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I Can Do This

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~~~

Steve – March 2016

~~~

“So, Commander, Detective,” the lawyer started, head turning towards them as she greeted them.  She was a small white woman by the name ‘Kain,’ and Danny sure liked her better than any lawyer he’d ever met barring Ellie; he said that often.  And Steve knew he had met his fair number. “As you know, Jack’s petition of adoption has been posted for well over two months, are you sure you want to second-parent adopt?”

Steve blinked and glanced over at Danny, “Is that a problem?”

“No,” Kain said, “his biological mother’s consent goes a long way, but it will look suspicious, adding a second parent mid-way through the process, especially with no legal connection between the two of you.”

“We’ve been work partners for well over six years,” Steve said.

Kain made a face, “While that is impressive, that’s not really the connection a judge looks for in potential co-parents.”

“What would it take?”  Danny asked. “Would it be better for Steve to adopt alone, and then I adopt after time’s past?”

She nodded.  “You could do that, but there are other ways.  Other things you could do that would show this isn’t a whim decision.”

Danny glanced over at Steve and sat up straighter, Steve blinked in confusion at his body language.  “Marriage?”

Steve’s heart lurched.  That was the first time that word had been brought up, and everything between them was still so new.  Marriage was so big, marriage meant rings and vows and commitment and while that was in the future, Steve didn’t think that meant right now, quick, hurry.  

“That would be the ideal option,” Kain said.

Steve gulped.

Danny reached out to hold his hand, pulling his attention away from the lawyer.  “I’m not ready for marriage.”

“Oh, thank god,” Steve said, relieved.  Then he caught himself, “Not! Not that it’s off the table… for... eventually…”

“Right!  No, just… not…”

“Right now.”

“Yeah.”

Steve sighed a breath of relief, happy they were on the same page.  Finally, after six years, a nuclear bomb, a couple girlfriends, a few small invasions of foreign countries... they were finally on the same page.  Steve felt sparks hit random parts of himself; his shoulder, his neck, his ribs, his thighs, his cheek. He knew the moment he allowed himself to feel romantic love for Danny he’d be drowning in it.  By the smile and soft eyes Danny was wearing, it seemed to be mutual.

They were finally on the same page.

Danny shook himself, knocking Steve out of it.  He turned to the lawyer and licked his lips. “Are there other options?” Danny asked.

“Well,” Kain said after half a beat, face curious, probably from watching their ridiculous faces.  “There is a domestic partnership.”

“What’s the difference between that and marriage?” Steve asked.

“Not much, actually,” she told him.  “Marriage makes things easier with military spousal benefits, but not impossible.  A partnership still entitles you to benefits and helps in the event something happens to one of you.  In my opinion, a partnership is more of a legal relationship, while a marriage is an emotional one. Though a partnership doesn’t hold as much weight to lots of people in the world.”

“But it would hold the same weight in court?” Danny asked.

Kain nodded, “I believe so, especially with your history of knowing each other for so long.  You don’t have to be married to second-parent adopt, but it’s just… adding you to the petition so long after Steve filed… that could look suspicious.”

“Right,” Steve said.  If he hadn’t been such an ass about it all they wouldn’t be having this problem.

Danny squeezed his hand, pulling his attention back to him and the dropped their voices again in a semblance of privacy.

“Hey,” he said gently, rubbing his thumb along Steve’s.  “Legal, not emotional,” Danny said. “Security, but not…”

“Marriage,” Steve finished.

“Right... I could do that,” Danny told him.  Then he raised his eyebrows at Steve in question, his blue, blue eyes certain and steady and oh so patient, waiting on Steve.

“I could do that,” Steve said, nodding, warmth flooding through him.  They smiled at each other for a moment before Steve turned back to the lawyer.  “What do we have to do?”

