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Realisations of the Heart

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Once upon a time there was a detective. She wasn't a delicate flower waiting to be rescued by a knight in shining armour. She was born and raised in New Jersey, she used to work for the Newark Police Department back home. She had gotten married to a British businessman named Raymond and had a beautiful daughter called Grace. Once upon a time, said detective had been happy woman with a respectable amount of cases under her belt, with a loving family and the admiration of her community. She had had everything anyone could wish for. Until everything fell apart, until she couldn’t turn a blind eye to the problems that seemed to plague her marriage, until she had to move to a pineapple infested hellhole to see her daughter on alternate weekends. If anyone had asked Danielle Williams how she had managed to survive those months when she was utterly alone in an island that despised her, well… she didn’t have an answer. She lived and breathed for her daughter, for her job - even when her colleagues hated her guts, pranked her and disrespected her time and time again. But she had survived, she had managed to push through everything because again, she was no damned damsel in distress, hell no! Life could throw anything at her and she would keep on going because her parents hadn’t raised a weakling, but a fighter.

Once upon a time, a brave detective had accepted a case of a former police detective murder case. And once upon a time, a brave detective had met a stubborn Navy SEAL with more brawn than brains - or so she thought at the beginning, man was a freaking giant with a gun pointed at her face! - who happened to be the victim’s son. Gosh, she had hated him with every cell of herself. The stubborn motherfucker had taken her case from her with a call to the Governor of Hawaii without remorse. Danni remembered the anger, the desire to punch the SEAL’s handsome - yeah, she had eyes and taste, thank you very much - face when he had taken her case. She should have known back then that it was only the beginning of an awful day. Not half an hour later her captain had chew her head off for allowing - like she had had any option - some douchebag to haul their case away from them. Hell, she had been sent home for the day and despite the fact that she had kept her head held high as she walked her way to the door with snickering coming all around the bullpen from her so called colleagues, it had stung. But if the other police officers were waiting for her to crumble under their distasteful behavior, well… they should had know better by then. Once she had gotten home, she had taken off her heels and took a beer from her fridge, ready to wallow in her misery. It hadn't had been until a few hours later when someone knocked on her door. She was surprised someone was out there when not even her only friend in the island, her partner Meka, visited her. As soon as she opened the door, she regretted the decision immediately as there stood Steve freaking giant McGarrett, soaking wet. Later she would revisit the moment and realised that it was in that instant when her life went to hell.

Once upon a time, one Navy SEAL had founded a special task force and had taken a police detective as his partner. She kept protesting about it for all it was worthy but deep down, in that part of herself where she held everything she wasn't ready to deal with, she was glad of the SEAL’s partner choice. After all, he treated her with respect, he treated her as the competent detective she was despite of her personality traits, her complaining, nagging, her issues... Thanks to the SEAL, she had a team that would have her back no matter what, she had friends and life was getting better. Until the fateful day the Jersey detective realised that well… she had fallen in love with her SEAL partner and that was the moment everything went to hell once again for the detective. That night she had drunk herself under the table.

Because it didn't take a genius to know that Steve J. McGarrett, commander of a SEAL team would never look at her like anything but a partner turned friend. And Danni wasn't as stupid as to fantasise about their relationship evolving into something else. She knew it and consequently she guarded her heart carefully. She kept her feelings to herself and treated her partner as she had always done. After her divorce, no, even before her divorce, she had known that she was never going to be enough for anyone. Raymond hadn't been spectacular, he hadn't been the most handsome man - yes, he was handsome but Steve was another league altogether - nor the most intelligent or the strongest. No, Raymond was average and still Danni hadn't been enough for him. Why would she be enough for someone like Steven? The idea was reinforced when she met Lieutenant Catherine Rollins, Steve’s special friend. It was instant knowledge that Catherine belonged by Steve’s side. The Lieutenant was dead drop gorgeous, amazingly strong, beyond intelligent, charismatic and as lethal as any SEAL. Catherine and Steve made sense, they were good for each other, they got each other's back and understood each other better than anyone else. Danni was outclassed and she was woman enough to accept it. Furthermore, she had decided a long time ago that the only love she needed was Grace's. It was painfully obvious though that it would come the day when she wasn't going to be enough for her baby girl either.

Just like that, with that realistic - no matter what people said, Danni Williams wasn't a pessimist but a realistic person - view of the world, Danni’s life went on and on. A miserable but tolerable existence on an island set on rejecting her presence. Hell, they even had a word for people like her, a pejorative term used to mark her as unwanted. But it didn’t matter how hard she tried to control her feelings for Steve, Danni’s heart was set on falling harder and harder in love with the man. And like everything in life, it finally snapped, leaving the detective with life-changing consequences… Though to be honest, it was more of a process than an instant. If one had to say, it started with a case. When did it not start with a case? It was one fateful Sunday on a weekend without Grace. Danni was shaken awake to the ringing of her phone and the smiling face of her partner looking at her from the screen.

“Williams.” She tried to sound more awake that she actually was.

“Danno, how long till you're ready?” Her groan was received with a chuckle. “I know how you feel but the vic is a friend of a friend of the governor and he wants us to look into this but promised it was going to be quick.”

“Have I ever told you how much I hate being at his beck and call, babe?” She got up and walked the distance to the bathroom. “Give me fifteen minutes before you leave your place. I’m sure Cath would appreciate the extra time with you”

The detective could hear the giggling coming from the lieutenant and she could almost see the grin in her partner’s face. With a sigh, Danni disconnected the call and undress in front of the mirror. She wouldn't have time to shower and be ready before Steve came knocking on her door. By omitting her morning shower, she also had time to get something to eat and the so needed coffee she had to have to function as a human being. She was just finishing when the door to her apartment was opened and Steve towered over her with a smile. His “just got my brain blown” smile. She wanted to punch something, maybe the physical pain would stop her hammering heart.

“Don't put that face on, Danni. I just got debriefed by Chin on the way here and I promise it's a open-and-shut case. We even got the perp ready for questioning at HQ.” Drying her hands, Danni groaned.

“If it's so simple, why don't we get our Sunday off? I had plans.” Steve laughed at her statement. “What?”

“Staying here all day is not a plan, Danno. You need to get out more, meet someone…” Danni held up a hand.

“I’m going to stop you right there. We won't talk about my romantic life. Or do I ask you about how many times had you had sex during the last forty eight hours?” Yeah, Steve’s face reddened but he still opened his mouth. “No. No, don't… You’re impossible. Let's go, I want to close this case before the game starts.”

The way over to HQ was filled with Steve retelling what he knew about the case to Danni and it was sickening.

“Neighbour heard screaming and called HPD. When the officers got there the husband was dead and the wife was standing over the corpse with the murder weapon in her hands. She was covered in the vic’s blood. Kono is investigating the marriage and Chin is casing the neighbourhood as we speak.” Danni nodded with a lump in her throat. “The wife isn't talking but to ask for her baby. Social Services is taking care of him until the brother of the wife arrives.”

When they got to the Iolani Palace, Chin was back and his normally serene eyes were ice cold, Kono was still working on the table with a frown. Danni went to her side to look at the photos of a couple reports that filled the tech table.

“What we got, Kono?” She asked as she knew they had to gather as much intel as possible before heading to the interrogation rooms.

“From the outside they were the perfect couple: they got married a few years ago, had a kid five months ago. He worked for a politician and she is a stay at home wife. Pretty good finances, good neighborhood… then comes the reports. We have a few calls from their neighbour due to domestic disturbances but when police arrived, no one pressed charges.”

“I talked to the neighbour. Pretty much the same story with more details. Mrs. Clarkson claims that once the husband left the house in the morning, the wife would remain inside. She doesn't own a car nor has a single friend in the neighbourhood. She said that she had been trying to get to know Heather Willows to no avail since the married couple moved to the house next door.” Danni had worked with enough abused wives to recognise the pattern. “It seems fishy.”

“We are going in, but from where I’m standing, it looks pretty clear. Good job, guys.” Steve walked back to the elevator and once inside, he looked at his partner. “You should lead this one, she might open up to another woman.”

“Alright but I feel like the dude was abusing his wife and she finally defended herself.” If that was the case, maybe Mrs. Willows might plead self-defense and walk free or at least get a nice deal from the DA. “I hate these cases.”

“Me too.” The corridor and the room where they were holding the wife looked and felt colder than ever. “Good morning, Mrs. Willows. My name is Steve McGarrett, this is my partner Danni Williams.”

“Hey.” Sitting in the chair was a young woman, not older than 30. Her red hair was dishevelled and her big brown eyes unfocused and glassy. She had dried blood in her tear stained face and she looked so small and frail. “How are you doing, Heather?”

Danni dragged the spare chair and sat in front of the suspect. The young lady was shaking slightly and holding her mid section. There were cuts in both her arms and forearms. Neither Steve or Danni had to be a doctor to recognise those as defensive wounds. Danni took a deep breath, kicking a dead man’s balls wasn't ethical.

“Heather, we are here because we need to know what happened this morning. But we don't have to talk about it straight away. Why don't we start with your baby boy? What's his name?”

As Danni knew it would happen, hearing about her baby seemed to bring Heather back from her shocked state. The brown eyes were suddenly focused on Danni and her lips formed a tight line as fresh tears rolled down the red headed woman’s face.

“Dean, his name is Dean. He is… Is he ok?” Her voice was shaky and Danni nodded. “I was trying to protect him, I did it for him, I swear, I was thinking of Dean, I was!”

“I believe you Heather and I promise he is going to be alright. Your brother is coming to get him.” Danni held Heather's hand tightly, the younger woman seemed to relax under her touch. “What were you trying to defend him from? Your husband?”

“He threatened to kill him... He was going to kill my baby!” She started sobbing then and Danni’s heart broke at the sight. “I couldn't let him kill my baby, he is the only one that matters…”

“You could have reported him though.” Danni turned around and glared daggers at Steve’s words. “HPD could have protected you both.”

“Excuse my partner, Heather. He is emotionally stunted and doesn't understand…” Maybe it was her own experience talking but Heather needed to know someone understood. “I have a daughter, you know? My ex never threatened to kill her but I can't see my baby girl as much as I want to, and you didn't want that right? You didn't want your baby to be taken away from you.”

“No. But it was my fault. Nothing would have happened if I hadn't asked for the divorce. He had never threatened Dean until I told him I was going to talk to a lawyer… but I needed to get away from him, he was getting more and more violent. You understand, don't you?” Heather squeezed her hand with an apprehensive expression.

“I do, I really do. How did he react when you told him you were going to divorce him?” Danni really understood what Heather was talking about. As memories of her own marriage tried to flood her mind, she pushed down her feelings as she needed to remain neutral. “Did he get violent this time as well?”

“Not at first.” Her lips were trembling. “When I didn't back off he grabbed the knife. He was yelling that he was going to kill Dean. I reacted on instinct and fought him for the knife. I didn't have any intention to kill him, I swear, I was going to divorce him!”

She broke down and her sobs filled the interrogation room once again. Danni looked at Steve and her partner nodded. It was enough. Danni placed a hand on Heather's knee in comfort while Steve left them alone.

 

As soon as the woman had calmed down, HPD had taken Heather to the DA office. She was probably to walk free and Danni was glad. The woman was a victim and she shouldn’t be punished for defending herself and her son. Danni couldn't stop thinking of her, not even when she was in the camaro with Steve. Steve was also silent, he had been since the interrogation. The only replies she could pry from him were grunts at best. Danni turned to look at her partner, he was clutching the wheel so hard his knuckles were white, he was clenching his teeth so hard Danni could hear his teeth shattering.

“You know your dentist is going to rip you a new one if you break a tooth.” She smiled at her partner. “These cases leave a bitter aftertaste. What do you say we get some longboards and watch the game?”

Instead of answering, Steve left the road with a sudden drift and killed the engine. Danni stopped the upcoming rant when she took in the deep breaths the SEAL was taking through the nose, nostrils flaring. Hell, she could see the vein on his front popping. His hands were so holding onto the wheel so tightly that Danni feared for her beloved car.

“Babe?” Danni reached for Steve’s hand since it was safe territory. “Are you ok?”

“You were lying, weren't you?” He turned to look at the detective. His eyes were laser focused and hard. “When you told Heather you understood.”

For a few seconds, Danni remained silent. Despite how emotionally stunt Steve could be, he was highly perceptive and Danni was sure he had see something during the interrogation if he was bringing this up. She also knew that Steve would see through any lie Danni could say.

“No, I wasn't lying.” With a sigh she turned further to face Steve fully. “But Ray and I divorced and I don’t want to talk about it, alright?”

“Did he…” Steve’s mind was racing through a thousand scenarios. “Did he ever got physical with you?”

“Steve, I really don’t want to talk about it. Can we just get going? I really need a beer or twenty.” Steve didn't move immediately, but at last he started the car and focused once again into getting them to the closest grocery store. “Thank you.”

“Don't thank me, you’re buying the longboards.” Danni rolled her eyes knowing that Steve wasn’t going to let it go..

They got two packs of longboards and Danni shouldn’t have paid for those but when it came to Steve, she was a goner. He didn't even need to use his devastating kicked puppy gaze. So, she ranted and ranted about Steve not paying ever while she placed some bills on the counter. Steve smiled at the normality of the situation even when he knew that his partner was hiding something from him. As soon as they got home, Steve put the beer on the coffee table and opened two.

“So…” Danni tensed slightly.

“So what? Turn on the TV or we’re going to miss the beginning of the game.” Danni drank half the beer and took off her heels. “You know I hate to miss the first minutes.”

“Alright, alright.” He took a seat beside Danni. He wasn’t interested in baseball but he had a plan and he needed her to be relaxed and to not suspect anything.

As the game progressed, they drank the two packs of longboards and they were pleasantly buzzed. But it wasn’t enough for a sneaky attack. Danni was still tense and she looked tired. When she placed the last bottle on the coffee table with a sigh and a slight tremor, Steve knew it was time to bring out the big guns.

“What do you say I bring out the scotch? That will surely make this case easier to forget.” He was already on his way to the liquor cabinet.

“Then I’m crashing on your sofa. I hope Catherine don’t mind.” The prospect of getting drunk enough to forget this case for a few hours had her eager for a glass of scotch.

“Cath left already and you know you’re always welcome.” He handed her the glass and left the bottle among the empty beer bottles. “Though the game is almost over.”

He was right, the game was just ending. It didn’t actually matter as Danni was on her way to get more than slightly buzzed. Steve made sure to pour more and more scotch on her glass as soon as she finished it. Though her words were getting slurrier as the scotch was consumed, Steve was also feeling more drunk that he had expected. He hadn’t wanted to drink so much on his quest to get some real answers from his partner but he knew that if he stuck with just one glass of scotch, the Jersey detective would call him out on his play. He put his glass down, his mind was getting too blurred for his sneaky attack but he was going to persevere. His eyes moved from the muted TV to Danni. She had her eyes closed and a small smile on her lips. How did it come that her lipstick was always on point - it was Mary’s expression, not his - no matter what she did? He dropped his gaze to her blouse and skirt. Danno always dressed professionally no matter what. It was weird! Steve should retreat but as a Navy SEAL he couldn’t. Not when he was so close to what he wanted. He poured two more glasses and Danni laugh.

“I shouldn’t drink anymore, babe.” He pressed the glass into her hand and she took a sip. His eyelids were getting heavier and he knew it was then or never.

“But we should celebrate. You did great during the interrogation. The ‘I know how you feel’ strategy got her talking.” He drank too.

“It wasn’t a strategy, Steven.” Her smile disappeared and her eyes were fixed on her glass. “I know how she was feeling.”
“How would you possibly know, Danni? She let it happen and I know you’re not the victim type.” Hell, he remembered the punch he had received the first day they worked together. Danni laughed bitterly. “It’s true!”

“You know what else is true? That the victim is always blamed, no matter who they are, they are always blamed: a stay-at-home wife, a business woman, a prostitute even a cop.” The last word was barely a whisper and Steve moved closer. “They don’t let it happen, Steven, it just happen and they are not to blame.”

“She could have talked to the cops, Danni, she had options.” His words were wrong, he knew it but he had to push the detective buttons to get her to talk. “But she didn’t, she allowed it. I just don’t get.”

“Of course you don’t get it. No one has made you feel like you’re not good enough or that you deserve whatever shit happens to you.” Her hand was trembling and he was getting closer, it didn’t feel right but he had gotten this far and he wanted to know. Steve placed a hand on her knee supportively. “You have never known what it’s like to be with someone that claims to love you and then walks over you.”

“And you know it?” Their conversation had turned into hushed tones like they were sharing a secret. They were sitting so close together now that Steve could have counted Danni’s eyelashes even in his drunk state of mind.

“Yes.” Danni looked at him from under her lashes and her smile was back. It was bitter, sad and trembling. His hand moved higher and he rubbed at the skin between her knee and the hem of her skirt. “I do…”

“Raymond?” The name fell from his lips as a whisper. For a second Steve thought she might have not heard it but then the woman nodded and instead of rage Steve felt sadness. “Was he abusive, Danno?”

“Not like Heather’s husband.” Steve took a deep breath, Danni closed her eyes and hunched onto herself. “But I know how terrified she has felt over the years, I know that everytime he got home she wanted to run, I know that she was jumpy every single time he got closer to her… I know because it was like that for me.”

She was holding her glass with both hands now. Steve was ready to back off but Danni’s dam had broken down and she had to get it out of her chest. Heather’s story had brought up things she had buried so deeply inside and the alcohol had loosed her tongue. The cat was out of the bag and Steve was ready to share the burden with her. He put his arm around her shoulders.

“I also felt like everything was my fault. From the first time I believed it was because of me, that I deserved it. I still believe it. If I had been more careful during the job, if I had taken two minutes to check every corner of the house, if I hadn’t gone straight away to the drugs then the douche wouldn’t have punched me so hard that I had to go to ER. If I hadn’t been sent to the ER Raymond wouldn’t have had to drop everything to pick me up… I knew that he hated my job, the dangers that came with it, why wasn’t I more careful? So, when we got home and he started to yell at me, I accepted it. When he pushed me against the wall, when he was screaming to my face… I didn’t defend.” She buried herself against his side, hiding her face in the crook of his neck. “I didn’t fight back when he fucked me right there and then, I didn’t scream and I didn’t press charges. I just cried and let it happen because I thought it had been my fault.”

Steve remained silent, afraid of doing something that Danni might misinterpret. Even in his current state, Steve knew what she was telling him. Raymond might had never hit her, but he had done something worse. He had raped her, he had raped his wife.. He swallow around the lump in his throat and he knew the story was far from over.

“We stopped having sex for a while, he avoided me like the plague and I felt so guilty. I felt like I was nothing but a burden Raymond had to deal with. When he apologised I forgave him. Why wouldn’t I? It was my fault.”

“You didn't report it, did you?” Just like Heather hadn't reported her husband. “Did he… did he do it again?”

“If I had a rough case or I was injured, Ray would just snap. Every time was followed by a few weeks of separation. He would leave for an assignment and I blamed myself for it, I made up excuses for what he had done. Once and again I thought it was because of me and I knew what people would say if I ever reported him.” The rape victim was normally blamed. They would be ask what they were wearing, what she was doing, if she was drunk… “He never threatened to take Grace away from me, but there were comments that had me worried about it. And now he has custody and I haven't used any of it against it. I knew that I wasn’t enough for him, that I would never be good enough. Then he met Stacey and I found them in our bed with Grace sleeping next door and I forgave him. Why couldn’t I be good enough?”

Steve wanted to ask one more thing and he was going to blame it on the alcohol in his blood if he was ever confronted about it.

“Have you been with anyone since then?” Danni looked up at him, her eyes were filled with unshed tears.

“Why would I put myself in that situation again, Steven? I don’t want to feel like that again, I don’t want to feel like I’m worthless.” She said it with such conviction that Steve wondered if she actually thought that what Raymond had done had been because of her.

Steve couldn't help to notice that Danni was an attractive woman. Maybe she wasn't his type, but he wasn't blind. Her blonde hair was always neatly styled. She didn't wear that much makeup, but she always wore lipstick - different shades of red - and it was never smudged no matter what she did. She dressed stylishly. Blouses and dress pants with boots when they expected to work out of HQ. Blouses and skirts or dresses with heels when they had to catch up on paperwork or didn't have any cases. She was well educated, street smart, athletic and an amazing mom. She had moved from her beloved New Jersey to a place she hated because of her daughter! Not everyone was ready to do that kind of sacrifices for their children. Steve knew a good catch when he saw it. He drank his glass and served them more.

“You know my life is Grace and work.” She was sure she was going to feel like that if she tried to date anyone, she felt like that regarding Steve already and they were never to be anything but partners and friends no matter what her heart wanted. “And I'm not into one-night stands.”

They felt into a charged silence from then on and kept drinking. Danno was shaken and Steve kept refilling their glasses because maybe if they got even more drunk, they could forget to have had this conversation when morning came . At some point, Danni tried to get up and swayed on her feet and held out her hand to regain her footing. Steve’s ninja skills flared up and his hand wrapped around Danni’s wrist. Danni laughed at her own clumsiness and placed her free hand on his shoulder, her eyes were fixed on Steve’s for a second and they travelled south to his mouth. Steve licked his lower lip and Danni’s breath hitched at the sight. Steve’s eyes were darkened by something Danni didn’t dare to name.

She bent forward just slightly and Steve’s eyes focused on her cleavage. Her blouse had loosed enough at some point so he got a peep of her bra. He was surprised to see it wasn't a basic one but lingerie. His cock twitched with interest at that piece of knowledge. He tugged at Danni’s hand to move her closer, to get a better view. His other hand moved to the back of her knee and moved it until it was pressed against his hip. She gasped at the sudden change of position, her hand moving from his shoulder to the backrest. Steve’s hand slided further up, dragging the skirt with it. He found himself wondering if she had matching panties. His breath caught when he got to the garter belt holding the end of her tights. She straddle his lap and bent forward until their noses were almost touching.

He moved his hand further up and more towards the inner part until his fingers found Danni’s groin. He smirked when he found the clothing wet already. He used two fingers to caress her folds and moved up to her clit. His boldness earned him a breathless moan. If the alcohol weren't clouding his judgement, he would back down, he would see that the situation was wrong. But as drunk as he was, he only wanted to get more moans from this woman. Danni on her part, moved closer and pressed a hand against his chest, fisting the piece of clothes as if it had gravelly offended her. He released her wrist to tug at her blouse and focused on unbuttoning it with just one hand. Growing impatient, he was glad that she got with the program and helped with the piece of clothing blouse and the two of them got it opened. Its looseness dragged it down her arms and god, so much skin…

Steve smiled at the sight. Killer body indeed. Danni nibbled at her lower lip, the SEAL didn’t hesitate and kissed her at that moment. Their kiss wasn’t romantic, it was lust driven, a clash of teeth and tongues. Steve sucked in Danni’s tongue and her response was to lower herself until their hips were pressing together. She hissed at the feeling of his denim pressing against her pussy. Steve placed his hands against her ass and pressed her down as he jerked up and rolled his hips looking for more friction between his hard on and her heat. He let go her mouth, smirking at her smeared lipstick. Her lips were swollen and shiny with spit. He moved his mouth down in a mocking caress of the curve of her neck and she tilted her head back, their hips moving together. Why were they taking so long to get naked? Steve unclasp Danni’s bra and with a shrug, she got rid of it. Steve hadn’t never seen anything sexier than that effortless gesture. Her hands went to the hem of his shirt and tugged at it until it was off. Her nails dragged down his abdomen leaving behind red trails. He wasn’t into pain but again, alcohol changed the perspective of things. With his hands under her butt, Steve got up. Her strong legs wrapped around him and he turned them around and he was hovering over her. Her skirt had been rucked up around her waist with the moving around. She looked deliciously debauched.

