Danny loves this place.
Cozy and a little on the small side, with a discerning clientele, even if the music left something to be desired; there is such a thing as too much Queen, thank you very much.
Still, he is comfortable here, or he would be if the tension streaming off Steve didn’t feel like a tsunami. He glances at Steve out of the corner of his eyes and puts a hand on Steve’s thigh under the table; the man tenses like he’s just been given electroshock therapy.
He curbs a sigh, removes his hand and put it on the table, clasping it with the other. "What's up, babe?"
Steve looks at him, leans back in the booth and crosses his arms over his chest, the t-shirt pulling tightly across his shoulders. Danny waits and admires, though the feeling of frustration makes him itchy.
“Nothing," Steve eventually says, turning his head to look Danny in the eye.
Danny gazes back, takes the time to note the groove bisecting Steve’s forehead, the taut line of his mouth and the jaw tensing with every quiet breath that he inhales.
“Succinct, and not informative in the least,” he finally replies.
Steve gives him the stink eye.
Danny is tired of this, this double standard Steve insists on perpetuating. He isn’t sure what it is that keeps Steve at a distance, especially here and now, when they have the opportunity, the luxury to do so. He licks his lips and puts his hands on the table. “What do you need, babe? Do you want to leave? We’re not obligated to stay, nobody’s forcing anyone here, it’s just that, I asked you and you said yes and now you’re looking like you’re sitting on death row or something. I’d like to know what I can do to make this experience a little more, shall we say, agreeable. So, what do you need?”
Steve’s face is priceless, shifting rapidly between the multitude of expressions that give away his anxiety, surprise and affection. Danny loves them all, though he wishes he could wipe the fear away.
“What I need?” he asks, as though he’s stupid.
Danny really wants to smack him. “Steven, I wanted to come here so we could relax.”
“I know.” Steve now looks embarrassed.
“I don’t know, okay, I don’t know what I need.” He brings a hand to his jaw, rubs at the skin anxiously and gives Danny a look he couldn’t even begin to decipher.
Danny grinds his teeth and feels Steve shift next to him.
He flattens his hands on the table and stands up, nudging Steve gently. “Well, I know what I need.” Steve gives him what could only be panic as he stands up, and Danny could kick himself, he really could. “I’m going to the bathroom, I’ll be right back. Order me another beer, wouldja?”
Steve’s eyes are still tense around the edges as he sits back down and replies, “Okay, Danny.”
Danny wants to wipe that look off Steve’s face. He pauses for a second, feels his mouth twitch as Steve, for once, looks up at him and, fuck, the man is irresistible, even when he has annoyed the hell out of him. Danny cups Steve’s jaw, leans down and kisses him. Steve stiffens under his mouth for half a second before responding and softening under Danny’s lips. Danny could do this forever, especially when he feels Steve’s hand hold onto his shirt, but he straightens his back, catches the wistful look on Steve’s face and clears his throat by saying again, “I’ll be right back.”
Danny walks along the bar, passing people sitting alone, couples on dates, and some obviously hoping to find one, before retreating into the bathroom. Guilt suddenly gnaws at him; did he push Steve into something he didn’t want? Did Steve only agree because Danny had been pestering him about this place and wanted to bring Steve here, for what? Danny wasn’t sure how to explain, resented the fact that he needed to.
He finishes his business quickly and walks back to the bar area, his hands still damp from washing them. Danny hears the laugh coming from Steve, who catches his eye before focusing back on the guy sitting across from him.
“Why do you laugh? You lie if you tell me no one’s ever called you ‘yummy’ before, that has to be your main adjective, sweetheart.” The pitch of the voice is familiar and Danny knows exactly who it is.
Danny sits next to Steve and gives the young man a hard look. “You making moves on my partner, Ryan?”
“You know him?” Steve asks, surprised.
Ryan honest to god pouts at him. “Does he know me? Officer, how come you haven’t told mister perfect pectorals all about Ryan Ishigawa?”
Danny rolls his eyes. “No way I could do you justice, you nelly queen.”