~~~

Steve, present day

~~~

Fresh out of the shower, ready for the day, Steve found his boyfriend at the stove making eggs.  It was a common enough thing in the morning. It had become a routine they fit into nicely since they had fallen in together.  Only now, instead of Danny’s medical leave wardrobe – a wardrobe that consisted mostly of sweat shorts and t-shirts – he was standing wearing his work attire.  

Oh, how Steve didn’t realize he missed Danny’s ass in his work pants until he had those pants back.  He had every right to look now that they were together.

Smiling, and Danny grinning as he entered the kitchen, Steve snaked his arms around Danny’s waist.

“Glad to see you can move this morning,” Danny teased him about the night before. “Glad I didn’t do something permanent.”  

“Shut up,” Steve said against his cheek, kissing it quickly. Danny turned his head and met him for a kiss… two kisses… a third that made him turn around in Steve’s arms… and a fourth that made him abandon the eggs on the stove.

Steve grinned against his mouth.

“You sure you want to go back to work?”

“Hmm,” Danny said.  “Let’s see… we have two car payments, a mortgage, medical bills, law fees, and four children.”  He mused for a moment, thinking it over. “Yup, I think I have to go back to work.”

“Mmm, well,” Steve nuzzled his nose into Danny’s neck, “if you insist.”

Jack took the time to kick in his high chair, distracting both of them.  He had fluffy crackers on the tray in front of him. He was still too small to successfully feed himself finger foods, but every now and then he’d get one in his mouth and the task was enough of a challenge for him that it gave Danny time to make breakfast for the rest of the house.  

“Can you believe our adoption hearing is on Thursday?” Steve asked, arms still around Danny.

“Four days,” Danny said, grinning at Jack.

Steve studied his happy look for a moment. “Second thoughts?”

Danny didn’t look away from Jack.  “Nope.” Then he turned to Steve, “You?”

“No way,” Steve whispered.  They grinned and leaned in for another kiss.  

“We’ve got a lot to do this week,” Danny said.  “Let’s hope we don’t catch a long case.”

“Mmm, knock on wood.”

Steve’s life had been good to him for the last several weeks.  He mused on the good things, Danny’s mouth being one of them, while Danny’s fingers ran through the back of his hair.  They just got back from their ‘getaway vacation,’ stronger than ever. They received notice that their domestic partnership had been processed only yesterday and they celebrated by losing some sleep.  

Everything with Danny just felt like they were pouring concrete around them.  Danny’s family was coming to visit – the first time they’d be around them now that they were together and Steve felt the pressure.  It was a good kind of pressure. Grace and Nahele were taking the slow walk towards summer vacations, and their hike up to the petroglyphs this last weekend was good for all of them.  It wasn’t just a trip for Grace and Nahele, but it was a test for Danny. Steve wanted to make sure that Danny’s knee could make a trek up the steep hills before going back to work. He rested a few times, but nothing more than to be expected otherwise.  Danny really was ready to go back to work, no matter how the worry settled in Steve’s stomach. They hadn’t really worked out how they were going to be together and be partners yet; Steve was looking forward to the challenge.

Life was good.

And breakfast was starting to burn.

“The eggs are burning, Danny,” Steve said, squeezing Danny’s asscheek and kissing him one last time.  “I’ll get the plates to the table.”

Danny turned back to the eggs, and Steve went about setting the table, and eventually the hustle and bustle of the morning stirred up around them.  Reminders about a baseball game that evening, and reminders about cleaning rooms for relatives visiting at the end of the week, and some last minute flash card practice, and scrambling around to get everyone in the car – it was busy even if Charlie had spent the night at Stan’s.  That, plus Danny going back to work threw their easy routine off, just a little, and Steve was waving goodbye to Jack through the windowed door of his daycare room just as he got a phone call that they had caught a case.