“Steve?” His name falling from her lips brought the SEAL back to the moment. He pushed her against the piece of furniture and pressed himself against her body fully. “Fuck…”

“Yeah, we’re getting there.” She tumbled with his cargo pants and soon enough her hand was fisted around his hard rock cock still trapped inside his pants. That was going to be an issue soon enough. “We’re getting there.”

They were kissing again, Steve’s hand went down between their body and pushed her panties to the side. He slipped a finger into her wet pussy eagerly. Danni groaned against his lips and her hips ondulated against his hand. It was enough for Steve, he liked to please his sexual partners but he was getting impatient. As he added another finger and moved them in small a small circle motion, he bit the spot over her pulse. Danni spread her legs further and her hand went from his shoulder to his back, clawing her way up again when Steve found that place inside her that made her toes curl in pleasure. Her hand pushed down his cargo pants and boxers just enough to get to her prize, it was hard to jack him off with how tight his pants were. She wasn’t surprised with what she saw once she got it out. Steve was longer than Raymond but not as thick and she could feel her inner muscles clenching around his fingers with anticipation. His lips wrapped around her nipple and sucked lightly, lapping at it afterwards and moving to the other one.

“God, babe… I need you, I need you now…” Above her, Steve stared at her unblinking. For a second the thought of him retreating crossed her mind and a lump formed in her throat. Except that Steve pushed her further into the sofa, a knee against the cushion top, his fingers moving more eagerly inside her. “Please, Steven… Please, please!”

It didn’t take much more for Steve to replace his fingers for his cock. Due to the position they were in Danni had a front seat to Steve thrusting into her. He bottomed out and Danni sighed with the feeling of every inch of that beautiful, long cock stretching her. Proof of how good it felt was the way her inner muscles clamped around it as if to never let it go. She hissed and rested her head against the backrest. Steve’s lips found hers in a slow paced kiss when he was fully balls deep in her. Danni reached for his back and pressed the heels of her feet against the back of his legs. Not even one second later, he pulled out and rammed it inside with such a force that it had Danni letting out a deep moan, half plead for more, half a pray. From there on it was a rush of movement, strong, deep thrust and slow rolling of hips, to the point that Danni found herself thrusting back against Steve.

“Yeah, right there, babe…” She whispered when Steve started to play with her clitoris, causing her body to tense up as orgasm approached faster than it had in… well, never. “God, God! Steve, Steve, please, please!”

She came with his name on her lips, her eyes rolling back and tremors running down her body, her world was rushing by as she was riding the waves of pleasure that kept on hitting here with every movement Steve made. Steve on his part was also reaching that point of immeasurable pleasure, his lips moving constantly around words that Danni couldn’t make out. as he climaxed while sheathed inside Danni a name was grunted against her ear. A name that popped the bubble Danni had let herself confused with reality, a name that crushed her hopes and left her broken, suddenly sober.

“Cath, Cath, Cath...” He kept whispering with adoration the same name as his lips pressed kisses over the length of Danni’s neck. Danni reminded frozen through the last thrusts in her as his member became more and more flaccid, Steve then moved them into a more laying down position with his partner laying on top of him.

“That was…” He breathed out, his eyes closing slowly. Alcohol and sex had tired him out, making him loopy. “Amazing, truly amazing.”

Danni bit her lower lip to prevent any sound of escaping her mouth. Her heart racing in her chest. She couldn’t believe she had been as stupid as to think that this was anything but an illusion.

“We can cross the couch for the… list.” Danni looked up to her partner, her eyes wide open while he fell asleep in a matter of seconds.

Danni felt detached from her body as her mind was racing with darker and darker thoughts. She tried to roll out of the sofa but Steve’s arm held her tighter against his bare chest. How could she have been so stupid? How had she dared to thought that suddenly Steve had found out about his own feelings towards her? She should have known that if she hadn’t been good enough for Raymond while they were married, she couldn’t never be enough for Steve. No, that was stupid because Steve had Catherine, perfect Catherine who loved Steve as much as he loved her. Steve and Catherine were meant to be and Danni had been a warm body that happened to be there in a moment of weakness. A tear rolled down her cheek, soon joined but a second and a third, and once the dam was down, they kept falling. Danni was so stupid… Her lip trembled but not a single sound came out as she laid on top of Steve.

At some point Steve’s hold of her relaxed and Danni could finally slip free. She stood on trembling legs and gathered her discarded clothes in a hurry. Her only thought was that she was never going to acknowledge the events of the night. It had never happened. Steve had never had sex with her. As she walked out of the house and hopped into her Camaro she accepted it was for the best. , If she played it well, they would put this behind them and their lives would continue up until now. As partners. They couldn’t be anything else. And if her chest felt tight and her heart was broken with that thought, Danni Williams was already used to it. By the time she got to the apartment, she was exhausted. She sat on the fold out and was slept before she knew it.

Next morning she woke up to her phone ringing. Steve’s face was looking up at her and she felt nauseous. She let it go to voicemail, too afraid of confronting her best friend at the moment as it was too soon for her to get a perfectly good excuse to her behaviour last night. How was she supposed to explain the way she had moaned his name as one would pray to the almighty? It wasn’t like she could go along the lines ‘I love you, just so you know.’ Last night had been a mistake for so many reasons, the first one that Steve’s was obviously in love with Catherine and Danni had just been there to satiate whatever hunger the SEAL had for his special friend. And she had spread her legs right after confessing her darkest secrets. She would have kept her mouth shut but no, she had to lay it all for him, he now knew how truly fucked up she was. Danni should just quit and avoid Steve like the plague. Except she couldn’t because she was a sucker for him. A message brought her out of her miserable line of thought.

“Talk to me, please.” Danni ignored it. If she could manage to not talk to him about yesterday at all she might be able to play it as drunken deliriums. Hell, they had drunk six longboards each and a whole bottle of scotch between them both, it was reasonable for them to make stuff up. She was getting dressed when her phone pinged with another text. “Coming to your place, Danno.”

“On my way to HQ. Don’t need you to pick me up.” She tried to be as concise as possible, she tried to imply in that brief message that she didn’t want to talk. Danni got into her car and drove away. If she took a detour to the office, no one had to be any the wiser.

Still, she was on time when she got there. Steve was waiting for her, leaning against the tech table. Kono and Chin weren’t around and didn’t it feel like a trap? Steve was frowning and his lips pressed into a thin line. There were two foam cups of coffee from that place Danni loved and a bag of her favorite treats right there. Yeah, it was a trap.

“When I woke up you were gone you were gone.” Not what she was expecting but alright… she could work with that. “I wanted this conversation to happen somewhere else.”

“I had to shower and change clothes, Steven. Not all of us are comfortable coming to work wearing cargo pants.” She took one of the cups and inhale half of it as she prepared to be the first one to strike. She wasn’t going to lay back and take whatever Steve was planning to say. The best defense was a good offense. “Look, yesterday we were drunk and stupid shit was said and I would be very happy if we don’t mention it. If you would feel more comfortable, I will pair with Chin or Kono for the time being.”

“You don’t need to partner with them. But I do need to apologise for yesterday.” Danni arched an eyebrow, she would normally enjoy seeing Steve struggle with words, this time she was too busy preparing her heart for the blow. “I shouldn’t have pried in your past relationship with Raymond, I should have respected your wishes to not speak about it. And I don’t want you to feel… embarrassed I guess. I won’t mention it or bring it up no matter what, I can promise you that..”

“... Thank you.” So, Steve didn’t mention the sex part and he seemed pleased with himself for having said what he wanted without any interruption from her. Maybe she was lucky and he would never remember. She was also grateful that he would respect her privacy. “If you don’t want to discuss anything else, I’m going to take these malasadas and get started on the paperwork.”

Unsurprisingly enough, everything went back to normal after that. Or as normal as Danni’s life was while working with Five-0 and partnered with Steve McGarrett, man was a magnet for trouble! Though she normally complained about their cases and the dangers they had to face, during the following weeks she was glad that they didn’t catch a breath. Hell, as soon as she had closed her office door that day, they had been called to track a murder! Case after case they were too busy to deal with anything else and Danni had appreciated the distraction. During her weekends with Grace, she would focus on her baby girl, taking her to places Kono had suggested for mother-daughter bonding. Raymond hadn’t given her any shit and life was going as smoothly as it could. Danni even dared to say everything was perfect. Well, almost perfect. Danni had caught a stomach bug along the way. Probably from that shady place Chin had taken them to have dinner after a gruesome case that had them running around Oahu for several days in a row. Except the damn bug wouldn’t leave her alone no matter what. She had actually lost a few pounds and it was really hard to keep anything down some days. Danni blamed it on the stress they had been dealing with lately.

“Puking again?” She had rushed out of her office to the bathroom for the third time that morning, so it was natural that Kono had followed her. Danni couldn’t be glader of having another female on the team as Kono rubbed her back soothingly and offered some paper. “Something you ate?”

“No, I have had this persistent stomach bug that just won’t leave me alone.” She rinsed and rested against the cold wall. “I guess it’s normal with the amount of cases we have dealing with, my defenses must be non-existent.”

“Have you seen a doctor?” The native woman frowned. “I’ve noticed you puking everyday for two weeks straight, no stomach bug last for so long.”

“I made an appointment for this afternoon. Even if it’s nothing, they can prescribe something for the nausea.” She had already told Steve she was leaving early and he promised to call her if they had a lead to follow on the Mitchell’s case they were working on. “I’m just tired and stressed. I read that those factors can make you sick even if everything else is alright.”

Kono nodded with a pensive expression and they went back to the main office together. Danni’s doctor appointment couldn’t get there soon enough. She worked on the Marrow family’s finances until three o’clock when she packed everything to leave.

“See you tomorrow, guys. Call me if there is a breakthrough.” She said her farewells and marched up to her car and headed straight to Queen’s Medical. “Hi, I have an appointment with Dr. Palakiko.”

She was lucky when her doctor called her not even five minutes after she had arrived. She sat down on the hospital examination table. The doctor was an elderly woman with a kind smile that Danni returned effortlessly. Danni always felt at ease with older doctors, she didn’t know why but even as a child, they had calmed her down. In this case, she almost forgot why she was there to begin with.

“So, what brings you here today, Detective?” The doctor was reading the forms she had filled not even two minutes ago. “Puking, queasiness… Normally I would say you have a stomach bug but you wrote here you have been almost two weeks suffering from it.”

“Yeah, the bastard won’t just quit.” Palakiko made a humming sound as she kept reading. “I thought maybe with my job…”

“You didn’t wrote here when was your last period.” The gray eyes behind the doctor’s half moon glasses were curious. “Have you had unprotected sex lately?”

It took Danni less than a minute to understand what she was being ask about. Then she was ready to tell that she hadn’t… until she remembered that night. She frowned and her vision tunneled on the doctor’s face.

“I’m going to ask for a blood analysis, we will get the results in about a week.” The doctor wrote it down her file and smiled at Danni who was starting to feel panic. “Just to be sure it’s nothing else I’m going to do some explanation. Lie down, blouse up.”

Danni moved on autopilot, her mind was shutting down and she had already planned a trip to the convenience store to buy a dozen pregnancy test because this couldn’t be happening, no, sir. The doctor put on some gloves and pressed into Danni’s abdomen while asking questions that Danni answered with ‘yes’ and ‘no’. When the elderly woman had finished, a nurse came in to take Danni’s blood and she was given a paper with her next appointment. Danni uttered her thanks and left in a rush. She wasn’t going to wait a week to know how screwed up she was. At the convenience store she went straight towards the pregnancy test and picked alleatorially three of them with no shame. If anyone had a problem with her buying them, she didn’t give a fuck. After picking some orange juice, she paid and left with a paper bag. She drove while drinking the whole bottle of juice so that by the time she reached her apartment she could go straight to the peeing on a stick part. What was she going to do if it turned out she was pregnant? It wasn’t like she could go up to McGarrett and tell him! The schmuck was a sacrificing lunkhead but he wasn’t going to drop everything and make an honest woman of her!

With three peed stick on her sink and three minutes of torturous wait, she wondered if she even had to tell Steven. He hadn’t brought it up so he probably didn’t remember a thing about it and if she was indeed pregnant it was her own damn fault! Firstly, she should have kept a better calendar on her period, lastly, she should have taken the miraculous pill that helped prevent this type of screws up! How did she forgot about it? It should have been the first thing to do! She should have been smarter… Then she remembered how she had been dragged in a case as soon as she was done talking to Steve the morning after and… No. Those were excuses! She wasn’t eighteen and stupid to make these kind of mistakes! What would her ma say? God, she was going to disappoint her parents again. The alarm went off and she took a deep breath before looking at the results. Three test. Three peed sticks. One result in all of them. She was fucking pregnant. She was fucking pregnant! She sat down and tried to remain calm, tried to steady her breathing, calm her racing heart and when her vision started to darken, she laid down. Great, she was going to pass out from a panic attack because she found out she was pregnant…

How was this her life? To distract herself, she made a list of everything she had to do before her next appointment: First, she needed to decide what she was going to do with the baby, second she had to stop drinking coffee and eating too many malasadas, third she had to tell S… No, she stop herself right there and everything became clear as day. She was going to have this baby, because this child wasn’t to blame for its mother’s fuckups, and she was going to have it on her own, she didn’t need Steve or anyone else for that matter. She was strong, independent, she was already a mother, and she wasn’t going to involve Steve on this because he didn’t remember, he could go on with his life with Catherine and Danni would be a single mom. It was her final decision and as her nonna said: “If that spoon you take, with that spoon you eat; though she said it in Italian and it meant something along the lines that if you make a decision you have to live with it.

So, once upon a time there was a pregnant woman with a dangerous job who was terrified. She was alone regarding her pregnancy. She had to give up a lot of things, she had to make appointments after office hours and keep it a secret from everyone. It wasn’t easy, it didn’t make her happy and above everything else, it made her feel lonely again. But she pushed through everything, she was set on doing this because there was a tiny, tiny human being growing inside her and it needed her to be strong, it depended on her to be her usual self no matter what. Danni was going to be strong and walk through hell with a smile on her face for any of her children. She would for Grace and she would for the little one. She started to save money from coffee, beers, malasadas and nights out. She cooked herself every night and she had homemade food because it was the only way to control what was put on it. She ate more vegetables and fruit, except pineapple because that was just wrong. She gave up on pizza, spicy food, she worked with her obstetrician and dealt with everything. She was already thinking of what would happen when she started to show and she was immensely glad she own loose enough clothes in her wardrobe that she could use before having to buy maternity clothes.

However and after the last fifteen years of her life, Danni should have known that she was pretty unlucky and trouble would come knocking on her door sooner or later. Though to be honest, she hadn’t expected it to be a life or death situation with bullets involved. No, she had expected it to be further down the road, she had expected it to be when she couldn’t hide the fact that she was pregnant anymore. She had expected it to be in a controlled environment where she was mentally prepared for it to blow in her face. She should have known better considering that her partner was a magnet for trouble. And as they had gotten a case involving gun dealing scumbags, she should have said something. But now, as she was trapped with Steve in a small room with one exit, taking cover behind a metal desk and his partner brilliant idea was to jump through the window to the neighbour building. So, yeah, the cat didn’t get out of the bag, no, it was shaken and pushed out.

“I can’t jump through a fucking window, Steven!” They were pressed together, no need to scream but Danni had decided a long time ago that yelling helped her when it came to Steve. “I can’t and I won’t!”

“It’s our only way out, Danno, they are closing onto us.” Steve got closer when another round of bullets flew over their heads. “It’s a less than three feets fall, nothing we haven’t done before.”

“I don’t care if it’s a two inches fall! I’m not jumping! Think of other solution since you got us in this mess!” She had a graze from the first bullet fired in her arm and she her nerves were a wreck, her heart was thrumming in her chest and her fear levels were peaking. “Because I’m not fucking jumping through a window!”

“Danno, we do this or we die trapped like animals!” Wasn’t it an irony? Danni knew that jumping was the better option but what if she landed wrong? What if she jumped and they had to take her to the hospital because of a miscarriage? “On the count of three!”

“No, Steven, no!” She grabbed his arm and held him in place. “We are not jumping and we’re not going to die here, ok? I cannot die here!”

“Then we jump! Why are you being so difficult?” And she knew that Steve didn’t mean anything with that, she knew that his harsh tone was due to the situation, but she was going to claim hormone induced insanity when this was over.

“Because I’m fucking pregnant, you asshole!” Her words resonated in the small room and she covered her mouth while Steve was staring at her completely paralyzed.

“What?” When he came out of it, Steve frowned, his mind told him the bullets flying over their head must have caused him to misheard what Danni had said.

“I’m pregnant, Steven, I’m pregnant.” And oh, it felt good to say it outloud. “I can’t jump and I can’t die because I’m pregnant.”

Steve’s frown went from confused to furious in less than a second, his eyes turned ice cold, his nostrils flared and he took her gun from her harshly. It was a face Danni had seen multiple times but always directed to a perp, never to one of them and it hurt. The anger, the disappointment… it was written all over his face and she hated it because she had caused it.

“Steve…”

“Save it for later, Danielle. Now I’m going to get us out of this one and later we are going to have a talk, a talk in where I talk and you shut up for once.” He counted the bullets they, no, he had left and as he waited for an opening to move he avoided looking at Danni.

What happened in the interval of three minutes was something unreal. Steve moved from behind the desk to the the side of the door, he tried to locate the perps by sound and when they stopped to recharge, he moved. Using two guns at the same time was a waste of bullets, he couldn’t look at two directions at the same time. So, he fired to kill one perp at a time, from right to left while finding cover whenever he needed to. As a SEAL he had learn to compartmentalize and he had to do it now. As shots were fired, as people died and scattered, he kept Danni’s revelation as far down as possible, though he used the anger it aroused on him to be extra precise with his shots. When the last gun dealer fell down, Steve turned around and went back to the room.

“All clear.” He knew that using his commanding tone wasn’t the right decision but if he didn’t use it, he was going to be less than polite. “Let’s get out, we need the coroner here and get you to the ER.”

Danni went willingly with him and they kept a good feet between them as they made their way out and neither of them was surprised to see the backup arriving when everything had finished. Kono and Chin were the first to arrive and they smiled at their teammates. Steve wasn’t in the mood for chitchat, not when he and Danni had pending business to deal with.

“Brah, looks like you guys did it again.” Chin walked up to them and pat them on the back. “Anyone alive in there?”

“No, but some got away, you guys go and look around the property, see if we can catch them before they get too far, when you’re done you can go straight home and rest. I’m getting Danni to the ER.” He grabbed his partner’s elbow and tugged her towards the Camaro. “See you tomorrow, guys.”

Danni was almost pushed inside her own car like she was a perp and once Steve got inside as well, she opened her mouth to protest for his treatment. Yeah, she had lied, she had kept vital information from him and everyone but hell if she was going to let him treat her like a delinquent!

“Don’t. If you talk right now I’m going to get even more furious than I am right now. So, don’t try me.” In her defense, Danni’s sense of self preservation was all misplaced.

“More furious? Yeah, Steven, because you hadn’t done anything during our partnership wrong!” And she couldn’t read Steve’s mind, she couldn’t know why would he get angry at her! “Look, whatever you’re going to say, however you feel, I’m not a perp to be mistreated like that.”

Steve didn’t dignified her with a reply as he drove away from the crime scene towards Queen’s Medical. Now that their lives weren’t endangered, Steve’s focus was on the fact that his partner had kept her pregnancy from the team and put them all in danger. She had put herself and an innocent child in danger for fuck’s sake! But as he drove, as the adrenaline left his body, his mind was going from one point - he had been lied to by one of his friends - to other - where was the father of Danni’s unborn child? - over and over again. Obviously, the only person who could answer the thousand questions he had was a stubborn motherfucker when she wanted to be. And it wasn’t like he could get her drunk again!e hit the breaks as soon as they were far enough of the crime scene and he was glad they were in a remote area because that maneuver could have caused a grave accident. But, that wasn’t the point! He turned to Danni who looked aggravated and had kept quiet since they left.

“How far along are you?” Danni blinked and looked away. “How far, Danni?”

“It’s none of your business, Steven.” Danni liked to say that Steve had faces, what she didn’t accept was that she had tones and right now she had used the ‘I’m-fucked’ tone. Steve ran a hand down his face.

“Danni, I think it is. I think I have the right to now how far along my partner is.” For the sake of the conversation, Steve decided to use a softer tone. “How far?”

“Sixteen weeks.” It was more a whisper and if the car hadn’t been so eerily quiet, Steve might hadn’t hear it. “I’m sixteen weeks pregnant.”

Steve’s stare dropped to her midsection. How could he have missed it? Sixteen weeks were four months, she probably found out around the second one so that meant that he had been lied to for two months. Steve felt at loss. Danni hunched onto herself and she looked even smaller. The moment was broken by the sound of cars coming up to their position and Steve cursed as he started the car again. His mind was blank this time and the trip to the ER was done in silence. Not even the radio was turned on to fill it. Once they got to the hospital, a nurse took Danni and Steve found himself pacing up and down the corridor. In less than an hour he had found out Danni was pregnant and that she hadn’t trusted him enough to confide in him.. Except Danni had kept him out of the loop and he had to find while they were being shot at. Not that it was important, the important part was that Danni had kept this from him. He had to sat down when he felt dizzy. Danni was pregnant. Danni was four month pregnant. And she had decided to not tell anyone! She should have known better than that. Oh, for fuck’s sake!

He felt even more wronged as time went by. He felt insulted and angier because he had the right to be told at least as her partner and boss! What had Danni being thinking? What about the father? Hadn’t the man she had conceived a child with talked about this with her? Wait… unless the father didn’t know! What if the father was Raymond? Had he raped his partner again and she had decided to hide it? Steve was going to be sick. He took a few deep breaths to clear his mind and waited for Danni to be wheeled out of the ER. They had a long, serious conversation ahead of them and if push came to shove, Danni would clamp up and run away. It was better to not antagonise her for the day. Though, he hadn't expected to see his partner talking lively with the nurse when she finally came out.

“Yeah, tell Dr. Keiko I will be seeing her next week. I’m pretty excited about it.” The nurse said his farewells and Danni was left standing in front of Steve. “You got me shot again.”

“I didn't get you shot.” With a sigh he acknowledged Danni’s tactic. “My place? I’ve got some steaks.”

