"Jesus, it's worse than watching Animal Planet!"
"Bwhut?" Steve asked around a mouthful of loco moco. Danny was staring at him with a look between horror and disgust from the other side of the table.
"Steve, you are not Simba, you don't need to eat like a starving lion. The food's not going anywhere," Danny said with that incredulous tone, like he couldn't believe he had to explain this, the one which always put Steve on the defensive.
Steve hunkered further over his plate. He'd already had to listen to Danny disparaging the meal of ‘crazy snot’ he'd ordered. At least Danny had simply gawked for a moment before ordering a burger with fries and coleslaw on the side for himself and waited to begin his diatribe until the waitress had left. Out of politeness, Steve guessed, even if it was highly discriminatory, and not in his favor. At this point he simply wanted to finish their lunch so they could get back to the office.
"Just–– geez, Steve, c'mere," Danny said as he wiped his hands and reached across the table for his shoulder.
Steve leaned into Danny's touch without thinking but tensed when, unexpectedly, he started to be pushed backwards. "Hey!"
"Will you sit up straight, hands on the table, where are your manners, I'm not gonna steal your food, doofus, civilization, what are you even," Danny grumbled, pushing and prodding at Steve until he relaxed enough to let himself be moved.
"Okay, now I see why you were hiding it," Danny tutted once Steve leaned back in his chair, "There's not a green in sight in that glop." He then picked up his plate, tilted it slightly over Steve's and nudged the bulk of his coleslaw onto an cleared portion of it.
"That's not green either," Steve felt the need to point out. He was rewarded with a glorious eye roll.
"Shush, it's carrots and cabbage, it totally counts. They're honorary greens, okay?" Danny argued and put his plate down so he could pick up his burger again.
Steve glanced down at the slaw. He didn't truly mind extra vegs. He was a fan of a well-made coleslaw so he stabbed a mouthful onto his fork and tried it. He wasn't disappointed — not too heavy on the dressing, which was sharp and tangy, a perfect balance between the mayo, mustard and vinegar, and mixing well with the crunchy cabbage and carrots.
Still, he couldn't let Danny get away with that smug, almost fond, look on his face.
"Eyes bigger than your stomach, Danno?" Steve drawled around another bite which did the trick.
"Do not, do not, start with the short jokes. It's not my fault this place serves Shamu-sized portions," and Danny was off on another of his fun rants, the one where there was a quirk hovering at the corner of his mouth and his eyes were bright and mischievous. Steve settled in and enjoyed the show.
The case involved a miles-long paper trail that needed to be gone over with a fine tooth comb for any irregularities, so they decided to eat in the bullpen while they worked. Chin had elected Vietnamese for lunch and once he returned they were all hungrily digging into their take-out boxes. Everyone except for Steve, that was.
"Steve," Danny said after a bite of mi quang and prodded him in the side.
"Yeah?" Steve was still glued to the tech table.
"You haven't even touched your food," Danny pointed out and manfully pretended he didn't see Kono mouthing m-o-m at him.
"Just give me a second."
Danny allowed Steve a whole minute of staring at the screen while not moving, sharing significant glances with Kono and Chin, before he prodded him again. "Steven."
"Lunch. Food. Sustenance. Fuel for the SEALbot," Danny said and mimed shoveling food into his mouth with his chopsticks. "Nom nom."
Steve shot an unamused look at Kono who was snorting into her nom hua chuoi before turning it onto Danny. "I'll just finish this one."
Danny, however, decided he would not to be put off this time.
"You gonna make me play ‘airplane’? Because don't think I won't, McGarrett."
"Damn it, I said I––" Steve snapped but was interrupted by a goi cuon being shoved into his mouth. He froze, mouth hanging open, and stared at a smirking Danny who was unapologetically holding the other end of the spring roll. Kono's gale of laughter ripped Steve out of his stupefaction and he bit off the mouthful. He glared murder at Danny as he chewed and did his best to ignore Kono and Chin.
"There you go, babe," Danny cooed and oozed self-satisfaction. "Doesn't taste all that bad, now does it?"
It did taste good. The gauze-thin rice paper gave way to crisp vegetables, tender noodles and succulent pork and shrimp, all enhanced by the spicy nuoc cham sauce. Steve snatched the spring roll from Danny's fingers, dipped it in sauce and ate it with as much dignity as he could muster with his team — badly — trying to hide their amusement.
