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The bitch, Danny thinks, of joint custody, is that you can't really deny your daughter the chance to spend part of her summer vacation with her grandparents. And when said grandparents live in London, you can't expect it to be a weekend. So you either do without your daughter for a month, or you plan a vacation to London for part of her trip.

Danny's not in the habit of doing without his daughter.

Which is how he ends up at 221 B Baker Street, trying to muster up excitement to match Grace's. He's watching her ooo and ahh over a prop in the fictional home of the fictional detective when someone stops beside him just a little too close, bumping his briefcase into Danny's leg.

"I do love a good Holmes quote," the man says in a heavy Russian accent. 'The world is full of obvious things,'" he adds, trailing off as if he can't remember the rest.

"'Which nobody by any chance ever observes,'" Danny finishes for him. Because he might not be a fan of the tourist trap, but he'd wanted to be a detective almost from birth. He knows his Holmes.

"That is right," the man says, sounding far too happy that Danny knew the end. "Thank you."

Danny tells him he's welcome absently, too busy watching Grace. "Grace," he calls out after a minute, "do not put that pipe in your mouth, or I will wash your mouth out with soap."

She rolls her eyes at him, but she puts the pipe down and comes back to his side. "Can we go get dinner now?"

"Sure," Danny says, taking her hand. He turns, and nearly trips over the Russian's briefcase.

"Is that yours?" Grace asks.

Danny shakes his head. "No, but I think it's out to get me," he mutters. He looks up and sees the man who'd been carrying it just disappearing down the stairs. "Let's go find the owner," Danny says, grabbing the case and maneuvering through the crowd, Grace in tow.

He sees the man headed out the door just as they get to the top of the stairs. By the time Danny and Grace get out the door, the man is halfway down the block, headed for Baker Street Station. Since it's their destination, too, Danny follows.

He has the man in sight until they get into the station itself. Danny had called out a few times, but the man had been one of the few people who hadn't turned to stare at him. He'd just continued on his way.

They follow him through the turnstiles onto the platform, where he gets onto a train. Danny and Grace barely make it onto the train before the doors close, both a little out of breath.

"Danno, why were we in such a hurry?"

"Because I have this briefcase that belongs to that nice man over--"

Danny looks where he could've sworn the man was, by the next set of doors, but there's no sign of him. He checks the rest of the train, but there's still no sign.

"What man?" Grace asks.

"Apparently the invisible one," Danny says, looking down at the case. He can see now that there's no visible way to open it. Maybe he can open it when they get back to his room and see if there's some sort of ID inside.

After dinner with Grace, Danny drops her off at her grandparents' with a hug and promises for dinner "somewhere cool" next time. He stops for one drink at the hotel bar before going up to his room and staring at the case. He hadn't wanted to take it to the police station just yet--he knows from experience how lost and found cases tended to get treated in most stations, and he doesn't expect London to be any different. If he can't find information on the owner, he'll take it to the police in the morning.

He checks the seam, barely visible all the way around the case, but there's no hint of how to open it. He tries getting something between the seam to pry it open, but he's worried about damaging it.

Police station it is, then.

Placing the case on the desk, he showers and climbs into bed.