“I’m not in the mood for red meat.” She crossed her arms and Steve wondered why he hadn't see it earlier, now that he knew a lot of things made more sense. “We can get some fish and grill it. And we need some ginger ale.”

Steve got up and placed his hand in the small of Danni’s back. At that moment, he knew they would be alright one way or the other.

Once they arrived at Steve’s, Danni wandered to the lanai with a ginger ale while Steve prepped the fish they bought. As he did so, he wondered if Danni wanting fish was because of cravings or not. Steve has always heard that cravings were crazy stuff pregnant woman wanted for no reason and fish wasn't unreasonable. He decided just then that he knew next to nothing about pregnancy and he was going to be an uncle! He shouldn’t be getting so excited when he had been so mad no so long ago. And at what point had he accepted it? He stepped out with a tray of fish and stopped to look at Danni while the barbecue heated up. Obviously they had to talk, but he was her friend, not only her partner and boss, so he was going to support her right after having the pending conversation.

“What?” Maybe he should work on his stealth. “You look constipated, babe, so let it go.”

“You could have told me.” There wasn't a stealthily way to talk about it. “I had the right to know.”

“You really want to do this now, Steven?” Danni placed the ginger ale by her side and walked up to him. “Look, I know you. I know you have control issues and you get scary overprotective and I don’t need that. I need my privacy and support. I don’t need you to act like you need to defend my honor.”

“So you decide to throw yourself at dangerous situations that might have caused you to suffer a miscarriage?” His anger was stirring up again. On one hand, Danni was using her ‘I’m not telling everything’, thus she must be lying again and on the other hand, she knew she should have been on desk duty, not running around chasing criminals! “Because that's what you have been doing!”

“Excuse me?” And there it went his no antagonising Danni idea. Her tone this time was the ‘I’m giving you a chance to change your answer’, yet Steve wasn't going to use his getaway card because he was right.

“I meant it. We get dangerous cases with dangerous criminals! We were being shot at just today, Danni...” And once he started, there wasn't a going back. “You kept this from me, from the team. You could have lost your baby because you made a stupid decision.”

He knew it was the wrong thing to say the moment the words left his mouth, he could see in the tense line of Danni’s back as she straightened up, in the widening of her eyes and the frowning of her mouth. Steve took a step forward ready to apologise even when he knew he didn't have to because he was right.

“Danni…” She slapped his hand away and took a step back. “Danno.”

“I better get going.” She turned around and left without saying another word.

Steve didn't go after her, admitting defeat when it smacked him in the face. If he were to pressure Danni, she wasn't going ro react kindly. For once the SEAL didn't know to proceed. How could he had been so stupid? He could have dealt with this better but instead, he let his emotions drive him. Instead of being supportive and friendly, he had attacked her when he knew it would hurt the most. It caused a blowout that he couldn't control. Danni when mad was unpredictable. This time she was mad and apparently hormonal. How long would it take for his partner to calm down and allow Steve to have another chance to talk with her. To explain that the reason behind his words was that he was worried about her. He should have chosen his words more carefully and now his best partner ever might decide that she wasn't going to work with him anymore. He decided to eat dinner and try again tomorrow.

The following day, he decided to not pick up Danni on his way to HQ and he was surprised to find the Camaro already parked in Danni’s spot. He hurried inside and found his partner going through paperwork. She didn't raise her head when he knocked on her door.

“What do you want, Steven?” He sat in front of her, he had thought about what he was going to say.

“I wanted to apologise.” He didn't but it was the safest option if he were to follow up on their previous conversation. “What I said yesterday wasn't… the right thing to say.”

“I don't want to talk about this, Steven.” She sighed and pushed the paperwork to the side, still not meeting his eyes.

“Now or ever?” Wasn't that a déjà-vu?

“Just both.” It got him a tiny smile and Steve counted it as a win. “Look, I didn't told you and that is on me. Yet, it was the best choice given the circumstances. I made a mistake and this is what happened but I chose to be a mom again and guess what? I’m happy! I know it's going to be hard but so worth it at the same time.”

“Danno…” He took her hand into his and looked at her in the eye. “You are going to be a great mom, you already are but this is fucked up.”

Danni sighed and took her hand away. She got up and opened her door for him.

“You can't stop putting for foot into your mouth, can you? Get out, please.” Her eyes were hard as steel and this time, Steve had no clue as to what he had said wrong. “I’m not going to repeat myself, McGarrett.”

“You can't just shut me out for no reason, Danno.” So his best strategy was to keep pushing forward until Danni gave in like she always did. “You just can't.”

“Shut you out? You do that on your own, McGarrett! You just did!” And if Danni swayed on her feet slightly when she turned around way too fast, none acted on it. “You said it yourself, and I quote, ‘This is fucked up’! What do you take me as!?”

“You know I didn't mean it like that!” He tried to calm down the Williams storm headed his way, but Danni was already in his face, finger pointing at him. Wasn't that a huge déjà-vu? “So let's talk like adults?”

“No, we can't because you're an animal! You just called a pregnant woman ‘fucked up’!!” Her screaming kept scaling and if she felt dizzy, she pushed it aside because she had so much to yell at Steve who kept screwing it up. “I’m sorry I made a mistake! I’m sorry I got drunk and had unprotected sex! And I’m sorry that after months of lonely sexless life I got pregnant and still decided to have it, you asshole! So now get the hell out of-”

Danni swayed again, this time she had to shoot her hand out and landed on Steve’s chest while his hands landed on her hips. He pushed her back until she was sitting on her couch. Before she was any the wiser, a bottle of water was pressed into her hands and she was almost forced to drink when all she wanted was to lie down. She took off her shoes and laid down, taking deep breath with teary eyes.

“You caused this, alright? You upset me up and you should be grateful I’m not punching you!!” She opened her eyes and stared at him. “Why can't you shrug this up and move on? Why can’t you just accept for once that you don’t need to know everything!!”

Steve had to admit that Danni had a point. He was reacting badly to this. Danni was pregnant, and yes, he should have known, except Danni hadn’t wanted to say anything. It was then when reality shook him to the core. He was mad at Danni not for not telling him, but because he considered her more than a friend, she was family and he wanted to know everything. Just like he had wanted to know four months ago. He did have control issues. While he was zoning out, his hand had moved to the lower part of Danni’s abdomen and he felt the tiny baby bump. What was he supposed to do?

“What are we going to do, Danno?” Danni put her hand on top of his and gave it a squeeze.

“We are going to do nothing. On the other hand, and listen to me carefully, babe, I’m going to have this baby and raise it and you, you are going to respect my wishes this time..” Steve wanted to protest because that made no sense whatsoever, he always respected her wishes! . Her eyes were resigned. “Babe… Can’t you just let it go?”

She sat down and Steve noted she didn't meet her eyes. Danni was a little pale and shaky. Steve sat by her side. He had the feeling that Danni wasn't telling him everything once again. It stung but he let it slide because if Danni decided that she wanted to share something, she would say something and Steve had push her enough for the day. She drank half the bottle of water and got up.

“I have work to do, are you going to sit there all day?” Steve knew a dismissal when he heard one.

“Just one more thing: from now on you’re on desk duty. I will partner with Kono or Chin while you support us from HQ.” Danni opened her mouth and then closed it. “It’s for the best, Danno. Yesterday could have gone a lot worse and you shouldn't risk it anymore.”

“Alright.” Steve took it for what it was, a small victory and left before Danni had time to say anything else.

 

And a few more weeks passed like that. Kono and Chin were told about the new rearrangement and the reason. Kono was thrilled because she was going to be an auntie and Chin asked to be its teacher if it ever decided to ride a motorcycle. When Kono mentioned the father, Danni shook her head and changed topics. Steve kept his mouth shut because he was respecting her privacy. He wanted to know so badly though… And once the cat was out of the bag, Steve noticed a lot of changes he hadn’t seen before. They had been blind apparently since Danni told them she wasn’t doing anything she hadn’t been doing for the last four - almost five - months. She had even smiled at them and shook her head as she went to her office. Steve told himself he was ok with everything. He did.

Until the day that Catherine showed up on his doorstep. If Steve had to choose a time where his life changed irremediably, it was right then. It was more like a revelation than a change. And it was a question that he should have asked a long time ago. If he was seeing Catherine as a person he wanted in his future - and let’s be honest, he had imagined more than once how life would have been with Cath as his wife and mother of his children - he should have asked her opinion regarding family. So, instead of getting down and dirty, after dinner he sat her down. His idea had been to tell her the news, to tell her that Danni was going to be a mom again. He had planned to tell her how he had been thinking about parenthood lately. It went more or less like this…

“Dinner was amazing as always. I’m surprised we’re still on the couch though… want to move this upstairs?” Cath was leaving her half empty glass of wine on the coffee table and putting her hand on his knee.

“About that, something happened that I need to tell you about.” There wasn’t a time like the present. And Catherine deserved to have her clothes on while he told her the news. Though he stood, in case she decided to punch him. “Danni is pregnant.”

“Oh… that’s great. I didn’t know she was seeing anyone.” Her face was set in a neutral expression.

“She isn’t. She isn’t sharing the father’s identity.” There it came the hard part. “I’m trying to respect her privacy.”

“Alright.” She raised an eyebrow, confused. He was stalling. “You know, I pegged her as more careful than that, with Grace and everything.”

“That doesn’t matter.” And if he was offended, well, it was in deference to his partner. “Cath, I don’t want to focus on that. I wanted to talk to you about something else.”

“Ok, now you’re scaring me. What is happening?” He knew he was dragging this on by the tense line of her shoulders. “Come on, we can talk about anything.”

“Look, since I found out that Danni is going to be having a child, I’ve been thinking of parenthood.” The difficult part was left unsaid still. With a sigh, Steve prepared himself. “We never talk about it but I want to be a father, not right now but… I want that.”

They remained in silence, looking into each other eyes, for a few minutes. Steve was trying to find the courage to ask if Catherine saw them together in the near future. Cath was trying to digest what she was being told. She divided it into points. First, Steve’s partner partner was now pregnant with Steve’s child. That was ok.. Second, Steve was talking about parenthood. No, more like he was talking about having children.. Tricky part, she had been in love with Steve for a very long time and had tried to keep it as exclusive as possible with him, she had only seen one or two guys outside Steve at the very beginning of their thing and she had always felt guilty about it. Steve was difficult to not love.

“Truthfully, Cath, every time I picture my future you’re in it. Not as friends with benefits, but as something else.” Let’s not call it marriage just yet, Catherine would freak out if she felt trapped. “And yeah, I want kids, but I can’t think of anyone I want them with except you and don’t freak out, I’m not about to start trying to get you pregnant.”

“Steve…” Cath was shocked at his last statement. She took her glass of wine and downed it in one big gulp. She had picture herself as Mrs. McGarrett more than once but kids? Never, she loved kids, sure, but as in ‘I’d dedicate my life to be a teacher’, not in ‘I’m going to give birth to at least two kids before I’m forty’! “To be honest, and I mean really honest, I never, never pictured myself with kids of my own. I always thought that if we got married someday, we would work for a private security firm together, maybe start one even, and goon missions.”

Wasn’t fate a cruel mistress? Steve’s view of the world came crashing down with Catherine’s words. His perfect mental picture of his perfect little family with Catherine shattered in a million tiny pieces and there was only a blank space in his head. In that instant he knew that they would never work - sex was still on the table, they both needed it from time to time to not do it - as a couple. No matter what they felt, and it was a bitch that they both had picture themselves married together, they would never tie the knot. If they did, they were set for a miserable life together. No matter who make concessions, there would be resentments. If Steve gave up his idea of having kids, he would resent Catherine for choosing a childless life. If Catherine decided to have his kids, she would resent him for them. It was a lose-lose situation. They both knew it as the silence set between them again.

“Steve, I love you and I will always love you, but we can’t work, can we?” Steve’s eyes were mournful as he shook his head. “What are we going to do? No matter how much time we keep dragging this out, no matter how much we want to try and keep this relationship going, it’s going to end sooner or later.”

“I love you too, Cath.” There wasn’t a lot more to say. Those four words weren’t going to mean much in a few years when they were both bitter about each other. Cath sat on his lap on the armchair where he had sat down.

“I think it’s best if we end this now at its peak, let it be a good memory, untainted and happy.” He hug her and she did the same. Steve could feel his shoulder wet and his arms tightened around her. “I’m sorry.”

“I’m sorry too.” And those were honest words, they were sorry. Sorry that they couldn’t work out their differences. Sorry that they had to part ways to find happiness. They were sorry for everything that was left unsaid that night because they weren’t brave enough to say what was on their mind.

After Catherine left, Steve took his wallet, phone and keys and walked away from his house. Suddenly he found himself having to rethink his whole life because everything he had taken for granted was gone, had disappeared like footprints on the sand. He had thought that Catherine was it, except she wasn’t and they parting ways was for the best, that it had given them a way to move forward and find happiness. It didn’t mean that he had to be ok with it! He hit the first bar he found and asked for the strongest liquor they had. The bartender served him a glass of something that look like tequila mixed with rum, not that it mattered to Steve who only wanted to drown the pain. He drank it in one go and asked for a refill. Then he asked for a bottle of vodka - he would have like some scotch but well... - and a shot glass. If he drank half of it and was mumbling before midnight, it was nobody’s business but his own!

What he hadn’t expected was to someone to sit on the stool next to him. He turned to tell whoever it was to fuck off just to find Danni looking at him with disappointment. He noticed her bare legs first, barely covered by the red raincoat she was wearing, it was a weird combination given the green slippahs she was wearing. It was probably the most naked he had seen ever, and it was an endearing attire. Next he noticed was the way her hair fell around her face and if he smiled it only widened with her frown. She looked tired and still there was something that made her glow, probably the pregnancy.

“What are you doing here, partner?” The word sounded wrong but Steve ignored the feeling that saying it created in his gut.

“Bartender called. What are you doing here, Steve?” She sounded pissed and Steve laughed. “Yes, you laugh because it’s really intelligent to laugh at a tired woman when she is doing you the favour of picking you up.”

“Cath and I are done.” All fun died when he said it. He sounded too sober suddenly. He turned to pour himself another shot of vodka, except that Danni grabbed his wrist. “Danno…”

“Let’s get you home, Steven. You’ll thank me tomorrow.” She didn’t have to tug much to get him moving and he tried to stay as upright as possible. It wasn’t like she could carry him around, not while pregnant. “Or not, because tomorrow I will rant you hear off and with your hangover you might drown me.”

Tha camaro was parked outside. Steve noticed that the parking lot, hell, the street was almost empty. Where had the people gone? It wasn’t that late! With a look to the dashboard he could asses that it wasn’t even four in the morning and people should be still out! What a disappointment. Danni drove in silence and Steve hated it. He wanted her to talk, to talk until her words drowned Steve’s demons. She was good at it. She was the best. Catherine had kept them at bay with her presence and Danni did the same with her words. Great moment to discover that you were lonely. He should have had sex with Catherine. Maybe he should called her and ask if sex was still on the table for her. He closed his eyes to commiserate and he must have fallen asleep because next he knew, Danni was parking in front of his house.

“Come on, big guy. Let’s get you in bed.” Danni walked around and opened his door. “I want to go home and rest once and for all.”

They stood in front of his door and what were they waiting for? Danni growled - yeah, she growled - and started looking into his pockets. Oh, they needed a key. Pity she wasn’t fishing for something else. Once the door was opened, Danni walked with him to his bedroom. She was kind enough to get a glass of water and aspirins and leave them on his nightstand.

“Danno…” She had just reached the bedroom door when he called her name. “Stay.”

“I’m not a dog, Steven.” Still she was turning around, she stayed by the door but her eyes were on him. “And the couch isn’t the best option for me right now.”

“No, I mean stay on the bed with me. Please.” He asked nicely even. “It’s late for you to be driving around town. I’ll behave unless you don’t want me to.”

“I wouldn’t be driving around so late if it weren’t for you, schmuck.” As she walked to the bed she shrug the raincoat and kick off the slippahs. Steve’s eyes widened with the nightgown. It was too short to be appropriate, he swore he could see her panties, and it had a line of lace along the low cut neckline. Had Danni’s boobs always been so big? He groaned and Danni slipped between the sheets. “If you wake me up before eight o’clock, I’ll shoot you.”

He didn’t reply. He was focusing on the ceiling to not look somewhere else - he was a man and not a blind one! - because he didn’t want to make this awkward. Before he knew it, he was asleep again. However, it took Danni a few more minutes to fall asleep. She used those minutes to look at Steve. He looked tense even in his sleep, like he was ready to jump with a gun in his hand at the most innocuous of sounds. It made her smile to be honest. And maybe it was the hormones talking but Steve was a protector and she felt safe in his bed, even when the spot was reserved to someone else. She wondered what would it feel like to wake up encased in his arms. She acknowledged the fact that she wanted to try it out when she found herself longing for Steve’s affection. Right there in his bed, even if she was there just as a friend, the longing became even harder to ignore. She closed her eyes and forced herself to remain as still as possible because if she were to move, it would have been to plaster herself along Steve’s side. She did place a hand on her baby bump with a thought:

“If something ever happens to me, he is going to take good care of you, love.” And she was out as a candle.

Next morning came to find Steve spooning Danni from behind. He was conscious enough to know that Danni fine ass was pressed against his morning wood and it wasn’t deflating anytime soon. Fuck, it was great he had two hours to disentangle from Danni and going for a really long swim followed by a really cold shower. Except his arm was under her pillow and his hand was resting on Danno’s baby bump inside her nightgown, his leg was between Danni’s legs. They were more tangled than Steve had ever been with a sexual partner before. The intimacy of the moment shouldn't be possible with his partner and best friend, still, Steve didn't want to move except to press himself further into Danni’s back.

“I asked you to not wake me up at least until eight o’clock.” It was Danni who moved to snuggle closer to him, still half asleep. “And I sincerely hope that's your dick and not a gun or I will shot you for real.”

“Sorry.” He untangled himself from the detective side. “Morning wood.”

“Don't worry. Go be active and let me s…sleep.” She was gone. Steve waited a few more seconds before leaving the comfortable bed.

After a mile swim and a two miles run, Steve was ready to face the music and deal with Danni Williams. What he hadn’t expected was to find Danni sipping a cup of tea in his kitchen, still in her nightgown and wasn’t that making things hard for Steve? He regretted not taking Catherine’s offer to hit the bedroom before talking. Danni rinsed her cup and frowned at him.

“I gotta ask, babe, now that you and Catherine are done, is it going to be our new normal that I have to pick your drunk ass from bars?” Steve had to admit he was glad that the beginning of their conversation wasn’t going to be about his dick. “Because I’m not ok with that. Maybe you don’t know this but us normal humans beings need eight hours of sleep to function. And those are the lucky ones that can have a cup or two of coffee in the morning.”

“About that, I’m sorry.” He hadn’t expected the bartender to call his emergency contact. Weren’t they supposed to call a cab for drunk customers? “It won’t happen again.”

“It better doesn’t or I’m going to shoot you in a very important part of your anatomy. One that you won’t recover from. Now, I have to go change into something more professional for work. See you at HQ, babe.” She passed him on her way to the door and Steve hadn’t meant to reach for her wrist. “What?”

What was he going to say? He let go of Danni’s wrist and she rubbed it like Steve had actually hurt her. Steve would have believed so - sometimes he forgot that Danno easily bruised - if it weren’t for his partner’s smile.

“Hey, if this is about your morning erection, don’t worry about it, alright? I know it’s normal, I was married, I know you guys can’t control it anymore than you can control the beating of your heart.” She patted his chest and looked at him from under her thick eyelashes. “See you later, Steven.”

He wasn’t going to mention his morning incident with her, it was good to know that she hadn’t minded it as much as he had expected but he wasn’t going to mention it. If he hadn’t going to say anything about it, then what was he going to say? ‘Hey, since Catherine and I aren’t together anymore, wanna give us a shot?’, ‘I want to wake up next to you like we just did’? Danni would have ripped his balls from him with her bare hands. Nope, he wasn’t going to go down that lane. He wasn’t and neither was his dick. As a Navy SEAL he was better than that. So, he went upstairs and had a cold Navy shower and got ready to face the music. He was going to prepare himself mentally and emotionally, he was going to build a wall to separate himself from whatever it was that Danni had caused in him by sleeping - actually sleeping - together just one night. Yes, he was talking about lust. Lingerie had that effect in any man. Chin would back him up in that one.

However, that strategy only served him for about a month. Danni and him had fallen into a kind of monotonous routine. Steve saw her every morning until they caught a new case or lead or anything that caused Steve to leave the Palace with Kono or Chin and she remained back there, finding any useful information they might need on the field. They didn’t spend the day together like they used to and it was ok with Steve. It made it easy to keep things casual between them. Or profesional like Danno would say. And if she noticed how Steve was trying to keep the distance between them, she didn’t protest. She assumed it was because at six months pregnant it was noticeable enough - now she even had to wear maternity dresses to work! - and it made Steve uncomfortable, like Danni’s growing belly was a reminder of something and she still wasn’t ready to bring up things he had forgotten about. She didn’t want to think like that but him keeping his distance made it feel like that was the case. She had even commiserate with Kono about it once and the fellow female officer had smile.

“He is probably freaking out, I mean you know Steve, he probably never saw you as a woman until you told him you were pregnant.” And there had been mischief in her eyes. “He probably had wet dreams about you now and it’s like hell for him.”

She hadn’t believed that for a second. Still, if it hadn’t been because of the alcohol, Steve wouldn’t had had sex with her that fateful night. It hurt her pride as a woman. However, she decided to ignore it because she had already feelings enough for Steve McGarrett as it was. She would have succeeded if it weren’t for the fact that McGarrett was starting to shut her out completely. He had even stopped asking her to come around on their free time! No dinner at Steve’s and certainly not Grace weekends at Uncle Steve’s. Steve would have probably gotten away with whatever crap he was pulling if it hadn’t been for a nut job that had decided that Danni was his next victim. Because Steve was a protector to the core and if one of his team was in any kind of danger, he was going to be there to have their back.

It had started with a letter. A simple note with white stains all over it. Danni had tossed it away the moment she opened the envelope and saw them because she was a cop, she knew what semen looked like. Kono had let out a groan and turned away because it was just disgusting. At the time Steve had been on a food run and it fell on Chin to be the brave one. He put on gloves and picked up the piece of paper from the floor. Danni had never seen Chin show so much anger in a second.

“It says: ‘Knock yourself up with this next time, haole whore.’ I’m going to get this to the lab, maybe we can get some DNA from this.” Kono had offered a plastic bag to her cousin while Danni bagged the envelope in case there were any prints. “This asshole doesn’t know what’s coming to him.”

Danni shrug it off as a stupid nut job’s sick joke when the lab results proved it to be pig’s semen and not human. But she had to admit that it had left her shaken, someone out there had picked her to be the receiver of the sick joke. Steve decided, once he was told about it, that Danni should try and stay away from any kind of public attention until the man - or woman - was caught. And she did, she remained inside the offices while the team dealt with cases and she wasn’t around when perps were brought in - something she had loved while she was benched after the stunt with the gun dealers, it had been a way to be more involved - and she even used the back door when she came in or out of the palace.

