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Rough Patches

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"Did we check on the guy with the--"

"Yes, Steven, we checked. Three times."

Steve stared at the information on the computer table like it was a particularly annoying perp Danny had forbidden him to shoot in the foot. "What about the guy with the hair and the--"

"Dead," Danny said. "Remember?"

"Right, the thing with the horse." Steve scrubbed his face with one hand. "We have to be missing something."

"I know you are less familiar with the down sides of police work," Danny said with patently fake patience, "but sometimes leads dry up. Sometimes we have no control over the case. And I realize that lack of control is a problem for you, especially where the Governor's friends are involved, but this time there is no one to pull an insane ninja fully-flaunting-the-Geneva-convention form of torture to drag information out of. They have robbed six rich people with security systems including cameras and there are no prints, no footage of them on the cameras and no witnesses. We have exhausted the few rather tenuous possible leads, and as much as it drives you crazy, and believe me, it doesn't exactly make me happy, sometimes you have to sit back and wait for a break."

Steve looked at him for a long moment. "What about the guy from the Kona robberies?"

"Christ, it's like talking to a rock!" Danny said, tapping away on his phone. "Still in jail, where he was the first three times you asked. We have no leads. No tenemos pistas." He frowned at the phone for a second before continuing. "Kakou he 'a'ole."

Steve blinked rapidly. "What?"

"It's Hawaiian for 'we have no leads.'"

More blinking. "You're learning Hawaiian?" Steve asked with the grin he always got when Danny did anything even remotely islandish.

"No, but Grace is learning it in school, and she put this thing on my phone so I could help her, so I looked it up hoping it might get through to you since clearly English was failing."

The truth didn't dim the grin at all. "We need to get you a better app. Maybe one with a pronunciation guide."

"I think you are missing the point of my impromptu Hawaiian, which was--"

"Just got a call," Chin said, rushing into the room. "Lady in Kahala heard some shouting and crashing in the house next door, the Waters' house. The neighborhood fits the profile for the other six robberies, so we took it, just in case."

"Kakou he 'a'ole no mas," Danny said as he followed Steve out the door.

Steve's driving was impressively fast, even for him, as if all the pent up frustration of not being able to act on the case was being unleashed on the Camaro and Danny's stomach. They arrived ahead of Chin and Kono and the HPD back up, sirens blaring all the way until they screeched to a halt in the driveway in front of the house. "Danny!" Steve yelled as they jumped out of the car, "Take the back!"

He didn't have time to obey before the shot rang out and they were both racing up the driveway and steps, Steve's legs flying faster than Danny could match. Steve kicked the door in without bothering to try the handle, disappearing seconds before Danny followed. He paused, listening for sounds, hearing Steve's voice uttering something low and urgent from a few rooms away. He followed that voice to a study at the back of the house, stopping short to stare in equal parts horror and disbelief at what he saw.

Steve knelt beside an older man, frantically trying to untape him from a chair, seemingly oblivious to the futility of the task. He knew better, or should have, even without the eerie similarities to another crime scene with a silver-haired man, tied instead of taped to a chair, a hole clear through his head behind unseeing eyes.

Any rational person would see the hole, see the blood still creeping slowly across the fabric of the white polo shirt, its little green lizard emblem now swimming in dark red, and know it was futile. But Steve was urging Danny to help him get the man on the ground as he cut furiously through the duct tape.

"Steve," Danny said quietly, moving forward to stand behind Steve, his knees touching Steve's back. "Babe," he said, his hand resting on Steve's shoulder. "Stop."

He sawed at the tape for about three more seconds, each of which seemed to tick off loudly in Danny's head before Steve stopped, sitting back on his feet, the knife falling out of his hand. He looked up at Danny, upside down, looking so lost that Danny's heart broke.

"Come on," Danny said, hearing sirens in the distance as he helped Steve to his feet. He led him out back to a terrace overlooking the beach and all but pushed him into a seat. "Stay here," Danny ordered, giving Steve's shoulder a squeeze and going back into the study.