***

He's running for a double-decker bus, the bright red ones that regularly threaten his life all over town. It's not moving very fast, but every time his fingers manage to touch the pole at the door to pull himself onto the bus, it lurches forward, just out of reach.

~~~

The shift from sleeping to awake is seamless, which, Danny thinks, is good, because he instantly realizes one very important fact.

He is not alone in his room.

Whoever's in the room is good--he'll give them that. Danny doesn't really remember hearing them come in, though he suspects that woke him. They're making almost no sound even now. It's more a presence he can feel, like static electricity as you walk through a room.

He waits until whoever it is stops moving, somewhere near the desk, before flipping on the bedside lamp and sitting up in bed in one fluid motion. There's a man standing there, frozen in the dim light, hand on the briefcase Danny had left on the desk. He's tall, but dressed in all black, so it's hard to see just how big he is. Then he shifts, and Danny gets a hint of solid, compact muscle.

He stares at Danny as if uncertain what move to make, so Danny decides to break the stalemate. "You're too tall to be a ninja."

That gets a blink, and Danny thinks the shadows that are making the man's cheekbones stand out must be responsible for how long his lashes appear to be. "What?" the man asks after a few more rapid blinks.

"The whole black pajamas thing," Danny says, waving a hand up and down at the man's body, "and sneaking around other people's hotel rooms in the middle of the night. You look like you're auditioning to be a ninja."

The man does his rapid-fire blinking thing again, like a computer flashing a light while it processes. "I'm not a ninja," he says, accent clearly American now that Danny has more than one word to go on.

"This is what I'm saying," Danny replies, wondering if he can reach the knife stashed in the nightstand. The way the man is holding himself, tense and ready to spring, makes Danny think that's unwise. So he falls back on words as his defense. "You're much too tall, for one thing. And you woke me up. Plus, you didn't even wear one of those ninja mask thingies."

"You realize real ninjas never actually wore masks, right?"

"Says you," Danny replies, "but given your generally terrible job at portraying one, I'm not sure I should consider you an authority."

"The ninjas were actually called shinobi, and really, they dressed like normal people most of the time. They dressed to blend in."

Danny nods at the man's outfit. "You're not dressed to blend in," he says. "Again, total ninja fail."

He has to press his lips together to keep from laughing as the man opens and closes his mouth, blinking yet again. "But I blend into this environment," he says, waving his hand at the darkness around him. "So that makes me ninja-like."

Danny considers this for a moment before shaking his head. "Don't see it, sorry," he says. "And by the way, not that I'm not enjoying class, but did you break into my hotel room to give me a lesson on ninjas, or was there a point to your unexpected, uninvited and, I might add, illegal visit at 3 a.m.?"

A few more blinks and the man's face clears, a hint of assurance seeping into his expression. "Ah, that," he says, picking up the briefcase. "I'm afraid this was given to you by mistake. I was sent to collect it."

"How do I know it's yours?"

"Because I went through all this trouble to come get it?"

Danny shrugs. "People go through a lot of trouble trying to rob a bank, too. Doesn't make the money theirs."

The man screws up his face like he can't believe what he's hearing. "Do you always try to distract people who break into your room with confusing dialogue?"

"I don't get a great many gentlemen callers through my window at 3 a.m., honestly," Danny says. "But at least I should get some entertainment out of this before I call the police."

"I can't let you do that."

Danny cocks his head. "What, find this entertaining, or call the police?"

"Call the police." He holds up the case. "This is a matter of national security. Way above their pay grade."

"Which?"

More blinking. "Which pay grade?

"No, which nation? Seriously, you're no better at being a spy than a ninja, are you?"

"I am a very good--" The man stops and takes a breath. "Look, Mr. Williams, thank you for holding onto this--it would've been a lot harder to get from the police. But I'll take care of it from here. Anyone even knowing you had it could be dangerous for you."

"How do you know my name?"

"How do you think I found you?" He smiles, and Danny's momentarily distracted by what a nice smile it is. "Have a nice night and enjoy the rest of your vacation with your daughter," the man says before he ducks out the window.

By the time Danny gets to the window, the night has swallowed the man up, leaving only chilly air.

***

Chapter Text

By breakfast, Danny's decided he's not going to the police. It wasn't his briefcase and the guy hadn't taken anything else--Danny had checked thoroughly before going back to bed. If the guy was lying and it was something criminal, Danny doesn't want to be involved, especially in a foreign country. If he was telling the truth and it was national security, then Danny doesn't want to be involved, especially in a foreign country.

Forgetting the whole thing ever happened seems like the safest, most prudent course of action for both himself and Grace, given that the man knew Danny was there for her.

Grace is spending the day visiting cousins 'in the country,' as Rachel had told him, with all the snooty Britishness she used to mock her mother for having back in the early days of their marriage. Left to his own devices, Danny finally has time to see the City of London Police Museum.

His partner in New Jersey used to laugh at his fascination with the history of their work, but Danny believes that knowing your history only makes you better at your job. Plus, he finds it fascinating. He still doesn't understand half the technology used to do police work today, even when he works with it every day. He likes seeing how it came about, but more importantly he likes seeing how cops solved things before they had it, when they just had their guts and solid police work.

The museum is practically empty, and Danny gets his own volunteer guide, Pete Wilson, who turns out to be an off-duty cop who shares Danny's affinity for police history. It's a slow tour, as they keep going in depth talking about things, but it's a rare day that Danny just talks with someone he isn't related to or working with.

They're perfectly in sync until they reach a small blue police box. "And this, of course," Wilson says, "is the TARDIS."

"A what?"

"TARDIS." When Wilson realizes that Danny really doesn't know what he's talking about, he looks shocked. "Doctor Who?"

"Who?" Danny thinks for a moment. "No, wait, that sounds familiar...it's a scifi show, right?"

Wilson shakes his head. "Watch it sometime. You'll thank me."

"I'll have to check it out," Danny says. He won't, but he doesn't want to be rude.

It's only as he's leaving, and Wilson slips Danny his phone number, that Danny realizes the guy's been hitting on him. Subtly, but in retrospect, definitely hitting on him. Danny takes the number, ducking his head and not quite meeting the guy's eyes. He mentions being there for his daughter, but says he'll see if he can find time for a drink before he goes.

He goes a few blocks before he realizes he's completely lost, the tangled maze of streets in London worse than anything Newark every threw at anybody. He ducks down a dark, narrow street, more of an alley really, to get back on track, and suddenly he's on his back, under the solid, warm weight of someone. Brick or stone or something is raining down on them.

He recognizes the sound, even muffled as it is by the person on top of him. It's the sound of a gun firing with a silencer attached, and he wonders how the hell anyone got a gun in this country, let alone a silencer. The sound fires a few more times, louder than before, and then it stops, as does the hail of rock.

The person on top of him rolls off, and Danny's less surprised than he probably should be to see the man who'd broken into his hotel room last night. He's dressed in a suit this time, which looks irritatingly good on him, Danny has time to note, as the man looks off into the distance for a long moment before hopping to his feet and holding out a hand to Danny.

"Come on," the man says, grabbing Danny's hand when he doesn't immediately offer it and hauling him to his feet. "We need to go. Now."

The words have enough urgency, the kind Danny is used to hearing only from other cops, that Danny ignores his instinct to argue with the guy and follows him out of the alley. They hurry down a maze of streets, the man's weapon hidden somewhere, his hand holding Danny's. To anyone who actually pays any attention, they probably look like a couple late for something, but then no one can see the way the man's holding onto Danny's hand as if he's going to make a run for it at any time.

Under different circumstances, he might. But he has no weapon, and someone had been shooting at them, and until he knows who they were aiming for and what the hell is going on, he's sticking with the only person he knows might have an explanation.

He balks, however, when the guy drags him into a sex shop.

"Hey, wait a minute, I don't know what--"

The man turns around and puts his hand over Danny's mouth. "Just shut up and trust me."

That urgency is still there, so Danny shuts up, and follows, still holding hands, through the shop and through a door in the back. There's another door on the other side, one that looks like it hasn't been used in decades, but as Danny watches, the man pushes something, and a panel slides out that allows him to put his palm up for identification, and then his eye.

When they're on the other side of the door, relatively safe from whoever might've been chasing them, Danny digs in his heels and refuses to go any further.

The man pulls hard, then does that rapid blinking thing again when he realizes he can't just move Danny like some inanimate object. "We're almost there," he says. "Come on."

"Sorry." Danny yanks his hand out of the man's grip, forcing himself not to wince. "I was willing to go along when we were being shot at--we were being shot at, right?" After the man gave him a short nod that Danny took as confirmation, he continued. "But we're safe in what, I assume, is some sort of spy bunker or something, so before I go any further, I want some explanations."

The man looks like he's going to argue. Danny can see the words making their way up through his lungs. But then he pauses for a second, and shifts his weight. "What do you want to know?"

"A name might be good for starters."

He waits long enough to answer that Danny wonders just how many aliases he has to go through to pick one. "McGarrett," he says finally.

"That your first or last name?"

"It's the only name you're getting at the moment."

Fair enough. The guy is, apparently, a spy, and he's uncomfortable enough with the answer that Danny wonders if it might actually be true. "Where are we?" He sees the smart ass remark forming. "If you say London I will punch you."

That gets a laugh out of McGarrett. "I suppose England and the United Kingdom are also unacceptable?" He holds up his hands in front of his face immediately. "I'm kidding! Stand down!"

"Stand down?" Danny stares at him. "What is this, the Army?"

McGarrett grinds his teeth. "We're in a safe house, more or less," he says. "And I will explain exactly why if we can just go to the rooms themselves. So can we go?"

Danny waves a hand. "By all means," he says, with exaggerated politeness. "Lead the way."

"What were you doing at police headquarters?" McGarrett asks as they start walking again. "I thought I told you this whole thing was above their pay grade."

"Not that it's any of your business," Danny says, wondering when this maze of tunnels with dim blue lighting ends, "but I was actually there for the museum. I didn't want to get involved in your little national security drama, so I didn't mention it."

McGarrett glances over his shoulder as they turn a corner. "Museum?"

"Yeah, you know, places with old stuff from history? You might've heard of them."

"I know what a museum is. There's one in the police station?"

"Where else would you have a police museum?"

McGarrett looks over his shoulder, frowning, then shakes his head. "You ever heard of a busman's holiday?"

"Yes, McGarrett, I like police stuff in my off hours. I like detective novels, too. So sue me."

"Looked like your friend at the museum liked police men in his off hours."

Danny's suddenly very grateful for the low lighting; he can feel himself blushing. "He was just the tour guide."

"Really? Tour guides always give you their number?"

Danny grabs McGarrett by the arm and spins him around. "Were you following me?"

"Don't flatter yourself."

"Really? Then how'd you know where I was and who gave me their number?"

"Man, you really can't follow directions, can you?" Steve sighs. "Lucky for you we're almost there."

He takes one more corner that leads to a dead end. No, not a dead end, Danny realizes, another secret door with a secret panel that opens for McGarrett. The room on the other side is actually almost inviting, for an underground bunker. There are couches, and a small kitchen and a whole office setup in the corner, complete with computers and tables and desks. There are a few other doors along the far wall surrounding what looks like large shelves that pull down from the far walls.

"Okay," Danny says, looking around, "I'm assuming that this is the 'there' of which you spoke."

"Was that English?"

"Explain, now, or I'm going to punch you."

"You keep threatening that," McGarrett says, "and you're going to have to make good on it."

Danny looks him up and down, enjoying the way McGarrett shifts under the scrutiny, though whether it's embarrassment or something else, Danny can't say. "I think I can take you."

When McGarrett's eyes light up instead of looking pissed off, Danny decides that shifting might've been in the 'something else' category after all.

"Okay," McGarrett says, leading Danny over to the office area and waving a hand at the table with four chairs around it. "Have a seat."

Danny does, watching as McGarrett shucks off his jacket, draping it across the back of one of the chairs. The white dress shirt he's wearing outlines the muscles Danny had thought he'd seen last night and had definitely felt when McGarrett had tackled him.

McGarrett picks up a tablet computer off the counter by the desktop and brings it to the table, pulling something up as he sits down next to Danny. "This is Ivan Rostov," McGarrett says, laying the tablet on the table so Danny can see it, too.

Danny recognizes him instantly. "That's the guy from the museum yesterday."

"He's a contact of mine. He was meeting me with proof that he had access to some very important plans."

"What plans?"

"That's need to know, and you don't. Yet."

Yet? "Okay," Danny says. "So why'd he give me the plans?"

"Rostov's never met me in person. Apparently you responded to the code, so he made the assumption you were me."

"Seriously?" Danny gives McGarrett a dubious look. "You picked a Sherlock Holmes quote at a Sherlock Holmes museum as your unique identifier code?"

"That, and you were wearing a tie, which he was looking for." McGarrett looks offended. "Seriously, who wears a tie on vacation?"

Danny looks down at McGarrett's hands, where they're currently removing a tie, and lifts an eyebrow.

"I'm not on vacation," McGarrett says, whipping the tie off and tossing it on the table. "Ninja, remember?"

"Right. Dressing to fit in with your environment."

"Do you," McGarrett says, unbuttoning the first few buttons of his shirt, "or do you not want an explanation?"

After a moment of being distracted by the skin that's being exposed at McGarrett's neck, Danny waves a hand. "Yes," he says, "by all means, please proceed."

"I was late to the meet," McGarrett says.

"So much for that ninja spy thing."

"It happens." The fact that he looks more pissed off than embarrassed suggests that maybe there's more to the story than he's telling. "Anyway, Rostov gave the briefcase to you and was ambushed a short while later."

Danny doesn't like the sound of that. "Ambushed? Is he okay?"

"He's not dead," McGarrett says. "But he was already skittish and now he's more like terrified. He's refusing to meet with anyone but me."

Danny leans back in his chair. "Why are you telling me all this?"

"Because he thinks you're me, remember?"

Danny reviews the last few sentences. "Wait," he says, leaning his elbows on the table, "He thinks I'm you, and he won't meet with anyone but you...I don't like where this is going."

He doesn't like the way McGarrett takes a deep breath, as if he's not crazy about where it's going either. "I need--we need you to pretend to be me, just long enough to meet with him. I've seen the proof in the briefcase, and we need his intel."

"What's his intel?"

McGarrett shakes his head. "I can't tell you that until you agree to help."

"So, what, I can just walk away and wonder what kind of thing I might've compromised for national security, or I can help you and risk my life in the process?"

"You're a cop," McGarrett counters. "Don't you risk your life all the time for what's right?"

"That's different. I know how that works. And I'm me. You want me to play you with a bunch of spies from I don't even know what country who already want me dead."

"They want me dead," McGarrett says.

Danny rolls his eyes. "No, they want me dead. They just think I have a different name."

"You've gone undercover before."

It's not a question, and Danny doesn't kid himself that McGarrett hasn't read his whole file by now. "With plenty of time to prepare, sure. I'm sensing that won't be the case here."

"I'll give you everything you need to know. I'm not supposed to meet Rostov until Wednesday night."

That gives them two days, minus the time for Danny's planned outing with Grace tonight. "That's not a lot of time."

"Which is why I need your decision," McGarrett says, reaching behind him for a file folder. He pulls out two stapled documents and puts them in front of Danny. "I have two non-disclosure agreements. Sign this one," he says, hand on the first document, "and you can go back to your life, and we'll deal with the mess and hope that Rostov doesn't sell the documents elsewhere, or worse."

McGarrett rests his hand on the second, longer document, "Sign this one and we can start training right away. I promise that I will do everything I can to ensure this goes off flawlessly, and that you will be perfectly safe."

"You're asking me to trust you," Danny says. "I don't even know your name."

"McGarrett." At Danny's look, McGarrett takes a deep breath. "Steve McGarrett."

Danny studies him for a long moment, but McGarrett's gaze never wavers. Danny pulls the longer document out from under McGarrett's hand. "Two conditions," he says. "One, my family stays safe."

"We have no reason to believe they'll go after them. Once we realized what had happened, we put the story out that I'd used a child actor as cover, so no one thinks there's any real connection between your daughter and Steve McGarrett. But there are agents keeping an eye on her just in case."

"I don't want her scared."

"She'll never know they're there," McGarrett assures him. "Two?"

"I have to have dinner with Grace tonight."

McGarrett starts shaking his head before Danny even finishes the sentence. "We need every minute of training time we can--"

"Sorry, it's a deal breaker. You find a way for me to have dinner with Grace safely, or..."

He pushes the document back at Steve, but Steve stops him. "I'll find a way to do it without endangering her."

"Okay." Danny pulls the document back and glances through it before signing. "So where do we start?"

Chapter Text

McGarrett's life turns out to be one step short of Captain America and a few steps too far into fucked up for Danny's liking.

A Navy SEAL and Naval Intelligence officer, he'd hooked up with the CIA for this mission because of friendships he'd made with some Russian Navy officers who'd been on a mission that was not, apparently, necessary for Danny to know. He'd become especially friendly with Rostov's son, and when his son had died, Steve had started emailing with his father.

That the email friendship probably stemmed, in part, from McGarrett's own father being shot while he listened in on the phone was something Danny was glad he'd read in the file and not had Steve tell him. Danny had heard about the shooting, having moved to the island weeks after it happened. He'd always felt sorry for Steve, but he'd never heard his name, only 'John's son.' But he knew he story enough that he wouldn't have been able to hide his sympathy, and he got the impression McGarrett wouldn't appreciate it.

He'd been okay with Rostov's sympathy from a distance, however, and they'd become friends. When Rostov came across some weapons plans one of his comrades was in talks to sell to an arms dealer, he'd been horrified at the idea this weapon might fall into the hands of the highest bidder. His concerns had fallen upon deaf ears in his own country, until he'd been forced to share his concerns with McGarrett and plan an escape.