“Jesus, Danny!” Steve sounds appalled, but Ryan laughs loudly, causing other patrons to look in their direction.
“Relax, handsome, this is a regular occurrence between yours truly and mister big and butch, right here. He has the Jersey charm to pull it off.” Ryan winks at Steve and grants Danny a dimpled smile.
Steve looks at Ryan curiously and asks, “How regular?” He leans forward, placing his forearms on the table and looking like he wants to interrogate Ryan.
Danny crosses his arms, watching the exchange and annoyed with the line of questioning. “You could ask me, Steve.”
“Steve? No way, brah!” Ryan grins at Steve and it threatens to split his pretty face in half, crinkling his eyes and making Danny feel old just looking at him.
“What?” Steve asks.
“You’re Steve, the Steve, the guy officer burly bear has been mooning over for months! Hey, Kahoku!” Ryan stands and the bartender’s heavy brow knits over his eyes as he turns to their direction, obviously displeased at the amount of noise coming from their table. “Officer bear brought his boyfriend!” Kahoku rolls his eyes and says something that includes the word lolo in it, which has Steve chuckling, though he looks slightly pale around the edges.
“He’s not my boyfriend,” Danny says. “Do we look like we’re in high school? We do not, my friend, unlike some of the juveniles sitting at this table.” He gives Ryan a pointed look.
Steve glances sharply at the martini glass in Ryan’s hand and at Ryan’s face, and Ryan raises a well groomed eye brow at Danny. “Fuck you, I have a PhD in Astrophysics.”
“Shouldn’t you be over on the Big Island, then?” Steve asks, curious.
“Ryan likes to cruise Oahu,” Danny says with a smirk. He sips his beer and he sees Steve once again look at him askance.
“Who are you?” Steve asks quietly, a dismayed look on his face. Danny can’t tell if he’s serious or not.
“You spread malicious lies about me, officer, but that isn’t one of them. Take my advice gentlemen, don’t date a co-worker. That sort of dynamic is doomed from the get go.” Steve stiffens beside him at Ryan’s thoughtless remark and Danny would like nothing more than to dump the rest of Ryan’s drink right over his head.
“Excuse me,” Steve says. Danny wastes no time in getting up. Steve brushes past and walks briskly out the door.
“Fuck!” Danny spits and glares at Ryan, who’s looking at him rather confused.
“Was it something I- oh. Oh shit. Danny, I’m-“
“Save it. I gotta go.” He hears Ryan try to apologise again, but he’s focused on going after Steve. Danny prods more than one guy out of his way; he doesn’t know how Steve manages to manoeuvr through crowds so deftly.
He almost falls out of the door in his rush to get out. Danny freezes, surprised to see Steve leaning serenely on the railing of the deck, looking out to the pier, surrounded by the smokers and the bluish-grey haze they create. Danny quit smoking before Grace had even been conceived but he wants a cigarette now, looking for something to do with his hands. He automatically smooths his hair as he approaches Steve. “Ryan is a moron.”
Steve looks at him, his face full of a longing that has Danny’s brain empty and flooded with images inappropriate to be having in public. He clears his throat and his head as he regards Steve.
“He’s your friend,” Steve states. His eyes change minutely, with a flash of pensiveness that’s there and gone, but Danny sees it, knows to read between the lines of Steve’s face, even if the meaning eludes him.
Danny grimaces and sighs. “Yeah, he can be, though that whole introduction could have gone better.”
“He puts on quite a show.” Steve is looking out to the water. Danny follows his gaze, sees couples walking hand in hand, men kissing on the promenade. Danny knows in his gut that this is something he wanted Steve to see as well.
“It’s the way he is,” Danny says.
They’re quiet for a bit. Danny’s literally biting his tongue, waiting for Steve to reply, but he continues to look contemplative.
Danny feels a tap on his shoulder and turns to see Kahoku the bartender place a glass of scotch on the railing next to his elbow, as well as another beer. “Outta Ryan’s pocket, brah. For you and your man,” he says, nodding at Steve, and gives Danny a gentle clap on the back before Danny can even say a by your leave and weaves his wide body between the customers back into the bar.