Chin and Kono were there, staring at the scene with a horror similar to Danny's. HPD seemed largely unfazed, but Danny looked around and realized none of them were on the McGarrett call, whereas Chin and Kono had at least seen the photos. Pulling them aside, Danny lowered his voice. "We heard the shot as we got out of the car. The killer can't have gotten too far--have them start searching now."

"How's Steve?" Chin asked

"He was first in," he said. "He's out back now. Just...just keep everyone else away from there for a while, okay?"

They both nodded, and Danny went in search of the bathroom he'd seen on his way in. He picked up a plush towel and saturated it in cold water, finding another route to the terrace out back. "Here," he said, placing the towel in Steve's bloodstained hands. When Steve just stared at it as if he'd never seen a towel before, Danny blew out a hard breath and knelt down beside Steve, taking the towel. He cleaned the blood away as best he could before tossing the stained towel over the railing to get it out of sight.

That done, he left his hand on Steve's thigh, looking up at him. "You okay?" he said, knowing that the answer was an emphatic no, but not having any other way to phrase the question, at least not here, not yards away from that crime scene.

Steve blinked at him, then shook himself. "I'm fine," he said, his voice hoarse. "We need to start a search for the gunman before he leaves the--"

"Already on it," Danny said. "Chin and Kono are handling things inside. What do you say we get out of here?"

"Danny, it's our case, we can't just leave."

"We don't even know if it's our guy yet," Danny replied. "And yes, we can leave, okay? Because..." because you don't need to see that anymore, and because I don't need to see you seeing that anymore, and for a whole host of reasons that he couldn't just say. "Because I said so."

Steve snorted. "I'm not Grace."

"Then act your age and let's go."

He shook his head with a sigh, but when Danny stood, he pulled and Steve rose with him, letting him lead the way through the kitchen and around the other rooms to the front of the house. He didn't argue when Danny took the keys right out of his hand and got behind the wheel. Steve sat in the passenger seat, eyes forward, barely moving the entire ride, while Danny tried desperately to think of something to say.

What could he say, though? 'Hey, man, sorry that looked just like your father there'? Or maybe 'No, really, your dad's scene wasn't that bad'? Only that was a lie, and Steve had seen the photos, Danny knew he had, and there was no way of telling him that lie. He knew Steve was, somewhere in his head, superimposing every bit of the McGarrett crime scene over the one they'd just left. Only now he had the smell of powder and the feel of sticky, warm blood all over his hands to imagine with it.

Fuck. Danny exhaled slowly, casting another covert glance at Steve, but he still hadn't moved.

"I'm not going to break, Danny," Steve said, but his voice, a hollow attempt at his normal annoyed humor tone, said otherwise. "I'll be fine."

Right, you keep telling yourself that. "Okay. Just...okay."

They pulled up to Steve's house, and he opened the door before Danny had even fully come to a stop. "Thanks for dropping me off," he said, getting out. "I'll see you tomorrow."

He'd closed the door and was halfway to the house before Danny's brain could catch up. Never mind that Danny had barely been to his apartment for the last two weeks, and every time he had been, it was for a maximum of five minutes to pick up clothes, and Steve was always there with him. Never mind that he'd spent the last two weeks in Steve's bed. Apparently none of that mattered.

He had been summarily dismissed.

And he got it, he really did. Steve did not suffer in company. He preferred his deepest pain in dark solitude and even if he'd started to open up to Danny in random bursts, there was no way he was going to easily invite him into this one. Not until he was good and ready, if and when that moment ever came.

With one last, worried look at Steve's retreating back as he went inside, Danny swore before he turned the car around and peeled out of the drive. He made it to his apartment at Steve-speed, only realizing once he was inside that he had nothing to eat. A call to the shitty, but fast, pizza place down the road had pizza and beer there quickly. A call to Chin while he waited had given him the bad news that the shooter had eluded HPD, making the beer even more attractive.