The asylum he sought was contingent upon McGarrett's superiors seeing proof of this weapon and the plans. So Rostov had arranged to be in London for a conference, and had brought the proof--only a portion of the plans and the name of the buyer--to the Sherlock Holmes museum.

McGarrett had been making quiet phone calls on and off while Danny had studied, but when Danny looks up from the last page of the file, McGarrett's leaning against the counter by the computer, watching him. "What happened after the museum yesterday?" Danny asks.

"I got there in time to see Rostov heading for Baker Street Station. By the time I realized what was going on, I had no idea who had the case. Luckily, London has a lot of cameras. It didn't take me long to find you."

"And Rostov?"

"Emailed me while I was still watching the camera footage to ask if I'd heard from my government about the files, so I know he thinks you were me."

Danny closes the file and puts it on the desk. "So what does Rostov know about you that I need to know, in case he's looking for validation?"

McGarrett picks up another file off the counter and drops it on the table in front of Danny. "Here are all the emails from both of us. Memorize everything--you have no way of knowing what he's going to ask you about." He turns on his heel. "I'm going to take a shower. We'll leave to get your daughter in about ninety minutes."

Danny watches him go with a frown. He'd stood over Danny almost the whole time he'd been reading the history, stopping only to make a few calls. But now, when Danny's got his personal correspondence, he's just going to leave Danny with it?

It doesn't take him long to figure out why. The emails start out like typical condolences, but it quickly becomes apparent that the two men had both been in need of replacements for their lost family. Rostov had become a sort of second father to Steve--Danny can't seem to think of him as 'McGarrett' now, not after having read all those emails.

By the time he puts the files down, Danny's learned far more about Steve's life and family than he probably ever would've from Steve himself. He knows about Steve's successes, of which there are many, and his failures, of which there are few. He knows by omission that Steve's life, for all its glory and constant team work, seems very lonely.

It feels a little unfair that Steve only got to see Danny's personnel file, when Danny's basically gotten intimate details of Steve's personal life in one long download.

He's just put the file on the table and is still staring at it, digesting it, when he hears Steve's footsteps. "We need to leave soon."

"Okay." Danny stands up. "I have one question, though."

"What?"

"The file doesn't mention who the buyer for this weapon is."

Steve cocks his head. "That's not a question."

"Really? You want to play that game when we have, what, five minutes for me to prepare for this?"

Steve inhales deeply, blowing the air out slowly before answering. "The buyer is Victor Hesse," Steve says, the words almost robotic.

Danny recognizes the name, but he's not going to say anything out loud, not if Steve didn't. He scrubs his face, can't quite meet Steve's eyes, and thinks Steve may be having the same problem. "Okay, I'll uh...I'll just clean myself up a little before dinner."

"Bathroom's that way," Steve says, jerking a thumb over his shoulder.

Danny mutters his thanks as he ducks past Steve and hurries out of the room. He's in the bathroom with the door closed before he lets himself process the fact that he's not just trying to help bring in a very deadly weapon, but one that may lead Steve to the man who killed his father.

"No pressure," he says, not even buying his own words as he turns on the water and tries to wash the stress away enough that Grace won't notice.

***

"You're sure there won't be any problems with your ex-wife?" Steve asks for the third time since they left the safe house.

"There won't." Danny had spent a very uncomfortable call with Rachel trying to give her a plausible reason why his new 'friend,' Steve, was picking Grace up instead of Danny. She'd spent too many years as a cop's wife; he could tell she knew something was off. But she also knew Danny would never do anything to put Grace in danger, so she let it pass.

Out of the corner of his eye, Danny sees Steve tapping his fingers on his thigh left, his right hand gripping the steering wheel a little too tight. The tapping increases the closer they get to Rachel's parents' house. Danny glances at Steve's face, sure he must be reading Steve's face wrong. "Are you nervous?"

"No."

The quick response, along with Steve's jerky motion to look out the window, is unnecessary confirmation that Danny's right. He's nervous. "Look, I know my ex-wife seems scary--"

Steve's head jerks back to look at Danny again. "I am not scared of your--" He breaks off, finally tracking the grin on Danny's face. "You're very funny," Steve says.

"You're nervous about something," Danny says. "Better not be about protecting my daughter."

"No, I'm sure we can protect her," Steve says, the confidence in his voice reassuring Danny. "It's just...I'm not...I haven't spent much time with kids."

Danny twists around in the seat to look at Steve. "You're afraid of my daughter?"

"Not afraid," Steve insists. "I just...don't know how to talk to kids."

"They're like miniature adults, Steven," Danny says. "You just don't talk about sex, spying or killing people, but other than that...they're not that different." The look on Steve's face has Danny going back over what he said. "What?" he asks.

"Did you just call me Steven?"

Danny thinks. "Yes. Isn't that your name?" When Steve doesn't answer, Danny says, "What?"

"Nothing." Steve shrugs, going back to paying attention to his driving. As the one corner of his mouth Danny can see is turned up, Danny figures he's not in that much trouble over it.

They pull up to Rachel's parents' townhouse. Danny watches through the heavily tinted glass--he didn't ask where Steve got such a car on such short notice--as Steve runs up the steps and knocks. His polite, all-smiles conversation with Rachel goes on a little too long for Danny's liking, but eventually Grace is climbing into the back seat, and Steve's going around the car to get back behind the wheel.

"Danno!" Grace says, leaning up to give him a hug. He squeezes her as best he can, twisted around in the seat, before letting her go. "Did you get a bodyguard?"

Steve laughs at that as he's buckling his seatbelt. Danny shoots him a look before answering Grace. "Not exactly. This is my friend Steve."

"We met at the door," Steve says, smiling over his shoulder at Grace. "But nice to meet you again, Grace. Can you buckle up so we can get going?"

She nods, sitting back and buckling herself in, but Steve doesn't pull out. After a few seconds, he says, "Seat belts go for everyone, Danno."

Danny gives him a dark look as he hastily buckles his belt. "Don't call me that."

"Grace did."

"Exactly."

Steve studies him for a few seconds, then turns and pulls out into traffic without a change of expression or another word.

***

Chapter Text

In all the studying and planning for Grace's safety, Danny had neglected to ask where they were having dinner, only caring that it was somewhere safe. So he's surprised when they pull up to the back entrance of a restaurant Grace had been bugging him to go to for over a week. "Didn't think it was possible to get in here," Danny says quietly, the words meant for Steve only.

"It is when you have connections." Steve flashes him a grin. "Come on."

When they get inside, they're ushered through the kitchen to their table without question. Danny looks around at the restaurant as he sits down. It's half-filled with people, and those people all seem to be young, fit, and, as far as Danny can tell, carrying weapons.

Danny leans over to Steve. "Is there anyone in here," he says, just loud enough for Steve to hear over the ambient noise, "who isn't a spy?"

Steve nods as he turns his head to answer just as quietly in Danny's ear. "Of course. Some of them are military, some of them are off-duty cops--it's a variety, really."

Danny leans back to look him in the eye, but despite the obvious amusement, he can see that Steve is dead serious about the fact that everyone in there is only there to protect him and Grace. "Seriously," Danny asks, lips almost against Steve's ear. "Just what the hell is this guy bringing over with him?"

He doesn't expect an answer, obviously, and doesn't get one. Steve just leans back, smiling as Grace giggles. Danny turns his attention to her. "And what's so funny, you?"

She giggles again. "You're cute."

"It's my tie," Danny says, wiggling his eyebrows as he takes a drink.

More giggling as she shakes her head. "No, both of you. It's nice that you brought a date, Danno."

Danny chokes on his water. Before he can catch his breath, Steve's hand covers his on the table, warm and way more exciting than it has any right to be. "I'm glad you didn't mind me coming along," Steve says to Grace. "Your Dad's told me so much about you."

"He talks a lot, doesn't he?"

"Grace!" Danny says, with mock outrage.

"He does," Steve says gravely. "But it's kind of cute, don't you think?"

Danny turns his hand over under Steve's and squeezes. Hard. "I have to make up for Steve here," he says. "He doesn't say much."

"Well, you know, I might," Steve says. "If I could get a word in edgewise. But Danno here makes that hard."

It's a challenge, Danny can hear it in his voice. He's pushing to see just how far he can go. "Aww, honey," Danny says, with saccharine sweetness, "I can see I'll have to find ways to use something other than words."

He leans in, sees the flare of panic in Steve's eyes a second before their lips meet. The kiss feels a little like a victory at first, but then Steve's mouth opens, and it feels like something else entirely. Something he'd be interested in exploring, if it weren't for his daughter sitting right there at the table.

Danny pulls back, noting the dazed look on Steve's face, the way his thumb is now caressing Danny's wrist in a move that's going to make it embarrassing to get up from the table soon. "Anyway," Danny says, "enough about us." He turns to Grace. "Tell me about your trip to the country."

He listens, engrossed, as always, in everything she does. It's only when she's well into her story that he realizes his hand is still in Steve's.

He doesn't take it back.

***

Danny hates having to hug Grace in the car. He wants to walk her to the door, make sure she gets in safely. But he gives her a hug, and tells her Steve wants to talk to her, and that's why he's walking her up to the door.

He watches as they talk for a minute, Steve squatting down to be at her eye level. The conversation makes Steve smile, and when Grace gives him a hug before going inside, Danny finds himself swallowing hard against something he can't give in to right now.

By the time Steve's in the car, Danny's managed to compose himself. "That looked like an interesting conversation," Danny says as Steve pulls out onto the road.

"Oh it was," Steve says. "Very interesting."

When he doesn't elaborate, Danny says, "And you were talking to my daughter about...?"

Steve spares him a quick glance. "She wanted to know what my intentions were," he says.

"She...what? You're kidding, right?"

"I'm serious. She wanted to know if I was planning on seeing you back in Hawaii."

Danny sinks into the seat, closing his eyes. "This was a bad idea. I should've cancelled."

"Hey." Steve's voice is as soft as his touch on Danny's hand. "I told her I traveled a lot for work, so I didn't know...but that I wanted to."

Danny opens his eyes, searching Steve's profile, but Steve's giving nothing away. "You said that, did you?"

"Couldn't have her thinking I was the kiss 'em and leave kind of guy, now, could I?"

His voice is a little hollow, and Danny's left trying to decide which part of that conversation was real and which part was a front. "I can't believe you lied to my little girl."

"Who said I was lying?"

"You're a spy and your lips were moving."

Steve shoots him a quick glance. "First thing they teach you in spy school? The best lies are the ones that are mostly true."

A cryptic comment, and Steve's face, at least the half of it Danny can see, is unreadable, so Danny lets it go. He's not sure if it's a discussion he should continue even if Steve's willing to play along. He can't lie to himself--he wouldn't mind seeing where it would lead at this point. There's something there, had been even before that kiss.

But Danny has a daughter. And at the end of the week, he'll go back to Hawaii, to sand and sun and more pineapple than any sane person can stand. And Steve will go wherever it is the government says he has to go. The chance of their paths crossing again is almost non-existent, especially with Steve having a few good reasons to hate Hawaii, as Danny had learned reading his files.

They would both be smart to focus on their mission.

"What I don't get," Danny says, watching the streets of London go by, "is why our little command center is so quiet."

"Would you rather be in a room full of people while you try to memorize my life?"

"No, it's just...not what I'd pictured."

Steve laughs as he turns down a street that looks vaguely familiar. Danny's still not quite sure where they are, but then London is a giant maze to him. "You shouldn't believe everything you see in the movies."

"Hey, it's not just the movies," Danny says. "When we're getting ready for a big undercover operation back home, it gets pretty busy."

"That's a local police operation--no offense," Steve says, raising a hand before Danny can protest. "It's important work, I just mean that local police operate very differently. And this isn't a big undercover sting. It's just bringing in one asset."

"I thought he was important."

Steve nods as he pulls into a parking garage that Danny definitely recognizes from earlier. He thinks. "He is. But bringing someone in who wants asylum is a delicate operation. And the fewer people who know about it the better until it's done."

He pulls the car into a parking spot. "Also, it's a safe house, not a command center. If it was a command center, there'd be more activity."

"Duly noted," Danny says with a mock salute. "Thank you for the vocabulary lesson."

"You're welcome," Steve says, managing to sound mocking and not mocking all at the same time. Maybe they teach classes in that in spy school. "Hang on a second."

He gets out, leaving Danny stuck in a dark parking garage in a car with tinted windows, unable to see what Steve's doing. A moment later, Steve opens Danny's door. "Coast is clear," he says, his eyes scanning the garage as Danny stepped out of the car.

"You really think anyone happened to see me in the three seconds I was out in the back alley going into the restaurant, and then followed us?"

"No," Steve says, still scanning as they walk quickly to the door, a whole five yards away, if that. "If I did, we wouldn't have come back here."

"Then what was that?" Danny asks as Steve takes care of the security measures on the door.

Steve holds the door open for Danny, closing it behind them before he shrugs. "I'm cautious."

"There's a fine line between cautious and paranoid." Danny thinks for a second. "Not that I'm complaining, since it's my life on the line, mind you."

"Well, thank you for noticing."

The words are said with what almost sounds like fond amusement, so Danny just smiles at him as Steve leads him through the hallways to the safe house itself. Danny's surprised to see his luggage sitting neatly in the corner. "That's my stuff," he says.

"Yeah, you packed up and checked out of your hotel this afternoon."

"I did?" Danny makes an exaggerated, forgetful kind of face. "I must've forgotten that."

"Sorry, I was making a lot of arrangements while you were studying. It slipped my mind."

Danny picks up one of the suitcases. "It slipped your mind that someone went through my stuff?"

"I went through your stuff last night."

That's different, Danny starts to say, but can't really explain why it's any different, so instead he says, "You were looking for something, though."

"And they were just packing. I promise you, all your stuff is there."

Which isn't the point, but Danny realizes that the point is kind of...pointless. He couldn't exactly go pack up his room as Danny Williams, and he did need his things. And it was nice of Steve to think of it--Danny had been far too preoccupied with making sure he didn't blow his cover.

Also, he hates packing.

"Sorry," he says, scrubbing his face as he puts his suitcase back down. "I just...thanks."

"Least I could do."

Steve's voice is much closer, close enough that Danny jumps just a little. He looks up to find Steve standing about a foot away, a look on his face Danny can't decipher. "So, uh," Danny says, suddenly a little overwhelmed by Steve's presence, "is there a room I can put these in?"

Steve does that rapid blinking thing again before shaking his head a little. "Sorry, no," he says, rubbing the back of his neck. "There's only this room and the bathroom. Safe houses are usually safer if the protector and protectee are in the same room."

Which leaves Danny literally nowhere to escape from Steve and get his head together except the bathroom, and apparently sleeping on a couch.

"Ah, okay." Danny looks around. The wall is behind him, his cases are to his left, and Steve is directly in front of him, and it feels like the whole place is closing in on him. "I should probably, uh...do some more studying."

Because focusing even more on Steve's life is going to help ever so much.

"Right." Steve takes a few steps back. "You, um...you want some coffee?"

"Sure. Coffee would be good." Danny sidesteps a little on his way to the table, giving Steve a wide berth. He couldn't bring himself to regret that kiss earlier, for a number of reasons, but it wasn't exactly making his life any easier in the short term.

He takes the files to the couch to relax, trying to lose himself in memorizing his cover. But he can't escape his awareness of Steve as he moves around the small kitchen area. By the time Steve brings him the coffee, Danny's grateful of the interruption.

Steve sits down opposite him on the other couch, holding a cup of his own. "Do you have any questions?" he asks.

"About?"

He nods at the files in Danny's lap. "My info in the files."

He's very careful not to give an opening to ask other questions about his life, Danny notices. Which makes him want to ask that much more. "What happened to your sister?"

"What?"

"You mentioned in your emails to Rostov that you had a sister you hadn't talked to in a while. What happened to her?"

"She's in L.A."

Danny studies him for a moment, trying to decide if he's being intentionally evasive or if it's just his natural state. "That's where she lives," Danny says, pushing. "What happened to her?"

"Nothing. She graduated high school and moved to L.A."

"Not back to Hawaii?"

He doesn't imagine the way Steve flinches at the mention of Hawaii. "I'm not sure she thinks of Hawaii as home."

"Do you?"

"What?"

Either evasive really is his natural state, or he's very good at his job. "Think of Hawaii as home?"

Steve takes a long drink of coffee, his eyes on the ceiling. Danny's just about decided he's not going to answer when he does. "It's complicated," he says slowly. "I have mixed feelings about it, but it'll always be home in a way nowhere else will."

"How so?" He knows he's pushing his luck, but Steve seems willing to talk, and Danny can't help this need to know anything he can find out about him. It's like an itch under his skin.

"I doubt that's going to come up in your conversation with Rostov."

"I didn't think it would."

After a long, level look, Steve takes another drink of coffee. "Some of the worst memories of my life are tied to Hawaii," he says finally. "But most of the best ones are, too." One corner of his mouth lifts just a little. "It's complicated."

"So you said."

"What about you?" Steve counters. "What happened with you and your ex?"

"I'm one hundred percent sure that's not going to come up in my conversation with Rostov," Danny teases.

Steve raises an eyebrow. "I didn't think it would," he parrots.

Danny shrugs. "Two people who should've never gotten married but were too stubborn to admit it for a very long time."

"Why shouldn't you have gotten married?"

"Because there's loving someone, and then there's being compatible with someone," Danny says, thinking about his words carefully, "and when the two parts aren't there, that love can turn into a kind of hate you'd never imagine."

"So you hate your ex?"

Danny shakes his head. "Not anymore. I did for a long time. Now I just resent her this much," he says, holding his thumb and forefinger an inch apart, "for forcing me to live in Hawaii."

"Why wouldn't you want to live in Hawaii?"

"It's complicated."

"Touché."

Danny studies him for a moment. Steve's not looking at him, but Danny knows he's aware he's being stared at. "What are the best memories?" Danny asks.

"What?"

"You said most of your best memories are in Hawaii. Like what?"