~~~

Danny – 1991 – Age 15

~~~

Danny knew the boy scouts looked good on college applications, and then later in life when he wanted to try to be a policeman, but what started out as an activity to eat some time after school and to look good on paper turned into actual enjoyment.  Danny enjoyed the camaraderie. Some of the guys on the baseball team thought it was a little childish, his insistence to stay a scout, even after several of his friends dropped the activity. He enjoyed being outside, and he enjoyed campfires, and he enjoyed the few trips to the archery range they took, and he’d be lying if he said he didn’t enjoy the uniforms.  

Billy Selway stuck it out with him, more for getting to spend time with Danny than anything, and one of the few things his grandparents gladly paid for.  Billy was practically a Williams, as much time as he spent at Danny’s house. His parents were gone, and he had no siblings, and it was just him and his grandparents.  They were old school Catholics and thought Scouting was a respectable activity. Along with baseball an American Tradition, after all. The Williams were a good family, lots of kids, religious father; young Danny was the perfect friend for a boy like Billy to have.

It was a good thing they got along as well as they did.

But man, Billy looked good in his Eagle uniform.  They were in the small Scout shop in Newark, getting all the needed necessities for their new up and coming rank.  A new shirt for Danny, a new neckerchief, some socks that were required of them. Danny’s mom told them to spring for some official camping gear too.  There was a set of twin boys who were buying their cub scout uniform and were loudly examining all the badges. Danny remembered those days and smiled at them.  They were about his little sister Abigail’s age.

Billy, however, posing and showing off, made Danny’s mouth turn dry.  He looked away quickly, down to the belts – he’d have to get a new one of these after Abigail decided to “update” his with some sparkle paint.

Distracting himself with the buckle he tried not to focus on the fact he just thought his best friend was “hot.”  Maybe he just had a thing for uniforms? He turned his eyes back to Billy as he did a over dramatic twirl and Danny couldn’t help but drop his eyes to his ass.  He looked away quickly again.

“Hey, come on!” Billy called out to him.  “Tell me I look spiffy!”

“‘Spiffy?’” Danny repeated, eyeing him.

“Yeah,” he said with a drawl.  “Admit I’m the cat’s pajamas.”

“You’re a dork,” Danny laughed.  

“Danny, sweetie,” his mom called from somewhere over near the merit badge sashes. “Let’s get you a new one of these too!  Your other one is getting a bit snug!”

“God, I love your mom,” Billy said, leaning on a rack of tan button ups.  

“Yeah, I like her,” Danny said with a smile.  

That was when the shop’s front door bell jingled and Danny couldn’t help but look up.

Another boy, about his age, walked in, followed by what Danny assumed was his father.

He had dark hair, combed back in a style Danny instantly wanted to try out for himself. He wore a jean jacket Danny instantly coveted.  He was tall and built like a soccer player. Everything about the boy screamed ‘I’m so much cooler than this place,’ but didn’t give off the feeling that he thought that about himself.  His dark eyes scanned the room, taking in his surroundings, and then found Danny.

Danny’s eyes widened at the sudden connection.  They stared at each other for what felt like was too long, but was probably only a few seconds.  

He was the most delicious looking thing Danny had ever seen.  

Danny looked away quickly at the thought, eyes glancing towards Billy, and then found his mother – still inspecting sashes – across the room and then back to the boy.  A grin grew on the boy’s face. It hit Danny – he knew what Danny was thinking.

He looked back down to the belt buckles.  

The idea that he could like boys had been a constant thought lately.  He was very confused on the subject. Girls were pretty with their hair and their hips and their legs and how good they always smelled.  But boys… boys were pretty for a whole different set of reasons. Their waists, their butts, ...how they carried themselves. Danny found he was drawn to taller boys, with dark hair and cocky grins.  But he was also drawn to athletic girls with dark hair who didn’t back down from a conversation. He was very confused.

He looked back up to the boy through the side of his eye and caught the tail end of one of those cocky grins.  The boy’s father pulled on his shoulder and the connection was dropped. Danny watched as they made their way up to the front counter, where a bored Eagle scout was working on some volunteer hours.

“What was that?” Billy asked, crowding into Danny’s space.  “Do you know him?”