Danny was balancing his briefcase, a sandwich and his keys while holding another sandwich in his mouth as he locked up his apartment, depriving Steve a reason to lean on the horn again. It was still a novel experience for him to be the one picking up his partner. He'd given Danny a lift home yesterday though, promising that he would, so now he got to enjoy the sight of Danny clambering into his truck.
While still holding two sandwiches.
Danny sat down in the passenger seat and held out the one in his hand to Steve, giving it an encouraging little shake after a moment. Steve looked down at it. It was a hearty-looking thing; rye bread with cheese, lettuce, tomato and some kind of ham peeking out from the sides, specks of mayonnaise peeping between the layers. It was identical to the one hanging from Danny's mouth.
When Steve just looked between him and the sandwich, Danny rolled his eyes and told him How are you such a moron? with a look. It was a very eloquent look. With the hand no longer holding the briefcase, Danny grabbed the sandwich hanging from his mouth so he could add some explanatory words anyways. Surprisingly it was only the one:
"I already had," Steve protested. That earned him the proffered sandwich being shoved onto his chest and he barely managed to catch it before it stained his shirt.
"Sewage smoothies don't count," Danny proclaimed with a firm, emphatic nod. Apparently holding two sandwiches served as some kind of mystical gag for Danny Williams. Steve would have to remember that. "Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. You need some solid food in you."
"Really," Steve deadpanned, unimpressed.
"Look, I had to listen to a lecture on healthy eating habits last night. Gracie is compelling even over the phone; I'm very proud of her," Danny said and did puff up a bit with pride for a moment. "If I have to suffer, so do you. Eat."
Steve couldn't imagine Grace being anything but a dainty steamroller when she put her mind to it, what with having Danny and Rachel for parents. He wasn't sure if she'd inherited that belligerent jut of Danny's jaw Steve was seeing right then but he doubted it; she was all honey while Danny favored vinegar.
Realizing that Danny wouldn't shy away from siccing his daughter on him if he refused again, Steve gave in with a sigh. At Danny's smug little smirk, Steve stressed, "For Grace."
"For Grace, huh? Sure, babe," Danny smirked when Steve took a bite out of the sandwich.
Steve retaliated by flicking a scrap if lettuce at Danny's carefully-tamed hair.
Steve arrived home from his Saturday run to the Camaro being parked in the driveway and faint noises coming from inside the house. Reasonably sure it was a home intruder of the Williams variety and not a criminal one, he was alert but not combat ready as he entered. Since the noises and some intriguing scents came from the kitchen — tomato and basil and fried meat strangely coupled with cabbage and an unfamiliar strong crisp, sweetish herb — Steve followed them into it and...
Saw what looked like a culinary combat zone.
Pots and pans in various stages of use besieged the countertops, fighting for space with a fleet of cooking utensils and the remains of units of prepped vegetables. The island held the majority of parchment papers with cooling oblong dumplings but a couple had also relegated the coffeemaker and microwave from the counter to atop the fridge. In the center of all this chaos stood Danny, who was putting another tray in the oven when he looked up with a sidelong smile.
Steve could only stare as Danny, dressed down and with his hair curling ever so slightly from the heat, closed the oven door with his hip and dusted his hands on the old apron he wore. Steve didn't recognize it. He didn't really recognize most of the cookware. He'd known they'd existed in an abstract way since he'd taken stock of the entire house when he moved in, but he hadn't realized just how much space they commandeered when they weren't neatly stacked inside the cupboards.
It wasn't until the smile slipped away and Danny's eyes narrowed that Steve realized he'd been silent for too long. Danny's face morphed into a familiar scowl, but it was his grant-me-sainthood one and not the warpath-marching glower.
"What? I needed the space; you've seen my apartment. It's not like you're using it anyways," Danny argued with an expansive sweep of his arm to the rest of the kitchen. He snorted derisively. "And I didn't raid your frankly pathetic fridge so stop it with the owl face."
Steve blinked. "Owl face?" he asked as he finally found his voice.
"You know, owls. Always looking startled and kinda pissed about it. Like you."
Steve knew he pulled a face at that, damn it, but Danny had a grin lurking in the corner of his mouth so it was an acceptable loss. He let Danny savor his win for a moment until he could no longer ignore the fact that Danny, weekend-casual and easy-going Jersey attitude, had thoroughly invaded his kitchen and put it through its paces.
