Danny wasn’t sure he could do this anymore. Going into it, he thought that he could handle it; after the disaster that was his marriage to Rachel, he wasn’t sure he ever wanted to have another serious relationship. No way was he going to put Grace, let alone himself, through that kind of pain again.
So when he and Steve somehow stumbled into bed together at the end of a long case, clothes being ripped off (literally, in the case of his shirt), sharing bruising kisses and long time coming orgasms... Well, Danny may have had some reservations, but it was hard to care about the future consequences in the heat of the moment.
It turned out he had no reason to worry, though, for once they were done, before they had even had the chance to catch their breath Steve was rolling out of the bed, strolling to the shower and asking Danny to be sure to lock up on his way out. It left him with mixed feelings; on the one hand, there was no awkward ‘where do we go from here’ conversation. But on the other...didn’t Danny mean more to Steve than a quick fuck? Than a wham-bam-thank-you-ma’am sex occasion?
By the time he managed to fall asleep that night, he still had yet to figure it out.
At work the next day, it was as if nothing happened. They went about the day just the same as always, bantering, catching criminals—just another day in paradise. Though their touches and glances seemed to linger on occasion, nothing was said or done about it. Danny almost was able to set the night out of his mind entirely and not worry about it ( lies, his brain would whisper at night) when almost three weeks later, it happened again.
And again. And again.
That night Danny ended up falling asleep at Steve’s, worn out from their long day and an even longer night. When he woke up that morning it was to an empty bed, his clothes folded up at the foot of the bed. Judging by the noises drifting up the stairs Steve was in the kitchen, a quick glance at the bedside table showed that it was well past Steve’s morning swim time.
Ten minutes later and Danny had gone to the bathroom, dressed, brushed his teeth—he was ready to handle whatever Steve threw at him. Only to be met with a cup of coffee and two slices of toast, Steve telling him to eat quickly so that he could go home and change—maybe shower—before getting Gracie for the weekend.
It was casual, no reference made to what they had done the night before; that morning set a precedent that was the tone of their whole affair.
For months that was Danny’s life. Things would go the same as ever, with times where Steve and Danny would get lost in each other for a while. It wasn’t until Steve dropped that Catherine was coming for shore leave in conversation, so casually, that Danny was able to put a word to what this had all meant to Steve: Fuck buddies. He had somehow found himself in the same position of Catherine, and he wasn’t sure how he felt about it.
Danny spent the week she was there trying to figure out what he wanted to do. Did he let this continue when she left, or put a stop to it? Despite his best efforts—and fuck, did he try—he knew that deeper feelings were taking root in him for Steve. If he had any hope of their friendship surviving this, it was best to nip it all in the bud, right? A small part of him wanted to tell Steve, to see what would happen, but Danny was always able to ruthlessly shove it aside. (Back or aside or “aside again” depending on the meaning. Writing both sounds awkward)
Because Danny had a good idea what the outcome to that would be.
By the time she was gone again, off to places unknown, Danny had come to the decision that the benefits to their friendship were done. No more would he find himself in Steve’s hands again, getting lost in their tantalizing rhythm. He was sure of it—the next time Steve went for a kiss, Danny would turn face and let him know: no more.
Which is exactly what he had intended to do. The next time Steve went for a kiss, it landed on his cheek, stunning Steve still for a long moment. By the time Danny had worked up the courage to tell Steve they were done, Steve had a hand gently cupping his cheek, his whispered “Danny?” so full of need that his resolve crumbled, shattered at their feet as their lips met heatedly once again.
The days following, Danny would assure himself that next time, next time would be the end. Yet somehow he found himself falling into Steve again, and again, and again. And each time, those feelings that had taken root continued to build up, stretching and growing until his love for Steve consumed him.
Then because love had never been fair to Danny, Catherine came back. She came back to stay, bunking at Steve’s because why stay in a hotel for an undetermined amount of time when your friend has room to spare? With Catherine there full time, spending time with Steve at home and work, Danny thought that surely, surely that was the end of them.
But then Catherine was leaving on a date with a man she met at work, and Steve was over at Danny’s, fingers tangled up in his hair as he pinned him to the door, kissing the breath out of him. Steve even stayed the night, waking him up in a very favorable manner before they had to leave and start the day.
When Steve and Catherine came strolling into work a week later—having obviously been intimate—Danny started to think that maybe that really was the end. If they were going to be coming into work with a “just got laid” demeanor and share intimate touches, heated looks, that definitely meant the end of Steve and Danny’s hook ups.
Yet, it wasn’t. Time and again they would find their way to each other—and time and again, so would Catherine and Steve.
It was a pattern that continued longer than Danny would ever admit. Kono and Chin had noticed, he knew—both trained detectives, close friends, how could they not? But neither had said anything, staying out of it. But when Catherine and Steve were obviously screwing...they were both more gentle with him, inviting him out outside of work more than they had before. Their friendships deepening may be the only good thing to come out of the whole affair.
There finally came a day, though, when Danny just...couldn’t do it anymore.
There came a point where his love for Steve was too deep to be ignored, a point where he could no longer hide that love away and keep this thing between them casual. Where he couldn’t have sex with Steve without wondering is he only here because she’s not available? When he hit the point that he found himself looking down at a transfer form to HPD he couldn’t remember filling out, tempted to send it in so that he no longer has to see them together…
Danny knew that he’d had enough—so he did what he should have done a long time ago.
On a night that he knew Catherine is at base late he showed up to Steve’s, letting himself in with his key, setting it down on the table just inside the door with a heavy sense of finality. He found Steve in the kitchen, dressed in work-out gear and obviously getting ready to leave for a run. When Steve noticed him there he was greeted with a kiss, one that he couldn’t help but turn heated. It’s the last one they’ll share together, and Danny could admit to wanting to savor it.
But when Steve went to ruck up his shirt, Danny stepped back. When Steve tried to follow, he put the island between them, watching with a heavy feeling as confusion adorns Steve’s face.
“I can’t do this anymore.” Danny told him, voice soft and broken in a way it had never been before. “I love you Steve,” he stopped and took a deep breath, watching the play of emotions that run across Steve’s face before they fall completely. “But I’m done. I can’t be in this...friendship with benefits, not when you’re doing it with someone else, not when I feel this way.” Shifting back on his heels, he dug his hands into his pockets to keep from reaching out for him.
“I’ll still be your friend—I’ll always be your friend. It just...might take a while to get us back to normal.” His smile is small and sad. “But next time, when you want…just stay, ok?”
Having said his piece, with his heart shattering inside his chest, Danny stood—waiting for Steve to say his piece. When minutes passed and nothing happened, Danny deflated, sighing deeply.
“See you Monday at work, Steve.”
And without waiting to see if Steve had anything to say to that, Danny turned and walked out, the door snicking closed behind him heavily. When he got in his car and drove away, leaving behind the stunned Navy SEAL he hoped wouldn’t hate him for this, Danny couldn’t help but think that he closed the door on something that could have been more.