Yet, the nutjob didn’t give up. Not even two weeks later, when Danni and Steve arrived, there was a package on the tech table. Steve picked it up and handed it to her. There wasn’t anything about the sender so it had to have been delivered personally. She opened it and found a pair of panties. She picked them up, the see through front, the little bow… She would have been at loss if it hadn’t been for the small bleach stain to the side. She knew those panties! She put them back in the box and bagged it with reddened cheeks.

“Another gift from your stalker?” Steve tried to get a look but Danni put it away, she would get that to the lab herself. “What? They are just panties, Danno. Nothing I haven’t seen before.”

“It’s just not panties, Steven.” Her eyes teared up and she looked away, mortified. “Those are mine, I put them in the drawer yesterday myself. This bastard has been to my place.”

“Excuse me?” Steve’s face darkened and Danni swore she saw actual smoke coming from his nostrils and ears. “Didn’t you notice anything when you arrived at home yesterday?”

“No. I put those before I went to sleep. He was there while I was sleeping.” The somber expression left Steve’s face to be replaced with a fearful one. His eyes dropped to her belly and she covered it with a hand. “I need to move to a hotel. I will ask a CSI unit to check my apartment when I go down to hand this to the lab.”

“No. A hotel room is not safer than your apartment.” Steve knew this to be untruthful, anything was safer than Danni’s apartment. “You are going to move in with me until we catch this son of a bitch. And we will, I promise you.”

And she didn’t notice she was shaking like a leaf until Steve was embracing her, a hand on her back and the other one on the back of her head. But she accepted it, she fisted her hands on his shirt and let the tears fall. They were fear tears and she had a right to let it go! A stranger had been at her place, going through her stuff and Grace’s. God, it could have been a Grace night and her little girl could have been killed while her mom was sleeping right by her side.

“It’s going to be alright, Danni, it’s going to be alright.” There was a soothing rubbing on her back and Danni let herself be lulled by it. At the same time, Steve managed to take her to his office and sit her on his lethally comfortable couch. “Rest here while I deal with the package, when I come back, we are going to get some of your stuff and move it to mine.”

She laid down when Steve walked out of his office and she closed her eyes tightly. Maybe if she wished for it hard enough, she would wake up to find that the whole stalker business was nothing more than a nightmare. The door was opened ten minutes later and Steve was there, leaning against the doorframe with a serious expression, the one that he used when he was facing a perp.

“Kono and Chin are going with the CSI unit to canvas the neighborhood. We should get going, Danno.” She got up and let herself be guided through the building. Steve’s hand on the small of her back was a warm reassurance that everything was going to be alright. “Do you want me to call Raymond and inform him of your new address?”

“There is no need. He is taking Grace to the United Kingdom to see his relatives, I won’t be having Grace for a month either.” That was the reason she had been trying really hard to spend as much time as possible with her daughter. “And I don’t want to give him another reason to drag me to court.”

They had argued at length about her pregnancy and every time she had picked up Grace - who was thrilled to have a younger sibling and tried to take her Danno to as many baby stores as possible - Raymond had made some comment on it. The pile of bullshit had been getting bigger and bigger between them during the last three months - when she actually told him she was pregnant - and he only needed this new piece of information to make her life a living hell. Steve obviously hadn’t been told about it and now he was looking at her quizzly. So, it was understandable that he got upset when she told him about her ex-husband behavior.

“He knows you are not his wife anymore, doesn’t he?” Danni had to laugh at that. “If you want I can punch him in the face or threaten him with parking tickets.”

“It’s nothing I’m not used to, Steve. But thank you.” Steve placed a hand on her knee and it lingered there for an extra second, Danni appreciated it but said nothing in case it was an unconscious gesture on Steve’s part. “Speaking of everything, you signed my permission for maternity leave? Have you looked for someone to replace me?”

And they fell into a comfortable conversation of easy topics during the drive to her place. Once there, she picked up some clothes, her prenatal vitamins, her toiletries and her book on babies names. She hide that one between her clothes. They waited there for the cousins and the CSIs to arrive. Well, she waited, Steve inspected everything without touching anything with a scowl on his face. Danni just observed while knowing that she was going to get some type of security lecture once they were on the road again. Yet, she didn’t get a lecture. No, it was more like a déjà-vu of the day she told him she was pregnant. Nostrils flaring, full scowl on, white knuckles. She sighed and looked out the window. She was proud of him for waiting until the guest room was ready and Danni was settled for her stay. He had been downstairs preparing lunch when he exploded.

“You need to move out.” He didn’t turn around and it didn’t sound like a suggestion, more like an order, but it made the Jersey cop smile. “And I mean like right now. That’s a shithole.”

“I’m not moving, I have to pay alimony and having a baby is not cheap.” Even with her above normal cop salary, it was going to be a stretch. “Living in Hawaii is expensive as it is, add a baby and you have to make ends meet somehow, buddy.”

“You can move to a better apartment if you find a nice female roommate!” Was it too much asking for a conversation when one of them didn’t raise their voice? Danni caressed her belly feeling sorry for the little one that had to listen to this all the time. “I’m being serious, Danno. That man wouldn’t have broken into your apartment if you had had some security!”

“Steven, you’re a control freak and I’m not going to let you control every aspect of my life. I’m not moving but if it helps you sleep at night, I will get an alarm once we have this bastard on custody.” It was the best she was going to do. Steve growled and went back to lunch but Danni knew by the tense line that was his back that the topic was going to come up again sooner rather than later.

They ate in silence, though Danni wouldn’t call what Steve was doing ‘eat’, more like murder his food and she swore she could hear a tooth cracking in there. For the greater good, she ignored it and washed the dishes once they were done, hell she even got a beer for Steve and sat by him on the couch with the television as background noise. She would have offered something else as a peace offer but she had promised herself on the day she found out she was pregnant that it was better to let go of Steve, so sex was off the table and not only for the obvious reason.

“Chin called. CSI found a partial, they are going to run in through the system. It’s our only lead since nobody saw anything.” She nodded at Steve’s words. “Danni, I was serious about you moving out of there. It’s not safe for you, even less for Grace.”

“I make it work, babe. She sleeps with me and normally I wake up with the smallest of noises.” But she was exhausted with this pregnancy so from time to time she fell asleep and nothing would wake her up until her batteries were charged again. “So, I’m not moving out.”

“Danno, please. Just think about it, alright? Think about the fact that in three months you are going to have a baby living in there. There is no space for a baby either! Are you going to sleep with it on that fold out you call bed?” She remained silence and avoided looking at him. “I’m not saying that you have to move to a villa, but a real apartment with a real bed!”

“Why are you pushing this so much? It’s not like it had mattered to you where I was living before!” There he got it! Steve was just pushing her buttons and now he got a full-on Jersey loud-mouthed woman. “What is it to you where I live!?”

“Because you’re having a baby, Danni! So I’m sorry for worrying that you are not safe in that shithole, I’m sorry I’m concerned where this child is going to grow up!” Once he said those words, silence fell between them and Danni moved away from Steve and glared at him.

“You’re not my owner, McGarrett. We agreed on that months ago. So, since I’m not yours to control or protect, keep your opinions to yourself.” Danni was going to be rational about it because if she let herself go with her heart, she was going to be the one hurt.

“No, Danno! You decided that I shouldn’t know every detail of your life or try to protect your honor, but we’re talking about your live and your baby’s live!!” He had let her get away with whatever she wanted for months now, but there was a whack job going around with his partner as the objective.

“And what? Suddenly you want to be my knight in shining armor? It doesn’t work like that, Steven, it doesn’t! You are acting like this because you broke up with Catherine but let me remind you that you never saw me as a woman until I told you I was pregnant!” That wasn’t entirely true, those had been Kono’s words and she was just throwing them out there. “But guess what? I don’t need you to act like suddenly you care where I live just because suddenly you think of me as a woman! I’ve always been a woman even if you couldn’t see it! And I’m sure as hell that as soon as you find some other girl, you’re going to go back to treating me like before so get your head out of your ass!”

“I don’t see you as a woman?” Trust Steve to focus on the less relevant part of her speech.

“That's all that matters to you? You know what? Fuck it! I’ll get my stuff and check in at a hotel.” She was exhausted enough as it was to get riled up by McGarrett.

As she turned around to get what little possessions she managed to get from her apartment when Steve held her wrist and tug her towards him. Suddenly she had a face full of McGarrett’s chest and dear God, she wanted to cry. Except Steve was hugging her tightly and she didn't fight the urge to press closer. Steve was like a drug and every scrap of affection she got was like a lifesaving shot, the line between OD and cold turkey. She had learnt a lot time ago that love was like that, especially when unrequited. She just wished she could be strong enough to let it go, to let Steve go once and for all since it would save her a lot of heartache.

“I’m sorry, I really am. It seems I’m incapable of saying the right thing.” McGarrett men weren’t known for their way with word and he normally let the Jersey woman do all the talking when it mattered. It wouldn’t do this time. “I guess that what I’m trying to say is that I worry, I’ll always worry and I always want to know everything because we’re partners, Danno...”

For a moment silence took over the room. For a moment Steve thought he was going to get a right hook for whatever he had said wrong this time. For a moment Danni wanted to yell and beg at the same time but her heart was breaking. They were partners, they would never be anything but partners. For a moment everything remained still and it felt like living in a photograph, in a moment in between whatever came afterwards. With her eyes closed, Danni pull herself together and pushed Steve away, her pessimism winning over her hopefulness.

“I’m sorry, Steve, I am but I can’t let you control my whole life or know everything there is to know because then what do I have left?” It would have been more convincing if she had actually looked into his eyes. “I’m tired, I’m going to take a nap.”

Steve didn’t try to stop her this time but he wasn’t going to give up, not when the only reason she was acting like that was because she had to be bullheaded. If only he could come up with a reason for her to give in instead of giving up… but giving in what? She was right about the fact that he wanted too much from her, he knew that their relationship wasn’t just a friendship or partnership but what else could they be? Maybe he had to figure that out himself before pushing Danni away. He knew he was missing a point there, like a missing piece from the puzzle he was trying to solve. Still, he was smart enough to know that he wasn't going to solve it while stressing over Danni’s stalker. Steve decided to focus on an issue a time.

Danni had actually slept and she woke up mere hours after the argument with Steve. It was dark outside and she couldn't point out what woke her up at first. Then a kick to her kidneys made the last remnants of sleep leave her. Freaking McGarrett’s genes. The baby was always active but this was new, waking her up before dawn. If it was going to be the new norm, Danni wasn't going to be pleased. She got up with a hand over her kicked kidneys, her intention was to get a glass of water and go back to bed. Another kick told her she wasn't getting back to bed any time soon. Stupid McGarrett and his stupid genes. She prepared some tea and, grabbing the blanket on the sofa, she went out to the lanai and sat on one of the chairs there. At least the view was going to be great when the sun came out. The kid kept kicking until the first rays of sun came up. Her eyelids were heavy and she was ready to get back to bed when she noticed that someone was watching her, yet she didn't feel threatened at all. She turned to find Steve standing there.

“A little early to be up, Danno.” He didn't move and her face remained neutral.

“The baby woke me up and wouldn't let me go back to sleep.” Her hand was resting on top of her stretched belly. “Now it's too late to get back to bed, isn't it? We have to get to work soon.”

“I think it would be wise if you don't go to work until the stalker is apprehended. This is a safe location, I’m positive he won't be able to find you here.” Steve left his towel on the vacant chair. Danni noticed the way his back muscles worked as he got rid of his shirt. The heat pooling in her lower abdomen didn't surprise her. She got horny all the time with the pregnancy and he was a regular during her fantasies. “It’s also an easier way to keep you safe in case he does find you. Go to bed.”

“You know, as your partner I’m the second-in-command, so you can't give me orders, babe.” She bit her lip when he stretched and the swim shorts ride low on his hips. “I’m going to get ready for work.”

If she took a few extra minutes in the shower, no one had to be any the wiser. She was extra sensitive with the pregnancy, her nipples were even more. She got dressed after that and then got downstairs. Steve wasn't there yet and Danni served herself another cup of tea while preparing breakfast. She had been there so many times that the kitchen was like her own. She set the table for two and served the omelets and toasts. She even served Steve the disgusting pineapple juice he loved so much. She should have left before their friendship was compromised by her feelings towards Steve. Her feelings for her partner were going to complicate things even more if they were going to be living together for the foreseeable future. Specially since Steve wasn't in love with her as she was. He was in love with Catherine, hell, it was probably mutual! Steve had drunk himself under the table when the relationship went south! She was screwed.

“You look exhausted.” She pulled herself from her depressing line of thoughts.

“I’m exhausted. Whoever claimed that pregnancy made women glow and be more beautiful was either blind, stupid or a kinky shit.” She sat down ignoring Steve.

“Look, you should rest. You told me that you needed your sleep when you picked me up at the bar.” He sat in front of her and drank his juice.

“Using my words against me, McGarrett?” He shrugged with a smirk. “I don't want to stay here. And just not today, Steve, I mean in general. Yesterday's argument was just proof that it's a bad idea for me to stay here.”

“Danni, don't… yesterday we were both upset and stressed out. What I said… I swear I meant every word I said. I want you to be safe.” Danni pushed her chair back.

“Why are you being so difficult!? Why can't I get this one thing! I’m begging you, just this one thing. Haven’t I give you enough already?” She wasn’t talking about opening herself to him when she shared the dark part of her marriage but he didn’t need to know.

She left the kitchen without giving the SEAL time to respond. Her heart was pounding and her vision was blurry with unshed tears. She wasn't lying when she said she was tired. Her defenses were lowered and she felt stupid for losing her cool like that. She suddenly wasn't eager to get to work. She sat on the guest room bed and sighed. Steve was suddenly at the door and the detective closed her eyes.

“You can't run away from every difficult conversation we have, Danno.” She rested her back against the wall.

“I just don't get why you are bringing this up again and again. You weren't interested in where I live before.” He had kept his distance before. And for a while she had thought that he had learnt to leave some things go.

“Danno, I know that it seemed like that but it isn't an opinion I formed overnight or that my personality traits came from nowhere.” Danni looked at him like he had grown a second head. “Look, I will worry always and I promise I will back off if you want me to, but you know I’m right about your a-”

Steve speech was cut short with the ringing of his phone. When he got it from his pocket, Chin’s face was smiling at them. He picked it up and Danni shut him out as her mind spiralled around what he said. Maybe she should take the day off.

“I’ll be right there, Chin.” When she came back to it, he had he hung up with a sigh. “We got a case.”

“I’m taking the day off. I need to look for a hotel.” She couldn't look at him and the idea of staying at his place pushed her to the verge of tears.

“You don't need to move, Danni. I mean it.” His hand covered hers. “Stay here where I can protect you, just until this whole stalker business is solved. I gotta go, partner. I’ll bring dinner. Italian sounds good?”

“Yeah…” Why did she let him control every aspect of her life so completely? It must be his megawatt smile and his puppy eyes. She was such a sucker for those eyes. “See you later.”

And every time she let him get away with whatever he wanted to, she lost herself a little bit more in McGarrett. It was like giving in to the love she felt for him, the unrequited love that hurt more than Raymond’s cheating had ever hurt. So, once Steve was out of the house, she picked up her stuff while remembering that she was no wilting flower, she was not going to put herself out there to be walk over. No matter how much she loved Steve, no matter how badly she wanted to be loved back by Steve. The camaro was outside, she had money to spend on a hotel room where not wack job was going to find her and it was also a win-win situation with Steve. While she was out of his hair, he would see reason. Her heart broke a little bit more with that thought but it was no one’s business but herself. Danni locked the door and decided it was for the best once more before getting into her car. She would send a message to Steve once she was settle in whatever hotel she could find.

Since she didn’t know for how long she was going to be staying in the hotel, she didn’t go overboard and check herself into a motel. It was a shitty one, it reminded herself of her own apartment to be honest, very dark, simple and not all appropriate for children. Home sweet home. She sat on the sofa and thought, not for the first time during her pregnancy, that she wanted a beer. The baby kicked and Danni groaned.

“You don’t like it, do you? It’s the best mama can do right now, baby girl, once you’re born, I swear I’m going to look for something better, something for the three of us.” Maybe she should start looking for a house with beach views. “But mama is not very happy with your Uncle Steve right now and it’s better to put some distance between us.”

Her answer was another movement, this time it wasn’t that violent and Danni smiled, caressing the part of her belly where she could feel the baby. If only things could go back to the way they were. She wiped a treacherous tear that dared to roll down her face and she focus on what she needed to get done, like getting her clothes out of her suitcase.

“Hey, where is Danni?” It was the first question Steve got when he got to HQ. Kono was at her office and Chin was smiling at him. “I thought she wanted to know what we got from her apartment.”

“She is at my place, the baby was acting up this morning and I told her to stay and rest. I guess that after so many arguments since yesterday, she just gave in.” But he wanted to get the report. “What we got?”

“Are you two arguing already? And you wonder why everyone believes that she is your wife and not your partner.” Chin brought up the report of yesterday crime scene investigation.

 

Steve kept looking at Chin like the native had grown a second head, the married couple joke had been out of place, after all it had nothing to do with their argument and Chin turned completely to face his boss.

“What was it about this time? She left her clothes in the middle of the bathroom?” Except everything was really funny for the two cousins in one way or another.

“Her apartment and my control issues.” But if Steve had to choose a cousin to talk about this, he preferred Chin, he wasn’t going to laugh at him or threatened him. “It got really nasty, you could say, but you saw her apartment, is an homicide waiting to happen and with the baby… I told her she had to move out. She didn’t like it and we argued. The thing is that she was way angrier than she should be, it isn’t like I say something new!”

“Those are probably her hormones, pregnant women can go from crying to laughing to screaming in less than five minutes. My aunt Keiko used to yell at my uncle about the bread he bought even if it was the one she asked for. And you do have control issues when it comes to Danni.” When Steve opened his mouth, Chin already knew what he was going to say. “No, Steve. You aren’t like that with anyone except Danni. You drive her car everywhere, you have her at your place more than you have Kono or me - don’t get me wrong, I don’t want you to invite us all the time like you do with Danni, that’s overkill - and you even call her when she has an appointment to know what the doctor says. I’ve seen you call again and again until she picks up. You don’t do that with Catherine, do you?”

“I guess no… But it’s because I worry! And this time I really think she should move out of her rathole apartment into something with a little more security.” Chin laughed at that and Steve glared. “I should apologise, shouldn’t I?”

“Yes, especially since she puts up with you and your antics. Guess she loves you a lot.” Once that was said, he turned to the table. “Coming back to the matter at hand, we found a partial, we are checking for a match as we speak. If he has done it once, I’m sure he has done it more times.”

“Alright. Were there any cameras nearby we could use?” He wanted to focus on the case but something that Chin had said was nagging him, the whole convo was nagging at him but something particularly. “She does put up with me, doesn’t she?”

“Come on, Steve, you must know since it isn’t exactly subtle. If you tried to pull any of what you do with Danni with Kono, she would rip out your throat with her teeth. And I’m sure that Catherine is like that too, brah. Danni just goes with it and she does it with a smile.” Steve was probably the only person in Oahu that didn’t know Danielle Williams didn’t just love him but was in love with him. It was pretty obvious and Kono admired her for how she dealt with it. Chin thought they were idiots but love them nonetheless.

“I should apologise with her, shouldn’t I?” The SEAL had thought she was overreacting when he told her to move out from her apartment. Except that after Chin had pointed at it, everything made so much sense that Steve couldn’t help but feel like an asshole. “I’m really a Neanderthal animal. Don’t tell her I said that.”

“If that helps you sleep at night, alright. Let’s get back to the report so we can catch the stalker.” Chin sounded amused and directed his attention back to the tech table. “There was a camera but it has been out of service for a while now, so we didn’t get anything from it, the lock to Danni’s apartment showed signs of forced entrance...”

The rest flew over Steve’s head as he was going back once and again to Chin’s words. Danni put up with so much crap with him and as he went back to how their partnership started, he could see how wrong he had been. The first punch? Well, suddenly he felt like he deserved more of those. . He had to talk to her, he had to ask her if he was truly that controlling. Because he hadn’t tried to control Catherine that much, he hadn’t called as much as he called Danni, even when his ex-girlfriend was on leave, they spend time together, sure, but he never called her as much as he called Danni when they were apart. Danni had finally reached the breaking point and Steve had still pushed for more. He was such a selfish bastard with her and he hadn’t noticed until someone else had showed him how wrong he was.

“I need to get home.” He ignored Chin’s shocked face and walked out, driven by this new view of everything that had been going on for way too long without his knowledge.

 

He had just parked the Silverado, concerned by the missing Camaro when his phone pinged. It was a text, a short one to top it off. I moved out. It was from Danni and Steve called her in situ. He had the driver’s door opened but he was still sitting with the engine on. He counted the dial tones mentally and his thoughts were a mixture of concern, rage and something he didn’t want to name.

“Where are you?” When Danni finally picked up the phone, Steve didn’t wait for a greeting and jumped directly to the main point. “I’m at my place, we need to talk and you moved out?”

“Steve…” There was a sigh from the other side. “I think we don’t need to talk, you on the other hand, you need to listen, I made the de-”

“Not about that! Danni, just tell me where you are, I’ll go there and… I need to ask you something and I want to do it face to face.” Because that was that was the only way to now that he wasn’t being lied to. “Please.”

Danni gave him the name of the hotel - and he knew she was going to go to some shithole hotel! - and he closed the door and drove there like a maniac, even for his standards. He had to face the music and so did Danni. He climbed the stairs two at a time and knocked on the door, shifting his weight from foot to foot. Danni opened the door not even a minute later. She looked exhausted and part of that was probably because of him.

“I’m not moving back to your place.” The SEAL had to smile. Trust Danni to go against all common sense. She stepped back to let him in, not that there was that much space. “I don’t care what you said. I’m staying here and that’s final.”

“I’ll wear you down about that. This is even worse than your apartment, there is probably black moss behind the walls or something.” It was so small and dark… Not what he came to talk about. “I need to ask you something and I need you to be honest because I feel like an asshole… Am I that controlling?”

As talkative as Danni was, her silence said more than a thousand words. Steve had learnt to read his partner’s body language and that was how he got his honest answer. She straighten up, back a tense line, she frowned and her eyes darkened. She opened her mouth with her hands fisted by her side, like she was trying really hard to not cross them in the typical defensive stance.

“Yes, you are. There is plenty of proof of that in a single day together.” Steve took a step forward and she took one backwards with a slight tremor. “What are you doing?”

“I’m sorry I’m that controlling. But I’m concerned about you and I can’t help it because you’re one of the most important people in my life.” Chin had been so right, he treated everyone with a certain amount of control, but when it came to his Danno - and yes, she was his - Steve went over the top. “Since the moment I met you, there is something in you that makes me feel like I need to be in control. And I apologise for that but I can’t promise you I will change because you are my family, Danni.”