Steve's smile is a little unexpected; Danny had thought he might put up more of a fight about answering. "Football."

"Football?"

"Yeah. Football. I was a quarterback in high school. It was amazing, being part of a team, leading them to a win."

"Girls throwing themselves at you?"

Steve raises an eyebrow. "What makes you think it was just the girls?"

Danny swallows carefully. "Star quarterback, huh? I can see that."

For a long, breathless moment, Danny thinks Steve isn't going to let him get away with sidestepping the obvious comment. Then Steve says, "Straight A student, too."

"Of course you were." The important career parts of his college and post-college years were in the files Danny had been studying. His emails to Rostov had filled in a lot of the blanks, but not all. At least Danny hoped not all.

"So how come there's no Mrs. McGarrett waiting patiently in some base housing back home?"

He doesn't miss the way Steve's eye twitches at 'Mrs. McGarrett.' "Oh, I'm married," Steve says, and Danny's stomach sinks. Then Steve adds, "Just to the Navy."

"They allow you to have girlfriends," Danny says, breathing a little easier. "Even wives. From what I hear, you don't even have to get permission."

"Maybe when I find one of those that doesn't mind coming in second place to the Navy every time, I'll snatch it up."

"Good luck with that," Danny mutters.

Steve cocks his head, narrowing his eyes. "That what happened with you and your ex?"

Danny sighs, staring off at the computer for a moment. "That was a big part of the incompatibility," he says, meeting Steve's eyes again. "She wanted to come first all the time. And I couldn't do that. Not in my line of work.""

"There are other jobs."

"Not for me," Danny says, shaking his head. "Never wanted to do anything else."

"Never?"

"Never. I arrested my brother when I was nine."

Steve laughs. "What heinous crime did he commit?"

"He fed the monkeys at the zoo."

"Oh, well," Steve says, thoroughly amused, "clearly he had to be stopped. Criminal mastermind at work."

"You laugh," Danny says with mock seriousness, "but when I uncuffed him from that monkey cage he was suitably chastened."

Steve laughs even harder. "You carried handcuffs on you when you were nine?"

"Well...it was my birthday. They were a present, and we had the party at the zoo. Though I did carry them around for about six months after. But mostly to make my brother behave."

"So even at nine, job first, family second?"

Danny nods. "Grace is the exception, though," he says softly. "I mean, I sacrifice time with her to do the job, but if she was in danger, or really needed me, I'd move Heaven and Earth, you know? She's my life." He sighs. "But outside of that, the job is my life. And Rachel couldn't handle that. No one could, at least not in my limited experience. They just don't understand why I put strangers first, how important the job is."

"I get it," Steve says, just as softly. "It's not something you can explain to someone. Either they understand it or they don't. Nothing you can do or say will get it across in the end. Believe me, I've tried."

It's so rare that he comes across someone who understands that and accepts it. Even his buddies at the station, the ones who would take a bullet for their jobs, they still try to balance the job with their home and families. They push, but only so far. Then they go home, figuring they'll catch the guy tomorrow.

Danny has never been able to live with the possibility that someone else might never go home if he doesn't catch the guy tonight.

He realizes he's been staring at Steve, and that Steve has been staring back. "I, uh...should probably read these again," Danny says, feeling the flush creep up his neck.

"Yeah." Steve pushes off the couch. "I have a few calls to make to make," he says as he walks toward the kitchen area.

Danny watches him go until he realizes he's staring again. He ducks his head down quickly, burying it in the file.

***

Chapter Text

Danny reads the files over again, imagining the questions he might get, the way Rostov might ask them and how he'd respond. No, how Steve would respond. But for all that he feels like he knows the man on some level, he doesn't know him that well in reality.

He's aware of Steve as he moves about the room. He's made all his calls and is at the counter by the computer, messing with some electronic components. But he turns when Danny puts the files aside and sighs.

"Something wrong?" Steve asks.

"I can't learn any more from the files."

"You want me to quiz you?"

"Eventually. But first I need to quiz you. I need to see how you respond to be believable."

Steve's mouth tightens, but he nods and puts down the equipment. "Fire away." He crosses the room to take the other couch, neither his tone nor his body language suggesting he's as comfortable with this as his words would indicate.

Danny considers Rostov's emails, thinking about what he might ask. "Tell me about Hawaii," he says, wondering how Steve would interpret the broad question.

"It's gorgeous. Sun and blue skies most of the time. Always warm."

"So I've seen on the weather reports."

Steve's look tells Danny he's not convinced this is necessary, but Danny's read Rostov's emails, and there's every reason to think he might ask something like that. "There's a spot high up," he says slowly. "You can drive there, but it's more fun to run. When you get to the top, you can see all of Honolulu, with the ocean spread out behind it." He shrugs a little self-consciously. "It's an amazing view."

"Why am I not surprised you prefer to run all the way up Roundtop?"

Steve laughs. "You've been up there?"

"Yes, in a car. Like a normal human."

"I'm a normal human," Steve says. "The view really is something, isn't it?"

"Right. Sure you're a normal human." Danny's starting to think there's nothing normal about Steve McGarrett. And that it's not such a bad thing, except for the whole he'll never see the guy again after Wednesday thing. "And you're right, the view is amazing."

Steve smiles, looking miles away for a moment. "It is. Makes you feel very big and very small, all at once."

Danny had liked seeing the whole city he was there to protect all in one view. He wondered if Steve liked the sea beyond, too, his own area he'd chosen to protect, surrounding his home.

Steve clears his throat. "Anyway, there are amazing views all over the island," he says, slipping back into the fake Rostov conversation. "You should go there when this is over. I think you'd like it."

"Maybe I will," Danny says. "How long has it been since you were back there?"

"A while." At Danny's look, Steve says, "What? If Rostov asked, that's what I'd say. I may have told him a lot over email, but I'm not exactly going to turn into a volcano of information because I shared a few things with him."

"So evasive really is your default setting?"

Steve shrugs. "I'm trained for it," he says. "What did you expect?"

"I expect the guy in these emails," Danny says, holding them up. "And so will Rostov."

"Well if you know that guy so well," Steve says, standing up quickly, "then you don't need me to go through this pointless exercise, do you?"

He stalks off to the bathroom, leaving Danny still holding up the folder.

***

When Steve finally comes out of the bathroom, Danny's been standing by the door for nearly five minutes. Steve stops short when he realizes Danny's standing there. "I'm sorry," Steve says, scrubbing a hand tiredly over his face.

"So am I," Danny says, because he is, even if he has no choice. He knows Steve, he gets that Steve isn't exactly a sharer. And he doesn't want to torture him, especially when he suspects this kind of torture might be worse for Steve than any physical torture he's endured.

Physical pain is so much easier to handle.

"I'm just not used to--" He breaks off, shaking his head. "I'm good at my job, including the secrecy and lies, for a reason."

"I know." Danny wraps a hand around Steve's arm, feeling the solid muscle underneath. "I think I've got a pretty good handle on how to respond to Rostov," he says. "So it's only fair to turn the tables."

Steve frowns, and Danny can feel the muscles under his hand tighten. "What?"

"Come on." Danny pulls him over to the couches, missing the contact when Steve sits and Danny has to let go of him.

He doesn't miss the way Steve is touching the exact spot Danny had been holding, however.

"Ask me whatever you want," Danny says. "It's only fair." And it'll make Danny feel a little less like an ass for the grilling--even though he didn't have a choice. It'll also hopefully help Steve feel a little more even if he gets in some grilling of his own.

Steve studies him for a long moment, as if he only gets one question and has to choose carefully. "What do you do," he asks finally, the words slow and deliberate, "when you're not working or with Grace?"

Danny shrugs. "Watch TV? Sleep?"

"That's it?"

Danny's not sure why that makes Steve frown. "What else does any working parent do?"

"Go out with friends?" Steve says. "Join a softball league? Go on a date?"

"And when's the last time you did any of those things?" Danny counters.

"I thought it was my turn," Steve says, but Danny can see the confirmation in Steve's face that he hasn't done any of those things either.

"Fine," Danny says. "I don't see the point. Between work and Grace, I don't really have a lot of spare time."

Steve raises an eyebrow. "All the more reason you should do something with the spare time you do have."

"Look who's talking."

"We were discussing you."

Danny bites his tongue. "You're right," he says evenly. "We were. Please, proceed with the Spanish Inquisition."

"Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition."

Danny stares at him. "What?"

"Monty Python?"

"Who?"

"Seriously?" Steve shakes his head. "Iconic British comedy."

Danny sighs. "Does it have something to do with Doctor Who?"

Now it's apparently Steve's turn to stare. "You don't know Doctor Who?"

"I'm...really very afraid of what might happen if I say no."

At least that gets him to look less shocked and more amused. "I might show up at your door one day with DVDs and force you to watch."

The degree to which Danny is more than okay with that idea shocks him a little. He doesn't even care who this Doctor person is or what kind of python does inquisitions. He'd just like Steve to show up at his door with DVDs. "You can't force me to watch anything," Danny scoffs. Or tries to scoff, but he realizes it comes out a bit uncertain.

And so does Steve, apparently, judging by his smirk. "I have ways."

"Oh, right, all your spy training included seduction techniques, I'm sure."

Too late he realizes what he said, far too late to take it back. But Steve just looks absolutely delighted, so Danny figures it's not all bad.

"I never needed any courses in that," Steve says, and fuck, his voice...Danny can understand why he wouldn't need courses in seduction. Those looks and that tone would drop probably eighty percent of the pants in the known universe.

"I thought you were asking me about me," Danny said, fighting for neutral and falling a little short.

Steve's face clearly shows he noticed. "Okay." He studies Danny for a long time, until Danny is getting worried about what the next question might be. Steve clears his throat and tilts his head, looking up at Danny through his lashes, even though they're on level. "Top or bottom?"

Danny coughs. "Excuse me?"

"Top or bottom?" When Danny just kind of stares at him, Steve nods over Danny's shoulder towards the back wall. "Those fold out into beds--do you want the top or the bottom one?"

Danny looks over his shoulder, feeling his face flush and hoping the room is dark enough that it doesn't show. What he'd thought were large shelves were apparently pull down bunk beds. Though he knows he wasn't imagining that Steve absolutely intended that double meaning.

Two could play that game.

"Well," Danny says, as if he's considering the answer carefully as he turns back to look Steve in the eye, "I prefer the bottom, but I'm pretty flexible."

He sees Steve swallow, Adams apple bobbing, and isn't exactly surprised at the desire to nip at it. He's surprised at the strength of the desire, though, and he finds himself balling his hands into fists to keep from getting up and moving to the other couch.

The fact that he doesn't think Steve would exactly stop him doesn't make it any easier to stay put.

He's losing his ability to stay in his seat when Steve blinks. "We don't actually need the bunks," he says, his voice businesslike. "The couches fold out and are a little more comfortable. Speaking of which...." He stands up, heading for the corner of the room. "We should get some sleep," he says over his shoulder, reaching for a bag Danny hadn't noticed was in the corner. "Long day tomorrow."

Steve's in the bathroom again before Danny can even figure out what happened.

***

Chapter Text

Danny wakes to the smell of coffee. He stretches as carefully as he can, not in a hurry to face Steve. They'd been fairly quiet as they'd gotten ready for bed the night before, only to lie there in the dark, on their pull out couches a few feet apart, both wide awake. He could tell Steve was awake, and had no doubt Steve knew Danny wasn't sleeping either. But neither had broken the quiet. Instead, they'd just laid there for hours.

While Danny had finally managed a few hours of sleep, he wondered if Steve had. If he'd even slept at all since they'd met. Maybe he felt like he needed to stay awake and keep watch. Which was silly. Danny was a cop. They could take turns.

The coffee's calling to Danny, as is the bathroom. He makes a show of acting like he's just waking before he sits up, looking around, blinking. Steve's at the table, a cup of coffee in hand and the tablet computer in front of him.

He looks Danny's way, eyes straying down Danny's bare chest before jerking back up to his face. "Morning," Steve says, voice a little hoarse.

"Morning."

Steve nods towards the kitchen. "There's coffee if you want it."

"Thanks." Danny gets up and grabs a few things from his bag. He feels like Steve's watching the whole time, but when he turns, Steve's staring down at the tablet as if it holds the answers to the universe.

Danny takes his stuff into the bathroom. When he's dressed, he lingers for a few minutes, wanting to put off going back out into the other room, until he realizes that, between the two of them, he and Steve have probably spent more time in the bathroom than any two guys would want to own up to. He goes back out and grabs coffee on the way to the table.

"Are you ready to switch roles?" Steve asks, all business.

Danny nods before sipping his coffee. He needs to be able to answer naturally as Steve, and they're stuck there until tomorrow night, so if they don't find something to focus on other than the giant pink elephant in the room, they'll--

Well, he doesn't want to think about what they might do.

Steve starts throwing questions at him, changing topics frequently to see if he can catch Danny out. Danny doesn't think Rostov will be anywhere near this careful--the guy has just given his proof to the wrong person, after all--but this will ensure he's prepped, so he goes with it.

He's hoarse by the time they break for lunch. Only as Danny's halfway through his packaged ham and cheese sandwich does he notice how tense and twitchy Steve really is.

"Something wrong?" Danny asks between bites.

Steve shakes his head, pushing what's left of his salad around in its plastic container. "Just not fond of being cooped up."

"You're in the Navy--surely that included boats and subs."

"Yeah, but there was a gym and people to spar with and things to do."

Danny finishes his sandwich while trying not to be offended. "So let's spar," he says, pushing the empty wrapper away.

"We don't have the right equipment."

"I saw some in the closet," Danny says. He'd stumbled over a bunch of training gear the night before, searching the closets out of boredom while Steve was in the bathroom. "There were gloves and pads."

Which Steve should have known. Too late Danny realizes he probably did, and was looking for an easy way to avoid sparring with Danny. "Are you sure that's a good idea?" Steve asks. "I don't want to hurt you."

"Well now you've made it a necessity," Danny says, shoving his chair back and standing. "I feel the need to defend my manhood."

Steve rolls his eyes. "I didn't mean it like that. I'm sure you're very good. I just have different training."

"Different doesn't mean better," Danny says. "Besides, if you find a method that takes me down, then you can teach me how to combat it, right?"

Steve's still sitting at the table, giving Danny a look that doesn't take a translator to figure out means he thinks it's a bad idea. Danny could probably list the reasons that Steve thinks it's a bad idea. But Danny couldn't care less.

It's starting to look inevitable that the two of them will go at it in some way before they're let out into the world again, and Danny's pretty sure there'll be a lot less permanent damage from fighting than from anything else they might do.

He puts those thoughts aside as Steve gets up slowly. "I'll go change."

His voice still has the 'it's a bad idea' tone to it, but Danny didn't miss the spark in Steve's eyes, or the way he didn't waste any time getting to the bathroom to change. Danny changes into gray sweats and a white t-shirt while he waits, and pulls the gear out of the closet, which is really more like a small room full of all kinds of odd supplies. He finds a fold out pad that will make hitting the floor a little less painful and spreads it out in the empty corner of the room before he lays out the rest of the equipment.

By the time Steve is back, dressed in black sweatpants and a black tank top, he's lost all sign of the bad idea vibe, though it takes Danny a moment to notice. Because Steve had looked good enough in a suit, but he looked positively mouth watering in that outfit. Intricate, colorful tattoos covered most of his bicep on each arm, and Danny's fingers itched with the desire to touch.

Oh this was such a very bad idea.

Steve looks Danny up and down, something flaring in his eyes for a moment. "What's your preference?" Steve asks.

You. Danny swallows carefully. "Sorry?"

"Any particular style?"

Danny shrugs. "Do you often get that question when the bad guys attack?"

That light in Steve's eyes burn brighter. "Good point." He nods at the equipment. "How much of that do we want?"

None of it. Except that's a very bad idea, and one that could cause them both problems if they get hurt and run into a bad situation tomorrow night. "If we're not picking one style, we should probably go for full on gear."

"Light gloves?" Steve asks. "I won't hit too hard if you won't."

He's not as sure they can hold their punches, but they can always stop and change gloves if needed. "Works for me."

Steve's watching him as they both suit up, and after a moment, Danny returns the favor. When they're ready and circling each other, Steve quirks an eyebrow. "So what's your safe word?"

Danny chokes on a laugh. "If you can beat me," he says, shifting his weight and preparing to move in, "I'll tell you."

Steve has his hands up in front of him and his head down, almost a classic boxer's stance. He's clearly expecting Danny to start with street fighting, since that's typical of what you'd expect of a cop.

He hasn't realized Danny's not typical. Good. Advantage Danny.

Danny feints a half-jab, dropping to the floor as soon as Steve moves to counter and sweeping his leg under both of Steve's.

The loud thump Steve makes as his back hits the mat only confirms how solid the man is. Danny scrambles to keep the advantage, straddling Steve's legs and holding his arms down.

Steve's eyes are wide with surprise, making Danny laugh. "Sherlock Holmes," he says, answering the unspoken question.

"Sherlock Holmes?"

Danny nods. "I grew up a fan. Which lead to taking any martial arts classes I could find." He's not about to list which ones and give Steve an advantage, though.

The surprise is disappearing, replaced by that spark that Danny doesn't want to like anywhere near as much as he does. It distracts him just enough that he finds himself on his back a second later, Steve pressing him firmly into the mat.

"Navy SEAL," Steve says.

"Yes, I'm well aware of your training," Danny replies. "But will your opponents be?"

"Probably. They--"

He's cut off by sharp jabs of Danny's finger to his side, Danny using the patented surprise tickle attack to gain the upper hand long enough to scramble out from under Steve.

He'd known going into this that it was a bad idea. He's even more certain now, as his body is reacting to the heat, feel and smell of Steve.

"That's cheating," Steve says, circling Danny far more carefully now, looking for an opening.

"Oh, I'm sorry, your opponents are going to play fair?" At Steve's disgruntled look, which Danny figures is the only sign of agreement he's likely to get, Danny adds, "Besides, under Williams family rules, that's a fair play."

"I didn't realize we were playing by Williams family rules."

"I didn't realize we were playing by any rules," Danny says, his voice low, eyes holding Steve's.