By the end of the fourth slice and sixth bottle, he was almost glad he knew better than to drive like this. Because he wanted to go over there and force Steve to deal with...something. Anything. To at least know he wasn't sitting there suffering alone, if nothing else. But he knew it wouldn't be welcome, and he knew better than to force Steve McGarrett into anything he wasn't ready for.

He crawled into bed before the news even came on, the thin, lumpy pull out mattress far worse than he'd remembered. Sleep took some time, but he finally managed to pass out, waking sometime in the middle of the night to a sound, familiar and yet slightly out of place. He sniffed, getting the same vibe from the scent, and opened his eyes to find Steve leaning against the wall near the bed, arms folded closely over his chest, watching Danny without moving. He would swear the bastard wasn't even blinking.

"You realize," Danny said, as his heart slowed back down to a non-sprint rate, "you just shaved five years off my life and almost got shot." Not entirely true--he had recognized the sound and smell as Steve before he'd even fully woken up, had known he was safe, hadn't even reached for his gun, but seeing him looming had still nearly given Danny a heart attack.

Steve sniffed, uncrossed his arms, flexing his fingers like he wasn't quite sure what to do with his hands, then just sort of launched himself at Danny's bed, landing half beside him, half on top of him, his lips finding Danny's with a singular focus that far greater humans than Danny would be unable to resist. He knew he should say something, but all the blood seemed to have evacuated his brain.

Hands finally finding a purpose, Steve was doing his best to keep Danny's blood below the belt. He yanked off the boxers Danny had been sleeping in and went to work on Danny's dick, using every bit of his newfound knowledge of Danny's body , playing him with his hands, his lips, his--oh, God, his teeth scraping Danny's nipple, making Danny's fingers dig into Steve's scalp.

Okay, so maybe blood to the brain was overrated. The thought slipping away as he tried to push up into Steve's hand and pull Steve's mouth closer to his chest all in one motion. Steve wasn't having any of it, one arm across Danny's hip somehow managing to keep him from moving.

He stopped abruptly, sitting up, Danny getting out a "What the fuck--" before he realized Steve was yanking his shirt over his head and fumbling with his pants. Danny watched, focusing on breathing because Jesus, he had to have some control to keep himself from grabbing Steve and wrangling him back on the bed before the clothes were off.

Then Steve was back on top of him, his hand working Danny's dick again just long enough to make him whimper when Steve stopped once more. The whimper turned to a moan as Steve rolled a condom on Danny's cock and moved over him, pushing down as fast as he could manage --probably faster than he should have, some part of Danny's brain recognized--until Danny was balls deep, Steve sitting across him like some sort of completely depraved statue, muscles taut, head thrown back, that neck making Danny wish he had the energy to rise up enough to attack it with his mouth.

Steve began to move, his pace relentless, chasing out God only knew what, and whatever it was Danny couldn't manage to care for the moment as long as he kept, fuck, kept pushing down like that, with that little maneuver of his hips that he only hoped to God they did not teach at SEAL school, because Jesus fuck, they wouldn't have to take weapons in for a coup, they could just fuck them all into submission with that.

There was no holding back like this. Danny was lost, pushing up, meeting Steve thrust for thrust so hard he thought his back was going to ache in the morning. He didn't care, wouldn't have cared if he was going to be unable to move, because this, this was going to be so fucking worth it, worth going back to the cane, worth whatever it cost, he could feel it. He gripped Steve's forearms, pushing up with more strength than he knew he had and froze as everything whited the fuck out, nothing else existing but this feeling bursting out of every pore.

He could feel himself breathing, finally, feel Steve breathing in time with him, collapsed over his chest, their skin rubbing easily together. Danny managed to lift his hands, which was more coordination or strength than he would have expected himself to have, and run them up and down Steve's biceps a few times, swallowing against the lump in his throat as Steve buried his head further into the junction of Danny's neck and shoulder.

