d taken care of it!”

“Why would I do it when you -” Mary starts but Danny speaks over her, jumping up.

“My mistake,” he tells her with a pointed look, and then turns to Steve, who is watching the whole thing with bemusement. “We’re going to the aquarium; care to come with?”

And that makes absolutely no sense. Why would they want him to tag along on a... a family outing, or close enough? Surely they are just asking out of politeness. Steve tries to smile, though it feels a little stiff.

“Ah, well, I don’t know... I had sort of planned -” he tries weakly, and it’s Grace that stops him this time.

“You are not coming, Uncle Steve?” she asks, looking heartbroken, and Steve cannot handle that sad pout, it’s positively lethal.

“Ah, come on, I am sure that whatever you had planned can wait! Surely, you want to come and see the monk seals. You know how much I love Maka onaona and Hō‘ailona; you need to meet them too!” Danny pleads sweetly but making crazy eyes at him, and Steve smiles for real this time.

“You do, you do!” Gracie coaxes.

He’s heard all about the seals and how Grace drags Danny to see them as often as she can manage (and Danny can afford). Danny has come to loathe the things, complaining how seals are the bane of his existence in all areas of his life. That said, he’d never dare to act less than thrilled to go to the aquarium again, again and again.

“If it’s to see the seals...” Steve relents, and the dual beaming smiles the Williams' throw at him makes his heart do a flip. He’s got it really bad.

“Awesome,” Mary adds, oddly content to have her date time messed with. “Now let’s go if we want to see the feeding!”

***

To be quite honest, Steve’s confusion at the whole Danny and Mary thing is pretty much permanent.

Danny is always in a good mood when they hang out with Mary; the same can be said for her, and they bicker and laugh in a way that has Steve grinding his teeth out of childish jealousy. There are hugs and pecks on the cheek, but not once does Steve catch them making out somewhere, not that he wants to see that. They are definitely close, and Steve does see them in serious discussions with lowered voices a couple of times. More than that, some nights Steve is aware that Mary spends hours on the phone in her room, and he’d bet that it’s with Danny, because she pretty much only really laughs around Danny these days, and she laughs a lot during those calls.

On the other hand, Danny’s sense of personal space seems more compromised than ever around him, not that he ever had boundaries to begin with. The two of them still banter back and forth too, and Steve’s noticed more touching on his person, which is driving him NUTS. Could it be that Steve’s more aware of it since he realized his feelings? He’s pretty sure that he’s not dreaming it though, and Steve can’t even think of why Danny would do such a thing.

Steve was pretty shocked to realize that he’d been unconsciously flirting with Danny for over a year before he’d clued into the fact that he was genuinely attracted to the guy and not just amused by his antics. Now Danny’s constant attention, mixed with the smiles and jokes and the rest, become a sweet torture, one Steve’s not been trained to withstand all that greatly. He hates how his body is a traitor and reacts, but he can’t help leaning in just the same. Basically, he’s fucked.

**

Some days, cases are just endlessly frustrating. They’ve been following up leads to bust a trafficking ring all day, but not getting anywhere. It seems that every single piece of info Chin manages to get has been given to the bad guys too and that they’ve been working hard to cover their tracks. The day has been a very elaborate wild goose chase, which brings them to Laie for the second time that day. The whole team is on edge, Chin and Kono are frustrated that they couldn’t find fresh leads, and Danny’s getting crankier and crankier, though he’d never admit it’s because his shoulder is hurting. Steve has seen him rub over the fabric of his shirt with a wince when he thinks Steve’s too busy to notice.

“Did you take your pills?” Steve cannot help but ask when it becomes obvious enough that he can’t pretend he hasn’t clued in.

Danny scoffs. “No, not lately.”

“Don’t try to play tough, Danny,” Steve says, annoyed. He still feels guilty about that injury, but he can’t magically take the pain away.

“That’s so rich, coming from you. But believe me, I am not trying to. If you really want to know, Mom, I forgot the bottle on my desk,” Danny says, with a strained bite.

And shit, that means he’s been without for at least 8 hours when he’s supposed to take them every four.

“Why didn’t you say anything?” Steve asks, furious. “We could have gone back to get them!”

Danny’s not even gesturing to answer, which is proof enough he’s hurting.

“And when, exactly? We haven’t had a minute and it’s already three - ” he says, before suddenly cutting up. “Ah shit,” he swears, getting his phone out. “I can’t believe...”

“What’s wrong?” Steve asks, but Danny’s on the phone, making weak signs for him to shut up.