“That’s not really going to work, Steven. I can live with certain things like you driving my car, or spending time together but you overstep your boundaries and it makes me crazy. You act more like a controlling boyfriend than a concerned friend sometimes and it’s not fair.” She sat down on a couch that look older than time and really uncomfortable. “What I’m trying to say is that we aren’t married or in a romantic relationship,so there are topics we can’t discuss.”

“Like why you and Raymond divorced or the baby’s father identity?” She nodded and her eyes were filled with sadness. With a look around, Steve made a decision. “Alright, I will try and be more lenient but I need you to come back to my place, this is a dum and if I were to use the black light there won’t be a single spot clean.”

“See, that’s why I left in the first place!” Even if he was right and she was going to give in. “I’ll get my stuff.”

“I’ll help.” And as they packed Danni’s belongings, Steve was smiling. “By the way, we got a partial print, Chin is working on that.”

“I really hope the bastard is in the system so we can catch him already.” The SEAL took her bag and they checked out of the motel. “I don’t even know why they picked me, it’s not like I make enemies wherever I go.”

“Don’t try to understand it, Danno, sick people like this one don’t need a reason to stalk you. I’m sure you won’t even know who they are.” She gave him the keys to her car and he smiled. “This doesn’t count as controlling, you gave them up.”

“Shut up and drive, Steven.” Steve steered the wheel to the main road and Danni relaxed against the window with her eyes closed. “Thank you for apologising, I know you hate it.”

Steve said nothing just squeezed her knee at a stoplight in their way to his place. They were going to be ok, he just had to think twice until his partner’s hormones were settled. He was so going to get a pregnancy book to know what to expect when it came to pregnant women’s behavior. Chin called when they were halfway to his house and Steve picked the phone, Danni’s breathing was even and she didn’t even stir up with the phone call.

“You got something, Chin?” Let it be the partial print, please.

“Yes and no. We got a match in a cold case from two years. The victim was found dead at her house, she had reported that she was being stalked and gave the police some letters she had been receiving, but they couldn’t match the prints and after her death they couldn’t find any lead, thus a cold case.” Steve clutched the wheel.

“We need to catch this bastard before he makes a move against Danni, Chin.” The native man was silent, but Steve could almost see him nodding. “Why don’t you and Kono check the previous victim’s life, let’s see if she and Danni had some sort of connection.”

“Will do.” Chin hung up as Steve parked the Camaro in front of his place. He went to the other side and found himself unable to wake Danni up so he gathered her in his arms once he had the door to his home opened. “I thought pregnant women weighted more, Danno.”

Once he had his partner in the guest room bed, he checked all the entries to his place, set the alarm and locked the door on his way out. He had to get to work and help the cousins, after all he knew Danni better than anyone else and wasn’t that something to worry about? He wanted to believe it was just friendship talking because he wasn't over Catherine yet but as time went by he couldn't help but notice that considered the amount of time he had known both women, he knew better Danni than he knew Catherine and he had been sleeping with Catherine a long time. Though he wasn't going to deny that he wouldn't mind sleeping with Danno. As he was walking up the stairs to the Iolani Palace, Kono was leaving the building.

“Hey, boss, how's Danni?” She stopped by his side. “Did you tell her about the new info?”

“She was sleeping, didn't want to wake her up. Hey, can you swing by my place and check on Danni? But don't tell her I send you.” After their talk, if he went by to check if she was having lunch she would have his balls.

“Will do. I will take with me something to eat too. She will appreciate not having to eat whatever you have in your fridge.” That was true as well. He should go grocery shopping before going home for the night. “And I want to talk about the baby shower. Can you believe she hasn’t prepared a gift list yet?”

“Baby shower? You do realise we have a stalker to catch, don’t ou?” She smiled, Danni was right, Kono was batshit crazy.

“We can’t stop living because of a stalker, boss, and we have to celebrate this new member of our ohana.” She smirked and left him there, wondering when was this baby shower going to happen and where it was going to take place.

He got to his office, Chis wasn’t there either but he had left a folder with a post it with his name. He opened it and saw that it was the report of the previous victim with notes and question marks in the elegant handwriting of Chin. He sat in his office to check it and add his own impressions on every detail. He was focusing on where this woman and Danni could have met this stalker and he made a list of places that his partner liked to go to. Somehow the list was divided into two: places where she would have met her stalker and places where she would have met a man to sleep with. He wasn’t letting that one go apparently and Danni wasn’t talking about it no matter what. He hated not knowing! Kono called around two in the afternoon and he took the phone call while he was crossing the street to get something to eat himself.

“Boss, I’m calling to let you know that Danni knows you sent me, she saw through me the moment I stepped into the house, sorry.” Steve could hear the Jersey woman bitching and Kono’s laugh. “You should buy her some flowers or you’re sleeping on the couch, boss.”

“I will talk to her later, Kono. Beside that, is everything ok over there?” If the cat was out of the bag… “Has she had lunch already?”

“Yes and we are preparing some chicken parmesan. Gotta say, it smells heavenly.” He grabbed his sandwich and wondered if he should drive over there and try Danno’s cooking as well. “Apparently is a family recipe that you’re not allowed to eat until you earn it. Guess I’m lucky. Gotta go, boss, I’m on table duty!”

Why did he have to earn the chicken parmesan? He hadn’t gone there himself! Danni was being unfair but as he sat down on his desk once again, he pushed the Danno-drama to the back of his head and focus on the information in front of him. Where was Chin by the way? He should have been back already or at least he should have sent a text or a phone call. Had he got a lead and was following it? Steve hoped he had gotten something and they could wrap this whole business up and as soon as possible. Each day that passed without some sort of lead, it was one more day that Danni’s life was in danger. So he didn’t leave the offices until six o’clock.

As he started the engine he remembered Kono’s piece of advice and he steered the wheel towards Waikiki. If there were a place where he could get some flowers - even as a joke - that was the place to get them even so later. He also had to stop and get something for dinner. He didn’t want to call Danni to ask if there was some chicken parmesan left. At the end, he picked some random flowers and picked some Indian food just in case there weren’t leftovers. If anyone saw him like this, they would believe he was trying to get lucky, instead he was getting the flowers for his partner and it was hilarious, it was… for everyone else. He got to his place and tried to find Danni without calling for her. When he noticed the lanai door opened he headed that way with a smile. Except that Danni was talking with someone and he hadn’t meant to eavesdrop but… he didn’t want to interrupt either.

“... Like I said, being a single mom is the best option for me and I’m fine with it. So no, I haven’t told the father and I’m not going to. What would I say? ‘Hey, I know you don’t remember but six months ago we have sex and guess what? I’m pregnant, so congratulations, you’re going to be a dad!’ It doesn’t work like that, Stella.” Stella interrupted Danni and she made her laugh. “I know, babe, but you don’t need to track anyone down. I just… I just know it’s better if he doesn’t know. He is in love with someone else and they might have broken up… but they will figure it out and they will be back together in no time. I won’t be the reason…”

Steve laid against the wall, Danni had stopped speaking, Stella must have cut her off. Steve would have done the same considering how defeated Danni was sounding.

“Yeah, I do but it’s unrequited, sis, and he is the type of idiot who would give up his own happiness if he knew. So I’ve been taking advantage of the fact that he doesn’t remember sleeping with me to cover this up.” So Stella was Danni’s sister! That make so much sense. “No, Stella, listen. We were drunk, super drunk, completely wasted if you may, we had been talking about my marriage with Raymond, we slipped and fucked… but he said her name, he wasn’t having sex with me but with her. That’s how I know he loves her. So my decision is final: I’m doing this on my own, he is never going to know so he can live happy ever after.”

Steve frowned and took in the information he had gathered so far while something in the back of his head was stirring up but at the same time eluding him. He ignored it because the more you tried to remember the less you will remember and he went to the kitchen to give the sisters more privacy as the conversation had shifted to their parents. He set the table and put the flowers in a glass wide enough. Danni would appreciate it for sure. Then he waited, hopefully he wouldn’t wait too long. If the sisters were anything alike, Steve was sure they could be talking for hours.

“Hey, I didn’t hear you come in.” Steve had closed his eyes and when he opened them twenty minutes had passed since he came home and Danni was just getting inside the house. “You bought flowers?”

“Kono said you were mad and that I should buy you something.” Danni shook her head. “So, flowers and dinner. I didn’t want to interrupt your call.”

“You should have. My sister Stella can be… annoying.” Danni placed beer and water on the table and sat in front of Steve. “She is convinced that I’m making a mistake but she is thrilled to be an aunt again, like we don’t have enough nieces and nephews as it is.”

Danni kept on talking through dinner and Steve appreciated it, it was a distraction to whatever his brain was trying to tell him. He nodded when he had to, said a few words when he was expected to do but in general he just listened and ate. Danni picked up the dishes once they were done and Steve turned on the TV to watch some game together like they used to. Danni joined him and they sat on opposite ends of the sofa.

“You know, you don’t have to send Kono or Chin to check on me.” The game was just starting but Danni needed to say it before she regretted it. “You can call me or text me, not too much, but you know… I won’t yell at you.”

“Alright, but then you can’t call me controlling, you are giving me permission.” Their turned their attention to the TV once again.

They bickered through the game and at some point they ended up moving to the center of the sofa. By the end of it, they were almost snuggling and laughing like the most natural thing to do. And it was, but Steve noticed that at some point they had stopped doing it and he had missed it without knowing it. They let the TV on but had muted it while they talked about nothing at all. Well, Danni talked, like she always did.
“So I was talking to my mom, she wants to know if I will visit once the baby is born, though I’m not sure they should be getting in a plane before they are at least a few months old, you know, change of pressure and all that and since I will be off work once I hit the thirty second week I was wondering if it was a good idea for my parents to come here instead of me going there…” Steve couldn't stop staring at his partner with a smile while she rambled about plane tickets and hotel reservations. Then it hit him, the last time they had been this close was the night he had gotten her drunk to talk about Raymond and he put some distance between them. “What?”

“I need to confess you something, Danno and I need you to know that I didn’t do it on purpose, but I eavesdrop your conversation with you sister.” She gasped and opened her mouth ready to rant at him. “I didn’t mean to, I was looking for you to let you know I was home and I wouldn’t say anything but I need to ask you something… why haven’t you told the father? Is is because it’s Raymond?”

“What? Raymond? No! Raymond and I can’t stand to be together! Why would I have sex with him again!?” She was outraged by the idea of her sleeping with Raymond and by the fact that he had been listening to her conversation with Stella! She had told her sister things he wasn’t supposed to listen. “Why would you listen to my conversation with my sister? Once you found me out you should have walked away!”

“I was just wondering, Danno! I wasn’t trying to invade your privacy but you have told no one who the baby’s father is and I’m curious! I’m sure Kono and Chin are too…” Though he couldn’t be sure, they were very laid back afterall. “It’s just that… you haven’t told him either and isn’t that a little bit unfair?”

“No. We are… Look, Steven, I’m going to say this once, alright? He and I made a mistake, he isn’t in love with me, he actually cheated on his girlfriend with me and I’m not a homewrecker so it’s better if he doesn’t find out I’m pregnant.” Again the ‘I’m not telling you everything’ tone, it bothered Steve to no end that she told him pieces here and there, like she couldn’t trust her partner with the whole truth. “So, once the baby is born and I fill the paperwork she is going to be Alexandra Nora Williams, her mother will be Danielle Eve Williams, father unlisted. End of discussion.”

She got up and headed upstairs leaving Steve on the couch with a dumbstruck face.

“Alexandra Nora? That’s a horrible name! I veto it!” There was laughing coming from upstairs. “Don’t laugh! Think of another name, Danno!”

“Goodnight, Steven!” And a door closed but Steve could hear still Danni’s laugh. He needed to investigate every male in Danni’s life.

That night something weird happened. Steve didn’t know if he should be freaked out by it or embarrassed but one thing was sure, he had had a wet dream and the protagonist hadn’t been Catherine. What the actual fuck was going on with his brain? And his dick, apparently… He was so shaken that after a cold shower, he put on some sweat pants and went to work on his father’s car since he needed to meditate. He was going to call it meditate. He had a lot of questions to ponder about, like for example: why had he had a wet dream of his partner!? The way too short nightgown was to blame, he was sure of it! Except that when he saw her on that she was already showing, and in his dream she was wearing her professional clothes. Dreams weren’t supposed to make sense but somehow, Steve felt like this dream wasn’t a normal dream. He could understand the fuzziness, how it went forward and backwards, but there was something in the back of his head once again, a nagging feeling that he should know something, except he didn’t.

“I really hope you have a good excuse to wake me up at this hour with the banging, Steven?” The voice surprised him enough that he banged his head against the hood and he groaned. “You deserve it for waking me up. It’s four in the morning, babe, why can’t you wait until eight o’clock like ‘veryone else?”

Danno sat down in the small stool and Steve looked at her. She was wearing again a too short nightgown, though this one was different and still it made Steve uncomfortable.

“I really hope that this is not about Catherine again because if it is, I’m seeing a pattern that I don’t like.” To be honest, he hadn’t thought of Catherine for a while and now that she mentioned the lieutenant, Steve realised that thinking of his ex-girlfriend didn’t hurt that much anymore. “Will you answer or you have a concussion?”

“No, no… I…” What was he supposed to say? “Sorry, Danno, I was trying to clear my head and I wasn’t feeling like hitting the ocean.” He lowered the hood and sat on it while cleaning grease stains of his hands and thinking of an excuse. “I guess I miss her, I mean, we did break up this time.”

“Nah, next time she is on the island you will work it out and you will have your happy ever after with her, don’t worry.” Danni’s smile was strained and Steve was confused. “You both love each other too much to let whatever happened get between you two. Now, get to bed so I can sleep.”

“Danno, we are never getting back together.” The woman sat down again and yawned. “We do love each other but we wanted different things when it came to our relationship.”

“Like what? It can be so big that you can't work it out.” It was said that love conquered everything, Danni wouldn’t know.

“She doesn’t want kids for starter, I do want kids, her idea of our lives together was going on missions and I… I think I wouldn’t want to have kids and then be gone months at a time.” So, to sum it up, Cath and Steve might have been meant to be but they didn’t. “So, yeah, not getting back together.”

“I see…” Her eyes looked sharper now. “Is that why you are here now? Because that was weeks ago, babe. And I’m not telling you to move on but… you seem like you have accepted it.”

“Not really, I have accepted it and I do miss her, but what am I supposed to do? Meet people, go on dates? Catherine was supposed to be the one.” Yeah, the one that got away.

“Do what you got to do! You want to meet new people? Do it! It’s not going to be that hard for you, buddy, you are practically everyone’s wet dream come true.” Her heart thumered at that, he certainly was her wet dream and she had seen him being ogled by other women. “You don’t have to decide right now and there isn’t a deadline to find love.”

Danni gave him a few moments to digest what she had said. Steve’s lips quirked up in a lopsided smirk.

“Everyone’s wet dream, really, Danno?” Danni rolled her eyes at the absurdity of her friend. “Thanks.”

“You’re welcome, schmuck. Now, I’m going to bed and you’re going to go and be active somewhere else. The walls are thin and I need to rest.” She got up and yes, that nightgown was too short. “Goodnight again.”

Steve followed her with his eyes and listened until he heard she had closed her bedroom door before letting go the breath he hadn’t realise he was holding. As he made his way towards the bathroom, his mind wandered again to his dream. He should have forgotten it already but the image of a deliciously debauched Danni underneath him was engraved in his mind and it felt so real. He focused on it as cold water took away any residue of grease. The dishevelled hair, her blue eyes half lidded and blown wide, the high blush of her cheeks, her lips swollen from kissing and biting… Hell, he could almost heard his name falling from those lips and could see himself bending forward to kiss her, to taste that unique flavor that screamed Danni. He tilted his head back with a resigned sigh as he fisted his engorged dick. His mind-created Danni arched under his hands, her nipples hard buds against his chest and she was so small, so frail, so beautiful. Steve couldn’t believe he was doing this to his best friend but he couldn’t help himself as he tugged his cock faster while fantasy-Steve fingerfucked her and she onduladed her hips against his hand, her nails leaving red marks on his shoulders and biceps. He was getting incredibly close to his climax and he tightened his hold on his dick with a grunt. Somehow he could almost feel her tight heat around him. He rested his forearm against the shower tiles and cum with a grunt, the water taking care of removing any remain of his distasteful fantasy. Hell, Danni was sleeping soundly in his house while pregnant! She was almost ready to pop and there he was jerking off using her as a fantasy.

He made sure to prepare a great breakfast for her and her smile made him almost forget what he had done. What the hell was wrong with him? After all this time he was ready to admit that there was something wrong in his head. But the more the SEAL looked at his friend the more he understood how it had happened. Danni was positively glowing, her skin had that healthy colour, her hair seemed thicker than ever, her boobs looked amazing in that dress - yes, he knew it was wrong to look but he dared any heterosexual man to try and not look, they were almost popping out of her dress! - and she wasn’t showing that much for a six months and a half month pregnant woman. He focussed on his breakfast while she chattered about Grace’s time in England.

“She misses Hawaii, London seems dark and gloomy by her description but she sounded happy to be with her European cousins.” Steve wondered if real sex with Danni would be like the one… No, he was not getting there. He was confused enough as it was without thinking about it. “Apparently they have horses but I’m not letting Raymond and Stacey get her a horse, you know how dangerous that can be?”

“But she goes to riding lessons here, doesn’t she?” He remembered that phone call, Danni had been screaming so much at her ex-husband that Steve feared for the man’s hearing.

“And I don’t like it as it is.” They washed the dishes together and Steve found himself zoning more and more. “You’re not listening, are you?”

“What?” Shit… Danni rolled her eyes and he smiled. “Sorry. Ready to go?”

“Let’s go, Steven.” The ride was made in silence as Danni seemed lost in thought and Steve had to focus on the road.

Once at HQ, Chin pulled Steve aside and the two men stood in silence, watching the detective and the rookie get in the latter’s office talking. Steve didn’t need to ask what was wrong, Chin’s facial expression said that it had something to do with the stalker case and if he was waiting until Danni was out of earshot, Steve knew it was bad news. Once they were sure that Danni wasn’t going to hear anything, an envelope was thrust into his hands.

“These arrived today, we have confirmation now that the stalker is a male but we are still without any way to ID him.” Steve opened the envelope and rage filled his guts as he shuffled through the pictures. “The last one has something written behind it.”

“Good thing Danni didn’t see these.” There were maybe ten different pictures, a male member was present in some of them but the only constant was Danni sleeping. It was like a presentation of Danni’s apartment. Steve felt sick and furious. “Is this lipstick? ‘You’re going to be mine’... Get these to the lab, make sure Danni doesn’t find out.”

“I won’t. But Steve, I have to ask, is it safe to let her come to work?” Chin was right to be concerned but the SEAL knew Danni was better where she had her three teammates there to watch her. “Your house is the safer place to her right now, I mean, he wouldn’t dare to go there, would he?”

“He shouldn’t even know she is staying at my place but here we can watch her. If I tell her to stay at my house she is going to be pissed and you know it.” Chin bagged the pictures in deep thought. “Do we have any leads as to who he might be?”

“No but HPD thought they had a good lead two years ago, I was checking it yesterday. Except the guy had a solid alibi for the night of the murder so they had to move on.” Pity, they needed to find this man and soon before he made a bolder move against Danni. “So I called a FBI profiler and asked about stalkers. After a few questions he thinks we are dealing with a predator. According to him the predator doesn’t need to know the victim, they are violent and plan their attacks. Though he wasn’t sure because apparently the predator’s victims normally don’t know they are being stalked. His guess was that since they normally need to control their victims, this one is letting us know he is stalking Danni as a form of control.”

“So we’re dealing with a whack job that wants Danni to what? Be afraid?” Chin shrugged and Steve felt like punching something or someone. “I hate this. The fact that he might not know Danni widens the suspect list.”

“What do we do now? Because I hate to say this but we don’t have any more leads to follow or any way to figure it out.” Chin was right, they had run out of options. Steve’s phone started to ring at that moment.

“It’s the Governor.” Fuck, they couldn’t focus solely on the stalker when they were the only special task force in Hawaii. “McGarrett.”

The new case involved a children. Jack, eight years old. The parents were divorced but they were on good terms, he was with the grandmother was taking care of the child and she had reported him missing when he didn't come back. HPD had been working on the case on it for a two days when the body of the child turned up. The press was all over it and people were demanding answers so the governor wanted his best agents on it since Max had determined that it hadn’t been an accidental death but a homicide. Chin and Steve went down to the morgue as Danni and Kono focused on the people closer to the little boy. Danni had been offered the option of sitting this one out but she refused stubbornly.

“I’m not going to sit this one out, McGarrett, you need all hands in deck if we want to find the murderer quickly.” So as the three of them ran from one side to the other, Danni was there, refusing to rest until the son of a bitch who had killed an innocent child was either dead or in prison.

It was a stressful case and it was solved quickly even for their standards. The parents were devastated and the grandma blamed herself for her only grandchild’s death. So even if they caught the killer, it was a bittersweet victory. The miasma around them was thick and they left HQ feeling defeated like it happened when they had a case involving children. Danni and Steve had dinner in silence and they retired to their bedroom without saying even goodnight with how heavy their hearts felt. Somewhere around midnight Steve woke up from a restless sleep. The house was quiet and dark but something had woken him up. He checked Danni’s bedroom but instead of founding his partner there, the bed was empty, the sheets a mess. He went downstairs. There was light coming from the living room and yeah, there was Danni. The TV was on with no volume, Danni was sitting with her legs under her, the afghan over her shoulders. The light from the TV didn’t hide the silent tears rolling down her cheeks and the afghan couldn’t stop her shivering. Her eyes were unfocused, her lips were a thin line and Steve’s heart broke. The Jersey cop was one of the strongest people he knew and still she seemed so fragile sitting there and shaking. She didn’t even react to the couch dipping under his weight when he sat beside her.

“You couldn’t sleep?” Danni’s answer was to shook her head and a sigh. More fresh tear fell from her eyes and Steve put a hand on her arm. “Want to talk about it?”

“What about? About the dead kid or about how I feel like I’m making a terrible mistake by having this child?” Steve arched an eyebrow. “I like to think that we are making the world a safer place and then this happens and I can’t help but wonder…”

“Danni…” He got closer to her until she had her back against his chest and he could hold her, his arms around her belly, over her hands. “You’re not making a mistake, not by having Grace or the little one, trust me. They got you and you will always protect them from anything bad happening to them, and even if you can’t protect them, you got us to help you.”

Danni didn’t reply to his words but she pressed herself further against him and he cradled her while she cried, letting the stress of the case leave her body. When her body didn’t shake anymore, when she seemed to have calm down a bit, Steve’s arms tightened around her and he pressed his face against the crook of her neck with an idea in mind. Neither of them should be alone tonight so he got up and he took her to his room. Danni didn’t protest as she was tucked in bed and her partner was snuggling her from behind, an arm over her swollen belly and she had never felt safer than right there on Steve’s bed with his arm around her. She took his hand in hers and entwined their fingers, the SEAL squeezed her hand but his thumb was caressing her belly in a soothing motion. Soon enough they were tangled and Danni could feel Steve’s breath against her nape as it evened. The tiredness of the case and the emotionally draining cry she just had seemed to be enough to allow her to sleep. Neither of them worried about morning or how something between them was starting to give in.