As good as that was, he knew they had to talk about whatever had brought it on, and not, he told his lizard brain emphatically, so they could recreate it. Or at least not with whatever had driven it tonight. Would talk, as soon as he could find his vocal chords, which seemed to have been ripped out. Maybe he'd just take a quick nap, and then he would get Steve up and make him talk. Right. One quick nap.

He woke to Grace's ringtone, light streaming in the windows, and no one else in the bed. He grabbed the phone, saying hi to her as he looked around the room, but his eyes told him what he'd already sensed--Steve was nowhere to be found.

He talked with Grace for a few minutes before she had to go to school, then hung up, putting his phone back on the table and looking around. The sheets, the smells, the tiny aches in his muscles and the spent condom in the trash can by the bed all told him the same thing--he hadn't dreamed Steve's visit. And Steve had at least cleaned up before he left.

But he'd left.

"Fuck." Danny said, flopping back onto the bed, eyes closed. His phone rang, the ringtone for the Five-0 HQ exchange, and his eyes opened as he grabbed for the cell. "Hello?"

"Danny," Kono said, "we've got a lead on the shooter from yesterday from the Waters' house. Boss is already there, said to call you before we left."

A lead, great. And Steve was having Kono call him. Wonderful. "Text me the address. I'll be right there."

He hung up, throwing the phone on the bed with more force than necessary, wincing as it bounced off onto the floor. No time to worry about last night right now--he'd have to corner Steve later. He dressed as fast as he could, grabbed the coffee that had brewed while he dressed, and his phone--which was thankfully not broken--and ran out to the car.

The address Kono texted turned out to be an urgent care clinic surrounded by the usual cruisers, yellow tape and colorful bystanders eager for any cocktail stories they could get out of an active crime scene. He saw Kono by her car, talking with an HPD officer, and Chin over by the front door, but there was no sign of Steve.

"Where's Steve?" he asked when he reached Kono.

"Inside. Our guy came in here last night as the doctor was locking up and pulled a gun on him. Made him stitch up a nasty head wound that could've been caused by the golf club we found at the scene in Kahala yesterday."

"The club couldn't have been used on the vic?"

Kono shook her head. "Wrong blood type for Waters."

"Okay, thanks."

He nodded to Chin as he walked into the clinic, following the trail of police to an exam room where Steve stood over a doctor Danny assumed was the one who'd stitched up their killer. Judging by the ice pack he had on the back of his head, Danny also assumed he'd been knocked unconscious by the killer and that's why they hadn't heard about this until this morning.

"Are you sure you can't remember anything else?" Steve was barely managing to keep his full 'I know you killed six puppies' tone out of his voice.

"I told you, Commander, I barely remember stitching the guy up. Loss of memory is common with--"

"Blows to the head, I know, you said. But any little detail that comes back to you could be extremely helpful. If you'd just think one more time....."

Danny stepped up beside Steve. "Why don't you think for a while, Dr." Danny checked the man's name tag, "Wong, and if you think of anything else, even if it seems insignificant, you can give us a call." He pulled a card out of his pocket and handed it to the doctor.

"I will. I promise, I'll do my best. It's entirely possible more memories will come back once the swelling's gone down, I just can't recall anything else right now."

"I know, thank you for your time." He could feel Steve barely holding back beside him, but he wasn't saying anything, letting Danny take over. "Please, don't hesitate to call as soon as you remember anything."

The doctor assured him once more he would, and Danny grabbed Steve's bicep and pulled him out of the room and the building, not letting go until he had him off to the side near the corner, away from prying ears. "Okay," Danny said.

"Okay?"

"I know you want to read me the riot act for interrupting your interrogation," he said. "Go ahead."

Steve blinked. "I...uh...no. Not really."

"Really? Danny poked him. "Well, I'm not hallucinating you--and I wasn't last night, either, and don't think you're getting out of that discussion later, my friend--so you must have gotten yourself hit on the head as well."

"No, I--you were right. He wasn't going to remember any easier with me pressing him. I just...."

"Couldn't help yourself? I know. It's why I have a job. So why don't you tell me where this lead came from."