“Hey, hi, it’s me,” he says, a lot sweeter. “Pretty shitty, but that’s not why I’m calling.” A quick pause. “It’s okay, my shoulder is acting up, that’s all, and I’m going to be fine soon. No, I need a favor,” Danny says. “We’re on the other side of this freaking island and I’ve just seen the time. Rachel and Stan left for Maui this morning, and I’m supposed to pick Grace up at school in 15 minutes. Yeah, I won’t make it even if Steve tries to break the laws of physics.” Danny pauses again, then grins. “That’s great, thanks. You know which school, right?”

Steve was feeding a delusion that Danny was speaking to Chin or Kono up until right then, but the question about the school kills it. Must be Mary then.

“Yeah, that’s it. You’ll need to go speak to a supervisor, but it’s okay because I had you added to the pick-up list; just bring some ID,” Danny adds. “Thank you babe, you’re the best; I’ll come and get her from there when we’re finished. And I owe you one.” Steve can’t help but notice that Danny throws him a look right then, and is he blushing? Surely not, or if so, Steve definitely doesn’t want to know what Mary is asking for as a favor. “Yeah, right, I wish. Okay, gotta go. Thanks again, honey.”

He hangs up with a smile and turns to Steve. “You know, your sister is pretty damn awesome,” he declares.

“She’s a McGarrett, she can’t help it,” Steve tries to lob back, and he hopes it’s convincing enough. “Let’s get you to your pills, then to Grace.”

Danny leans against the headrest and closes his eyes, his good hand back rubbing his shoulder. “Yeah, thanks. You’re not bad yourself, you know,” he adds quietly.

“I do my best,” Steve says, pathetically glad that Danny thinks so.

He cannot help but think about how Mary is now in the pick-up list at Grace’s school, something Steve’s always treasured himself, because it’s the official seal of approval from Danny; an explicit show of trust. If Steve had any doubt that Danny and Mary are serious, it’s just been vanquished.

***

Steve loves when a big case gets solved and wrapped on a Friday morning: it gives him the perfect excuse to be magnanimous and offer the afternoon off (after finally dismantling that trafficking ring? They frigging deserve it.)

They go to lunch and spontaneously agree on a group outing to the beach, which happens way too rarely. Chin calls Malia and tries to coax her into taking the afternoon off (a guy can dream) while Kono jumps on her phone, too.

“Ohh, yes, that’s a great idea. I’m going to call Mary,” she says, grinning.

“I am shocked,” Danny says, a hand over his heart, and Kono puts her tongue out at him.

“You can kindly shut up,” Kono replies, which makes no sense.

Steve doesn’t understand why Danny looks so amused, and even less why he’s not the one calling Mary. But Kono’s on it, and when she hangs up, she’s grinning wide.

“All set; she’ll bring Steve’s boards to Ewa Beach.”

“And why, exactly, are we taking my stuff?” Steve asks. It’s a legitimate question.

“Because if we all go home to get our shit before we meet up, it’s going to be too late,” Kono says with her best ‘you-can-be-so-dense’ face.

“That’s totally it. No other reason whatsoever,” Danny says again, not making any more sense now than five minutes ago, and Kono flips him the bird.

“Okay, let’s go then,” Steve says, giving up on understanding those two for the moment. Some days, it’s the only choice to stay sane, as Kono and Danny have developed some weird inside jokes over time.

“I’ll try to meet you there later,” Chin says, as they scatter to their cars.

***

Predictably, Ewa Beach is too crowded for Steve’s taste.

When he reaches his limit, Steve swims towards deep waters to clear his head of the noise. As he comes back, he sees that Mary made it, and that she’s surfing with Kono and Danny. Kono is head and shoulders above the other two in technique, but Mary still rides a bit recklessly, all for the thrill – it could be in their genes. Steve is pretty much fascinated by how Danny can hold his own on a board, though. His compact stature helps with finding the right balance, and he’s good; a lot better than Steve thought.

By the time Steve’s almost back to shore, the three of them are well into an epic splashing war, still on their boards but spraying each other mercilessly. Steve is drawn closer, but as soon as he’s in range Mary turns on him.

“There he is; attack!” she yells, sending water at his face, and is quickly imitated by both Kono and Danny.

Steve gets some in his eyes and splutters.

“Oh, this is so on,” he declares.

Mary laughs, and Danny, the traitor, just sends more water over with a shit-eating grin.

“Three against one, babe, prepare to cry uncle!” he teases.