And it was the following morning that comes with a new revelation because while Danni had a dreamless sleep, Steve dreamt. No, it wasn’t a dream. It didn’t feel like a dream more like a memory that he had buried. He remembered. He remembered opening his eyes and watching Danni get dressed in a hurry, his mind was buzzing and he eyed the amount of beer bottles on her coffee table, the empty bottle of scotch as Danni buttoned her blouse and put on her heels, he could only see her back and he wanted to call her but his throat was dry and he felt queasy. He remembered closing his eyes and falling into a stupor. Then he opened his eyes and it was dark outside, he was on his bed and Danni was sleeping soundly in his arms, relaxed and trusting and the memory seemed like a wishful dream. As he disentangled their hands, he nuzzled the small hairs in the back of her neck. His hand travelled to the hem of her nightgown, his fingertips were itching and he felt the warm, smooth skin of his partner’s tight. He had to lick his lips and it felt so wrong but so right at the same time.

Danni sighed when his hand dared moved up until he could slip two fingers under the waistband of her panties. Then he bit on the skin of her nape and dragged the panties down and down and Danni arched, her pert ass against his erection. He should stop yet he didn’t want to. Was it so bad to want this? Not with Catherine but with his partner? He gasped when Danni’s movement allowed her panties to go further down and his lips ghosted over hers when she turned her head and they were face to face. Her eyes were puzzled and glazed with sleepiness.

“Steve?” Her quieter than normal voice sent a thrill down his spine directly to his dick that twitched inside his sweatpants. “What…? I’m not…”

“You’re not what?” He was barely more awake than her and he moved higher once she decided to lay on her back so he was hovering over her still face to face.

“I’m not her, babe.” Her hand caressed his cheek and he turned his face to press a kiss against the inside part of wrist. “Not Cath.”

It was like a bucket of cold water. Suddenly he was completely awake and out of the bed, head down and Danni was looking at him with sad eyes. Steve tried to compose himself while Danni worked on getting her panties back on. She was trembling and her eyes were casted low. What had he been about to do? He held out a hand but refrain himself before touching the detective’s naked shoulder.

“Danno, I’m s-” Danni was out his bed, back turned to him and he knew for sure that it was just like last time.

“Don’t, just don’t apologise. You said it yourself, you miss her and I was there.” Steve hated hearing so much defeat and strain in Danni’s voice. “I g-get it so you don’t need to apologise.”

“That’s not it, Danni.” He walked the distance between them and stood in front of her. “I mean, yeah I missed Catherine but it’s not like that.”

“You don’t need to lie to me, to make me feel better.” Steve wasn’t prepared to see the blue eyes that met his to be filled with unshed tears and resignation. “Thanks, but no, thanks. I better go to your guest room.”

She left and Steve sat on his bed. He was such an animal. He had almost forced himself on her just like her ex-husband had done. And not only that, but he had let her go thinking that he had had someone else in mind. No, he wasn’t going to allow it. He walked to the guest room, to Danni’s room, with an objective in mind. But he stop dead on his track when he heard a muffled sob. He pushed the ajar door until he could see the form of his partner clutching the pillow against her chest and face on the bed. He had caused this. He sat by her side before he was conscious he was moving and Danni was looking at him, pure dread on her face.

“Danni, I wasn’t thinking of Catherine.” Before he could back down he confessed. “I swear to God I wasn’t. I woke up from this weird dream where I saw you getting dress and I know it was wrong, but I woke up and I needed…”

What had he needed? To get her naked? Yes, he had wanted to make the fantasies a reality, to have her even if it was wrong because Danni had been there when no one else had. He wanted Danni and man, wasn’t that a revelation? Not really but Steve was going to pretend this was the first time it occurred to him that Danni and him made sense. More sense than Catherine and he did anyways, because yes, he loved Catherine and he would probably love her forever but love wasn’t enough and he couldn’t be sure that Cath and him had what it took to make it work. No, he was sure they didn’t have it in them. Because to work together a couple had to make concessions and sacrifices, had to let go of fantasies and live in reality and they stuck together no matter what. And he knew, deep down where he hid everything he didn’t want to accept that the only person that fit under that description was Danni. And Steve loved Danni, maybe not like he should but he loved her, he respected her. And he bent forward slowly, giving Danni the chance to back away, to stop him, except she didn’t, until their lips met.

It wasn’t passionate or urgent but wet and tremorous. Danni sighed against his parted lips and he went for another kiss. He was right, despite the morning breath, she tasted in an unique way, in a way that screamed Danno and he found himself liking it. His hand was on her jawline, angling her head in a way that allowed a deeper kiss. When oxygen became too needed they parted but remained closed enough. His thumb was caressing the reddening skin of her cheek. Her lips were just like he had imagined, swollen and shiny and he had the nagging feeling that it hadn’t been a product of his imagination, that it wasn’t the first time he had seen her lips look like that but the confirmation evaded him. And he dove for another kiss, this time he was dragging her down until they were laying side by side, he supporting his weight on his elbow. Danni finally came out of her stupor and pressed her fisted hands against his chest but not pushing him away. The kiss remained calm, slow but at the same time the intensity level up as he slipped his tongue in her mouth. He clasped their lips closer and breathed through his nose and it had been a long time since he had made out with someone like this. The sight of Danni’s tongue darting out to lick at her lower lip had him smiling.

“Wh-... I…” Danni held her breath a second, closed her eyes and frowned. “What…?”

“Dunno, but it makes sense.” He had left her speechless and he shouldn’t feel so good about it. “I’ve been thinking of how we make sense.”

“No, we don’t. We are partners, you’re my boss.” Danni jerked up and Steve had to back away to avoid bumping into her. “You… you can’t come here and kiss me! Y-you should, you should be calling Catherine!”

“Stop with Catherine for a second, Danni! We are over, stop bringing her up and listen for once in your life!” He stood and then he sat down just to stand again and sit again. “Just hear me out.”

“No, Steven, I’m not going to listen to whatever crazy idea has formed in your brain because I’m not what you want, alright? You don’t love me, you love Catherine! I know it, you know it, everyone in Oahu knows it! Why would you kiss me when the one you really want is her?” Suddenly, Danni deflated and looked defeated. “Why are you doing this to me? Why would you use me as your rebond fuck? I know I’m not good enough to deserve better, that I… Why, Steven?”

And it clicked. Just like that. It was like he had been in a dark room and suddenly someone switch on the light. Except that what the light showed made no sense whatsoever even if the pieces were the right ones, they fit together and made a clear picture but it didn’t make sense. There were parts still missing, parts that were essential but they weren’t at the same time. And the longer he stared at Danni’s stressed face… Oh, oh… Oh!

“Did we… did we fuck?” Danni’s face paled, her eyes widened. Again, body language was very important. “Danni, when I got you drunk so you would tell me about… did we or didn’t we have sex?”

He got up once again and this time he walked to the other side of the room, he had to put some space between them because the longer Danni didn’t reply, the longer his brain had time to make up theories. Her lower lip was trembling and her eyes wandered around never meeting his.

“Danni, answer me. It’s a yes or no question! Very simple, did we have sex that night? Because if we didn’t…” Which he hoped was the answer. “Then I’m just having weird wet dreams about you.”

“I don’t know what you’re dr-” He cut her as soon as she tried to deviate the topic of their conversation.

“Just answer me, Danni, for fuck’s sake!” Normally Steve wouldn’t be screaming but Danni had been keeping things from him and they were making out and suddenly he had this image in his brain that hadn’t happened except it felt like it did happened and he was trying to not go there while Danni was stalling. “Danni, I just want to know… please, answer my question.”

“No, we did not have sex.” Again, body language. Steve watched her locked jaw, the way she seemed to spit the words, her brow frowning, her fisted hands and her fucking tone.

“Except that you’re lying and we did.” He sagged against the wall as his world turned upside down.

“No, Steven. We didn’t because… because your body was there but your mind… you were…” Wasn’t it funny how he could remember her conversation with her sister and it made a lot more sense now?

“I called you Catherine.” That was the reason why Danni seemed so obsessed with the Lieutenant. His sight focused on her swollen belly and he wanted to be mad, he really did, except he couldn’t, he felt too disappointed to be mad. “I’m… I’m the father, the one you weren’t going to tell about this because he called you another woman’s name and didn’t remember.”

He looked up to Danni and she was well… petrified. She was looking even paler than before and as their eyes met, Steve couldn’t get mad because those blue eyes were marred by fear, her shoulders were hunched forward as if she was trying to look even smaller. Steve took a step forward and she back away from his touch. Her eyes widened and she opened her mouth, probably to keep lying to him but Steve couldn’t have any of it right now. He straightened and looked at her, he was going to say something but his brain wasn’t working as it should.

“I need to get out of here.” They were going to deal with this once they weren’t so on edge. “I need… fuck!”

And he walked away. Because Danni had backed away from him. Because they had been making out before that nagging feeling at the back of his head unravelled a new set of memories that had turned his view of the world upside down. Before learning he was going to be a father, someone’s dad. He stopped dead on his track and he looked around his living room. He was going to be a father, there was going to be a little human being running around this house in less than two months and he was suddenly scared. He sat down on the armchair feeling dizzy. Was he even prepared to a father? Danni always mock him about how he was the worst with kids and now he was going to have one? What if he turned to be like his dad? John had been a great dd up until his wife had died and Steve was proof more than enough of how fucked up the incident had left them as a family. Once he heard the creaking of the floor upstairs, Steve shook himself and left the house, the Silverado keys digging into the palm of his hand. He couldn’t deal with Danni right now and not because he wasn’t mad at her, which was surprising considering what had happened, but because she would look at him with those blue eyes and Steve would put his foot in his mouth. No, he needed time to think of what was going to happen with them from now on.

He drive without a destination in mind but he ended up parking in front of the Iolani Palace. The Governor had given the team the day off since the previous day had been stressful. But he wasn’t surprised to see Chin’s motorbike in the parking. The native Hawaiian was probably finishing the report or working on the table. As Steve bought two cups of coffee, he felt lucky to find the man at HQ. Chin was older than him but not by much so he could help him figure out what was going on with Danni while being understanding. So he handed his teammate one of the foam cups once he found him in the bullpen and invited him to his office, it was more private either way. Once they were sitting in his office, Steve was prompt in retelling what he had found out. Chin, the always calm and zen-like Chin, barely contained his smile. The bastard.

“It’s not funny, Chin. She lied to me, kept this from me and on top of it I can’t get mad at her!” He put his hands over his face with a groan. “I don’t even know what’s going on with me. I love Cath, we broke up and suddenly I’m running behind Danni like a dog after a bone.”

“Really, brah, I can’t help you with that one. It’s not my place to talk about who you love and who you like, I’d recommend meditation for that.” Steve had known there was some sort of trick for Chin’s constant zen state. “But I get why she lied to you, Steve. She was probably protecting himself, she already had a kid that was taken from her and risking you to do the same was probably her motivation to keep the fact that you’re the father from you. Though I would have to talk to her to know for sure, she could have been giving you a free getaway card for all I know. It’s up to you to decide what you want to do with it, the ball is in your side of the field.”

“I wouldn’t do that! Why would I want to… Fuck Raymond. He screwed her up, didn’t he?” He felt like he should be mad, except he couldn’t because Chin was right. Raymond had taken Grace from Danni despite the fact that she was the best mom he had ever met. “I don’t even know if I can be a father and in two months and a half there is going to be a baby that will need me!”

“Before making plans, have you asked Danni if you are to be involved at all? Maybe she doesn’t want you to be more than Uncle Steve.” Steve hated how Chin seemed to understand everything so effortlessly. “You should talk to her once you have calm enough to not get mad.”

“You’re right. I need to calm down and sort myself out, don’t I?” With a sigh Steve ended the conversation and Chin got up.

“By the way, the stalker has been quiet since the last time he contacted Danni. I’m assuming he either lost interest - which is unlikely considering the type of stalker we’re dealing with - or he is planning something big. Have you seen anything weird going on around the neighbourhood?”

“No, do you know if the cameras in Danni’s block have been fixed? Maybe he went back to the crime scene.” It was a far fetched idea but Steve hated that the guy was still free more than ever.

“I checked yesterday and they are still down. I was thinking of swinging by today and putting some cameras in Danni’s apartment just in case.” Steve nodded, it was a good idea and it wasn’t like Danni was living there so her privacy was intact. “And maybe get some things for her that she might need like some pictures of Grace.”

“Yeah, I’m sure that would cheer her up. You go do that and I’ll finish the paperwork here.” It would give him a few hours before facing the music.

“See you tomorrow, brah.” Chin left the offices with his phone in his hand while Steve focused on his paperwork.

 

It was well after dark by the time Steve was done with the paperwork, though to be honest he had spend a few hours searching online for co-parenting agreements and then he had looked up how much it cost to raise a child, send one son to college and hell if it was expensive. He hadn’t even looked at the most expensive options. He knew how much Danni earned and how much he made and even with their salaries combined if he took into account Grace going to college, the alimony and rent, it was going to be hard on Danni’s finances. That was what he was going to use to convince the mother of his daughter to work with him on this. So he picked up something for dinner and went home with a guideline of his speech. The SEAL knew Danni was going to protest but he hoped for the best. He parked the truck in front of his house and frowned at how dark it look. The Camaro was there but it was silent and dark and it wasn’t even that late so Danni shouldn’t be sleeping yet. He unholstered his gun and walked towards the entrance. It was unlocked… the alarm wasn’t set… the doors to the lanai were opened.

“Danni?” He called out checking behind the door and around the living room.

“Out here!” The voice came from the lanai and he switched on the lights before going out. Danni was sitting on one of the chairs, the afghan over her shoulders and the phone in her hands. “You can put away the gun, no crazy man in the house except for you.”

“Why are you out here in the dark?” His eyes wandered around before he holstered his gun. “Were you talking to Gracie?”

“Raymond actually. I hung up on him though so I’m waiting for his lawyer’s call.” Steve sat on the free chair looking at her shell-shocked face. “He wanted to talk about visitation rights and I couldn’t deal with it so…”

“Is he going to try and take Grace from you again?” Raymond had to stop trying to pull the same shit over and over again. Didn’t he realise how cruel it was to use their daughter against his ex-wife? “Because I can pull some str-”

“Don’t. I… Just don’t do anything, please.” Danni whispered. “He claims that once the baby is born I won’t be able to take care of them both so he wants me to think about giving up my Wednesdays with Grace, he says that if I accept he can work with his lawyer about lowering my alimony.”

“That’s bullshit, Danno and you know it.” She nodded and tugged at the afghan. “He can’t keep doing this to you, he has to know that it’s not good for your health right now having to deal with his bullshit.”

“Still he does and I have to deal with it because otherwise he wins, but I’m exhausted, babe. I’m tired of fighting with him. When did all get so fucked up?” Steve wanted to say that it probably turned that way since the moment Raymond had raped her for the first time but he bit his tongue and let her unwind. “I can’t keep doing this every few months.”

“I’m sorry you have to deal with this, Danno.” It wasn’t the best time to bring up co-parenting agreements or any of the stuff Steve had wanted to talk of with her. Danni needed him to be her friend not the douchebag that added more problems to her already over the top pile of shit. “I would do anything so you didn’t have to go through this.”

“I know you would.” Danni closed her eyes and rested her head on the backrest. “Thank you.”

“No need. What do you say we have dinner and you get to bed? You will feel better tomorrow.” He got up and tugged at her until she was standing. It wasn’t difficult as she seemed playdoh in his hands. “I brought pizza, no pineapple.”

She chuckled half heartedly. Steve set the table and they ate in silence. Well, more like he ate and Danni nibbed at the same slice of pizza for ten minutes. She looked defeated, her eyes focused on the wall behind Steve. When he couldn’t take it anymore, he put the pizza box in the fridge and she went up to take a shower and get ready for bed. Steve, not wanting to test his self control, waited until he couldn’t hear the water running before heading upstairs. He almost knocked his friend over as she was standing in the middle of the hall.

“Is there any problem, Danno?” Again with the nightgowns, Steve was going to burn them all as soon as he could and get her some pants and shirt pajamas.

“I’m sorry, I…” She took a deep breath and stared into his eyes more resolutely than she had been during dinner thought her eyes were still sad, but resolute. “Did you mean it? What you said this morning, did you mean it?”

“What part exactly?” He had said a lot that morning and he couldn’t put a finger on what part she was talking about.

“When you said that we made sense.” Steve stood there looking at Danni as she said those words and all he could hear was his blood humming in his ears and his mouth dried up. “I’m sorry, it was…”

“Yeah, I meant it. You’re the best partner I’ve ever had, probably the best I will ev-” Danni cut him with a kiss, a chaste kiss as she was standing on her toes and tugging him down by the front of his shirt. He put his arms around her and held her against him. “Are you sure? You’re dis-”

“Even if it’s just tonight, please, just…” This time he shut her up with a kiss, an open-mouthed kiss and she moaned against his mouth.

They walked like that to his room, parting ways only when the need for air became too overwhelming. Once the door closed behind them, Danni took a step back and tugged at his shirt to which Steve moved compliantly. When she went for his belt, he stopped her and searched for uncertainty in her eyes. He wasn’t going to let her brush this off as a mistake, not this time. But her eyes showed not even an ounce of doubt and he kissed her once more while she worked on his belt and pants. He kicked his boots off, Navy standards be damned and moved with Danni towards the bed. She sat down when the back of her knees connected with the bed and Steve stayed standing in front of her, her fingers tugging at his pants while her eyes were fixed on his. Steve bent forward for another kiss and also to slip her nightgown straps off her shoulders. With tender kisses on her neck and shoulders, he moved her further up in the bed with him laying on top of her but being mindful of not putting his weight on top of her.

“How do you want to do this?” She was panting for breath already and it took her a few seconds to reply to his question.

“Like this, just… like this.” Danni moved under him and Steve watched as she placed a pillow under her back with a smile.

“Alright.” He dove in for a kiss, a slow and careful kiss. “This is alright.”

Danni shimmered out of her nightgown and Steve had to controlled himself to not keen at the sight of his partner’s naked body. Being pregnant had done anything to diminish her natural beauty. He traced the lacy underwear she had on and his smile widened when a memory came up with the tact of the clothing. Her eyes were closed and her breathing was even, she looked peaceful on the outside. On the other hand, there was a tense feeling underneath, Steve could almost feel the anxiety under the tips of his fingers when he caressed her sides.

“We don't have to do this, D.” He felt like he was forcing himself onto her. He moved to the side and rested by her side. Her incredulous look was all he needed to know that not doing this right now was the best move. “You’re upset, I know it and you know it. If we do this like this… it’s not right, D.”

She curled to the side and burrowed into his chest. He put an arm around her form and held her. This was better than anything he had experienced before, so he closed his eyes and enjoyed the warm feeling of holding something dear so close. And when she started to sob against his chest, he didn’t take it personally. He knew she was upset because of Raymond and god, he hated the man’s gut for doing this to someone like Danni. She didn’t deserve to go through another court appointment to fight for visitations right! She was a great mom and Grace adored her. Hell, Steve wasn’t planning on hiring a lawyer to discuss with her co-parenting deals! He wanted it all to be friendly, he wanted her on board with it. He was glad he hadn’t mentioned it while on the lanai.

“I’m sorry, I really am…” Steve kissed the top of her head and held her even closer. “I won’t do it again but can we just… can we just sleep like this tonight?”

“We can sleep together anytime you want, babe.” It wasn’t like he was going to be losing any sleep for sharing his king size bed with Danni. And he wasn’t going to be sharing it with anyone else at the moment. “Good night, Danny.”

“Good night, Steven.”

Surprisingly enough, during the next couple of weeks they slept together every single night. Steve would keep her close, a arm draped around her mid section, with no sex involved. Normally that would have the SEAL going crazy with raging hard ons in the mornings, but it hadn’t. At least not yet. He was getting to that point with how many dreams he had been having where she would just climb on top of him and ride him into oblivion. He was still blaming the nightgowns that seemed to get shorter somehow! Steve wasn’t saying anything but she must have noticed considering how much he stared. Yet, she hadn’t said anything about it, she would just complain that the baby was more active whenever he was close but he couldn’t tell. What he could tell was how happy she had been as Grace’s arrival to the island was nearing closer and closer. She had even put it on his calendar with a bright red circle and a giant G-day. So, it was to be expected when she asked him to have the day off as she was going to pick her up from Raymond’s house and spend the day together.

“Did Raymond complain too much?” She was just glowing and he liked how radiant she looked.

“He tried but after a month without Grace he had to accept. So, I’m taking her to the North Shore and we are going to spend the day at the beach. It’s what she has been missing.” She was packing for the trip and if he slipped any extra bottles of water she would act like she didn’t notice. “Try to not blow the island up while I’m not there, alright?”

Then it happened. It was such an out of the blue thing that Steve stood there for five whole minutes after it. He even replayed it as much as possible to understand when they reached that much domesticity. He had been sitting at the kitchen counter with a cup of coffee in front of him and a dish with two slices of bread and she had been going around picking snacks for the ride. Then he had turned to her when she had zipped the bag. She had bent forward and pecked him on the cheek with a ‘have a good day’ and like that she had left. Steve had sat there for five minutes feeling lost. No, that wasn’t right. He hadn’t felt lost but like he was missing something. Then Chin had called and he rushed to work with the event still in his mind. They would have a long talk before going to bed. He had been respecting her boundaries, hadn’t made a move and hadn’t tried to be intimate with her again since that time. Why the sudden peck on the cheek?

When he got to the Iolani Palace it was to find Kono going over a thousand reports on the table and Chin on the phone barking orders for back-up. The day was bound to be a cluster-fuck. He hurried to help Kono on the table.

“What’s the situation?” He needed to know what they were facing.

“We got a hostage situation downtown. According to witnesses, three armed men showed up in an office building and they have given HPD an hour to meet their demands or they start shooting.” The video-feed from the scene was displayed onto one of the screens. “Except they hadn’t demanded anything and we have thirty minutes before they lose it.”

“SWAT is on their way, we need to get there too.” Chin handed the vest. “We may be able to entry through a side door. It’s a weak point since it wasn’t in the original plans. HPD is trying to contact the perps as we speak.”

“So they got no demands but still want to shot? Am I the only one who sense there is more to it than it meets the eye?” Kono grunted as a reply while Chin got on his motorcycle. “We need to subdue them. Was there any business that caught your eye, Kono?”

“Not really, though one of them was marked by the FBI. I’m thinking it was a front for the mafia.” Steve speed up. If a syndicate was involved in this whole mess, it could end up in a gang war before they even knew it. “It can be the Yakuza or the Triads, even the Samoans… the name listed as owner was a mainlander.”

“So we got no idea who is behind it. Great.” At least Danni and Grace were on the North Shore. “Let’s hope for the best.”