Something shifts in Steve's face as he recognizes that for what it is, a challenge. A slow smile spreads across his face, and Danny shifts his weight, ready to move in response to whatever Steve does.

Steve dives in, and they're off, sparring in earnest. Danny's holding back, of course, and he can tell Steve is as well--neither of them need to be injured for tomorrow's mission. It's less of a fight and more...exercise isn't quite it either. Domination doesn't quite fit, though it's closer.

Foreplay.

The thought gives him just enough pause that he finds himself on the mat again, Steve a solid, unmoving object on his legs. "Give up yet?" Steve says, and Danny knows that particular tone in his voice, even though he shouldn't, because his body's reacting to it.

He knows he'd sound the same way, and if Steve moves much, Danny's body's going to give him away, too. So Danny traps Steve's ankle with his foot and pushes up hard with one elbow, shoving Steve with the other arm and rolling them both to the side.

He means to keep going, to get Steve under him, but Steve manages to roll away and scramble to his feet, circling again, breathing a lot harder than this workout should really cause. He's flushed, too, and Danny's momentarily distracted by imagining Steve just like that, muscles and veins straining under Danny in bed.

Steve moves suddenly and Danny's too slow to respond, which lands him in a headlock. That wakes him up, and on instinct he grabs Steve's shoulder, moving his foot behind Steve's to block it. He drops to the floor and rolls them both until he ends up straddled across Steve's waist.

One of Steve's arms is still around Danny's shoulder, his hand resting on the back of Danny's neck, fingers on the skin between Danny's hair and the collar of his shirt. Their noses are maybe an inch apart, and Danny can feel Steve's breath on his lips as he stares down into Steve's eyes, pupils blown, almost no hint of color around the edges.

Danny licks his lips and watches Steve's gaze flicker down to Danny's mouth. He scoots back instinctively, just enough that he can feel how hard Steve is under his sweats.

Okay, definitely going both ways.

This is insane. He should be jumping in a very cold shower and staying far, far away from Steve McGarrett. "Shark," Danny says, hoarsely.

Steve blinks. "What?"

"Shark." Danny's telling his body to move, to get off the man, but it's slow to obey. "My safe word."

Clearly not helping, judging by the slightly strangled noise that comes out of Steve's throat as his nostrils flare. "I'm pretty sure I didn't win."

"Consider it a gift," Danny says, as his body finally listens to the alarm bells and removes itself from Steve's. Danny heads for the kitchen without looking back, grabbing two bottles of water from the fridge. He turns and throws one to Steve, who's followed him about halfway there but stopped, giving Danny a look that makes him want to throw Steve to the ground again and finish what they'd come really close to starting.

"I'm gonna go take a shower," Danny says instead, trying to make himself walk slowly to his suitcase and pull out clothes then back across the room, feeling Steve's eyes on him the whole way. He makes it into the bathroom at last and sags back against the door, closing his eyes.

A little over 24 hours. That's all. He can make it that long.

That the laughter in his head at the assertion sounds like Steve is nowhere near comforting.

***

Chapter Text

Steve seems to have himself under control by the time Danny's done the same in the shower. He'd quietly taken care of all physical evidence, a quick and easy task with the smell and feel of Steve still so vivid in his memory.

Danny checks the time as Steve takes his turn in the shower. Too early to call Grace, who's spending the day at the house of yet another cousin. He looks through the files on Steve again, but when he realizes he's correcting punctuation and grammar instead of reading, he pushes the files aside on the table.

He's about to resort to checking email on his phone when Steve comes back out of the shower. His hair is wet and he's dressed in tan cargos and a casual blue t-shirt. Danny wants to rip the clothes off.

"Studying?" Steve asks, nodding at the folders on the table in front of Danny.

He shakes his head. "I tried, but I could recite it word for word at this point."

"Good. In that case, let's get to the fun part," he says, crossing the room to the closet Danny hadn't been able to open the night before. Steve presses a code into a hidden panel beside it and pulls the door open.

Danny joins him, intrigued. He peers over Steve's shoulder to find a small armory combined with what looks like a tech geek's dream. "You keep all this in safe houses just in case?"

"It's a little more stocked than usual in preparation for this op," Steve says, "but a lot of it, yeah."

Danny takes in the impressive array of weaponry that he knows the estimated cost of, combined with the tech he can't even imagine and then pictures rooms like this stashed all over the world. "No wonder the defense budget is so huge."

Steve laughs. "Preparation is key," he says as he leads Danny into the small room. "First things first." Steve goes to the tech side of the small room. Danny squeezes in next to him and tries to ignore the soap and water smell, combined with the scent of Steve that he'd learned all too well when they sparred.

Steve turns to face Danny, all business, his eyes and the slight flush to his skin the only indicators he's feeling any effects from Danny's proximity.

Then again maybe he just likes tech. Or guns.

He holds out a cell phone to Danny. "I have one of those," Danny says, pulling his out of his pocket.

"Which doesn't do what this one can. Besides, it'll ID you as you, not me. You'll need it to leave it here."

He doesn't like leaving Grace's only way to contact him behind, but he gets it. "Okay. So what does that do? Double as a flame thrower?"

"Very funny. No." Steve hands it to him. "But it does have an additional GPS tracker for us to track you if it's shut off, even if the battery is pulled. And if you hold down this button," he adds, finger resting lightly on what looks like an ordinary camera button, "it sends us a signal that you're in trouble and we'll send in the cavalry."

"Wow, I take it back," Danny says, turning the phone over in his hands. "You're not a ninja. You're James Bond."

"Glad to see at least one British cultural icon hasn't escaped you completely," Steve says dryly.

"Don't forget Sherlock Holmes," Danny reminds him.

Steve grins. "Of course," he says, "two icons. You're practically a native."

"If only I knew who that Doctor was and why he was in Spain."

Steve shakes his head sadly. "DVDs," he says. "Box sets. I'm going to spring them on you when you least expect it."

And really, Danny would like that a lot more than he should probably let on. "Ninja DVD sneak attack?" he asks, stopping to clear his throat. "I'll be on the alert for that."

"I thought I was James Bond."

"James Bond wouldn't sneak attack with DVDs."

"He might with DVDs and a bottle of scotch. If it suited his purposes."

Danny raises an eyebrow. "And what purposes would those be?"

Steve eyes' flare for a moment, and he takes about half a step back. "Education," he says, a little hoarse. "Your lack of British culture knowledge is appalling."

"For an Englishman, maybe," Danny counters. "For Jersey? I'm just fine."

"Anyway," Steve says with mock sternness, not bothering to hide a slight grin, "the phone also has a map of several locations of other safe houses, and the GPS will get you there."

"What if the phone falls in to the wrong hands?"

"Then they'll be out of luck, because only your hands can open it. The entire phone is security locked to your thumbprint. Try it."

Danny pressed the on button and a screen came up with nothing but a blank box. "Which thumb?"

"Either."

He pressed his right thumb inside the box and held it. A moment later, the home screen appeared. "Cool. Can I get this on my phone when we're done so my daughter will stop stealing it to run up my texting bill?"

"You know they have unlimited texting now."

"It's the principle of the thing," Danny says, flipping through the screens on the phone. "So what happens if my thumbs get cut off?"

"Mine are programmed in as an override."

The words are so matter-of-fact that Danny glances at him, startled. "Is that really a common thing?"

Steve laughs. "No, getting your thumbs cut off is uncommon," he says, still laughing. "But phones get lost or left behind, and someone needs to be able to see if any messages or other info might be useful on it. SOP is for more than one person on the op to have access. At the very least the handler does."

"So does that make you my handler, then?" Danny can't help the hoarse, suggestive tone--it seems flirting with Steve is like breathing.

Steve swallows carefully. "More or less."

Danny ignores all his brain's helpful suggestions on how he'd like Steve to handle him. "So what other toys do I get?"

"Right." Steve gets back on task, picking up a small earpiece from a tray. "Standard earpiece," he says, dropping it into Danny's open palm, his fingertips grazing Danny's skin for only a second, but still enough to shoot sparks through Danny's hand and up his arm.

"What does it connect to?" Danny asks.

"Private system, involving cooperation between a couple of--well, it's classified, and all you really need to know is that it's good aboveground and underground, so it should keep you connected just about anywhere."

Danny turns the earpiece over in his hand. "Connected to what?"

"Me. I'll be watching from a distance to help guide you, watch for tails, and see who's watching you. Plus, if Rostov asks anything you can't answer or you forget something, you can't exactly call me for an answer, so I'll be listening on the other end and be able to give you any answers you need."

Great, so he has to do the whole op pretending to be Steve with Steve watching and listening in and Steve's voice in his ear. Fabulous. "Good to know you'll be there to help if I get performance anxiety."

Steve's eyes darken, and Danny knows he should really stop teasing, but he's rapidly losing the will. He already knows Steve will disappear once this is over. He also knows he's going to miss the man once he's gone.

He's not sure he's ready to heap the regret of not acting on this on top of all that.

Steve doesn't reply, though. He turns to the gun cabinets. "We have a few handguns to choose from," he says, all business again, but Danny doesn't miss the way his voice is a little husky.

"My main sidearm back home is a Glock 17."

"Okay." Steve reaches across to another shelf, brushing against Danny's arm in the process. Danny leans into the contact without consciously deciding to do so. "Here," Steve says, pulling back and handing Danny the weapon, open and empty.

Danny does a quick check of the gun before taking a clip from Steve and inserting it. He chambers a round and looks at Steve, who's staring at the gun in Danny's hands. "Holster?" Danny asks.

When Steve doesn't respond, Danny touches his arm. "Sorry," Steve says, shaking his head a little. "What?"

"Do you have a holster?"

"Yeah. Inside the waistband or shoulder?"

Danny considers his options. The Glock isn't small--inside the waistband would probably be more awkward than a shoulder holster. "Shoulder."

Steve looks in a cabinet under the guns and pulls out a dark brown leather shoulder holster. Danny takes it and slides his arms into it, but it's too loose. "Can you tighten these?" he asks Steve, turning his back so Steve can reach the buckles.

After a moment, Steve steps closer. Danny can feel his warmth, and he feels another of those sparks as Steve's fingers touch Danny's back. Steve's breath is warm across Danny's neck, faster now, indication that he's just as affected by Danny's proximity.

It's a good sign, Danny thinks. Because he's pretty much past the point of caring if acting on this is a good idea and on to hoping he gets a chance to do it.

Steve finishes with the buckles and steps back. Danny misses the touch and Steve's warmth. He turns to see Steve's face flushed, pupils blown . A quick glance down shows Danny that cargo pants suck at hiding an erection.

Just the thought of sucking and Steve's cock makes Danny take a step forward, hand moving toward Steve's hip.

"I have to go out,' Steve says suddenly, side stepping to get away from Danny.

"Out?" Danny turns to frown at him. "Where?"

"Errand," Steve says, scrubbing his face with his hand. "I won't be gone long. Pick a back up weapon and a holster, get whatever you need from the ammo cabinet, and familiarize yourself with the maps and locations on your phone."

He turns before Danny can question him further, hurrying out of the room as if it was on fire.

***

Chapter Text

Danny dutifully learns the maps. When he can't stand to stare at them anymore, he checks his watch. Steve's been gone for a while, and Danny wonders if there really was an errand, or if Steve was just running away. He hopes it was an errand; the awkwardness of being trapped in the room with Steve if he'd felt so trapped he needed to run away is not going to be fun until this is over.

His own phone rings, Grace's smiling face on the screen instantly lifting his spirits as he answers. "Hey, Monkey."

"Danno!"

"How was your cousin's?"

She makes a noise followed by a sigh that he recognizes as annoyance. He can picture the eye roll that goes along with it. "The kids were all obnoxious."

"Obnoxious? That's a big word," he teases, "are you sure you know what it means?"

"I got an A on my vocabulary tests. Yes."

Danny laughs. He'd never doubted for a second she knew what it meant. "Okay, then, what did they do?"

"They teased me about my accent and laughed every time I said 'pants.'"

Danny stifles his laughter this time. "Next time say 'trousers.'"

"What's the difference?"

"Trust me. It'll make things easier. So what did you do?"

"I told them off," she says. "In Pidgin."

He can already envision the conversation Rachel will want to have about that. But she's the one who moved to Hawaii. "What did you say?"

"Eh, haole boy, you like beef?"

He can't help but laugh at that. Her accent sounding nearly flawless to him, the attitude really selling it. "Please tell me none of them figured out you were asking them if they wanted to fight."

"No way. They thought I wanted to talk about hunting and started talking about foxes or something and I just ignored them."

"How you get so akamai?"

Grace giggles. "I think your Pidgin still needs some work, Danno."

"No way. I'm da kine."

Her giggles turn into full blown laughter, and it feels like the sun is invading the underground room for a moment. "I'm going to teach you how to say that right by Christmas."

"Not if I can help it."

He hears a voice in the background over the phone, then Grace says, "I have to go to dinner."

"Okay. Be good. I'll talk to you tomorrow."

"Can't wait. Love you, Danno!"

"Love you more."

He ends the call and puts his phone in his pocket, turning around and nearly jumping out of his skin. Steve's standing there, holding bags, and watching Danny with an expression that Danny can't figure out.

"Holy--" Danny takes a deep breath to calm his nerves. "I'm going to have to take back everything I said about you being a ninja, aren't I? How long have you been standing there?"

"Long enough to hear you suck at Pidgin."

"English works fine for me."

Steve cocks his head, studying Danny for a moment. "What's with this thing you have against all other cultures?"

"I have nothing against other cultures," Danny says. "I just feel like I shouldn't need to learn two additional languages to communicate with other people in my own country."

"You know, a lot of countries have multiple official languages, right?" Steve replies. "And then there are the dialects that just make them seem like other languages."

"I don't live in those countries."

Steve acknowledges that with a tilt of his head before moving to the kitchen area. He places the bags on the counter. "Maybe we should work on your Pidgin," he says, pulling containers out of the bags.

"Rostov has no idea you speak Pidgin," Danny says. "I know this because I didn't know you spoke Pidgin, and I know everything about you that he does."

"But he knows I'm from Hawaii," Steve says. "He might expect it."

"Yes, I'm sure the Russian Navy commander who's never set foot in Hawaii would not only know Pidgin, he'd know if my pronunciation sucked."

Steve shrugs. "Suit yourself."

"What's in those?" Danny asks, nodding at the bags. Because they smell delicious, and his stomach is suddenly reminding him it's been a while since lunch.

"Dinner."

"Thank you, Captain Obvious."

"Commander Obvious, thank you," Steve says, tossing him a grin.

His earlier tension seems to have mostly disappeared, and he doesn't shrink away when Danny steps closer, ostensibly to check out the food. "So dinner was your errand?" he asks, knowing it wasn't. Steve was gone too long for just that.

"That and a few other things."

"Like what?"

Steve raises an eyebrow. "Eat your dinner like a good boy and maybe I'll show you."

Intrigued, and knowing he won't get an answer until after they eat, Danny gets plates and utensils out for both of them. Steve puts the containers on the table and opens them. Danny stares at the orange meat dubiously. "Is it supposed to be that color?"

"You know, I had a feeling you'd never had chicken tikka masala."

"Okay, I can't decide if that's a reference to Hawaii or not."

Steve rolls his eyes. "Tikka, not tiki. And thank you, once again, for respecting my heritage." He opens another container, full of rice. "Chicken tikka masala is practically the British national dish."

Danny's sure he's being had. "That's fish and chips."

"Nice to see your stereotyping isn't limited to Hawaii."

Danny ignores that, still eyeing the containers as if they might attack. "Why do I feel like this is an elaborate trick?"

"Because you have trust issues, Danno. Now sit down and eat."

"Who said you could call me Danno?" he grumbles as he sits down.

"Grace did, actually."

Food forgotten, Danny stares at Steve. "She did not."

"She did. In fact, she insisted."

"You're lying."

Something passes over Steve's face, too quick for Danny to figure out what it is before it's gone. "You have trust issues, did I mention that?"

"With the guy I met when he broke into my hotel room in the middle of the night? Imagine that."

That look flashes again, and this time Danny has a name for it--hurt. Steve actually looked hurt by Danny's mistrust.

Then again, maybe he's just good enough at his job that he fakes his emotions that well.

Which is unfair, and against everything Danny's learned about the man so far. All of which makes Danny feel a bit like shit for thinking it in the first place.

Steve shrugs, blank mask in place as he heaps food onto his plate. "Call her if you don't believe me."

"No, I believe you," Danny says, and yes, he definitely notices the lines around Steve's eyes and mouth relaxing a little at the words. "It was just a surprise. I dated this guy for a few months, and when he called me Danno, Grace let me have it later for letting him use her name for me."

"Clearly your daughter has discerning taste," Steve says, his whole body telegraphing his sudden good cheer. "And speaking of taste, the food tastes better if it's not stone cold."

"Right." Danny puts a little rice and a few small bits of chicken with sauce on his plate. He takes a deep breath and tastes it. "Wow," he says around the bite, as he piles more of it on his plate.

"See? You should just listen to me."

Danny's too busy eating to rise to the bait, so Steve digs in to his food again. When they've demolished most of what was in the containers, they clear away the mess, working side by side in the kitchen while debating the merits of football vs. baseball. Once they're done, Steve says, "I have a surprise."

Wondering if it has to do with the extra bags Steve had immediately stashed away when he returned, Danny raises an eyebrow. "Does this involve a threat to my safety?"

"Does this--seriously? That's your first assumption?"

"Think about our history so far."

Steve considers that for a moment. "Fair enough. But no, this does not involve a threat to your safety." He gets the bags from his duffel and brings them over to the couches, waiting for Danny to join him.

He walks slowly over to couches, eyeing the bags warily.

"I promise they're not going to attack you."

When Danny steps in front of him, Steve pulls out a bottle of Scotch. "Nice," Danny says. "We should definitely get drunk the night before an op."

"You don't have to get drunk to drink, Danno. Besides, I thought it would make it easier to get you to watch this."

He pulls a colorful box out of the bag and Danny sees 'Doctor Who' on the side. He can't help but laugh. "You decided to get me drunk so I'd watch Doctor Who with you?"

"Why, did you have something else in mind?"

Steve's tone is suggestive, and even though Danny's body responds to it instantly, he's not sure he's ready to let on just yet. Not after the way Steve shut him down earlier. "Doctor Who sounds great."

He knows his voice betrayed him, sees it in how Steve's eyes darken, but he's okay with that. He doesn't want to stop anything. Just take it slow enough that Steve doesn't get cold feet.