Steve rubbed at the back of his neck, wincing a little, and Danny wondered if he had slept at all. "They rushed forensics because of this case being...well, this case, and found that a golf club had blood on it that didn't match the victim's. They put out a BOLO for anyone who might have a wound that could have been caused by a golf club, thinking maybe the victim surprised the killer and got in a good swing before the killer got the upper hand. When Dr. Wong woke up this morning and called the police, they called us."

"Why did the killer leave him alive?"

"The doctor said he remembers the gun against his temple, and a trigger being pulled, but that's all he remembers, so either it jammed or he was out of bullets or something,"

"Sounds like our guy is having a sudden run of bad luck," Danny said. "Maybe we'll catch him now."

Chin called them over to the door to see where the killer had broken in. "No finger prints," he said, but there are boot prints that don't belong to the doctor and he said the cleaning crew had already been in when he was attacked."

"Good," Steve said. "Get whatever you can--I'm going back to HQ. As soon as you're done, bring it all back and we'll go through it and see if we can find anything that helps."

Danny watched him go, waiting until he had made it to his truck before turning back to Chin. "Where was he when he got the call this morning?" he asked.

Chin raised an eyebrow, the only outward sign he thought the question was odd. "In his office. Doing paperwork, he said," Chin added in a tone that said he didn't quite believe it either.

"What time?"

After a quick glance at his watch, Chin thought for a few seconds. "Had to have been around five."

Danny nodded. "Thanks," he said, clapping Chin on the shoulder and ignoring his curious look, just turning and walking away. He got into the car and headed for HQ, stopping to get breakfast for both himself and Steve on the way. He found Steve sitting at his desk, looking like he was, in fact, doing paperwork. "What've you got there?" Danny asked, dropping Steve's breakfast on the desk beside the papers.

"I'm going back over the other files on the case to see if we've missed anything at the other scenes that might help now that we know more." He looked at the bag Danny had put on his desk, then at Danny.  "What's this?"

"Breakfast," Danny said. "It is not a bribe," he said, assuming Steve's look of apprehension was more about Danny plying him with food than about the actual food itself. "I promise not to talk about anything even remotely personal until you've eaten." Because he had a feeling Steve hadn't bothered to eat anything since lunch the day before, and if postponing their talk a little longer made him eat, fine.

They ate, talking about the case, until Danny noticed Steve lingering over the last three bites a little too long. "Finish that," he ordered, "or I'm going to start talking anyway."

Steve swallowed it in one bite, taking a long drink of coffee and sitting back in his seat, looking as relaxed as someone about to have a colonoscopy. "Okay, I'm done. What did you want to talk about?"

"Oh, I don't know, Grace's upcoming recorder performance at school? Or the fact that Kono is coming up on her first six months and needs a psych eval? Or maybe about the tire on my car that still isn't working right since you tried to drive it off a cliff? Or hey, I know! Maybe we should talk about how you appeared out of nowhere last night and fucked me through the mattress and then disappeared just as quietly?"

One eyebrow shot up. "You've never complained about that before."

"About the sex? No. I have no problem with the sex. I am all for the sex. The blowing in like a tornado and back out again after blowing me off earlier, that I have an issue with."

"So you don't want me to blow you anymore?"

"Okay, stop. Just stop it right now, because I see what you are doing, and it is not going to work. I need you to understand that. If this," he pointed his finger back and forth between the two of them a few times, "is going to work, then that is not going to happen."

Steve sighed. "It's not a big deal. I needed to get some work done, so I left. I'm sorry, I didn't realize you were such a girl. I'll stay next time."

"No. You do not get to pull that and then act like nothing weird happened. Like it was no big deal."

"What do you want me to say, Danny?"

"How about we start with the truth?"

Steve's nostrils flared. "Danny, I--"

Chin knocked and came in, glancing between the two of them before he spoke. "Sorry to interrupt, but we're ready out here with the evidence."