“What?” Danny asked, knocking himself around the head.  “No.” He said it a little too quickly.

Billy studied him for a second, a small look of curiosity crossed his face and Danny’s stomach flipped.  If anyone knew that Danny was having thoughts about boys, it was going to be his best friend.

His face turned from curiosity to nonchalance in a heartbeat and he shrugged.  “It just seemed like you knew him from somewhere.”

“I’ve never seen him before,” Danny insisted.

“Then let’s go introduce ourselves.”

“What?” Danny asked, suddenly embarrassed.  “No!”

“Why not?  He’s a Scout!  We have that in common!”  He turned to walk towards the counter.

“Billy!” Danny reached for and failed to grab Billy’s arm.  

“Come on!”

Danny stood for a second, stewing in the embarrassment before he realized hanging back would make him look dumb, and he didn’t want to look dumb in front of this boy.

‘Oh god, I do like boys,’ Danny groaned to himself.  He glanced over to his mom, who had a sash hanging over her arm and had moved on to a bookshelf full of guides and how to books.  She hadn’t noticed the awkward soup her son was making. Danny really didn’t want to deal with the whole gay panic thing, and yet, here he was, being forced to because Billy was a friendly guy by nature.

‘Oh my god, I like this boy.’  Danny bit his lip. This was a first and it was so fast.  Sure, Billy was good looking, but he was Billy. Billy was like a brother to him.  But this boy this beautiful Italian boy – was handsome and Danny had never had a crush so fast before.  What was happening?

Suddenly his throat was dry and he had trouble swallowing.  His feet moved without his permission, and there he was a few feet behind Billy, hating himself.

“...there are a few troops in Newark, but none in your city at your age group,” The Scout behind the counter said.  So he was here looking for a troop.

“Troop 230 is the best,” Billy spoke.  “We’ve been around since before World War 2.”  The boy and his father turned to look at Billy.  Danny’s stomach flipped at the short glance the boy shot Danny’s way.  

“I take it you boys are 230?” His father asked.

“Yes, sir!” Billy said.  Then, after a second or two had passed – Danny’s eyes on the boy the whole time – Billy knocked into Danny’s arm.

“Yes, sir,” Danny answered with a nod.

“Where are you from?”

“Philly,” the boy answered.  “But we just moved to Morristown.”

“Ah, the suburbs!”  Billy said, like hadn’t spent his entire life a train ride away from New York City.  Then he held out a hand, “Billy Selway.”

The boy smiled a sweet, pleased smile and took Billy’s hand.  “Ricky. Ricky Bonnaduci.”

There was another few seconds of awkwardness before Billy rolled his eyes and said, “This weirdo is Danny Williams.”

Ricky grinned and held out his hand.  Danny took it a little too fast and there were instant sparks.

“Nice to meet ya, Danny.”

“You too,” Danny said quietly.

Billy had that curious look on his face again.

“So,” Ricky’s father said.  “Is Troop 230 out of Newark?”

That’s how Ricky Bonnaduci came into Danny’s life.  That’s how Danny started to care about what his hair looked like.  That’s how Danny finally admitted he liked looking at boys.

That’s how Danny’s life got turned inside out.

A few months later, Ricky had become a good friend, and the two of them did what could only be described in retrospect as “teenage flirting” and they both knew it.   Danny liked a boy, and he was lucky that the first boy he liked seemed to like him back.

Like how they’d sit next to each other at meetings, and schedule their volunteer hours together.  Little things that made Danny’s stomach flip. Biting of lips and cocky grins and belly laughs. And the guy loved food.  He was always bringing all sorts of food to meetings. Sweets and meats and was always happy to share, but always making sure to get Danny’s opinion before all others.  

“Ya know,” Billy started, in one of the vans heading towards a camping trip weekend. “I’m starting to feel a little bit like the third wheel around here.”