“We’ll see about that!” Steve says. “Now, everyone unhook the leashes from your boards, and I’ll show you who’s the boss.”

Surfing boards attached to ankles can cause all kinds of problems when horsing around in the surf, which both Kono and Mary know enough about to listen without protest; Danny following suit. When Mary hurries to splash him again, Steve takes a deep breath and sinks under water.

The best move is clearly to get them off the boards, and Steve decides to start with Mary since she opened the hostilities. He waits for it though - a good two minutes - and sees how they nervously regroup above. The problem with the water in Hawaii is that it’s so transparent they are going to see him coming, but if he does it fast enough... Once ready, he crouches on the sand and pushes, soaring to catch Mary’s ankle, pulls on it hard, and she crashes off her board with a yelp and a splash. He lets her ankle go after a second, and immediately springs again to catch Kono - who visibly wasn’t expecting it right away - managing to make her board flip, too. Steve ends up with Mary on his back, though.

“Oh no you don’t, you punk!” she shouts, trying to dunk him.

“That’s just sneaky,” Steve hears Danny say before he sinks again to sit down on the bottom of the ocean, knowing he can get rid of Mary below water, if only because he can hold his breath longer. In a surprising turn of events, he sees that Kono has made Danny fall off his board and they are joyously rough-housing it now, just feet away. Mary, who was still clutching at his shoulders in a vain hope he’d give up his submersion tactic, soon detaches from Steve to go attack Danny too. When Steve comes up for air, Danny’s got Mary on his back, arms around his neck and Kono’s making wave after wave that hit his face as he protests vehemently.

“How? How is this fair at all, you traitors?” he yells.

Steve grins and inches closer, splashing him too.

“Who’s going to cry uncle now, Danno?” he asks, and Mary barely has time to shriek before Danny’s throwing himself on his back to dunk her. Kono watches the water like a hawk, but shouts in surprise before disappearing with a flail, probably yanked down by an ankle. It seems that Jersey Boy has tricks of his own.

When they surface in, they’re all coughing between guffaws, and Steve is hit by a wave of love so strong for these loons that he loses his breath himself. Who cares if Danny’s in love with his sister? Everyone is happy and he’s going to be fine, too. From the corner of his eye, Steve sees that one of the boards has gone astray, so he swims after it, then decides to corral the other two before someone gets hurt. He’s about to go to shore when a heavy mass hits him from behind and he’s under water, unprepared. Training kicks in and he twists and shoves, only to see it’s Danny when he lets go, grinning like a maniac.

“Got ya!” Danny says as they surface, smug as shit.

“Oh yeah?” Steve says, already planning to retaliate as they circle each other. He’s been challenged, and Danny is going to pay.

Mary cackles as she walks over, Kono hitching a ride on her back.

“Ohh, he’s done it,” Mary stages whisper to Kono. Very loud, she yells: “Unleash the kraken!”

Playing along, Steve jumps toward Danny with a roar.

***

Playing at Ewa Beach turned into pizza and beer at his place and Steve is in the process of getting completely trashed. He’s not the only one drinking, though; everyone is on the other side of tipsy now, even Malia who appeared with Chin at some point. Malia, it turns out, is hilarious when drunk and sets up an impromptu dance-off on the beach. Steve’s not steady enough on his legs to dance, but he can sure watch while sprawled on his chair, nursing beer number whatever. It seems that Chin is the king of disco, who knew, and he’s well on the way to be crowned champion of this particular contest.

The music changes for a slow song, and unsurprisingly Chin and Malia pair up, Danny ends up with his arms full of both Kono and Mary as they giggle and sway. Okay, then, they seem to be having fun, but Steve really hopes this is not going to end up with some threesome fooling around, because it would be really weird. Steve drains his beer and looks at the stars instead.

Steve sees something move in his peripheral vision, but he’s too tired to look.

“It is very pretty, all of those stars,” Danny says, and therefore is revealed as the one who took the chair next to him. Neat.

“I’m not sure they should move around so much,” Steve confesses.

Danny chuckles. “Probably not. Having fun?”

“I’m going to be okay,” Steve declares.

“You’re going to be okay? Because, what, you are not okay?” Danny asks, sounding confused.

Shaking his head no is a very bad idea, as it turns out. Also bad is trying to turn said head to look at Danny, so Steve looks back up, breathing deeply.

“I will be. What is very important you understand, Danno, is that... I want you to be happy, you know?”