"Okay, then," Steve says, opening the box and going to the computer equipment to put a DVD into one of the computers.

Danny watches with a frown. "Do I need to come over there?"

"No." Steve's grin is goofy and yet somehow adorable. "Watch this."

He punches a few keys on the computer keyboard. Danny hears a sound behind him and looks around to see a huge TV screen lowering itself from the ceiling. "Does it get cable?" he asks, looking back at Steve.

Steve laughs. "I don't know what it gets. It's mostly used for planning and briefings, but as this is a safe house, sometimes distraction is necessary."

Danny can think of all kinds of ways they could distract each other, but drinking and watching bad scifi could potentially be a good start to other distractions. "I'm just saying, if it gets cable I'm coming back here to watch the Super Bowl."

"I'll see what I can do about that," Steve says as he grabs two glasses and rejoins Danny at the couches, taking a seat on the one facing the screen. He's not in the corner of the couch, but not far enough towards the middle that he's heading into date territory, so Danny sits down about the same distance from the other edge.

Steve opens the bottle of scotch and pours a glass for Danny before pouring his own. "Cheers," Steve says, holding out his glass. Danny clinks his against it and they drink.

"What are we drinking to?"

"To the mission," Steve says. "It's tradition."

"To the mission, then," Danny says, lifting his glass and taking another drink.

Steve pushes a button on a remote Danny hadn't even seen and the DVD starts up. "Prepare to have your mind blown."

The joke's too easy, so Danny settles into the couch, sipping his scotch as they follow some girl around her boring day until she runs into--"Seriously?" Danny says. "The big bad is a bunch of mannequins?"

"Shut up and watch," Steve says.

So he does, not missing how Steve gets closer every time he leans in to point something out, and again when he reaches down to the floor for their scotch to refill their glasses. Danny actually finds himself enjoying the episode, though he can't help making comparisons to his own meeting with Steve.

By the time the episode is over, Steve's side is all but pressed against Danny's. "So," Steve says, his voice low, his breath gusting over Danny's cheek, "what did you think?"

"Wasn't quite what I expected," Danny says.

"Want to watch another one?"

"That depends."

Steve hesitates for a fraction of a second before asking, "On what?"

"On what my other options are."

While Steve's still processing that, Danny makes his move, leaning in and pressing his lips to Steve's. After a second that feels a lot longer, Steve kisses back, his hand moving to the back of Danny's neck, fingers straying into Danny's hair.

The kiss is hot and wet and everything first kisses should be if you're planning on having a second. And Danny definitely, absolutely does plan on a second. He moves to get closer, twisting his body to slide one leg over Steve's until Danny's on his knees, straddling Steve's lap.

Both of Steve's hands are in Danny's hair, but then they slide down to his cheeks, and push Danny away far enough that Steve can search his eyes. "This is a bad idea," Steve says.

"No, this is the best idea we've had all day."

"We'll never see each other again."

Danny licks his lips, tasting Steve there. "Do I look like I'm expecting an engagement ring? I know what this is. And I'm choosing it anyway."

"Are you sure?"

Danny gives him a smile. "Well, I always imagined myself as James Bond, and I never really pictured myself as a Bond girl, but now that I'm here, I see the appeal."

Some of the tension leaves Steve's face. "Well, if we're going to do this, we should do it properly." He pushes Danny away. "Get up."

Danny complies, missing Steve's body against his. When Steve starts pulling out the sofa bed, Danny moves to help. That done, Danny stands there for a moment, looking at Steve over the expanse of a bed that suddenly seems huge. "I don't," he starts, not quite sure how to say it, "I don't, uh, have anything."

Steve's face went cloudy at the words, 'I don't,' but it clears when Danny trails off. "One second," Steve says, crossing to his duffle once more. Danny gets a glimpse of a white bag with a blue logo on the side before Steve tosses the bag on the table as he walks by it, holding up lube and a box of condoms.

Danny stares at them. "Was that one of your errands earlier?" At Steve's nod, Danny frowns. "When you ran out of here," he says slowly, "I could've sworn you had no intention of doing this."

"I had more interest than I should." Steve goes around the bed, dropping the box and tube on it as he reaches Danny. "But I needed to think clearly about it, and I couldn't think with you right there."

"And now you're sure? Despite the whole 'we shouldn't' a minute ago?"

"I was just making sure you were sure." Steve touches Danny's wrists, running his fingers lightly up Danny's arm. "I don't take this lightly," Steve says, as his hand reaches Danny's shoulder. "Getting involved on an op, even for one night--I needed to weigh the pros and cons."

He makes it sound like a strategic move, and Danny frowns. "And you found more pros?"

Steve shakes his head. "No. But the pros outweighed the cons by a landslide."

"So what tipped the scale?"

Steve's hand moves to the back of Danny's neck. "You," he says, as he pulls Danny in for a kiss.

Danny gives up his interrogation--he's not interested in talking Steve out of this anyway--and leans his whole body into the kiss, arms wrapping around Steve.

It feels good, right, in a way no one else has for a long time, and Danny tries not to think about what that means, or that he only gets one night of this. He tries not to think at all, in fact, concentrating instead on the feel of Steve's body, hot and hard and amazing in his arms. Even through their clothes, Danny can feel Steve's washboard abs, and it makes him long to get Steve's shirt off and taste them.

He tugs on Steve's shirt, and Steve gets the idea, pulling out of Danny's embrace long enough to whip his shirt over his head and toss it on the floor. Danny spares a moment to look down at the expanse of tan, lightly furred skin, and runs his hands up Steve's torso, loving the sound Steve makes when Danny's hands drift over his nipples.

"Fuck. " The word sounds like it's ripped from Steve's throat as he yanks Danny back to him. The kiss is rougher than the others, more needy, and Danny smiles into it as his hands explore Steve's back and drift down to his ass.

Steve pries the two of them apart just enough that he can get his hands between them to get to the buttons on Danny's shirt. Danny helps, shucking the shirt off his shoulders and dropping it, not caring where it lands, as long as it's gone.

The feel of Steve's hands on Danny's bare back is electric, and Danny wants to lean back into the touch as much as he wants to press himself harder against Steve's body. So much skin, and they're only half naked. Danny starts fumbling with Steve's belt, and Steve takes only a second to get with the program and reach for Danny's fly.

Steve releases Danny's mouth so he can latch onto Danny's neck. Steve's lips, tongue and teeth make their way down to Danny's shoulder as Steve gets those big , callused hands inside Danny's pants at last. He shoves Danny's pants and underwear to Danny's knees, dragging his hands up the backs of Danny's thighs to grip Danny's ass.

His cock is hard against Steve's rough cargos, and Danny hurries to shove them down as well. It leaves nothing but the skin on Steve's upper thigh, which feels amazing against Danny's cock.

Steve's cock is pressing into Danny's belly, and Danny wants to explore it in detail, something difficult to do while they're both standing.

Danny pulls back, shoving Steve so he lands on the bed, conveniently positioned to make it easy for Danny to get rid of Steve's shoes, pants and underwear.

The look on Steve's face as Danny finishes undressing himself is so hot Danny's almost surprised they don't both go up in flames. But then he's on the bed with Steve, both of them crawling up to the pillows while still trying to touch everywhere, and it feels like they are on fire.

Danny's head hits the couch back that's doubling as a headboard before he realizes they can't get any further up the bed. He gives Steve one more lingering kiss before working his way down Steve's body, finally getting a chance to taste those abs, one by one. They're salty sweet and addictive, and Danny commits the taste and feel to memory, not wanting to forget anything.

Steve's fingers dig into Danny's shoulder as his tongue goes lower, and Danny smiles against Steve's hipbone, dips his tongue into the ridges there, runs it along the line of the bone until he reaches hair.

He can't quite see all of Steve's cock clearly this close, but what he can see is as gorgeous as the rest of the man. Danny licks his way up the side of Steve's cock, loving how Steve grips his shoulders even harder. The sound Steve makes would be hilarious at another time, but instead they just make Danny want to force more and more sounds like that out of Steve's throat.

Danny looks up and sees Steve staring down at him, a wealth of things on his face that Danny doesn't quite have the ability to read yet. He wants that ability, but knows he won't have the time. Instinct tells him, though, that they're all good, all very good, and Danny goes with it, ducking his head once more to suck the tip of Steve's cock into his mouth.

"Danny...."

Steve's choked voice goes straight to Danny's cock, and he takes Steve in all the way, the taste even better than Steve's abs, better than just about anything ever. He'd meant to make full use of the condoms and lube, but he can't stop himself, needs to finish Steve off like this, to watch him fall apart at Danny's touch.

And he does look like he's falling apart, inch by inch. His hands are at his sides, gripping the sheets like an anchor. He's mumbling little words, his body writhing, Danny's hands on his hips only keeping him from pulling out of Danny's mouth or shoving too far, but still allowing that constant movement.

It's a thing of beauty, and Danny doesn't want it to end. But when Steve tugs on his head, Danny lets him go, pumping Steve's cock with his hand instead and pulling back just in time to watch Steve fall over the edge. Every muscle in his body seems chiseled as he comes, looking like the dirtiest statue ever sculpted. Danny puts his hand to his own cock, keeping himself from coming, wanting to watch every second as Steve slowly starts to recover.

His eyes flutter open at last, something in them sending another spike of heat through Danny's body, along with something indefinable that Danny doesn't want to look at too closely. Steve reaches out, twisting until he can get a hand on Danny's cock, just damp enough with sweat to keep the friction from being painful.

Danny's so close it takes only a few glides of Steve's hand before he's coming hard over Steve's hip, Steve's hand coaxing him through until he has nothing left and collapses on Steve in a heap.

His body's moving along with Steve's breathing, or maybe they're moving each other, he's not sure. He knows he needs to move himself intentionally though, and finally finds the energy to roll onto his back, their bodies still touching from shoulder to hand until Steve gets up and moves away.

Danny doesn't want to open his eyes, doesn't want to know if that's going to be it, if Steve's going to act like it was nothing, so he keeps them screwed shut until he feels the bed dip beside him, and a cloth brushing against his skin as Steve cleans him up.

Eyes open, Danny meets Steve's eyes, and he recognizes something there this time, but he can't quite put a name to it yet. "We should get some sleep," Steve says softly, his voice a little hoarse.

Danny nods, wondering for a second if Steve's going to go pull out the other bed, or if he's comfortable with this beyond just getting each other off. He's got his answer quickly, as Steve shuts off the lights and climbs back into bed beside Danny, still naked. Any lingering question about awkwardness is answered as Steve turns and throws an arm and a leg over Danny's body, tucking his nose against Danny's shoulder and settling into sleep.

Chapter Text

Danny wakes to a hand on his cock and lips on his neck. It's impossible to tell what time it is, buried under the ground like this, but his internal clock tells him he hasn't been asleep that long.

Long enough for Steve to recover, though, judging by the hard cock sliding between Danny's thighs. Danny's hard, too, thrusting into Steve's fist, loving the way Steve's cock feels as it dips into the crevice of Danny's ass.

He wants more, wants to know what it would feel like for Steve to go further, to push all the way into Danny's body. He promises himself he'll get that before they leave, but right now, this is perfect. Slow, lazy and intimate, a hint of what it would be like if this didn't have to end. If Steve wasn't going to disappear, and they could see each other again, spend lazy Sunday mornings just like this far into the future.

Steve's grip tightens on Danny's cock, his teeth worrying at Danny's neck. Danny responds by pressing his thighs closer together, increasing the friction on Steve's cock. He's rewarded with a groan and a sharp nip of teeth from Steve, as well as an increase in the speed of Steve's hand.

Danny tries to draw it out, but his body has other ideas, pushing harder until he's coming over Steve's hand. He feels Steve press hard against him, letting out a low moan, warmth spilling between Danny's legs as Steve moves slowly for a moment before he finally stills.

Danny's the first to move, pulling out of Steve's embrace mostly because of how much he wants so badly to stay right there. He gets up and finds the towel Steve used earlier and cleans them both up before tossing the towel aside and climbing back into bed. He avoids the damp spot in the bed by draping himself halfway over Steve's body.

He looks up to see Steve studying him. "What?"

Steve shakes his head. "Nothing."

It's clearly something, but Steve's allowed his secrets, given how many he's had to give away unwillingly. Still, though, Danny wants more, and he doesn't care if it's greedy. "Tell me something about you," he says softly.

"You know more about me than almost anyone."

"I know as much as the government," Danny reaches up with one finger to trace the line of Steve's jaw from chin to ear, memorizing the line. "Tell me something real. Something not in the files." His finger slides back down to trace Steve's lips. "Something you actually want to share, not something you had to because it was in a file."

Steve thinks for a moment, and Danny quells the urge to let him off the hook. "The summer I was ten," Steve says eventually, the words slow, "we went to this cabin for the summer. There wasn't a lot to do, and the TV reception was terrible. But the owner had a box of video tapes, all episodes of Doctor Who. My sister and I spent the summer watching every episode in that box."

"I thought that was the first episode we watched."

"From the new version, yeah. There's a whole bunch dating back to the sixties, though." Steve's smile is one Danny hasn't seen to date--wistful and happy. "The adventures, taking care of Earth...I spent the whole summer wanting to be The Doctor." His smile turns a little sheepish. "Silly, I know, but since I couldn't become The Doctor, I figured I'd do the next best thing."

"So you became Super SEAL Bond boy instead?"

Steve laughs. "Something like that." His hand is moving slowly on Danny's lower back, stroking along his spine, and Danny suddenly gets why cats purr when you pet them. "What about you?" Steve asks after a moment.

"I am not a Super SEAL Bond boy."

"No, I mean...tell me something."

Danny thinks back for something important, something influential, something that will help Steve understand him a little better. "I was eight," Danny says eventually. "Our neighborhood was okay, but there was one not far away that we weren't really supposed to go to. So of course, we did."

He's looking at Steve, but he's seeing that day from long ago. "We turned down this one alley, and these two big goons were beating the crap out of some poor guy. Before we could turn and run, a cop came out of nowhere and took out the big guys like they were nothing. We watched him cuff the guys and stuff them into a squad car, and help the victim up and make sure he got checked out by the EMTs, and I just...I wanted to help people like that. People who couldn't defend themselves."

Steve's face softens into a look Danny can't quite decipher, but it's soft and sweet, for all that Steve's a badass SEAL, and it does something funny to Danny's chest. "So we're both out to save the world?"

Danny gives as much of a shrug as he can, pressed up against Steve's body. "You're doing it on a little more global scale than I am."

"Are you or are you not currently in London helping bring in a Russian defector?"

"Okay, now, sure," Danny concedes. "But next week I'll be back to busting murders in Honolulu and you'll be, what, overthrowing the government in some small country in South America?"

"No, that was last week," Steve deadpans.

"I can see why you chose the military over a career as a comedian."

Steve raises an eyebrow. "How do you know it's not true?"

And Danny knows he won't be able to resist Googling news of recent coups later. But right now.... "You have the ability to change the lives of thousands, even millions of people for the better," Danny says.

"And you get to see the results of every single life you change," Steve counters. "You get to offer people answers and closure in person."

He had a point. Danny thought back to Steve's file and tried to imagine going from one conflict to the next, coming in to clean up other people's messes and then slipping silently away without notice or recognition. Never really having a home or family, not the way Steve had chosen to dedicate himself to work above everything.

Danny's job had cost him his marriage, but Steve's seemed to be costing him a real life.

"That was supposed to be a good thing," Steve says, his arm tightening briefly around Danny.

"Sorry, I was just thinking. You're right. It's just...sometimes it feels like I'm not doing nearly enough. The same crimes keep happening--you take down one murderer or crime lord or whatever, and another one pops up. One at a time doesn't seem fast enough."

"It's no different with what I do," Steve replies. "The scale is, maybe, but you take out one threat and another one just like it takes its place. It never ends. All you can do is thin the herd."

Steve shifts, turning onto his side. "But," he says, "that's for tomorrow." He kisses Danny softly once, twice, before his lips start making a path down Danny's chin to his neck. "And we have a lot more interesting things we could do until then."

***

Danny wakes alone, stretching as he hears the shower start running. He smells Steve everywhere, on him and around him, as he inhales deeply, the scent already warm and familiar.

He's had one night stands before, from college hook ups that went nowhere to the occasional bar pick up. They were all pretty much the same--good sex, usually, a fun night, and then vague exchanges of phone numbers they both knew neither of them would use.

He's not sure if it's the fact that he knows there'll be no exchange like that this time that makes him want it so much, or if it's just Steve.

But then he'd never really known those hook ups, even if he'd been acquainted with some of them college ones a lot longer than he's known Steve. It just feels like he knows Steve inside and out in a way he's never really experienced, not even with Rachel. It's a little disconcerting, and something he wouldn't mind exploring.

But he can't.

He remembers Steve's answer to Grace about wanting to see Danny again in Hawaii. Maybe it won't be the last time they see each other when Danny leaves London. Steve has to have saved up a ton of leave as much as he's worked. And Hawaii used to be his home.

"Yeah, and maybe I'll show up in a torn dress on the cover of a romance novel," Danny mutters, rolling his eyes at himself. Steve's never found a reason to slow down or take any time off. Nothing's ever distracted him from his mission. Danny doesn't fool himself that he's special enough to suddenly change that.

After all, James Bond never comes back for the girl.

Well, unless she's dead, but Danny quickly shoves that thought away as he hears the bathroom door open behind him. Steve's footsteps get closer and then the bed behind Danny dips.

"Hey," Steve says softly, hand on Danny's shoulder.

Danny rolls onto his back, dislodging Steve's hand in the process. "Hey," he says, blinking sleepily, as if he hadn't been awake. "What time is it?"

"Almost 6."

"A.M.?" At Steve's nod, Danny sighs. "The nice thing about a nighttime op is being able to sleep in, you know."

Steve's brow furrows in a way that Danny tells himself is not at all cute. Or sexy. Or something he wants to see again and again. "Six A.M. is sleeping in, Danno."