"Be right there," Danny said, because however much they needed to have this conversation, they needed to catch a killer more. Chin left, and Steve jumped up, looking relieved. Danny stood just in time to catch Steve by the arm as he tried to brush past. "This is not over," he said, his gaze holding Steve's for a long moment until Steve swallowed and nodded, and Danny let go.

He followed Steve out into the main room, where Chin and Kono had pictures from both the Kahala scene and the clinic up on the computer table. Danny glanced at Steve, but his face was a blank mask with no sign of reaction to the Kahala scene.

"HPD found a set of boot prints at the scene in Kahala," Chin said, flicking a picture from the table up to one of the overhead screens. "The boot print we found at the clinic," he said, flicking another picture up beside the first, "is a match. It was definitely our guy."

"I don't suppose the boots have his name engraved on the bottom?" Danny asked.

"No, but Dr. Wong did remember that the guy was blond, probably 6 feet tall, maybe a little taller, with a southern accent," Kono said, "so that lets out a lot of suspects."

"Wait." Steve was frowning at Danny. "Wasn't there a guy in our initial suspect list from Alabama?"

Danny nodded, already mentally running down the list of suspects in his head. "Thompson? Townshend? No, wait." He ran to his office and grabbed a file, flipping through the pages as he hurried back to the computer. "Towson," he said. "Peter Towson. The computer turned up his MO as a possible, but he was in Draper Correctional in Alabama, so we dismissed him." Danny flipped another page. "However..." he said, and held up a picture of the blond prisoner. "Height's listed as six foot one," he added.

"Chin," Steve said, but Chin was already tapping away at the screen.

"The main search still shows him as incarcerated, but..." Chin tapped for a few seconds more, "here's the lists of releases for the last month." He pulled it up and did a search for Towson, finding him on the sixth page. "Peter Towson, released three and a half weeks ago."

"Why was that not in the system?" Steve demanded.

"It happens," Danny said. "Overworked, understaffed, it can take a month or two for the status to be updated sometimes, depending on the state."

Steve glared at the list of releases as if it had shot at him. "Find out everything there is to know about this guy," he ground out. "Now."

Danny's cell rang, an unfamiliar number, and he picked up with his full name and title. "Detective, it's Dr. Wong."

"Did you remember something, doctor?" he asked, getting the attention of the rest of his team.

"I did. I don't know if it helps, but I think I remember him making a phone call right after he hit me. I was still dazed, I must have passed out right after, but I remember the sound of my office phone being picked up and dialed, and a voice. I'm sorry, I don't remember anything that was actually said."

"Thank you, that could be a big help if we can trace the call. Did you remember anything else?"

"No, I'm sorry."

"It's okay. Give me a call if you do."

He hung up and told the others. "Can you trace the call from here?" he asked.

Kono's fingers were already flying across the screen while Chin continued pulling up info on Towson. "Okay, there was a call made around the right time to Ailana Kalama at Makiki Station on Wilder."

"Wait," Chin said, scrolling through something on the screen. "In the log of letters and calls to Towson at Draper, there are dozens from an Ailana Kalama."

"Old girlfriend?" Danny asked.

Chin was still scanning. "Doesn't look like it. She was writing to several inmates there a few years ago, but about eighteen months ago, it looks like the rest of them disappeared and it was just Towson."

"So she was a prison pen pal who turned into more for this guy?" Steve said.

"What is wrong with those women, anyway?" Danny asked, turning to Kono. "Please, can you explain to me why women would write to convicted criminals looking for love?"

"Don't look at me, brah, my relationship with them ends when I throw their asses in jail."

"Okay," Steve said, "if he was calling her from the clinic, then maybe he's holed up at her apartment. Let's go."

They met HPD around the corner from Kalama's apartment, moving silently until they were gathered outside her door. At Steve's knock and his accompanying "5-0! Open the door!" there was a scuffle inside, but no answer. Danny didn't even blink when Steve kicked in the door, he just followed close behind to watch his partner's back.