Danny hands Steve his beer and sips the scotch. The burn feels good going down, warming his belly, and he hates the fact that he needs this drink to burn the frustration he feels.
“You come here a lot.” Steve peels the wet label off his bottle, concentrating a little too hard on the task at hand.
“I come here enough,” Danny replies carefully.
“Ryan, he’s your friend. You’ve known each other a while. He knew about me.”
Danny frowns. “Is that bothering you now? That Ryan knew who you are to me? That you’re my partner outside of work as well?”
Steve’s mouth thins and he straightens his back; he all but slams the bottle on the railing. “Fuck, Danny, why are you defensive? I was surprised, okay, I was surprised when you said you wanted to come here and I’m surprised that you have friends here. I didn’t expect you to be-“ He stops abruptly, the rush of words ending on a cliff.
“To be what, social? As for you, doofus, you’ve been squirmy like a worm on a hook the whole evening, what am I supposed to think?” Danny wants to throw his glass across the water. He refrains though; this is his favourite scotch. “I offered to leave and you were all, no I’ll tough it out, like this was some kind of arduous chore I made you sit through.”
“Danny.” Steve begins making an aborted gesture, but Danny is on a roll.
“Are you embarrassed to be seen here, with me? Is that what this is about? I thought, stupidly given the circumstances, that we were ready to go on out to places where we wouldn’t have to think about the fact that we were the –“ he flaps a hand “-odd men out. That we could spend time outside of the house for once as a, who would have thought, as a couple and not as colleagues-“
“-but I guess that was too much to ask for. To come to a place where I could sit close to you without-“ He’s cut off by Steve kissing him. It’s a closed mouth kiss, conveying the need for silence; Danny dimly hears someone wolf whistle and Steve is smirking when he pulls away, straightening up and smoothing down Danny’s shirt.
“How come you never told me you came here regularly, D? It’s nice.”
“’It’s nice’ he says. Then what was with the face, huh, and the leaving the table and making Ryan feel so bad he bought us drinks?”
“This is –“ and Steve is honest-to-god looking at his feet, “- a whole other side of you I never knew existed.”
“Babe, I’m pretty sure this is a side of me you know pretty intimately.”
Steve rolls his eyes and says, “No, I mean…” He looks up and gestures haplessly at the awning. Danny looks up at the flag swaying back and forth in the gentle breeze, its colours muted in the yellow light of the deck lamps.
Danny feels the tips of his ears warm a bit and he clears his throat. “Sometimes you just need a place where you can talk to people without them assuming shit they wouldn’t understand.”
Steve’s expression is gentle and fond; Danny feels a warmth in his gut that has nothing to do with the scotch, and the urge to kiss that smile is overwhelming.
“I’m glad you were ready to share it with me, Danno.” Steve sidles closer to him, putting his arm over Danny’s shoulder, and this is what Danny wanted, the furnace of Steve’s body close to his, the public intimacy this place awards him.
“And here I was thinking you weren’t ready for this.” Danny places his hand at the small of Steve’s back, feels Steve shiver a bit at the touch.
Steve looks contemplative. “I’m ready for anything you throw at me.” Steve turns Danny’s head slightly and their mouths align again, opening slightly and letting their tongues stroke each other as they breathe in each other in the cool air.
They break apart, slightly dazed and yearning. “You wanna head back in?” Danny’s voice sounds thick in his own ears.
Steve smirks and nods. “Yeah, let’s go in.”
Ryan is still sitting in the booth they’d abandoned, there’s a waiter he’s flirting with, and they head over, sliding back in. Ryan smiles sunnily at them and Danny feels Steve’s arm go around his shoulders again.
“Hi, welcome to Tendencies, would you like to order?” the waiter asks, smiling at Danny and Steve as though this is the first time they’ve sat at the table.
“We’re good.” Steve smiles back at to the waiter, who nods and goes to do his job somewhere else.
“So,” Ryan begins, “how did you two meet?”
“We pulled our guns on each other,” Danny deadpans and Steve laughs at that.
“Like everybody else then.”
~ The End