"For you, maybe." Danny shifts, tracing the lines of one of Steve's tattoos. He's wearing nothing but his underwear, and Danny wants his hands all over all that skin again, wants to mark it, as if everyone would somehow know Steve was his. Except he's not, not really. At least, not after today.

But for today....

"What time do we actually have to start getting ready?"

Steve's muscles move under Danny's hand as he shrugs. "Noon?"

"Oh, good," Danny said, sitting up just enough to get his hand on the back of Steve's head. "Plenty of time to sleep in," he says, pulling Steve in for a kiss. Steve comes willingly, letting Danny maneuver him back into the bed, until Steve's naked and on his back. Danny's got him trapped, one leg on either side of Steve's, Danny's elbows the only thing keeping his chest from being pressed against Steve's as they kiss.

"This," Steve says, pausing for a kiss, "doesn't seem like sleeping."

"Did they not," Danny says between kisses, "teach you about euphemisms in SEAL school?"

Steve's hands are gripping Danny's ass as he says, "They taught that in high school."

"Good, then vocabulary lessons aren't needed. Besides," he adds between more kisses, "someone told me I should make the most of my spare time. So that's what I'm doing."

Danny lets Steve's mouth go at last, dipping his head, trailing his lips down the side of Steve's neck. He smells like soap and water, only the faintest hint of Steve beneath it, and no sign of Danny or the night they'd spent in bed.

Clearly that needs to be fixed.

He sits up, hands trailing down Steve's chest to rest on his abdomen. "Fuck me."

Steve's hands tighten on Danny's hips. "You sure?"

Danny nods, looking around and finding the lube and condoms Steve bought on the floor beside the bed. He leans down to get them, Steve's hands on his hips steadying him until he's upright once more. When Steve starts to turn onto his side, though, Danny holds fast. "No. Like this."

He sees Steve swallow, his eyes dark, his hands tightening on Danny's skin again. "Okay."

The dark promise he manages to put into that one word makes Danny's hips thrust forward, just a little, in response. Steve's cock is hard, brushing against Danny's as he moves, making Danny fumble with the cap before he gets it off the lube.

He starts to pour it on his fingers, but Steve takes it out of his hands, slicking his own fingers instead. Danny rises up onto his knees as Steve's hand moves between Danny's legs, trailing along the base of Danny's balls.

One of Steve's fingers circles Danny's hole for a moment before slipping inside, and Danny forces himself to relax--not an easy task, as his whole body is thrumming from the way Steve's looking at him.

But one finger slides in easier and easier, and becomes two, then three. He's almost hoping for four, it feels so good, but he wants Steve's cock in there more, and lets out a whimper as Steve's fingers come out, leaving him empty.

The condom's still in Danny's hand, he realizes, after a pointed look from Steve. Danny opens it, rolling it quickly down Steve's cock and positioning himself over top of it. The slow slide down onto Steve's cock is heaven, and Danny's cataloging every minute change on Steve's face, from the slight V between his eyebrows, to the way his lashes flutter just a little, as if he doesn't want to close his eyes even to blink, to the way his bottom lip is just barely caught by his teeth.

Then Steve's all the way inside, and Danny has to close his eyes for a moment to get control. Steve's fingers move up and down Danny's hips soothingly, and after a few seconds Steve asks, "Okay?"

His tone's so different from when he said the same word before, the lust still there, but laced with concern and care, and Danny wants to keep this. Wants to come home to it every night and wake up to it every morning. For one long moment he lets himself ache for what he can't have. Then he shoves it aside and takes what he's got instead.

He opens his eyes to see the same concern he'd heard in Steve's voice echoed in his eyes. "I'm good," Danny says, giving him a smile. "Better than good. Much, much better."

Before Steve can respond, Danny starts to move, rising slowly off Steve's cock, enjoying the pull almost as much as the look on Steve's face. He pushes back down, which is even better, as Steve fills him again. Over and over, avoiding the angle he knows will hit just the right spot to make it even better at first, wanting to make this last as long as he can.

Steve shifts, though, planting his feet, changing the angle just enough that it sets Danny off. No more deliberate, slow thrusts now. It's hard and fast and amazing, narrowing Danny's entire world to that bed and nothing else, until he can't think, forgets how to think entirely, forgets his own name, forgets anything except how to move his hips.

One touch of Steve's hand to Danny's cock and he's gone, spent, just like that, arching back, his ass clenching around Steve's cock. He's vaguely aware of Steve's fingers digging into his hips, the pressure almost unnoticeable around the consuming orgasm.

Danny starts to think again eventually, draped over Steve's body, Danny's nose pressed against Steve's neck, Steve's softening cock still buried inside Danny's ass. He doesn't want to move, doesn't want this to be it, but he knows he has to, that he has no choice.

He moves carefully, eyes closed, pulling off Steve and rolling onto his side so his leg and arm are still draped across Steve's body. Steve's hand squeezes Danny's arm before he slides out from under Danny.

Danny watches him cross the room to the bathroom and hears water running, then Steve comes back, naked and gorgeous, a towel in hand. He runs it across Danny's stomach before tossing it aside and crawling back into bed, pulling Danny back into his position sprawled halfway across Steve's body.

Steve kisses Danny on the top of the head and Danny can feel him drop off to sleep, can tell the difference in how relaxed his body is, the sound of his breathing, the more steady rise and fall of his chest.

It feels like a long time before Danny follows him into sleep.

***

Danny wakes once more to the feel of Steve's lips on his neck and Steve's hands running down his back. They move against each other with a sense of urgency that seems fitting, given that time's running out. Danny dozes at best until Steve stirs, lips and hands roaming Danny's body again for a few minutes before Steve murmurs, soft and low against Danny's neck, "We should get up."

For all that Danny went into this with his eyes wide open, he still clings for a second before letting go. "Right. You want the shower first?"

He can feel Steve's grin against his neck. "Shower's big enough for two."

Barely, but Danny's not about to argue having a reason to get close to naked, wet Steve. "Good point," Danny says. "Conserve water and all that."

It's a joke--he has every intention of keeping Steve in there much longer than the extremely short showers he's taken so far. But joking is how he can get through this.

If he can laugh about it, the damage will be minimal at best.

He fools himself with that notion until Steve's on his knees in the shower in front of him, lips wrapped around Danny's cock, eyes fixed on Danny's face like he's memorizing every expression, every detail of Danny's face. Danny puts a hand on the back of Steve's head and thrusts into his mouth, trying to block out the sure and sudden knowledge he can't hide from anymore.

The damage is already done. It's just a matter of how long it's going to take him to recover.

***

Chapter Text

They're more businesslike once they're dressed and at the table, having lunch and going over the mission again. 'More' being a relative term, given that they're sitting so close they're constantly brushing against each other. Every time Danny catches the scent of shampoo, he can't leap remembering using it to jack Steve off in the shower.

He uses it to focus, though, reminds himself that one wrong move could get Steve killed as much as himself, along with a lot of other people if Rostov doesn't get brought in safely.

"Are we expecting anyone else?" Danny asks when they've gone through the plans until they both know them forwards, backwards and sideways.

Steve shakes his head. "Not here. I've been in communication with the few people who know about this regarding logistics, and everything is in place. There are people ready to move Rostov as soon as we get him to a safe house. "Steve licks his lips. "Listen, Danny...."

He hesitates long enough that Danny prompts, "What?"

"There's chatter," Steve says carefully. "About interest in Rostov."

"We thought he was being followed from the museum," Danny says. "That's not news."

"Yeah, but the chatter indicates it may be more than one country now. You'll have cover at a distance to take care of it if you're followed, but it's still at a distance. So keep your eyes open and your safety off, and bring plenty of ammo."

Danny nods, placing a hand over Steve's where it's spinning a pen on the table. "I'm not a rookie," Danny says. "I've been in similar situations."

"I know, it's just...."

He doesn't say it, doesn't have to. Danny gets it--he's having the same issues. That need to be extra careful, extra prepared, to be more worried about danger than usual. It could be helpful, and he plans on following his gut with it.

Steve sways towards Danny a little, like he's about to lean in for a kiss, but then remembers he shouldn't. "We should suit up," he says, pushing back from the table and gathering the mess from their late lunch.

Suiting up includes a lightweight, state of the art bulletproof vest that Danny's immediately wondering if he can sneak back to the US with him. It also includes learning new ways to hide weapons he'd never even thought of--and given the fact Steve had hidden even more, Danny was almost afraid to ask where some of them were stashed. And lastly it includes technology, including Danny's new cover phone and an earpiece so tiny he's sure it'll get lost in his ear.

When they're done, they both look like the million or so other business people who'll be getting off work during rush hour when they go out to start the op. No one would know the amount of firepower and tech they have on them.

Steve makes one more check of a gun and tucks it away before he looks at Danny. "You ready?" he asks, in stereo, thanks to the earpieces, which apparently have excellent microphones. Danny wishes his cell phone was that good.

He nods, familiar adrenaline coursing through him, the same as before any big bust. Steve leads the way to the parking garage exit, pausing to turn to Danny before opening the door, his face shadowed, only his mouth visible in the dim light.

"Danny...."

"What?"

Steve's lips thin and he shakes his head. "Just be careful, okay?"

Which was totally not at all what he'd started to say, but they need to focus on the mission, so Danny doesn't push. "You, too."

Steve's teeth flash in the light. "Piece of cake," he says, and Danny hears the door click and start to creak open. "See you at the safe house."

***

Danny leaves first, taking the stairs to street level and hitting the sidewalk like he'd just parked in the garage. He doesn't really need to look at the street signs, the map of the route to the meeting point is practically imprinted on his retinas.

Just as well, considering finding street signs in London is damn near impossible. "When I get home," he mutters, "I'm starting a series of books to compete with 'Where's Waldo' called 'Where's the London Street Sign?'"

It's a lame joke and he knows it, but the quiet snicker in his ears assures him that the comms are working and he and Steve can hear each other, so he walks on.

Danny takes casual glances over his shoulder and sees no signs of anyone from the museum. Of course, he also doesn't see Steve, who he'd know on sight even at a distance. Assuming he spies from other countries are just as ninja-like, they could be standing right next to him and he wouldn’t know.

Danny's comm is silent as he rides the Tube. It's not until he's walking out of Waterloo Station that Steve's voice comes through. "Danny," he says, low and quiet. "Don't let Rostov leave with you."

"Problem?" Danny asks.

"Not sure. Stop by him and make an excuse to talk to him, tell him to wait for one more person to stop and sit down and ask for a cigarette or something, and then leave when they do and meet you on the other side of the bridge.

"Okay."

Danny can see Rostov sitting on a bench near Hungerford Bridge, watching the Thames as if there'll be a quiz on the boats later. Danny stops beside him and asks if he has the time.

Recognition flares in Rostov's eyes, but Danny gives a minute shake of his head and nods at Rostov's wrist. While he checks his watch, Danny relays the instructions. At the apprehensive look on Rostov's face, Danny adds, "Don't worry, there are people watching over us. It's just a precaution. I'll see you on the other side of the footbridge at the Charing Cross entrance in a few minutes."

He walks away, crossing the bridge without looking back. He's only standing by the entrance to Charing Cross station for a few minutes, pretending to check text messages, before Rostov walks up. "We good?" Danny asks Steve quietly.

"Yeah. Proceed."

Danny gives Rostov what he hopes is a reassuring smile and they head into Charing Cross station together. Danny slips Rostov an Oyster card to get into the Tube system, but as they're going through the turnstile, Steve voice sounds in Danny's ear. "Route change," Steve is, sounding distracted. "Location 3. Clock."

Steve's clearly on the tail of someone tailing them, and Danny changes direction, heading for the Bakerloo line. They'll change at Oxford and again at Holborn, effectively making a clockwise circle back to Covent Garden, where a nice, nondescript flat, code name Location 3, awaits.

It's just before the change at Holborn that Danny sees a possible threat. Two men dressed to blend in with the rush hour crowd, but a little too military and too nonchalant. They'd also been on the trains with Danny and Rostov since Charing Cross, Danny's sure of it.

Russian, he'd bet, based on his dealings with the Russian mob in New Jersey. Their henchmen were mostly military trained and had a way of carrying themselves, military training combined with some sort of smugness that made them easy to spot, if you knew what to look for. They were carefully not looking at Danny or Rostov, but he noticed the way they were watching the reflections.

When he gets off at Holborn, Danny guides Rostov to the side to examine a Tube map. He sees the Russians get off and pause, walking slowly until they pass Danny and disappear around the corner towards the stairs. "This way," Danny says, slowly moving in the same direction. He turns the corner and doesn't see them ahead.

He's not stupid; they've clearly got others and now he'll just have to figure out who the tail is again. And they know he's watching. Hopefully, though, that'll mean one tail instead of two, which is a little more manageable while trying to protect Rostov.

They get on the train for the short ride to Covent Garden. He'd debated leaving the station at Holborn and walking to Covent Garden, but the continual lack of response from Steve has him worried and he doesn't want to deviate from any of the plans unless there are no other options.

He spots the new tail as they stand up when the train's coming to a stop in Covent Garden Station. A woman this time, one who catches his attention at first because she reminds him of the most effective and deadly enforcer the Russian mob in Jersey had. She blends in well with the commuters, but her slim, tailored suit betrays a slight bulge that Danny suspects is a Makarov.

Danny uses some of his meager Russian, loudly enough that she can hear, and sees her turn automatically at the language. It's not confirmation, but it definitely puts points in favor of his guess being correct. He relays the info through the comms, even though he has no idea if Steve's still there, and leads Rostov quickly through the crowd.

He catches glimpses of the woman in reflections as they hurry out of the Tube, manages to let her keep them just in sight, but far enough back that when he gets outside and ducks into the first dark alley he can find, he has maybe ten seconds before she follows.

"Stay here," Danny orders Rostov, shoving his phone and a gun in the man's hands as he pushes him into a doorway that he hopes will hide him. "If she gets past me, shoot first, ask questions later, and then hit the camera button on the side of my phone and you'll be picked up here."

Rostov nods, checking the weapon expertly as Danny turns to see the Russian rounding the corner. She's giving him a smirk that he recognizes--she clearly thinks he's not going to be hard to take down. She hasn't even pulled out her weapon, which he finds a little insulting.

Too bad for her she never exchanged stories with her female comrade currently residing in the New Jersey State penitentiary system about just who took her down and how.

Danny's on her while she's still smirking, anticipating her moves and blocking three of them before one even lands a hit. It's his shoulder, thankfully. His knee's his weak spot, so he's focusing his blocks on lower blows. He'll need to take her out before that occurs to her.

He ducks a particularly forceful blow aimed at his head by dropping down and executing a leg sweep, knocking her flat on her back, her head hitting the pavement with a particularly loud thud. She curses in Russian and realizes that perhaps she misjudged things when she decided not to take out her gun.

She reaches for the gun still on her back, and he pulls his. "Don't try it," he says. "Ne pytaysya."

It doesn't stop her, and she points the gun at her, forcing him to shoot. Two shots right into her heart and the gun falls out of her hand as it drops, her eyes open and blank as the pool of blood starts to spread. "Govorila tebe."

He relays what happened through the comms as he leads Rostov out of the alley before anyone responds to the sound of silenced gunfire. Danny doesn't spot any easily identifiable threats, so he puts his gun more firmly into its holster and goes back to walking like a commuter in a hurry.

"I did not know you spoke Russian," Rostov says.

"I don't," Danny replies, scanning the area instead of looking at Rostov as he answers. "I told you about the month I ended up spending with Ukrainian soldiers in the jungle, didn't I?" Danny says, remembering it from Steve's emails. "I picked up a few phrases, but they're not that good."

"True, it is fragmented and your accent could use some work," Rostov says, sounding vaguely amused. Danny's glad he can find some humor at the moment--Danny's worried about Steve, not sure what to expect when they reach the flat, and already reviewing the maps in his head to pick alternate locations in case there's a problem.

Which there is, he realizes, as he gets to the street where the flat is located. He sees two Asian men, Chinese or North Korean, most likely, given the circumstances, though he's too far back to tell for sure, standing by the doors to the flat. It could just be a coincidence, he thinks. Or it could be a compromised location.

He can't take the chance. He mutters "Location 5" so the comms can hear it, if they're working, and turn to Rostov. "Let me have the phone."

Rostov reaches into his pocket and frowns, patting his other pockets and looking more and more dismayed. "It's gone," he says. "It must have fallen out of my pocket."

Fabulous. He's not worried about anyone using it--the only thing that works without his or Steve's fingerprint is the panic button, and anyone who uses that will be very sorry, very fast. But it's one more line of communication down. He has a couple of phone numbers memorized, including one for Steve, but he'd rather not have to resort to that.

Location 5 isn't too far on foot, and the area actually looks relatively clean, though there are enough people around that he can't be a hundred percent sure. But they can't keep running around the city all night, so they have to take their shot.

Danny leads Rostov up to the third floor flat, entering a code and submitting to a retina scan, all hidden behind the gold plate with the flat number on it, to open the door. He's going to find it a little easier to suspend his disbelief about MI6's technology the next time he sees a Bond movie.

Once they're inside and Danny's cleared the entire flat for any threats, he collapses onto the sofa and leans back, closing his eyes for a moment.

"What happens now?" Rostov asks.

Danny opens his eyes to find Rostov sitting in the chair opposite him, looking as tired as Danny feels. "Now we wait," he says. "If all has gone according to plan, someone should be here soon to get you out of here safely."

"And then?"

"You'll be transported to the US," Danny says. He's not really sure what the process is for defecting, but he's pretty sure Steve made every possible arrangement before he started this. "You want a drink?" Danny asks, getting up and going over to the small kitchen to check the well-stocked bar. "We have your favorite vodka."

"You remembered?"

He'd memorized the details enough anyway. "I did. And so did the government."