Towson was at the window with one foot out onto the fire escape. He hesitated for a second at Steve's command to freeze, then started to move out the window again. Steve rushed over to grab him and yank him back in the apartment, throwing him on the floor and training his gun on him once more. Danny was no gentler as he shoved Towson onto his stomach, pulling his arms behind his back and cuffing them.

Once Towson was cuffed and on his feet, Steve glared at him one more time, and Danny wondered if he was wishing he'd had a chance to shoot him. "Book 'em, Danno," was all he said, though, before turning on his heel and walking away.

By the time Danny was done turning Towson over to the cops and having them put out a BOLO for Kalama, Steve was gone. Danny found Kono, who told him she saw Steve leaving in one of the cruisers. He wondered if Steve was just anxious to get away from this particular criminal or if he was anxious to avoid Danny.

In the end, the reason didn't matter. They needed to talk. Danny was the next to leave, driving back to HQ only to see if Steve was there. He didn't dare call, as he had a suspicion that, given any warning, Steve would find a way to disappear or perhaps track down a nice little terrorist cell or something to avoid talking.

He wasn't at HQ, either, though there was a message from HPD that the girlfriend was in custody. Steve, Danny guessed, had gone home. He knew better than to think he was getting out of this conversation again, but he'd certainly be only too happy to make sure it was on his home turf. Danny stopped to get pizza and beer before heading out to Steve's. He juggled the pizza box with a six pack on top to turn the door knob and get the door open, not bothering to knock.

Steve wasn't in the front, or the kitchen, so Danny left the pizza and beer on the kitchen table and went out back. Steve was sitting by the water, staring out at the gentle waves lapping at the sand, a Longboard dangling from his fingertips. Danny took the other chair without a word, looking out at the horizon himself.

"Towson nice and comfy?" Steve asked after a minute.

"Locked up nice and tight in a cell, a situation I suspect he will have to become accustomed to once more. HPD found Kalama, too."

"Good," Steve said, taking a drink.

Danny took a deep breath. "We need to talk."

"Okay. Just...not on an empty stomach."

He recognized a stalling tactic when he saw one, but they had to eat, which was why he'd brought food in the first place. "Pizza's in the kitchen. Come on."

He stood, hearing Steve scrambling up to follow him back into the house. Steve didn't comment on the fact that the pizza was half ham and pineapple, but his smile was comment enough for Danny. They ate in silence at the kitchen table, finishing off the whole pie before Danny pushed the mess aside. "In here, or outside?"

"Outside," Steve said, as Danny expected. The darkness would help, and Steve always seemed to draw some kind of strength from the ocean. Steve picked up the rest of the beer and tucked it under his arm, leading Danny back out to the chairs on the beach.

When they were settled, Danny waited for Steve to start. "Last night," Steve said after a minute, "I just needed to be somewhere else." The words were halting, like he was figuring it out as he went along. "Somewhere good. Not where my head was at the time." He turned his head to look at Danny. "I didn't know what else to do."

"It didn't occur to you to maybe talk? Words are not the enemy, Steven."

"I know, I just...I didn't even know what to say. I still don't." Steve's hands were moving around in fitful motions, fingers flexed, as if even they couldn't decide what to do. "I just needed to be...not in here," he said at last, tapping the side of his head with his index finger.

"And your solution was to fuck my brains out and leave?"

Steve sighed. "I'm sorry," he said, managing to sound regretful without sounding entirely sincere.

"I'm not after an apology. I'm after that not happening again."

And really, he always forgot how still Steve could get until he saw him freeze like a store window mannequin. "You want us to stop sleeping together," he said, his voice suddenly devoid of any emotion.

"I want--what? No, that is not what I want. Seriously, were you dropped on your head from all those helicopters? Sex is fine. Sex is great. I am all for sex," Danny said. "What I am not for is you showing up in the middle of the night and using me like that, like I could've been anybody, and then running away like you're ashamed of it."

Steve's eyes widened as he stared at Danny for a moment before he found his voice. "You--that...that is so far from what was going on that I don't even know where to start."