“You’ve said that before, and I appreciate the sentiment. But why -”

Steve interrupts him, because he’s not done saying all he needs to say. “Here, in Hawaii if possible, but happy. You thought it could mean Rachel again, which, if you ask me, was a bad idea. Or, or, well if it’s Mary, so be it.”

Danny laughs, and Steve somehow manages to look at him.

“Mary?” Danny says, but he shakes his head fondly. “Nah.”

Surprisingly outraged by that, Steve protests. “Hey, Mary could make someone happy!”

“Of course she could. And I think she is, in fact,” Danny says, looking at the beach, but once again he’s not making any sense.

“And if it's not me, this way it keeps it in the family, you know,” Steve concludes. He’s still lucid enough to realize saying that was maybe not his best idea, and considers hiding his face in his hands.

Danny laughs, which Steve would probably be more mortified about if he was sober.

“Oh, babe, you are royally trashed,” he says, and Steve can hear the affection in his tone so maybe not everything is lost.

“Correct,” Steve slurs, eyes closing against his will. “Nap, now.”

If he sleeps, he can’t worry about what he just said. Training did give him the ability to fall asleep anywhere, anytime. It’s pretty neat and right now seems like the best time to use that skill set. He’s out like a light

**

Steve wakes up groggy and aching all over, a foul taste in his mouth. He’s disoriented for a second by the fact he’s waking up outside, with the sun in his eyes: he’s still in the lounge chair on the beach, though he now has a blanket.

A full body stretch does some good, but Steve senses that he’ll feel some of the kinks in his back for days. There is a water bottle next to the chair, side by side with a container of Advil, and whoever put them there guessed right when they thought that he’d wake with a hangover. Steve takes 3 pills and drains the water bottle, hoping the headache that is firmly set in now will succumb to the treatment. A guy can hope.

The beach is clean, so it seems that the remnants of the party have been taken care of (except for him). His watch says it’s 0730, and Steve wonders if he should go shower and try to catch a couple of hours of sleep or if he should officially start his day by going for a swim.

When Steve enters the house, Mary is sitting on a chair she's pulled near the coffee maker, that she seems to be willing to go faster by the power of her mind or something. She turns when Steve steps in and has a crooked smile.

“Oh, look at that!” she exclaims. “It lives!”

“Yeah,” Steve grumbles, and since he’s still thirsty, goes for the fridge. He notices that Mary has two cups ready to fill and a hickey under her jaw; Steve, who thought he could keep his stomach under control, suddenly wants to hurl. He rinses his mouth with more water, and it thankfully passes.

“We tried to get you in, we really did, but you were dead to the world and heavy as fuck,” Mary says. “You missed some very creative Danny Bitching, let me tell you.”

“I don’t even doubt it,” Steve says. He can’t stop staring at the hickey, and he must be a masochist because he brings the subject up.

“I see that you finally hooked up. Good for you.”

Mary looks surprised and pleased as she touches her neck and smiles so happily that Steve smiles back. He's going to be okay;, it's for the best.

“Thanks. We were a bit worried you'd disapprove,” she says.

Steve shakes his head. “Of course not. I just want you and Danny to be happy.”

There, he’s said it to her too, and he means it. Mary’s eyes widen and she bursts out laughing.

“Danny?” she exclaims. “You idiot. I do not sleep with married men. That's, like, my one rule.”

Steve frowns. What does that mean, exactly? Is Mary saying Danny and her are not together? And what is Mary talking about, anyway?

“Danny’s not married,” Steve says.

She rolls her eyes. "Seems like it most days," she says. "And maybe he'd get to the fun part of being in a committed relationship, and by that I mean sex, if you'd get your head out of your ass and just make a move already."

"What?" Steve says again, and it's as if his brain is frozen. This is one epic hangover if he's hallucinating.

"I know, I know, I told him to do it himself but he's weird like that: Danny told me he wasn't convinced you were really interested. Clearly he can't see how you look at him."

"Danny wants me?"

Mary rolls her eyes.

"You're just as blind as he is if you didn't catch that one. Kono told me you guys were desperate cases, but seriously."

Steve is still confused: nothing makes sense, version the umpteenth. "I thought you guys..."

"Friends, Steve. We're friends. Now go upstairs and sort it out. I convinced Danny to crash in your bed when we couldn't get you in," Mary says, and then leers. "Don't say I never did anything for you."

Oh. Steve’s sluggish brain has problem processing all of that - truly excellent -information. He goes towards the stairs, at the same time elated and terrified. When Mary makes a little noise of victory and starts pouring her coffees, Steve stops short, frowning. What about the hickey and Mary hooking up, then? He turns back to her.