Danny was quickly worried.  He knew what was going on, he knew Ricky knew what was going on, but how obvious were they being?  Would Billy approve? Or would Billy think less of him? Danny’s family were all Catholics, he knew the mindset Billy’s grandparents would have.  He didn’t think Billy would drop him, but there was that morsel of doubt that his best friend would think he’s disgusting.

“I’m sorry, Bill,” Ricky said, turning around.  “How about you bunk with us in our tent this weekend?”

Billy’s mouth dropped as he digested that suggestion.  He turned to look over at Danny, and then back to Ricky.

“Alright, sure,” he said, sounding a little unsure.

Ricky met Danny’s eye and they gave each other a look of relief.  Ricky knew that if anyone was going to find out first, it was going to be Billy.  Of course Ricky had to smuggle a whole rack of ribs in his bag. And Billy was more than happy to partake in the late night snack.  Danny was sure that Ricky was trying to smooth feathers with Billy. A choice that made Danny a little weak in the knees.

“This is contraband,” Billy said, impressed.

Ricky grinned, “The Boy Scouts motto is ‘always be prepared,’ right?”

Danny laughed.  And Ricky’s eyes turned from happy to something Danny didn’t quite understand at sixteen years old.  But it was enough to make things click. This was going to happen.

Oh, how stupid he was back then.

He decided he and Billy needed some alone time and chose him as his partner in the fishing boat.  The whole troop was spread out over the small pond in half a dozen row boats, but everyone was spread out enough that any conversations could be private.

They sat in silence for a little bit, enjoying the cool weather.  

Billy broke the silence.  “You know you’re my best friend, right?”

Danny turned, “I know.”

“Am I yours?”

“Of course, you idiot.”

“So you know you can tell me anything, right?”

Danny’s stomach dropped again.  Billy knew. Or, at least, he suspected.  

“Yeah, I know.”

“Okay.”  Then. “I’d follow you into hell, man.”

Danny chuckled.  “I hope we don’t have to go there.”

“Still,” Billy said, absently reeling in his line.  “Say the word.”

Danny smiled, observing his friend; his brother.  He fiddled with his own reel for a second. “You know that goes both ways, right?”

Billy narrowed his eyes at him.  Danny liked to think that look was Billy knowing Danny was bi before Danny did, and deciding whether or not to make a joke.  Billy only smiled and then something tugged at his line and the moment was over.

Later that night, Ricky was giving him all sorts of signs with his eyes and Billy was watching them with a happy curiosity.  Danny was feeling good; a good boy nudging him and laughing with him and flirting with him, and a best friend that all but declared he’d support him.  Maybe this gay thing wouldn’t be so bad.

That’s when the whole troop split up – something about navigating with the stars and earning a merit badge – when Billy grabbed his flashlight with a smile.

“Why don’t you two go off on your own?”

“What?” Ricky asked.

Billy shrugged.  Then he winked at Danny.  “See ya’ in hell.”

“Billy,” Danny sputtered.  “What–”

But Billy only mock saluted him, and was off into the dark, leaving Danny alone with a boy he’d been flirting with for months.

“I like him,” Ricky said, crossing his arms.

Danny snorted at him and started walking in the opposite direction.  “Let’s go get this merit badge.”

“I don’t really care about getting a merit badge tonight,” Ricky said, voice suddenly lower, and Danny turned on a dime.  There was no mistaking his tone, and then the look on his face.

“Jesus,” Danny sighed, overwhelmed.

Ricky made a face and then clicked his tongue.  “Not thinkin’ about him either.”

That’s how they found a dark bit of forest, and Danny had his first kiss with a boy, and then his second, and definitely the first time he had someone else’s tongue in his mouth, and definitely the first time someone kissed his neck.  Looking back, it wasn’t that great of a kiss, but man sixteen year old Danny didn’t care.

Of course the troop leader seemed to come out of nowhere, flashlight on them, catching them in an embrace, with Billy not far behind him.