"I, uh, I didn't know you cooked, Danno," Steve said as he crossed his arms and leaned against the doorway.
"I don't, not really, but my nans made damn sure I learned the Family Recipes" — Steve could hear the capital letters — "and anyway, Gracie said she missed pirozhki, so."
"She missed what?"
"Pirozhki. Grandpa Ivan's favorite, just like Grandma Ester used to make them for him," Danny said and gestured to the dumplings laid out like a docked armada. "The ones on the island are the Bianchetti-Williams version with an Italian twist, courtesy of Nonna Alma." The arm swung towards Steve with a pointed finger. "Do not give me that look, they're not even deep-fried."
Despite Danny's rebuke, Steve couldn't help but feel underwhelmed by the heirloom dish. They reminded him of pizza rolls, the ‘Italian twist’ ones even smelled similarly, greasy bread rolls full of empty calories and heavy carbs. He tried not to let too much of his judgement show but evidently he failed. Danny centered his weight, feet hip-width apart and hands at chest level, elbows perpendicular with his heels and shoulders drawn back — telegraphing an impending rant with signal flares and a 21-gun salute.
"This is a hearty home-cooked meal. I used real butter and fresh produce and expensive, high quality meat. There are no preservatives or hinky E-numbers as far as the eye can see. This, my friend, is healthy food which will not bore you to tears. A man cannot live on grilled chicken and steamed vegetables alone; you need some carbs and fats as well. It's a scientific fact — look it up."
Steve had known that Danny was mildly obsessed with food but he hadn't been aware his partner even spared a thought to nutrition or the quality of a meal. It did explain Danny's fit, sturdy body despite the stereotypical cop diet, though. It also made the pirozhki appear slightly less discouraging, not that Steve was any more eager to try one.
Danny either didn't notice Steve's reluctance or simply didn't care, the latter being more likely by far, and wrapped a paper towel around one half of a dumpling before offering it to Steve.
"Steven," he said in that deceptively calm tone of his when Steve side-eyed the foodstuff, "if you are going to refuse this meal on the grounds that it's ‘unhealthy’ then I swear, Grandma Esther and Nonna Alma will both come back from the grave to haunt your ass."
Clearly Steve wasn't getting out of this. Levelling Danny with a look that hopefully conveyed his displeasure, Steve grabbed the pirozhki and took a bite out of it.
It was annoyingly delicious. Underneath a faint crunch the bread was delightfully soft-yet-chewy, wrapped around an ample filling. The dense meat stuffing burst with flavor, tomato and garlic balancing with basil and oregano, and those were only the ones Steve could pick out. He silently apologized to Danny for ever having compared Nonna Alma's invention to pizza rolls as he finished the palm-sized dumpling in two more bites.
He studiously did not look at Danny's happy incandescent smile — bright as a magnesium flame, stinging Steve's eyes even with his back turned towards it — and grabbed one of the original recipe pirozhki instead. The bread was just as mouthwatering as the former but the taste was unexpected and exotic. The cabbage and onions and meat created a taste which was earthy and rustic, which married perfectly with that warm-sweet grassiness Danny informed him was dill.
Steve wiped some stray crumbs from his lips with his thumb and chanced a glance at Danny. While he was no longer blinding, he was still smiling brightly enough that Steve had to fight the urge to squint. "Good, right?" Danny enthused and Steve, thoroughly won over, could only nod in agreement.
Steve kept Danny company as they waited on the last two trays and was told Danny intended to surprise Grace with a picnic on Wednesday, hence being days ahead with the cooking. Apparently pirozhki could be reheated with decent result, even if it was heresy, and Danny liked the idea of keeping some in his freezer as an alternative to instant dinners. Steve gave Danny shit over making a mess of his kitchen but helped out with the clean-up and sorting the pirozhki into lunch-sized portions in freezer bags. Danny then proposed a beer to reward themselves and they moved out onto the lanai.
After Danny had left with a bag full to bursting, Steve found a significant amount of meticulously labelled Ziploc bags in his freezer and detailed instructions on how to reheat them stuck to his fridge.