At the end the business marked by the FBI had nothing to do with the hostage situation, as a matter of fact the perps were just three college kids that had tried to ask for ten million dollars but had forgotten to ask for the money. Once they saw the SWAT team and the five-0 they gave up and one of them even started to cry asking for his dad’s lawyer. It would have been easy but as soon as they got to HQ they were called out again for a missing person that was supposed to be taken in Waikiki. Yeah, it was going to be a cluster-fuck day. Steve really hoped that Danni’s day was better than his. Or that he could be at home before six so he could prepare dinner. He should have known better than to wish to be home early.

When he did got home it was past midnight, the missing person - an elderly woman that had just wandered off and got lost - had appeared, then the Five-0 had caught a murder case and they had had to divide to follow three different leads only to get to get nowhere. By the end of it, Steve had sent everyone home. It was late, they were exhausted and they weren’t going to solve the murder during a night. Kono had been already been falling asleep on top of Max’s reports when Chin was getting her some coffee. The two cousins had left together and Steve wanted nothing more than have a shower and get to bed. Though when he got there, the front light was on as well as the kitchen’s. Danny was sitting there with a cup of tea and a dish that he hoped was for him in front of her.

“You’re up.” He sat by her side since he suddenly remembered they had a conversation pending.

“Yeah, I didn’t want to go to bed just yet.” Except she wasn’t meeting his eyes. “Busy day?”

“You can’t imagine: hostage situation, lost person and murder. I will inform you on that one tomorrow. How was your day with Gracie?” She hummed and took a sip of her tea.

“It was fine. She asked me why I’m living here now but I didn’t tell her that there is a stalker out there after me.” He placed his hand on her back and she smiled. “He hasn’t sent anything, do you think he found another victim?”

“No, Chin thinks he is just laying low.” Five-0 wasn’t getting closer to ID the sick bastard and the last bunch of pics were as useless as everything else. Steve was trying to see the upside to the situation since Danni was staying at his place and the time they spend together made things clearer to him one way or another. “You kissed me this morning.”

“I certainly did not kiss you this morning.” But she was blushing and he gave her a peck on the cheek. She turned with a smile. “I’m sorry to pop your bubble, buddy, but that wasn’t a kiss.”

“No?” He leaned forward and brushed her lips hesitantly. “And this?”

“Sorry…” He pressed his lips to hers more firmly in an obvious kiss, slow and open-mouthed kiss but a kiss and he was glad that she didn’t run away. “That it was and you kissed me.”

“Is it so horrible?” She nip at her lower lip and Steve was mesmerised. Time seemed to slow down around them, sound was muffled and he wanted to kiss her again. Kissing Danno wasn’t hard at all and it made sense, despite that he hadn’t looked at her that way before… before what though? “You can punch me if you think it’s so bad.”

“We should go to bed…” If it weren’t for her obvious hesitance… Steve wasn’t going to push her into any direction but she backed down from anything he did to put them in the right direction. He didn’t want to ask her about it but Danni seemed scared of their friendship morphing into something else. “Because I think you’re too tired for this.”

“Are you scared of this, Danni?” He had to know. “I’m getting mixed signals…”

“Steven, let’s not do this now, ok? I… Let’s just not.” She rinsed her cup and pointed at the dish. “Eat dinner before you crash.”

If only he could get it right, just once. What did Danni want from him? Did she even want something from him? She obviously had no problem with getting down and dirty with him but every time he made a move - and he was starting to feel like Smooth Dog wasn’t a nickname that he deserved - Danni backed away and put distance between them. He didn’t want to believe she was scared but it seemed like it was the truth. Steve ate, showered, brushed his teeth and by the time he got to his bedroom, Danni was laying on the far side of bed pretending to be sleep. Steve respected her wish to not get close because he knew she would shift during the night and by the time he woke up she was going to be pressed against him or laying on top of him. Maybe he had to give her time or reassurance that he was being serious about them. He hadn’t even mentioned Catherine around her! With a sigh he turned off the lights and slipped between the blankets.

“Goodnight, Danno.” He made a last bold move and kissed her shoulder before settling for the night.

Danni stayed awake the whole night. At some point she got up and went back downstairs because she couldn’t stand it anymore. She had had a great day with Grace, she shouldn’t be this bound up. Steve was trying to make advances and she wanted to give in, to kiss him back, to ask him to hold her at night and for him to whisper sweet nothings to her as they made sweet, tender love every night! Hell, she even dreamed of it and it was taking a lot from her to stand her ground and say no. The part of her that wanted to give in - her stupid hopeful heart - made her smile at Steve’s antics while the realistic part of her - her brain - knew better and resisted with all it got. It was getting harder and harder though. Steve was making it harder and harder! Why did he have to be so sweet and suave? Why did he have to kiss her tenderly and offer her things he couldn’t give to her? Why wouldn’t he give her what her heart desired the most? She knew she was in love with Steve and as a literature teacher had taught her once: Love was a prison, a lace, a flame and an arrow since you couldn’t escape love, it caught you, it burnt forever in you and it could leave you with a bleeding wound for all eternity. Danni thought it was an appropriate way to describe her love for her partner. She had tried to avoid falling in love with him, but it had caught up to her, accepting it made her love him even more but the knowledge that it was unrequited made her suffer more than she had suffered when Raymond divorced her.

She knew she was being irrational but she preferred it than allowing herself to give in just to be hurt again. She wasn’t going to fall for the same trick twice! She refused to let it happen. If there was anything Danni was sure of was the fact that Steve was going to find - sooner or later - a person to love or that he was going to go back to Catherine as soon as they meet again. She wasn’t going to put her heart out there to be stomped on when it happened, no matter how badly she wanted Steve. Not when she was going to lose it all during the fall down! How was she supposed to go back to a Steve-less life when he left her? That was what kept her awake at night. And she knew deep down that if she talked to Steve about it, Steve would claim that he was never going to abandon her but he shouldn’t make promises he couldn’t keep. Truth be told, Steve was the sacrificing type of idiot who would give up his happiness for his friends’ sake and Danni wasn’t having none of that. She just had to hold on tight to that knowledge until Steve found someone who loved him like he deserved. Danni and the baby would be ok with it.

“It’s for your father’s sake. You will understand it when you’re a grown up.” She whispered to the baby in her womb. “And I promise you that he will understand it once he finds another woman. Mama is not the one he wants after all.”

The baby gave her a week kick and Danny laughed bitterly. At least she got her babies to cheer her up when she got too depressed.

The following day was filled with more leads to follow and a killer to catch. Danni caught up on the case real quick: the vic was a thirty years old male, strangled to death and the body had been dump at the marina. There were no fingerprints, no DNA but the lab techs had found a piece of later around the chain used to killed the vic and beeswax cream under the vic’s nails but nowhere else which made them believe that it came from the murderer. Her team had left her alone to interview the man’s colleagues at his workplace - he was an engineer downtown - and they had left her to look at his finances again and see if he had received any threats.

It was while Danni was alone in HQ that she noticed the envelope that was hidden behind one of Steve’s diplomas when she was about to drop some forms he had to sign. It was like the ones she had gotten and once she opened it and saw the DVD, she was filled with dread. It couldn’t be her stalker, could it? He hadn’t sent anything to her but she hadn’t thought of the possibility that he had changed targets and was now stalking her teammates. Before anyone could get back, she took the DVD to her office and put it on. There were two video files and a picture. The picture was taken from outside Steve’s kitchen windows and it was them. It had been taken last night when Steve had kissed. From the window the stalker had taken her back and Steve’s closed eyes. He had been there… Had he been there when she got out of bed?

Her hands were shaking when she opened the first video. She recognized the place, it was her apartment. He made quiet the show of having a copy of her key - and how had he gotten a copy of it? She always had it on her! - and walking around her place. She took notice of how he avoided the mirror in her bathroom and focused on what he painted on the entrance wall: “You can’t hide from me.” She opened the second video file. It was shorter, it would have passed for a pic if the stalker hadn’t put a piece of paper with a second message in front of the lens. The video showed the front of the McGarrett’s home. The message was a continuation of the one left at her home. “Because I’ll always find you.” She closed her laptop immediately and looked around. Her paranoia levels shooting up. Was he watching her right now? She felt the need to close everything down and hide under her desk until her team arrived, but she wasn't going to give in. She took the DVD and bagged it alongside the envelope. Her team was checking some leads and they weren’t going to need her for at least half an hour, time more than enough for her to get to the lab and ask someone to check the new evidences for whatever the stalker could have left behind. It was hopeless, the nut job was good but she had to tried.

The lab techs checked it out immediately - thanks to God they didn’t say anything about the picture - and confirmed her suspicion: nothing traceable about it. They even tried to isolate the background noise but nothing. If only the stalker would slip up somehow… But he was proving to be smarter than most criminals she had faced. It was nerve-wracking to know that someone like that was walking around Oahu without a care in the world. He probably walked by the police knowing they weren’t going to stop him. She sent a quick text to Steve when she got back to the offices.

“Stalker left something for you in your office. The lab found nothing on it.” Danni tried to focus back on the case but her mind kept going back once and again to the videos.

How had he found her at Steve’s? He was probably tailing her. Had he been around when she and Grace where on the North Shore? Surely she would have noticed a car following her up there, wouldn’t she? She told herself she didn’t have to be scared, that the stalker was going to get caught sooner rather than later and they only needed him to make one mistake. The longer the situation kept going, the more comfortable he got, the more he was bound to make a mistake. But then it hit her. In two months she was going to have a baby, she was not going to be able to sleep at night knowing that someone out there was watching her, following every step she took, being a threat to her and her children. She called Raymond with a heavy heart. It was better for Grace to stay away from her until the perp was caught.

“Danielle.” If only she could do this without having to talk to her ex-husband. “Are you calling to ask me for another favor?”

“Raymond. I’m not. Well, I… Yes.” She swallowed her pride and her tears. “I have a situation at work so I wanted to ask if it was possible to suspend my weekends with Grace for a while.”

“You want to give up your weekends with our daughter?” He was surprised. Danni never gave up her weekends with their child and it pained her to having to do so. “That’s…”

“I know. But it’s going to be temporary until I can figure something out. I’m not giving up my visitations right forever just a few weeks tops.” She tried to act like it didn’t matter but it was heartbreaking. “Once everything is fixed I will go back to having her every other weekends and on Wednesdays.”

“Do you know you are dragging this out too much, Danielle.” She couldn’t stand it anymore.

“No, I’m not! She is my daughter and I love her but things come up and right now I can’t have her over! You should understand considering your business trips and your escapees with Stacey! I’m just asking you to do this for me, Ray!” Her phone alerted her of another call. “I gotta go. I’ll call Grace tonight and I’ll explain but can I count on you for this?”

“You will hear from my la-” She hung up before he finished the sentence and looked at Steve’s name.

“Williams.” She could tell that Steve had picked up the small tremor in her voice.

“Hey, what did he send?” She was lucky he thought it was due to the stalker’s gift.

“Well…” She explained the DVD, the picture and the videos and kept the whole Raymond-talk for when the time came. “I’m going to send CSU to my place and yours, see if we have some luck. Maybe he smokes and left some DNA.”

“Doubtful but good idea. I’m done with my lead, it was a dead end. Have you heard from Chin or Kono?” With her negative he hummed. “I’ll call them and let them know how things went on my end, maybe they need some assistance. Are you alright on your own?”

“I’m not five, McGarrett. I’ll order some shrimps for when you guys come back.” Hell, Kamekona could stick around until her team was back. “Let me know if you need anything.”

“Will do, D.”

She went over the same information they had received from her as she tried to distract herself from everything related to the stalker and the fact that she wouldn’t be seeing her daughter until the bastard was caught. But it was hard to focus when she had just spent a month without her baby girl and after a day with her, she was going to spend even more time without her again. She had to sit down when it hit her that the nut job that had it for her was keeping her from Grace. Danni was very conscious that her job was dangerous, as a Five-0 member even more, and if she was honest to herself she knew that it was possible for the stalker to go after Grace to get to her. Her daughter didn’t deserved to be placed in dangerous situations because of her career choice. Hopefully Grace would dedicate her life to be a biologist and not a cop. She was brought back from her thoughts when the door opened and Max walked in with a folder.

“Detective Williams, nice to see you.” Danni got up and nodded at the medical examiner. “I found something interesting in the toxicology analysis that Officer Kalakaua requested.”

“What exactly am I looking at here, Max?” Danni took the folder but it went all over her head. “The vic was drugged?”

“Yes and no.” Cryptic as ever Max smiled. “I found traces of radioactive iodine in the vic’s blood consistent with radiation therapy. Considering that she wasn’t a cancer patient nor was the iodine the cause of death, I found it interesting and worth sharing.”

“Tell me something, Max, who can get that type of iodine?” She returned the folder and looked up the vic’s family. He had a wife who happened to work as a doctor.

“Well, it’s used for radiation therapy so doctors, nurses, anyone who works with cancer patients.” The doctor was standing beside her. “You know beeswax cream is actually used by many doctors to prevent dry skin since they have to wash their hands quite a lot.”

“Thanks, Max. You just helped me crack this case.” The wife had been devastated when she was notified her husband’s death and since their finances were good - the two of them had high paying jobs - and they hadn’t found anything to indicate that there was a third person involved in their marriage, they had decided to let her grief. “I gotta call the team.”

“You’re welcome. I will leave to your investigation.” Max walked away and Danni shook her head. He was so weird sometimes…

She called Kono to inform her of her findings and explained what Max had told her about the beeswax cream being used by many doctors.

“You know, one of the vic’s colleages told me just now that the marriage wasn’t as perfect as we thought.” The rookie put the phone away for a seconds and Danni could hear her searching for something. “Apparently, the vic wanted to have kids but she refused, they had arguments quiet a lot… there were even rumors that the vic was looking for a surrogate mother, maybe the wife found out and she thought of it as him being unfaithful?”

“It might be like that but Max also said that the vic had traces of radioactive iodine in his blood. Why would he have that if he wasn’t being treated for cancer? Why trying to poison him - if that’s what she was after - and then strangle him?” It made no sense. Danni felt like they were not seeing the whole picture. “Maybe you should go and talk to the wife, see if you can get her to clear this up.”

“Alright. I’ll let the guys handle the rest of the interviews here while I go to the hospital.” Then it hit Danni, maybe there was someone else behind it all. “I’ll call you later, sis.”

Once Kono hung up, Danni looked into the hospital staff looking for someone who might have tried to frame the wife for her husband’s murder while the wife was actually trying to kill her husband slowly with radioactive iodine. She should have asked Max about it. How much radioactive iodine was needed to kill someone? Could it actually kill people? It was radioactive so it might! There were no red flags among the staff at the hospital and Danni was about to rip out her hair when her phone rang. Chin’s name flashed on the screen and Danni picked it up.

“Hey, Chin, what you got for me?” She just wished she was better at the whole technology thing than she was, then maybe she could help more.

“Danni, can you look up a name for me? Ashley Thompson, she worked with the vic and I was just told that he filled a complaint regarding inappropriate behaviour from her a few months back.” Danni brought up the girl in question and thanks to the company willingness to work with them she could access the complaint. “See anything?”

“Yes, I’ve got the complaint here. The vic claimed that this girl tried to force herself onto him several times and tried to blackmail him, and I quote: ‘She threatened me with going to the police for a rape attempt that I never made if I didn’t have sexual intercourse with her.’ How’s she still working there?” Danni had met women like Ashley before but it still pissed her off.

“I think she is the owner’s niece or something like that. Kono told me what you found about the wife but I feel like this one is involved too. Steve and I are going to bring her in for further questioning.” Danni needed to take some courses if she was going to be stuck on information gathering. “Thanks, Danni.”

“You’re welcome.” And she had to call Kamekona to place a shrimp order before the team came back.

When the team came back with the two women, Kamekona was still hovering around and Danni appreciated it. The big guy was disgusting at times but he was also sweet and caring when he had to be and he even added a few extras in there for her and the ‘new keiki’ so she could grow strong. Saying his farewells, the ex-criminal left her and she started to sort the usuals while the women were taken to the interrogation rooms in the basement. The Jersey woman wanted to go down with them and ask the suspect what the hell was wrong with them. Steve would throw a fit if she even dared to suggest it. But really, what hell was the matter with those two? The guy seemed like an honest to God good guy!

Steve decided to let them alone while they ate, it was a strategy according to him but even if all of them saw through the lie none mentioned it since they were all really hungry. They made small talk ignoring the pink elephants in the room. Kono was talking about the baby shower since according to her it was mandatory to celebrate it a month before the due date and since she was going to leave them in a month it was better to start planning right then. Chin nodded at some parts like where it was going to be held - at McGarrett’s because that was where she was living at the moment - and if she should prepare or not a gift list - Kono said that if she didn’t want to worry about repeated gifts and so on she better made a list. But again, who was she even going to invite? Her family was in New Jersey, her mom had been talking of coming and spend a few weeks with her to help with the baby but her apartment was unsafe and too small for two adults and a baby.

“You need a room for a nursery, room you don’t have in that apartment, Danni.” Kono actually sided with Steve on the whole moving out idea. “And Grace will need her own space soon enough, she is not going to be a kid forever.”

“Yeah, but renting is expensive here, let’s not talk about buying.” But buying a property was a huge risk when she might have to pick everything and leave if Raymond decided to take their daughter somewhere else.

“Not everywhere. I’m sure that if we put our minds to it we can find you a nice house, D.” Steve even knew of a house a down her block that was up for rent. He hadn’t shared that knowledge just yet but he was all about getting her out ot her rathole place. “And we can even help you with the nursery.”

“We have a cousin that works in that baby place in Waikiki, you and Kono actually went a few months ago.” Danni remembered the place Chin was talking about. It had been huge, not extremely expensive and the quality seemed appropriate. “I’m sure she can get you a discount.”

“I don’t know.” But Danni didn’t want to share her irrational fear of having to move out of Hawaii. “Maybe we should focus first on the case and we can talk of this later, ok?”

As Kono went with Chin to deal with the wife, Steve left to handle the colleague and Danni was left alone once more. Her thought was that she couldn’t keep going like this, she couldn’t put her life in hold because she had to drop everything when her ex-husband decided to take their daughter away again. But what else could she do? Raymond had full custody and she wasn’t going to live without Grace. Even so, she had to move out from her apartment in order to provide good care for her second child who was just as important as her big sister. Since she had nothing better to do, she started to look up some rental houses. She found some houses - if they could be called that - for two thousand dollars a month. She picked the one that seemed less terrible and checked the pictures available. It would need a lot of work and since she had three months to work with it, it was alright.

“You know those website are for scamming, don’t you?” Danni almost jumped out of her skin when Steve suddenly talked right in her ear. “But I’m glad you’re looking for a new place.”

“You and your damned ninja skills, Steven!” She turned around and frowned at his pleased face. “Didn’t take you for an expert on renting.”

“I’m not but I can help you find something better.” He crossed his arms, he had wanted Danni to move out of her apartment. “There is a house down my block, it’s not too expensive, you have private beach, three bedrooms… It’s perfect for you.”

“Alright… where is the but, babe?” It sounded too good to not be a but somewhere.

“No ‘but’, D. It’s perfect for you, Grace and the baby, who you’re not naming Alexandra.” Danni laughed but Steve was serious, their daughter wasn’t going to be named Alexandra. “Think other name.”

“You do realise that I was never going to name her Alexandra, don’t you? I was actually thinking of Sophia. It means ‘Wisdom’ in Greek.” Though she hadn’t decided on the middle name, it was going to be Hawaiian probably. She had been looking some names up.

“Sophia… Sophia… It’s great actually.” Sophia McGarrett… No, Sophia Williams. Steve didn’t think he had a chance in hell to convince Danno of giving their daughter his surname. “I like it.”

“Glad you approve,not that I was asking you permission to name my daughter.” Basically because Danni refused to talk about her in plural to involve Steve. “How did it go with the suspect?”

“Well, she admitted she killed him so I’m guessing it went well.” The woman had been in love with the vic but since he never returned her affections, she had decided to kill him and frame the wife but the wife was probably to blame for the radioactive iodine so they got a murderer and an attempt of murder. “Want to go by the house I’m talking about on our way home?”

“Why not? Once we finished the paperwork. We both know tomorrow we will have another case of another nut job.” He squeezed her shoulder and she hummed in contempt. “Go be productive, soldier.”

“The Navy, Danno, the Navy.” He left with her chirping laugh behind.

Chin and Kono confirmed Steve’s suspicion: the wife was trying to poison her husband slowly with radioactive iodine and he truly hoped she went to prison for it. Specially considering the amount of paperwork she created on her own. It wasn’t fair. But at least he got Danni to help him with the codes and technicalities of the job. It was one of the few upsides of paperwork even if she helped him with a frow and grinding her teeth. So it wasn’t that late when they left the office with an appointment to see the house not even half an hour after. The SEAL hoped his partner liked the house. He pointed at it when they passed in front of it and her jaw dropped at the sight.

“Are you sure they are not going to ask for at least seven thousand for that?” It was a beautiful house, well-cared for and again, it had private beach!

“Nah, probably two and a half, which is basically what you were looking at the office without the extra work. It used to be Mamo’s. Once his family moved out, it was too big for him and it’s for rent.” Steve was sure he could get Mamo to drop the price a bit more for Danni. “We have to get home, shower and then we are meeting the realtor that is dealing with it, though Mamo has the final word on this and I’m sure he is going to be more than ok.”

When they finally got to the house, Danni was speechless. The structure was the same as Steve’s place: two floor, lanai and lots of windows. The lower floor was a huge open space with the kitchen and the dining room, the living room and the hall altogether, all really opened so if one was in the kitchen, they could see the people in the living room. The kitchen had been remodeled and it was pretty modern with new home appliances and the oven was huge. She could almost smell the sweet aroma of homemade cookies. But there were two rooms that were more private. On one hand there was a small guest bathroom with the basics and Danni loved the idea of people not having to go upstairs to use the restroom. The other one was the study and Danni could see herself sitting there working from home if the need arose. The view from the lanai was as beautiful as it was at Steve’s.

The realtor was really excited to show them the upper floor. And the moment the tour upstairs started, Danni could understand why. Meanwhile the rest of the neighbourhood had simply big windows, this house had a balcony in the master bedroom. A place where she would be able to just sit and enjoy the sun, the view and the privacy. The upper floor was where the three bedrooms were located. In the middle was the master bedroom, which would be hers. It was big, plenty of sunlight, a small private bathroom… She loved it already. To the left was the main bathroom, with a bathtub - which was convenient considering she was going to have a baby to bath pretty soon - with the function of a shower, the WC and the handwash with a mirror. There was a lot of storage space in it. Grace was going to love it. To the right from the stairs were the two other rooms, one was bigger than the other and before hearing the price for the house, Danni knew it was going to be Grace’s. Once her baby girl went to college, it was probably going to be Sophie’s and the smaller bedroom was going to be turned into a guest room for family or friends but meanwhile it was perfect for a small child.

The house included furniture but Danni was sure that Mamo would be ok with her changing a few ones like the sofa or the shelves in the study. And the beds, and she had to get a whole nursery up and running in two months. So even as she listened to the realtor explaining everything, her mind was making plans and designing spaces and, oh, she could ask her parents to send her some of her old furniture from New Jersey. They shook hands with the agent that promised to have everything ready for her to sign by the end of the week.