“If it's not Danny, who - ?” he asks, gesturing towards her room.

Mary’s eyes are going to fall out of her head if she doesn’t stop rolling them so hard.

“Bro, I know, okay, I know there is a brain under that dumb face of yours. But you have the emotional awareness of a pineapple, and saying that is kind of insulting to fruits everywhere. Think of last night and do the math. Come on, now, I’ll wait for it,” she says, passing him.

So it's not Danny, and Chin and Malia are out - he thinks - then...

“Kono?” he exclaims, stricken. Events and details realign and okay, wow, he should have seen that one coming. Mary watches it click and waits, looking a bit weary. Once the shock passes, Steve smiles.

“Good catch,” he says. “Do I need to make a don't mess with my team speech?”

Mary tilts her head to the side.

“I don't know. Will she get a don't mess with my sister one?”

Steve hums. “Point. All speeches are annulled.”

“Excellent,” she grins.

“Is it just, you know, fooling around?” he asks.

“We're figuring it out as we go,” Mary says. “But if she likes me just half as much as I like her...”

She sounds smitten; Steve reaches to grab her shoulder and squeeze gently.

“I'm happy for you.”

“Thank you. Now if you'll excuse me...” She lifts the cups, then goes towards her room. She’s almost there when she turns. “Come on, now: Danny, in your bed.”

Steve feels his ears heat up and God, yes, Danny. He climbs the stairs silently, mindful of the second to last one that always creaks, but when he stops in the doorway, Danny is dead to the world. He's sprawled on the bed diagonally, taking much more space than he should - what else is new - with no sheet covering the fact he’s in his boxers and nothing else. Carefully, Steve inches forward, taking it all in, and he has an almost irresistible urge to card his fingers through Danny's out of control hair.

He watches for a good five minutes, wondering what he should do, before sitting down on the bed. If Mary is right, they should talk about this; Danny might have tons of words, but Steve's always been more of a man of action. Ever so slowly, he dares to reach out and lightly touch the ugly pink scar on Danny's shoulder. It came so close; Steve still has nightmares about that day. Danny doesn't flinch or react in any way, but when Steve looks at his face, Danny's eyes are now open. The people who say that blue is a cool color evidently never saw the eyes of a sleepy Danny smiling at them first thing in the morning. Steve's heart, which had slowed down, starts to race again.

"Hey," Steve eloquently says, taking his hand back.

"Nap all done?" Danny asks, voice raspy with sleep.

"Mostly," Steve says. "Anyways, it seems that Goldilocks decided my bed was the comfiest of them all."

Danny cranes his neck, makes a production of looking around before letting his head fall back on the pillow and shrugging.

"Seems to me there could be enough space for two," Danny says with a dare in his eyes.

It's an invitation if Steve has ever heard one, and he's not going to be the one backing off from a challenge.

"True," Steve admits, and as Danny shoves over a bit, he takes his t-shirt off before lying down on his side, facing him. It’s gratifying to see the unmistakable want in Danny's eyes. Has he been so blind to miss looks like this for a while? He could kick himself, really.

"This feels real enough," Danny says, thoughtful. Steve frowns before he explains. "I've stopped counting the number of dreams with you in that end up, you know, just short of a happy ending."

Steve hums. "Maybe there’s a way to make sure it's real this time?"

Danny reaches out and cups Steve's shoulder, then his hand travel down Steve's arm in a caress, making him shiver. God.

"Feels about right," Danny murmurs, trailing the back of his fingers up Steve's side, across a pectoral and grazing a nipple, which pulls a sound from the back of Steve's throat.

He can't wait anymore and surges forward, tangling a hand in Danny's hair before kissing him, urgent and maybe a tad too desperate. If it's too much Danny doesn't seem to mind, as he kisses back eagerly until they break for air, panting in each other's mouths.

"The bonus morning breath makes this feel realer by the minute," Danny quips, and it makes Steve laugh.

He's so totally gone for this guy, it's not even funny. Danny's grinning at him and this, this is everything he's ever wanted. Steve pushes at his shoulder and rolls on top, slotting neatly between Danny legs in a way that is very interesting in so many ways. Steve looks Danny right in the eyes, gathers his courage and jumps, since that's what he's been trained to do in life or death situations.

"I say we should try for the happy ending," he declares, thinking beyond orgasms.

Danny gets it.

"Ever after and all that? Yeah, that sounds just about right," Danny agrees, leaning up for another kiss.

They meet in the middle, as always.