If it was nearing or already past midnight, Steve couldn't tell. The offices were dark, all the computers powered down, and even Danny had left for home with a knock and a wave goodbye some time ago. Steve knew he should have done the same but he just needed to finish… he just needed to finish this. They were hitting a brick wall with their latest case and were running themselves ragged trying to find something, anything. Once Steve had finished following this particular lead, he could go home.
He'd told himself this four times already but he decided to stick to it this time.
The sound of someone unlocking the door to the offices jerked him from his perusal of the printouts and scribbled notes, and put him on high alert. There was no legitimate reason for anyone to come to the Five-O headquarters at this time of night. Steve reached for his gun and had it halfway drawn when his brain finally recognized who the intruder making their way to his office was.
Steve squinted, but no, it was indeed Danny taking up the doorway with his presence and looking like he was gearing up for an argument. "Right," Danny said, loud and don't-give-me-any-lip in the quiet, "I don't care how much of a badass SEAL you are, buddy, you have officially entered the Sleepwalker Phase."
Since Steve was still trying to figure out why his partner had come back when he should be sound in bed, Danny barreled on, "Take it from someone who has extensive experience with burning the candle at both ends when it comes to police work — this can only end in one of two ways."
"Option one," he started and tilted his head to the right hand he held up, "is that you keep driving yourself nuts until you faint on your desk, catch a few hours of shitty sleep and wake up feeling like death warmed over because your blood sugar's tanked and you're still exhausted." He lowered his right hand and raised his left one. "Option two is that you accept that you can't do anything more today, you grab something to eat and go to sleep in your own bed. Then when you come back to work tomorrow you might have a chance at solving this case because you'll actually be awake."
Danny concluded this little speech by clapping his hands together before shoving them in his pockets. Rocking back on his feet, putting all his weight on his heels, he calmly meet Steve's stare, steady and unyielding. Steve rolled his eyes skyward.
"You're going to stand there until I leave," he said, not even bothering to phrase it as a question.
"And there's that scary, ONI-honed brain behind the brawns," Danny said with a wry grin that was half tired and half… something else. "Let's get this show on the road, babe. Chop chop."
It rankled him but Danny was right. He'd passed his optimal level of efficiency twenty-four hours ago and his tolerable level earlier that night. He could stay awake for another day, sure, but his cognition would be shot. But he could feel he was so close to cracking this case...
Danny started tapping his foot. Tap tap tap. A soft sound, rhythmic like a metronome but switching up the pace just often enough that you could never quite tune it out. Danny could keep this up for at least half an hour — he had proven this in the past. With a great sigh, Steve surrendered and pushed himself out of his chair. Danny ceased his tap-tap-tapping in reward and let Steve shove the papers into folders and lock them up in peace.
Steve fell into step with Danny as they left the offices and walked through the Palace which was empty even of the cleaning crew. Huh. Maybe it was later than he'd realized? Danny fished out his car keys but snatched them away with a scoff when Steve made a grab for them.
"Babe, if you think you're driving, you're already in the land of Nod."
As Steve folded himself into the passenger seat with more effort than actually required, he could admit — only to himself, mind — that he was tired enough to only run on training. For example, he was aware of the smell of fast food but didn't actually notice the paper bag sitting on the driver's seat until Danny shoved it into his lap before sliding into the seat himself. Steve braced the bag with one hand and opened it with the other, revealing a small coke, a large hamburger and a bottle of water.
"Drink the coke first and then eat. You'll thank me tomorrow," Danny said and put the key in the ignition. Instead of starting up the car, though, Danny pointedly kept his hand on the key, a mulish set to his jaw to go with the intent and admonishing stare. "Do not fight me on this, Steve."
Steve considered doing just that for a moment but he simply didn't have the energy to. Danny was gracious enough to not gloat over his win when he started the car after Steve took the first sip of the soda.
Drinking the ounce of coke was doable and while the first few bites were a challenge, the greasy generic taste not helping in the least, his nausea quickly abated and the burger was nothing but crumbs when they reached his home.
"End of the line. All passengers please exit the vehicle," Danny said as he shut down the car. He grabbed the paper bag and threw it in the backseat for later, slob that he was. He looked… Well, he looked as exhausted as Steve felt but there was also a hint of approval that Steve doggedly pretended not to see.
Once out of the car, Danny followed Steve inside and after locking the door and setting the alarm, Steve found himself herded up the stairs. When he raised an eyebrow in question he got a defiant pair in return.