“See, I told you it wasn’t that expensive.” Danni was still going around the kitchen with Steve leaning against the fridge. She was in love with the house. “It has everything you need.2

“And more. Thank you, Steve. I need to send Mamo a fruit basket.” Though he was getting her money every month. “It’s so beautiful… Grace is going to love it. And we can even walk the distance to your place in case she wants to visit you.”

Yes, that was one of the advantages: Steve could visit as much as he wanted and so could they. Obviously, it wasn’t perfect because Danni was still on her own but it was better than a rathole. Steve was going to work on the security, maybe put a camera outside in the front and another one in the back, an alarm and everything he could think of.

“Come on. Let’s go home so you can start planning whatever you’re planning to do.” The SEAL could almost hear her talking his ear off with ideas and things to be done.

And thus a month passed. It took two weeks for the paperwork to be figured out and then Danni spent two weeks making all her plans come true. It involved all members of their ohana working on days off with painting, assembling furniture, changing things and just making sure that everything was perfect. So, Mamo’s house seemed almost unrecognisable. She was truly in love with the house. The kitchen was her favorite part and she had planned a housewarming dinner with her friends. It was a pity that Grace wasn't coming since the stalker was still out there. But Danni was certain that her daughter was going to love her bedroom. The walls were painted in soft purple with the curtains white and the furniture was a light wood. Kono and Chin had painted details in the king sized bed, all Hawaiian motives. And while her bedroom was quite simple, she didn't need much and Steve had mocked her about the white walls and dark furniture when the nursery was a explosion of colour. And it was truth. The walls were a soft yellow, her idea was for the sunlight to reflect on the walls and illuminate the whole room, the ceiling was white and the carpet was a soft cream color, the curtains were a really pale green. Her mother had sent her Grace’s old crib and her grandmother's rocking chair from New Jersey and those were a dark brown while the changing station and the shelves were white with lilacs details and more Hawaiian motives. It was a clash of color and it should look weird but it was a peaceful environment for both the baby and the mother.

So when everything was ready, Danni went overboard with a housewarming dinner and she surprised her teammates with a selection of Italian recipes. Steve finally got to try the parmesan chicken and he was in Heaven. God, how had Raymond left such a woman? She was everything a man could ask for and if she ever stopped being a cop, as a cook she had a promising career. When dinner was done, they went out to the lanai for beers - ginger ale for Danni - and relaxed talking. It was the first night of Danni’s leave and she was going to be missed at the office. Kono was lamenting being the only girl now, who was she supposed to ask for back up make-up to? Steve laughed and told her he was going to have a backup for whatever she wanted. Danni rolled her eyes and revealed her big secret: her backup make-up bag was at her office and Kono was more than welcome to use it.

Kono and Chin left after an hour but Steve stayed with the excuse of help Danni clean up after them. If he were to be honest, he had ulterior motives. As soon as he couldn’t hear Kono’s car, he tugged Danni towards the sofa with a wry smile.

“You won’t help me clean, will you?” Danni had had some idea that Steve’s intentions weren’t to help but he couldn’t help but go with it.

“I will, but not now. You’re exhausted and I can see it.” So he sat on the sofa with an arm drapped around her. “But you also look quite uncomfortable.”

“I am because I’m way too fat.” She snuggled against his chest and it took all of Steve’s willpower to not humm. “I was never this big for Grace and she was late.”

“Raymond is a small man.” Danni sighed and looked at him through her eyelashes. “I won’t bring him up again.”

“So, I’m uncomfortable and exhausted. What do you want?” Because if he wanted to cuddle, they would but after cleaning the house a little.

“I wanted to ask you if you have given us some thought.” Danni groaned and pulled back with a frown. “You don’t take me seriously, I know but I am.”

“Babe…” Steve cut her right there, he already knew what she thought she knew and it was frustrating!

“Catherine and I are not going back together.” Shit! Why was always Catherine there no matter what he did. “You’re using her as an excuse.”

“I am not, Steven. You and her were together for years, not even five months after your break up you want to start something new?” Not only new but way too big? Steve’s idea was to have more than a relationship with Danni and it was such a huge commitment! The Jersey woman feared that Steve was ok with the idea but when it became a reality it would be too much for the SEAL. “Can’t you see that I’m doing this for your sake?”

“Except you can’t make the decision for me, D. I need to make it myself.” If only Danni would see it from his perspective… She was everything he had always wanted: a nice woman to share his life with, to have children with… what if they had done it backwards? It didn’t mean anything! “I just want you to give us a chance and if we don’t work out as more than partners…”

 

“If we don’t, it’s going to fuck up our friendship, our work relationship, and you will…” She couldn’t bring herself to say the words. “I love you, alright, and I don’t want to lose you.”

“You won’t lose me, you never will. Just tell me what you need from me to get it and I will do it.” Because they were going in circles and he felt like they had been going like that for ages. “And if you truly don’t want this then just give me a straight answer and I won’t be wasting my time!”

“You’re the one that keeps pushing me, Steven. I’ve been doing nothing more than telling you that you need to move on from Catherine and find a nice lady to have the children you want with!” She had been giving him an out time and time again and he was stuck on them as more than partners and friends and it hurt her to turn him down when she wanted nothing more than having a happy ever after with him.

“Why can’t you just accept that maybe I want to try for you to be that one, D? I love you, we obviously work well together and the baby is on the way…” Though to be honest she had kept that from him way too long.

Danni got up and moved to the other side of the living room, then went to sit down on the armchair with her legs tucked underneath her. Her eyes were going from one side to the other in the body language that Steve had started to refer to as ‘Danni is looking for a way out’ and normally he would back off and let her have her peace. Right at that moment he didn’t have the luxury to let her go at her own pace because she had moved out from his place - and maybe he had just gotten used to having her nearby, to waking up beside her and sharing every waking minute with her - and she wasn’t going to be at work for twelve weeks. So, yeah, Steve had waited until the last minute but he wasn’t leaving the house without a straight answer.

“Just tell me why you won’t allow this to happen, Danno, please.” And he wasn’t above begging if that was what it took.

Since she was worrying her lower lip between her teeth, her hands were on her belly and her unblinking stare was focused on the door while her eyes teared up, Steve knew he was close to getting his wish come true. Question was if he was ready for whatever Danni was going to say next.

“Do you when we started working together? I was in a bad place back then, I was alone and nobody respected me. You were right when you said that my life back then was Grace and my job and maybe you were an asshole at the beginning.” He remembered it, he was way too tired and his sole focus was catching Hesse when he met Danni. He also remembered thinking that she had a mean right hook and that when angry she was quite sexy. “Hell, that day was probably the worst for me, I had my heat bitten off when she took the case from me. But then you gave me something I didn't know I was missing, you gave me a team that would back me up and respected me and my opinions. Yet it wasn't enough for you and you made yourself a crucial part of my existence here, you gave me another reason to stay here.”

“Is this going anywhere, D?” Steve had noticed very early on their partnership that when Danno was being honest or was going to share a vital part of herself, she made it part of a story. At the moment it was unnecessary as he really wanted an answer.

“Shut up and listen, alright?” Before she lost her nerve and shut down completely. “The thing is that by making yourself so important for me, you ingrained yourself in my heart, right beside Grace. I had to accept that I love you.”

“I love you to, Danni.” They loved each other but what did it have to do with the topic at hand?

“No, Steve. You don't get it and it's frustrating. Because you love me like you love Chin and Kono and I love you like you love Catherine. That's why we can't be together, it's not fair for you or for myself.” Steve deserved to love someone wholeheartedly and Danni deserved to love her back. “I went through hell already with Raymond and I don't want to go through the same with you, I can't go through it all again and honestly, I don't want to.”

Steve was at loss of words with her confession. It was understandable with all things considered. He was staring at her like she had just spoken in Chinese and Danni got up to get a glass of water and give him time to process everything. While she had her back turned to him, she heard the door closing and she ran shaky hands over her face. She knew she should have shut up but she had had enough and boy, she had known it was going to end this way. That had been the reason why she had never said anything about how she felt for Steve because it was one thing to know her feelings were unrequited and it was another thing altogether to lose him over those same feelings. Suddenly tired and shaken, she went to bed after brushing her teeth and putting on something more comfortable. She was almost glad the fallout had happened right when she had taken a twelve weeks leave. It gave them both time to figure out where they stood. If she cried herself to sleep, there was nobody there to witness her weakness.

The following days Danni stayed out of Five-0’s business and Steve didn’t make an effort to contact her. She had definitely spooked him with her love confession. He was probably calling Catherine now and asking for her forgiveness or whatever they did to get back together. Seeing that it was going to be like that from now on, she promised herself she was going to partner up with either Chin or Kono and let Steve alone. Her feelings should fade away sooner or later. Somehow. God, what was she supposed to do now? She had made Steve such an essential part of her life that when he wasn’t in it at every waking moment, she felt lost. She hadn’t expected for Steve to call late one night and she had stood on the lanai with the phone in her shaking hands unable to pick up and yell at Steve like she had being thinking of doing. She let the phone call go straight to the voicemail and she hadn’t listened to it. Danni thought she knew what she was going to hear once she got to listen to it and she was certain she couldn’t deal with it at the moment.

It was also a surprise when Chin called her the following morning really early, way to early for her to be up. That one she had to pick up, just in case it was an emergency. It was.

“Hey, Danni, sorry to bother you this early but… Steve haven’t showed up and I was wondering if you had heard from him.” Danni was about to tell him to check the SEAL’s house and she was pretty sure Chin was a mind reader. “I’m calling from his house, the truck is here and his clothes… nothing seemed like he was abducted or anything.”

“He called late last night, I haven’t had the chance to call him back, let me check for any messages.” She hung up and went to her voicemail with quivering fingers. “I can do this.”

“You have a new message. Message number one.” The mechanic voice gave way to Steve’s. “Hey, D. Sorry to call you so late, you’re probably sleeping - there was a breath and a second of silence - Look, I’m sorry I walked on you, it was very uncool and I know we have a pending chat but I need to leave the country for a time. Cath showed up to ask for my help and I need to help her. I can’t give you more info, I will, I promise, when I get back.”

A beep and the message ended. Son of a bitch! She sent a quick text to Chin letting him know that their obnoxious leader had left the country with his girlfriend - because it seemed kind of obvious that they had gotten back together, didn’t it? - and she didn’t know when he was coming back. It stung more than she was willing to accept but with deep breaths she held back the treacherous tears that were threatening to flow down her face. She was not going to cry over this. She took a risk and it backfired but Steve going back to Catherine was something she had accepted a long time ago. Hell, she had known it from the moment they broke up! Except she had let herself hope just for a second back there that since the lieutenant was out of the picture, she had had a chance. Why had she let herself do that? So stupid on her part, this wasn’t a fucking fairy tale!

“Stupid, Danielle, you’re utterly stupid.” She told herself and pushing down the heartbreak - so unnecessary - she went on with her life. She had a birth to prepare for and a month to do so. There was way too much to do to worry about guys that didn’t love her. “Come on, Sophia, we got an appointment to go to.”

Life kept going in Hawaii and despite Steve’s sudden disappearance, the Five-0 task force kept working - even it was only Chin and Kono now - and Danni was focused on the birth of her second child but still met with her friends. She even had her baby shower like Kono wanted, though it had been a surprised when her mom showed up to the party and she Skype’d with her sisters and her father, she even cried a little and it was ok to admit she did since Kono had photographic proof of it. And even if she had thought that she was alone, the party was proof enough that she wasn’t. Kamekona’s cousin, Flippa, made an appearance to sing for her and the new addition to the family. Max gave her a very thoughtful present, a selection of babies’ toys for development. Chin and Kono gifted her with clothes and toys, but also with diapers and formula because she was going to need those and she loved having everyone around. Even if the most important person was missing and dang it! She didn’t want to miss him…

The month left before her due date brought out her stalker who was now sitting behind bars where he was never going to hurt anyone ever again. Hadn’t that been anticlimactic? She woke up one day with someone downstairs humming It’s My Life from Bon Jovi - she hated that song for reasons unknown - and since she was supposed to be alone because her mom was staying at a hotel because of the stalker being a threat, Danni had taken the gun. She had tried to locate the intruder by the song as she walked stealthily downstairs, checking every point where a murderer could hide. When she reached the bottom of the stairs, her gun was trained on a man going through her stuff. The first thing she noticed was the gun tucked in the back of his jeans. Then she took in the white wife beater and the tan skin.

“Turn around slowly with your hands where I can see them.” She hadn’t even thought that that man in her mid twenties could be her stalker. Her first thought was that it was a burglar that thought it was a good idea to steal from her!

“I didn’t think you would wake up, Detective Williams.” As he turned around Danni took in more of him, the short hair, the wry smirk filled with knowledge and the crazy eyes. “Man, I think that so long apart had left my rusty… there wasn’t much I could do with the big lughead you kept around, but he is gone, isn’t he?”

“You’re him.” Her trigger fingered itched with how much she wanted to shoot him dead. “If you try anything I’m going to shoot you and I’m sure nobody is going to even reprimand me, so don’t fucking move.”

She had just taken a step back to go for the landline when his hand went to the back of his jeans and Danni shot him, she had promised him she was going to do so! The bullet hit him in the shoulder and as he went down yelling in agony, she took the landline and phoned 911 with her eyes still on him and her gun, just in case she had to put a bullet through his head.

Chin had looked almost sad that she had single handedly dealt with the stalker after so long without as much as a clue of who was behind the pictures, the surveillance, the gifts and everything. Kono had basically beamed at her and told her that she rocked. Danni took it as a compliment giving that Kono was the SuperSEAL’s apprentice when it came to reckless behavior and ignoring the police procedure.

And way to soon came the whole labor part. She had been on the lanai, just relaxing under the palm trees, enjoying the breeze. She could hear her mom going around the kitchen since lunchtime was around the corner. She would have loved to help her mom but she hadn’t been able to sleep well for days, she was uncomfortable all the time and the Hicks contractions were killing her when a sharp pain made her groan. That hadn’t been a Hicks one, she had learnt the difference during her first pregnancy.

“Ma!” She called and got up as slowly as possible as to not get a new one. “I think the baby is...Ugh… Ma!”

Danni was so going to kill McGarrett. Her mom had made her sit and ran a warm bath for her but the bathtub wasn’t even half full when her contractions were way too close for her to wait any longer and they had to rush to the hospital where she was told that the baby was going to take her sweet time. Steven was so dead. She was offered the epidural but she refused. Fuck, this was going to be hell. She called Chin and Kono - who were going to be the godparents - and told them the baby was going to be born but to not rush since it was at least a few hours away. Then she had to deal with the nurses telling her to walk up and down the corridor. In a brief moment that she didn’t have her mom hovering around her, she called Steve. Obviously it went to voicemail and Danni just let go.

“You selfish son of a bitch! I’m going to kill you and then I’m going to shoot your balls off!!” She had to leaned on the wall because it hurt, she was panting and she still had so much to say. “I hate you and I hate that you’re not here because I need you here so I can yell at you.” She noticed she was crying and not from physical pain. “God, I’m such an idiot and you’re a big oaf that I really can’t hate… You’re probably in some mosquito infested jungle and I don’t know when you’re coming back or if you’re coming back.” Danni remembered then that he was with Catherine and the images in her brain morphed to him and the lieutenant laying on a tropical beach that wasn’t Hawaii having nasty sex and she had to bit her lower lip to not scream at him. “You’re are so dead, McGarrett and you don’t know it. But if you heard this… the baby is going to be born in a few hours and I need you, I hate how much I need yo-”

The message was cut short and she let a whimper. She didn’t try to call him again and went back to her mom. Beside her was the doctor that told her to lay on the bed and told her that she was getting there and he said it was probably because of the size of the baby. Trust McGarrett to knock her up with a giant baby! Danni was covered in a sheet of perspiration and she hurt all over. Her mom wiped away her tears and didn’t ask about those as she held her daughter’s hand.

“You’re so brave, honey, and so strong… You can do this and if you need us, we are here for you.” Danni was never glader of Clara Williams being her mom. “We love you and once the baby is born and clean, we are going to give everyone a video call and Grace is going to love her baby sister.”

“Ma, be honest, please, am I making a mistake here?” Fresh tears rolled down her eyes and she didn’t want to cry anymore but it hurt!

“No, baby, you’re not so hold on and you’re going to have your baby with you in no time.”

By the time her water broke it was all sped up and Danni couldn’t for the love of God remember half of it. She remembered her mom holding her hand, the doctor yelling at her to push, push harder and then a cry. That one moment was filled with clarity and she focused on the sound of her daughter crying and when she was placed in her arms, even half purple, wrinkled and crying, Danni thought she was the most beautiful thing in the world. They were taken back to a private room so she could rest and the nurses were really careful with the baby. Sophia had a bracelet just as her mom did and the paperwork could wait for later when she was more conscious of what was going on around her. She was kept awake for an hour or so so she could feed the baby and she was mesmerised with it. Danni fell asleep almost immediately after Sophia was placed in her crib after being fed, the exhaustion from the day too much for the detective to deal with visitors and so on. As her eyes closed, she thought that tomorrow could wait.

She should have known better considering that she had a newborn baby. Babies don’t let you sleep and while she was exhausted, the baby needed nourishment. What she hadn’t expected was for someone to be in the room with her - her mom had left to go back to her place for the night, Chin and Kono had left with a promise to come back the following day and the nurses had more patients to deal with - and it was dark outside. Nobody should be there, except there was. Danni’s sight focused on the person, she first recognised the camo uniform and then everything turned crystal clear.

“I knew you sucked at kids, McGarrett, but to the point of tears? That’s something else.” She groaned and moved slightly to sit properly against the pillows. Steve was holding Sophia with such care that Danni’s heart made a flip flop in her chest.

“I didn’t make her cry, she had been awake for a while.” Steve’s gaze was fixed on the baby he had in his arms with a megawatt smile and twinkling eyes. “She’s probably hungry.”

“Then you should hand her over before she wakes the whole wing.” But they looked so cute together and didn’t that made something to Danni’s insides? “She has quite a set of pulmons.”

“Here you go.” The SEAL transferred the baby to her mamma’s arm though a hand lingered on her small feet as Danni untied the gown. “She’s perfect.”

“She’s mine so of course she is.” And she was such a good girl who latched on to her nipple easily. “You were hungry, weren’t you, little one?”

Steve moved the chair to the bedside and sat down, still way too smiling and focused. Danni turned to look at him with tired eyes. She hadn’t noticed the cut above his eyes, the black eye and the busted lip. As her stare went further down his body, her mind tried to figure out if he was hiding more injuries. She could only guessed he had bruises all over him. Good, he deserved those.

“I’m sorry I missed the birth.” Danni had to blink and think what he had said. “I didn’t expect for the op to be this long. Chin has been keeping me posted though. He told me about your stalker being dealt with and he sent photos from the baby shower and I couldn’t answer, I’m really sorry.”

“Right…” Her voice was dropping sarcasm and he flinched at it. He couldn’t or he wouldn’t? He had been with Catherine, who was he trying to fool? “How’s Catherine?”

“Danno.” If she weren’t holding a baby she would have punched him. “Can we not do this now?”

“Why? I’m just a friend asking for a friend’s girlfriend.” The baby detached herself from her mom when Danni’s anger levels raised and the detective had to take deep breaths to calm down. “Why are you here anyways?”

“Let’s wait until Sophia is done and I will tell you everything.” If it weren’t for Sophia… Danni focused on the feeling, the warmth and weight of the baby still having her fill. Once the baby was done, Steve took her so Danni could tie back the knots of her gown and burped her. The Jersey woman hated that he made it look so easy and she felt tears pricked at her eyes. “Catherine is alright. She found the person she was tracking and they are both back on the Enterprise.”

“You left us with a message that didn’t explain much and you come back and what? You expect everything to be ‘alright’?” Now that she wasn’t holding the baby, now that she was more awaken, Danni allowed herself to get mad. “What are you even doing here, Steven?”

“You called me…” Something on her face must have given away that he was fucking up big time. “D, I’m sorry I left with a message, it was not ok, but I had to help a friend, you can understand that, can’t you?”

“I can that’s why I didn’t ask that, I asked you what the hell are you doing here.” And if she didn’t like the answer she was going to call the nurses. “Last time we saw each other you ran away and then you disappeared for a month and you come here on your camo… why? What for?”

And it was time to come out clean. Steve had one chance to be honest. Thought for Danni it was Steve’s last chance to get out and stop playing games it her heart.

“When you told me you were in love with me I realised how much of an asshole I’ve been to you. For so long I thought we could be parents together and have something unique but to be honest I was being selfish and I ran away from your place because I couldn’t deal with it, because I’ve been hurting you without knowing it. Then Cath showed up and gave me the chance to clear my head by putting some ground between you and me. And it did help but not in the way I hoped for.” Steve left the chair and sat by her side on the bed, he handed her the baby. Danni was blaming her overwhelming hormones for the tears on her eyes. “As I spent more and more time with Cath, the more I realised that the kind of relationship she and I would ever have was not what I wanted, that I couldn’t go back to that when I had something so much better right here. I can’t go on having something good when I have something great here. Cath and I would have gotten married and would have been working overseas more time than not if everything went according to her plans. The more time I spend abroad with her, the more I realised that I didn’t need that. And day after day you were on my mind and not as teammates. I wanted you and what you could give me, I wanted a family, D, a family with you and Gracie and Sophia. I pictured us together and I had to have it.”

His fingers were playing with Sophia’s tag but his eyes were on Danni. It was now or never. He have his partner a few seconds to take in what he was trying to say.

“So I came here straight from the airport with a plan on my head. I was planning on asking for a co-parenting deal with the belief that you had changed your mind on how you felt about me and I could only think of how much I would have to beg you to agree on co-parenting. On the ride here I heard your message and I realised I had missed my daughter’s birth and you were probably furious at me.” That part was true, she was utterly mad at him for leaving her but as the anger was receding, it left place for something she had tried really hard to shut down and it wasn’t forgiveness, that he had to earn it just yet. “But then I came here, you were sleeping and I couldn’t find it in myself to wake you up considering you had just given birth to our child, the baby was awake and I had to hold her. I stood over there watching you both, you looked so beautiful and she is so perfect… it took me a while to notice that I didn’t have to beg for a chance to have this with you.”

“How so? I haven’t forgive you just yet, no matter wha-” His eyes dropped to the tag around Sophia’s little wrist and his smile widened.

“Because you left the door open for this, babe.” Danni had to give him that and she smiled reluctantly. “Because when I came here I didn’t expect to meet Sophia Moana McGarrett-Williams.”

“It means ‘from the ocean’, I thought it was fit-” She was turning to look up at him and found herself being kissed by the SEAL. “You big oaf…”

“I love you, Danno.” And Danni was at loss of words. “And I’m looking forward convincing you that we can be a family together even if it takes the rest of my life to do so because there is no one else I want to spend my life with than you. And I’m sorry it took so long for me to figure it out.”

“You’re an idiot.” But Danni liked the idea of him being her idiot and she started the kiss this time. “But I love you too.”