Danny pours a generous amount of the vodka into a glass, then checks the refrigerator, smiling when he sees the beer he'd had at dinner with Steve and Grace. "You'd better not be dead," Danny says quietly, letting the possibility go through his conscious mind for the first time since the comms went silent. He couldn't afford to think about it while they were trying to get here, but now that they're relatively safe, he can't help the possibility creeping into his mind.

He brings the drinks back to the living room, handing Rostov his before sitting back down on the couch. "To successful missions," Danny says, careful not to imply that this was one, because he's still not sure.

"Nasha druzhba," Rostov says, clinking his glass with Danny's.

Danny smiles---he vaguely recognizes that one from the Russian mob case, at least enough to know that it's good.

Rostov is just finishing his vodka when the door opens. Danny has his gun out in a flash, but lets it drop when he recognizes Steve. From the look of relief on Steve's face, Danny guesses the comm issue went both ways. He gets up and meets Steve a few feet from the door. "Did you forget to pay the phone bill?"

Steve laughs. "It's good to see you, too." He moves forward like he might actually hug Danny before he remembers himself and sidesteps Danny to continue into the living room. "Commander Rostov," Steve says, "I must apologize, sir."

"You are?"

"I'm actually Steve McGarrett," he says. "This is Danny Williams," he adds, putting a hand on Danny's shoulder. "Due to some complications we had to send him in as me for your safety. I hope you'll forgive the ruse--I assure you, I only had your safety in mind."

Rostov nods. "I understand," he says, rising to shake Steve's hand. "It is good to meet you in person at last," Rostov says.

"You, too, sir."

"Your colleague," Rostov says, nodding at Danny, "is very good. I did not suspect a thing. Is he a SEAL also?"

"No," Steve says, shaking his head. "Danny's a police detective from the States. He was here on vacation, but agreed to help us out when we needed a decoy with skills, but no connection to the Federal government."

The lies come so easily that Danny's a little impressed, and a little worried, wondering how much of their time stuck together was real. He knows Steve's official public history, he knows everything related to Rostov, or that Steve had told Rostov at any rate, but he realizes suddenly that everything Steve has told him other than that he has no way of checking.

"He is very skilled indeed," Rostov says.

There's a patterned knock at the door, and Steve crosses to check the view hole before pulling the door open and letting two people in that Danny assumes are from one of the various agencies involved in this. "This is Agent Butcher," Steve says, waving at one of them, then the other, adding, "and Agent James. They're going to get you to a helicopter that will take you to a military base, where you'll be flown to the US. You'll be well taken care of when you arrive, and I'll see you there soon."

Rostov smiles and shakes Steve's hand again. "Thank you," he says.

"No, thank you." Steve smiles, placing a hand on Rostov's shoulder. "Your son would be very proud."

"I think so as well." Rostov turns to shake Danny's hand. "Thank you," he says. "I appreciate your help."

"I appreciate your sacrifice," Danny says honestly. "I know this can't have been an easy decision to make, but the millions of lives you could potentially be saving would all be lining up to thank you if they knew what you'd averted."

"Let us hope I have averted it permanently," Rostov says.

Danny gets that. It's likely just a matter of time until someone thinks up something similar to the plans they managed to save, assuming no one had a copy of them somewhere else. But they've done all they can do. They're not superheroes, even if some of them seem to be, he thinks, looking at Steve. "I hope so, sir," he says.

They say their goodbyes to Rostov, and the agents lead him out the door to their secret method of getting him out of the country, and leaving Steve and Danny alone. Danny turns to Steve. "Now what?"

"There's an agent posing as a black cab driver waiting downstairs," he says. "Your things from the safe house are in the cab. He'll take you to the Savoy." He pulls a hotel key card out of his pocket, and Danny vaguely recognizes the Savoy logo. "You have use of a suite there the rest of the week until you leave. Consider it the government's thank you for your help."

"And a secure room, just in case?'

Steve shrugs one shoulder. "There's no reason to think anyone is going to be after you. You killed the Russian in the alley, and another agent took care of your first two Russians. I took care of the Chinese. So as far as anyone knows, the only people who saw you with Rostov for sure are dead."

"As far as anyone knows," Danny repeats. "Ergo the room."

"Let's just say that should anyone find you there, they won't make it to you, let alone out of the hotel. So you might want to limit your visitors to anyone we would recognize." Steve cocks his head. "Also, ergo? Seriously?"

"It's Latin. It means--"

"I know what it means. I just didn't realize Jersey cops spoke Latin."

"I speak five languages, none of them fluently," Danny jokes.

Steve's laugh fades quickly, and Danny knows he's edging into a goodbye. "Keep the weapons," Steve says. "Leave them in the closet of the room when you go an they'll be collected, along with the vest." Steve pulls a card out of his pocket. "If something happens, or if you even think you're being watched by someone who isn't us, call me. That number will work until you're home safely."

"And once I'm home?"

"The second number will get you in touch with the CIA should you think you see anything that might be connected to this. But I think we've cleaned it up thoroughly. You should be fine."

"Should?"

"I wouldn't let you go if I thought either you or Grace were likely to be in danger, Danno," Steve says softly, and Danny has to swallow the urge to ask Steve to stay in the suite with him through the end of the week. It would only make things harder, and given the military's opinion on homosexuality, he didn't think it would do Steve's career any favors.

It's that thought that enables him to resist the urge to kiss Steve. He settles for a long, firm handshake. "Don't get killed."

Steve laughs. "Same to you."

"If you ever decide to stop by Hawaii," Danny says, "look me up."

Steve says nothing, but Danny already knows how that's going to work. Spies don't show up again once they've left. And Steve doesn't have much to bring him back to Hawaii.

"Come on," Steve says, taking Danny by the arm and leading him out the door and down the stairs. Steve stops him at the bottom of the stairs, just before Danny reaches for the door. Before Danny can get out a question, Steve's pulling him in close, burying his hands in Danny's hair and capturing his mouth in a kiss.

He's breathless by the time Steve lets him go. Steve straightens Danny's hair, letting one hand drift to cup Danny's cheek. "I can't be seen with you in the lobby," Steve says softly. "See you around?"

Danny nods, even though he knows it's not true. He wants to believe that they'll see each other again. He just gave up believing in fairy tales a long time ago. "See you around," he says back.

Steve's smile is the last thing Danny sees before he turns around and walks out of the stairwell without looking back.

***

Chapter Text

Six months later, Danny hasn't figured out how to put Steve behind him in his mind the way he had in the stairwell. For all that he hadn't physically looked back, his subconscious had yet to get that message, and he found himself constantly distracted by memories when he let himself zone out.

It was even worse when he slept, dreams plaguing him, half of them memories of his time with Steve, the other half things he could only dream might happen one day. If he ever sees Steve again. Which he won't.

Six months without a word. Not that he'd expected one, or even thought he'd get one, and yet....

"Hey, Danno?"

Danny turns to look at Grace, comfortably ensconced on the couch. They've been watching--well, Danny isn't sure what they'd been watching, only that it had some blonde kid apparently singing her way through Italy. "Yeah?"

"Have you heard from Steve?"

She'd asked him that a dozen times since they'd gotten back from London. "No, honey, I haven't."

"You will," she says. Her voice holds all the certainty of a little girl who's watched too many Disney princess movies for her own good, but he can't bring himself to destroy her innocence just yet.

She'll have a lifetime to learn different.

"We'll see," he says. "So remind me again, why is this girl singing on stage?"

Grace launches into a rehash of the plot he'd been ignoring, and Danny shoves away thoughts of Steve and focuses on his daughter.

***

The conversation with Grace is still playing itself over in Danny's head the next morning. For all that he knows Grace's faith is for children, he can't stop wishing--

"Hey, Williams!"

Danny looks up to see his Captain leaning out of his door, looking Danny's way. "Yeah?"

"My office!"

Danny gets up and trudges over to Hookano's office. He recognizes that tone, and it usually means someone's done something to piss the Captain off. As he's calling Danny, that narrows down the someone. Danny can't think of the something, but he's sure he'll hear about it in a moment.

He closes the door behind him and waits. "I got this," Hookano says, pointing at an email on the screen behind his desk that Danny can't read from where he's standing. "Why didn't you tell me you applied for the Governor's task force?"

Danny blinks at him. "I, uh, I didn't?"

Hookano gives him his patented 'Don't fucking lie to me' look. "Then you want to explain to me how they want you for an interview?"

"Uh...I don't know. Sir."

Heaving a great sigh, Hookano drops into his chair, leaning back. "Williams, if you want to try for the task force, you don't have to lie about it."

"Sir, honestly, I didn't apply. I don't know how they got my name." He'd heard about the task force, and thought about applying, but pretty much figured he didn't have a chance in hell, given how he was lower than the lowest man on the totem pole in HPD, being new, a mainlander and so clearly not Hawaiian in any way, shape or form.

Hookano studies him for a long moment, long enough that Danny gets how the guy had such a high solve rate before he became Captain. "Okay," he says. "You don't want to be on the task force?"

"I didn't say that. I just didn't think--well...."

"You're a good cop, Williams," Hookano says. "Go to the interview. The result might surprise you." He chuckles. "Besides, it's not like you can really refuse at the request of the Governor herself anyway."

"The Governor requested me?"

He shrugs. "The request came from her office."

Danny's confused even more. "When's the interview?"

"Two this afternoon at the Ali'Iolani Hale. The task force HQ is going to be in the offices in the northwest corner on the first floor."

Danny checks his watch--that's in a little more than an hour. "That's short notice."

Hookano shrugs. "When you're the Governor, you don't really have to work on other people's time tables."

"I need to go home and change," Danny says.

He knows from Hookano's face he thinks it's silly, but Danny's a professional. "Go. It's a slow day anyway."

"Thank you sir," Danny says, turning to open the door.

He has his hand on the knob when Hookano calls his name. Danny pauses and looks over his shoulder. "Good luck," Hookano says.

"Thank you."

***

Danny gets out of his car at 1:55, straightening his tie and smoothing down the lapels of his suit jacket. He's not sure who'll be interviewing him, but he hopes it's not the Governor herself. He's met her once, briefly, and to be honest, she scared him a little.

He finds the offices easily, sliding past someone putting the state seal on one of the glass doors outside them. Once inside, though, he's not quite sure where to go. There are workmen putting some equipment in a main area, so he stops one of them and asks if they know where to go for interviews.

The workman points at an office Danny walked past without looking into, and Danny thanks him and goes back around to the office. He pushes through the double doors of the office and thinks maybe he's finally lost his mind. If nothing else, he must be hallucinating.

"Two o'clock right on the dot," Steve McGarrett says, smiling. "Why am I not surprised?"

"What are you doing here?" Danny asks.

Steve raises an eyebrow. He's dressed in khaki cargo pants and a blue shirt that makes his eyes look incredible, and Danny has to make himself focus as Steve says, "You're here to interview for the task force, and I'm the only other person in the office. Don't make me rethink my opinion of your skills as a police officer."

Danny blinks rapidly. "You're running the Governor's task force?"

"There's that brilliant detective mind," he says.

"But how...I mean...you're a Navy SEAL."

"No, I'm a Navy SEAL in the Reserves, assigned to run the Governor's joint task force, with full immunity and means to put a dent in the crime rate in Hawaii."

Danny's starting to wonder if he's developing a twitch in both eyes at once, as he blinks at Steve again. "So the chance to run your own show with no red tape was what it took to get you back to Hawaii?"

"Among other things," Steve says cryptically. He glances out the window at the workmen. "Given that I already know your skills," he says, turning his attention back to Danny, "the interview is a formality. I can't imagine finding anyone else with even half your talent at HPD."

Part of Danny warms at the compliment, the rest of him is a little offended that a task force could bring Steve back to Hawaii, but Danny himself couldn't. "And if I don't want to be on your task force?"

"I'm sorry, did I imply there was a choice?"

Seriously, the blinking had to stop, but Danny couldn't help it. "Excuse me?"

"The Governor gave me free rein to choose whoever I want," Steve says, with a glee that tells Danny the Governor may regret that before the end of the week. "Don't worry, we're going to get along great."

"What if I don't want to be chosen?" Danny asks, shoving the memories of just how great they got along out of his head.

Steve's smile fades. "You weren't sold into slavery, Danno," he says, his voice dropping a little. "You can go back to your department if that's what you really want."

Danny considers it for a few seconds, just to see Steve's face, but decides it's not worth risking losing this opportunity. For all its bright colors, Hawaii has been incredibly dull since he got back from London, and he wasn't finding the same satisfaction in his job as he had before, not after what he'd done with Steve.

Figures the man not only ruined him for other people, he'd ruined him for his own job, too.

"No," Danny says. "I'll take the job."

"Excellent." Steve's attention is back on the workmen, and he's starting to frown. "I've got to go stop them before they set the whole room up backwards," he says, rounding the desk. He pauses to give Danny's arm a quick squeeze. "It's good to have you on board. I'll call later, okay?"

He's gone before Danny can even think to ask when he's supposed to start.

***

Danny's on his couch that evening, nursing a beer and thinking about calling for takeout, when there's a knock at his door. Meka's out to dinner with Amy, and Danny's not due to get Grace, so there aren't a lot of people it can be. But he still tries not to get his hopes up as he takes the few steps to the door to answer it.

Steve stands on the other side of the door, wearing the same clothes as earlier, holding a bag in each hand. One of them smells deliciously familiar. "Hi," Steve says, when Danny just stares at him.

"What are you doing here?"

"I told you I'd call."

"I thought you meant on the phone."

Steve holds up the bags in his hands. "I could put these down and call you," he says. "But that seems kind of silly since I'm standing on your doorstep." He waits for a few seconds before asking, "Can I come in?"

"What?" Danny realizes they're standing at his door like idiots. "Oh, sorry, right. Come in."

He steps back and lets Steve in the apartment, closing the door behind them. Steve looks around the small apartment and sees the table just big enough for two at the edge of the kitchen. He crosses to it and puts the bags on the table.

"So you didn't say what you're doing here," Danny says.

"I should think it would be obvious," Steve replies. "There were things we couldn't really talk about in an office full of workmen."

"Right, of course." Danny squares his shoulders. "Look, if you're worried about what happened in London affecting our working together, don't be. It won't."

Steve wets his lips, and Danny silently amends his statement to it won't be a problem once he figures out how to stop that reaction he has to Steve. "When we met in London," Steve says slowly, "I was in the middle of searching for Victor Hesse and his brother. I stopped to help Rostov because he was a friend, but there was also the outside chance that it might help my investigation."

Danny knew that, or at least part of it, but they'd never really talked about it after Steve had told him Victor was the potential buyer. "Did it work?" Danny asks.

"The plans Rostov brought to us caught their attention, and we were able to track Anton, Victor's brother, and use him to lure Victor in. They're both in a deep hole they're likely never to crawl out of again."

Danny's not sure what he's suppose to say. "Congratulations."

"I spent five years on their trail," Steve says, his gaze holding Danny's. "I had no other focus in my life, no room for anything but getting them and the weapons they were providing to every low life they could find off the face of the Earth. And I was fine with that."

He licks his lips again. "And then I met you." He shuffles forward about half a step, then stops. "When you were gone, I went back to my search for the Hesse brothers. But it was different."

"Different?" Danny prompts after a few seconds.

Steve nods. "I never felt like I was missing out on anything before. I loved my job. I didn't need anything else."

"So, what, you got your international arms dealers and decided you needed a new challenge, running your own little police force on an island?"

"The Governor had been hinting at me for months. She and my Dad were friends for decades. She kept asking me to come back and form a task force after he died. Said she didn't have anyone on island she trusted to do it."

"So you're doing this as a favor?"

Steve sighs. "No. She's doing me a favor--though believe me, I didn't sell it to her that way."

"She's doing a favor by dragging you back to Hawaii?"

"No, she's giving me an excuse to come to Hawaii and still keep doing the work I love."

Danny's had a long day, he's hungry, and the food smells really good. "Can you please stop with the dancing around and say whatever it is you're going to say?"

"When you left London, I wanted to follow you," Steve says after a moment. "Ever since you left I've wanted to come to Hawaii. As soon as I captured the Hesse brothers I couldn't call the Governor fast enough."

Danny doesn't even know what to say to that. "So you gave up your job, took a new one and moved back to Hawaii because you missed me?" he says, his disbelief clear in his tone.

"Something like that." Steve takes a few steps forward and puts his hands on Danny's shoulders. "I couldn't get you out of my head, and I couldn’t help wondering what it would be like to see you every day. To get the chance to learn everything about you. To get to know Grace and see her grow up."

Danny studies him for a long moment. "And if you find out what it's like and don't want to stay?"

"Then we both know," Steve says, but he sounds certain that won't be the case. "Unless you don't care enough to want to try."

As if he hasn't been having dreams about it day and night for months. "No, I want to try," Danny says softly. He could be heading for a disaster. Steve could decide to go back to the Navy at any time, leaving him alone here again. He's insane for agreeing to this.

But then he sees the brilliant smile on Steve's face as Danny's words register, and he realizes he has no choice. Steve leans in for a kiss that's even more amazing and wonderful than Danny's memories could recall.

"I sincerely hope that's food in that bag," Danny says, as they come up for air. "Because I might eat you if it isn't."

Steve laughs. "Chicken tikka masala," he says. "And scotch. I thought it was fitting."

"Good choice." Danny's smile is matching Steve's, he's sure of it. "What's in the other bag?"

"DVDs," Steve says. "We never did finish your British culture lessons."

Danny laughs. Later he might tell Steve that he's actually seen all the new episodes of Doctor Who now, and a couple of Monty Python movies as well. Right now, he's going to eat so he doesn't pass out from lack of food, and then he's going to go find all the places he didn't get enough time to explore on Steve's body.

They can watch Monty Python later. Preferably naked and curled up in bed.
---

END