“I think the pond is over this way, Mr. White!”  But his distraction was too late. He saw the scene in front of them and looked as upset and scared as Danny felt.  He was trying to keep the troop leader away from them, but had failed in his endeavor. Danny would always been thankful that he tried.

There’d be one, single goodbye phone call Ricky would sneak in late one night, but the trip home – the trip where every single boy knew what had just happened, and the troop leader furious… that was the last time he’d see Ricky.

If he had been three percent braver, he’d have held his hand.

~~~

Danny – Present Day

~~~

Steve was out the door with Jack and then on the way to a crime scene; Danny was soon after him with the teens to high school, and then he was on the way to the airport. His parents were due in town and Danny was to greet them and get them to their hotel.

Forty years of marriage wasn’t something to turn your nose up at, and here were Eddie and Clara Williams, taking a week to celebrate those forty years.  Eddie kept up his promise of traveling more, and Clara was more than happy that the promise included long stays in Hawaii where the majority of her grandbabies were.  They were staying the week, and then Danny’s sisters and a couple aunts would follow for another week.

By complete accident (or kismet) Jack’s adoption fell in the middle of their visit.  Danny’s whole family would be present to welcome the newest member of the Williams clan. The Williams-McGarrett house would host two parties in a single weekend and Danny was already feeling the pressure, even if the only thing he had to worry about was the house.

Luckily, Max stepped up for the adoption party, excited that his friends were adopting. He said it was ‘his honor and privilege to host such an occasion.’  Danny knew it had to do with his own adoption. He had been nicer to Danny ever since he found out their intentions towards Jack. From the sounds of things, he had roped Jerry and Kamekona into the planning and Danny had no idea what the party would look like with those three in charge.

Kono and his sisters stepped up for the second party.  Danny and his sisters wanted to throw their parents an anniversary party, even if it was a small occasion attended to by mostly Danny’s friends and their family.  Kono, on desk duty due to her pregnancy, was going stir crazy. Danny offered up the option to help and she took to it like a fish on a hook. Stella and Abigail had both mentioned Kono’s enthusiasm the last couple phone calls.

They still had some light hurricane Fiona damage – mostly in the trees – and the backyard needed all sorts of work done, but Steve was sure they had time.

They had four days and Danny was already picking his parents up from the airport.

“Danny, baby!” His mom was smiling and holding out her hands for a hug and Danny went with a wide smile of his own.

“Hey, Ma!” Danny greeted her with a deep hug.

“Hello, son,” Eddie greeted.  

Danny greeted him back with a hug.  “Hey, pa.”

“Where are my grandchildren?” Eddie asked.

“At school,” Danny shook his head with a grin.  His dad always insisted on seeing his babies. “They are already taking Thursday and Friday off, they don’t need to miss much more school.”

“But we never see them!” Clara pouted.  “And Charlie barely knows us.”

“I know!” Danny mocked her tone.  “But I’m trying to be a responsible dad.”

They all laughed.

“Besides,” Danny said reaching for their suitcase rack with wide eyes; his mother always did pack heavy.  “Aren’t these first few days supposed to be just for you two, celebrate a little, enjoy yourselves?”

Clara shrugged.  “Grandbabies aren’t enjoyable?”

Danny rolled his eyes, pulling the suitcases to his car.  “You know what I mean.”

“Yeah,” Eddie said, pulling Clara towards him by the waist.  Clara went with a flirty smile and Danny resisted the urge to cringe.  No wonder Nahele and Grace found excuses to slink off to their rooms when he and Steve got cuddly on the couch.   “I am certainly looking forward to that hotel room.”

“Okay,” Danny interrupted.  “Enough of that. I’ve got to get you guys to your hotel.  We caught a case this morning, and we have three days to solve it.  Don’t want to have to make Jack’s adoption a fly-by.”

“Oh, a case?” Clara asked, grabbing her own suitcase.  “Do you know what’s going on?”

Danny shook his head.  “Team’s at the crime scene now.  I’m hoping to meet them there.”