"So tell me what was going on, then."

"It couldn't have been just anybody, Danny," Steve said, the words tumbling out in a rush. "It had to be you, nobody else. Nobody. Only you."

Danny sorted through that for the meaning. Was he supposed to take that to mean that he made Steve happy? Or better, or safe, or made him forget things? Or maybe he was just the God of Sex and could obliterate things from people's minds through mere intercourse. "Why?" he asked, when he couldn't fathom the meaning on his own.

Steve's laugh was harsh and unsettling. "I wish I knew. All I can tell you is that I was sitting here alone and I couldn't stand it. Next thing I knew I was in my truck on the way to your apartment, but when I made it I didn't know what the hell I was doing there. I'd been standing there for twenty minutes when you woke up, and I just...you looked so much better than everything going on in my head."

And really, what was he supposed to do with that? He knew he would never have gotten that much if Steve hadn't been up for about two days straight, half-drunk, and completely fucked over emotionally at the moment. But Steve also couldn't take it back now, and wasn't really looking like he wanted to. He was looking more like he wanted Danny to make it make sense. Or make it better. Or...fuck, who the hell knew?

"If that was the case," Danny said slowly, "why did you leave?"

"I told you, I had work to do." The brutal honesty was gone from his voice, his normal careful tone back in place once more.

"Okay," Danny said, picking up his beer and getting up. "If you're gonna lie to me, then we're done talking."

He'd gotten three steps towards the lanai when Steve grated out, "Wait!"

Danny paused for a long moment before turning and moving slowly back to the chairs. "I get that you're not one for heart-to-hearts about your feelings--it's not exactly my idea of a good time, either," he said, standing over Steve, who looked somewhere between terrified and pissed off. "But there's a difference between running down Cosmo relationship checklists and refusing to pick at the festering wound that's threatening to kill you."

"You read Cosmo checklists?"

"What? No, I do not read Cosmo period, it was just this thing Rachel used to--stop changing the subject!" Danny ran his free hand through his hair. "I can't decide if you're trying to deflect my questions or run me off completely."

"I don't want you to go," Steve said quietly, his eyes intense in the bright light from the moon.

Danny sat back down, leaning forward, elbows on his knees. "Then talk to me."

"What do you want me to say?"

"It's not about what I want to hear," Danny insisted. "It's about whatever messed up issue is going on  up there," he pointed at Steve's head, "that's likely to get us both killed if you don't figure it out."

"None of this is going to mess with work."

The really interesting thing is that not only did Steve believe that, ninety-nine percent of the time he was probably right. But this one...Danny wasn't so sure. "Why nobody but me?" Danny asked.

"I don't know," Steve said. "Because you're...you."

"Oh, well, that clears everything up," Danny said sarcastically.

"Look, you want me to talk, you're going to have to deal with the fact that I don't know what I'm saying."

Danny laughed. "Nothing new there."

Steve closed his eyes, sighing loudly. "Why does anyone choose anyone else?" he asked, opening his eyes to look at Danny once more. "Why did you choose Rachel?"

"Because...." He thought for a moment, then gave a half smile. "Because she was Rachel."

"Exactly. Some things you can't explain."

Which led to a far more interesting idea--that Steve was comparing the two of them to Danny's marriage. He wasn't sure if that was intentional, or just the first example Steve came up with and if he even realized what he'd done. Who the hell knew when it came to Steve?

"So," Danny said, clearing his throat, "no more hit and runs?"

"Do I get a pass if we catch a case?" Steve asked, smiling a little, his face looking five years younger than it had before.

He looked so relieved, Danny didn't have the heart to push anything more tonight, so he just tilted his head, pretending to consider the idea. "I'll think about it."

"You let me know."

"Will do. In the meantime," he said, standing up, "how about a hit without the run?"

Steve's smile turned into a full-blown goofy grin, and Danny's heart absolutely did not flip over at the sight. "I could be up for that."

***