"I'm crashing on your couch so don't get any ideas about sneaking back into work," Danny warned him — unnecessarily, not that Steve would ever cop to that — while steering Steve through the hall and into his bedroom with a hand on the small of his back.
Steve paused by the bed, looking at the bathroom door and evaluating if he had enough energy to shower before crashing. Danny's derisive snort convinced him that he didn't. He chose instead to fall face-first onto his bed and tiredly toeing off his boots. The first one he managed but the second one proved more troublesome. Danny muttered something that sounded like, "2.5% Neanderthal, my ass," and tugged off the offending boot. Steve rubbed his cheek into his pillow with a content sigh, closing his eyes.
"'Nite, D'nno," he mumbled and felt a pat on his shin before the door closed. The last thing he heard before he fell asleep was Danny softly treading down the stairs.
Steve loves Hawaii; it's his home and he's proud of his heritage, but even he can admit that the industrial harbors weren't the best representatives of the famously pristine landscape. The perp had skidded on a spill and slipped off the dock into the narrow gap between the concrete and a freighter. Steve had thrown himself on the ground and leaned over the edge to pull the man up, hooking his leg around a bollard for belay. Luckily Danny had grabbed his legs and provided welcome additional counterweight when the perp decided he'd rather risk being crushed to death by 200,000 tons of metal than being booked.
Which was the reason why Danny was trailing after a damp Steve into his office, griping about safety precautions and Darwin Awards, while Steve was searching for a dry, clean shirt in his desk drawers. He was pretty sure he still had some murky water stuck in his ear. At least his pants were still serviceable.
He tugged off his mucky shirt and balled it up to throw into the trash can, executing a perfect swish. At the ensuing silence, Steve turned around to gloat a bit but caught Danny watching him with a teasing quirk to his lips. Steve raised an askance eyebrow but Danny didn't act caught out. Instead he gave him an unhurried once-over that made the back of Steve's neck prickle.
"You know, if my nans saw you they would'a had a fit."
Steve blinked. "What?"
"They'd've fussed and clucked that you're just skin and bones." At Steve's increasingly baffled look, Danny grinned wider and continued, "Babe, they'd've tied you to a chair and force-fed you until you gained twenty pounds, minimum."
Steve worked his mouth but while it was willing to form words, his brain couldn't come up with any. Eventually he simply blurted out his first coherent thought: "Grandma Ester or Nonna Alma?"
Danny's grin morphed into a brilliant smile, making his eyes sparkle like sunshine on water. "Both. They'd'a had a relay race, you'd never catch a break."
"Is that what you're trying to do?"
"Am I what?"
"You. Are you trying to fatten me up?"
"Do I look like a nan on a mission?" Danny asked and indicated himself with a lazy wave. Steve's eyes lingered on his decidedly masculine broad shoulders and trim waist and came to the conclusion that no, Danny very much did not look like a grandmother.
"No," Steve agreed and silently added, But you're a dad. He didn't say it out loud though for too many reasons for him to examine. Instead he made sure his grin was smug as he said, "You sometimes sound like one, though."
"Oh, thank you, thank you very much. Here I am, simply expressing an interest in the health and well-being of my partner, only to get nothing but mockery in return. Nice, babe, very nice," Danny shot back, his retort underscored with the dancing hands of the Williams Sign Language. "I swear, you and Kono, I have no idea how you rattlebones don't sound like a wind chime whenever you move."
"You gonna tell Kono she needs to put on some pounds?" Steve asked with badly contained glee. Kono wouldn't actually take offence, Steve knew that, but she'd give Danny hell just on principle. And for the fun of it as well, to be honest.
"Steven, when have I ever given you the impression that I'm suicidal?" Danny smoothed his tie down his chest. "Or, for that matter, anything but a gentleman?"
"Well, we could start with the fact that you are from New Jersey," Steve drawled and oh yes, he was going to get it. Danny sucked in a breath, his eyes narrowed, he pointed a wagging finger at Steve and he was off. That quirk remained in the corner of his mouth as he read him the riot act and Steve crossed his arms, leaned back against his desk and enjoyed the show.
Where in there Danny managed to double dog dare him into eating an entire bag of malasadas for lunch, Steve wasn't sure, but as an officer and a gentleman, he was a man of his word.
.:. fin .:.