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Danny didn’t know what the fuck he was doing here. He was a cop for chrissakes and worse, a rookie. He didn’t have enough weight behind him to pull shit like this. He knew this was something he should regret doing in the morning.

He also knew that he wouldn’t.

Running his hand nervously through his slicked back hair he stuffed his other hand casually in his pocket, fingers clenching around the set of keys cutting into his sweaty palm.

Walking over to the desk he leaned up against it, turning on the Jersey charm at the receptionist, also a newbie, fresh from some course at the local junior college.

“Hey, ah-“he glanced at her nametag “Cindy. I’m here to take him in for processing.”

She glanced up at him, sorting through some files, and he noticed that the stacks were nearly overwhelming the desk and that her hands had a slight shake to them, bingo. Feeling more confident he grinned and leaned forward, folding his hand over hers.

“Whaddya’ say I take care of the paperwork just this once? These guys, they’ve been on the force so long that they forget how stressful it can be sometimes, amirite babe? Just give me the forms and I’ll fill ‘em out after I’ve taken him in.”

He could see the relief in her eyes, but professionalism and warnings about due processing seemed to be holding her back. “I’m not sure that’s the best idea Officer Williams, I mean, they said I had to make sure to do it all myself- get the proper signatures-“

Danny pulled back and rested his elbows on the counter, propping his head up on his chin.

“C’mon Cindy, what is it? A little destruction of property, some assault charges, bad? Sure. Illegal- definitely! But he isn’t going to go escaping, he’s no hard criminal. Besides- he’s got me watching him.” With one last smile, one he let shine through his eyes, she relented.

Leaning forward as if sharing a secret, she slid the correct forms across the desk and nodded towards the cell with a quick, grateful grin.

“He’s all yours Officer.”

Score. He couldn’t resist patting his pocket one more time to check for the key, reassuring himself it was there.

“Thanks Cindy, you’re the best.”

Trying to act as nonchalant as possible he went to open the bars, keeping his eyes on the felon who was leaning against the opposite wall, watching him with a neutral expression on his face. He followed docilely when Danny gestured and didn’t question him as he led him through the doors, detouring from the bullpen and heading towards the lockers, which should be empty this time of day.

The other man started to frown when he noticed where they were but he seemed content to let Danny lead him, not sensing any danger from him.

With a quick, furrowed glance to make sure the place was empty, he nodded to the man’s cuffs and when he stuck his wrists out, Danny finally made good use of the keys that had been burning a hole in his pocket.

The guy, this schmuck who Danny had seen being pulled through the station only hours before, rubbed his wrists, now slouching against the nearby lockers. Danny had only noticed him because he had finally given up on concentrating on his paperwork, and this guy, he stood out. Sure he was pretty and he had colorful tattoos, but that was nothing special in a place like this. No, it was how calm he was, something that became even more of a curiosity when Danny heard some of the vets grousing about the Navy SEAL that had been taken in for some stupid, heroic shit. Only trying to do the right thing, they said, and he’d be kicked out of the service for having a felony misdemeanor on his record.

And that, that just didn’t sit well with Danny. So he dug a little, found out that this guy, Steve McGarrett, had been in a bar, on temporary leave and apparently far from his native home of Hawaii, of all places, when he’d overheard some guys, some assholes going on about a beating of this guy going on outside, this fag they said. He was reported to have shaken the guys down a bit, made sure they were telling the truth, and damn near breaking a finger in the process, then he’d proceeded to go out and beat the shit out of the guys who had been ganging up on a victim. Two of them were in the hospital.

And Danny couldn’t convince himself that it was a bad thing.

When he found out that McGarrett hadn’t been processed yet, no fingerprints or anything, because of a mix-up earlier in the day with a couple of dealers, he jumped at the chance, not giving himself the chance to think.

All in all it was easy to give everyone the run around, pointing people in a different direction at every turn, not they cared enough about one guy who’d likely be released on bail in the morning anyways. And now here he was with this guy he didn’t even know apart from on paper. His record completely clean because Danny had bull-shitted everyone into thinking it wasn’t.

He wouldn’t let himself doubt his decision; he was fucking crazy there was no other way to explain why he’d risk his fucking career for some stranger, hell, a criminal. Thinking about it gave him too much of a headache.

So all he did was cock his head arrogantly, shove his hands in his pocket, and grin that shit-eating grin that his Ma’ said could charm the devil into letting him into heaven.

“I don’t know about you, SuperSEAL, but I’m about ready to blow this joint.”

Finally McGarrett broke his stoic mask, expression disbelieving, “What is that? Are you some sixties gangster or something, who even talks like that?”

Danny cocked his brow, rocking forward on his toes, “I’ll tell you who does, I do pal. Incidentally, I’m also the one that just saved your ass from getting discharged, so a little gratitude would be nice.”

McGarrett shook his head, pulling up from his slouch and Jesus it was easy to forget how big he was when he was constantly slumping over. Then he walked straight past Danny without saying a word, somehow unerringly finding his way to the back parking lot exit where Danny’s baby was parked, a mint 1979 Camaro that he had skimped for ages for.

He stood open-mouthed for what must’ve only been a few seconds but by that time, the SEAL was already out the door. Realizing he was falling behind, Danny burst into motion, unwilling to push faster than a jog to catch up with him.

“Hey, hey, hey, where are you going? You don’t even know what car I drive!”

That’s when McGarrett turned, a calculating expression on his face.

“I saw your key-ring when you pulled the handcuff keys out of your pocket, it was for a Camaro, I couldn’t tell the make just from that, but there are only three Camaro’s in this lot, and given what your salary must be, you probably have one of the cheaper models. You take pride in your appearance, obviously-” his eyes flicked, not unkindly, if a little incredulously, over his neatly styled hair, “so I doubt you’d let your car stay dirty, let alone get rusted. That rules out two of the three options. It’s the only logical option.”

Then McGarrett nodded over to the car they were standing besides, his car, of course, and for a second Danny considered refusing just to prove him wrong. McGarrett wasn’t really smug about it though, at least not in a condescending way, more amused than anything else- like he could tell he’d just blown Danny’s expectations of him out of the water.

Only he’d be wrong. That was why Danny had done all this, why he was sticking around the man rather than letting him go his way, because he had the feeling that McGarrett would always be surprising him, challenging whatever expectation of him that had any time to form.

And Danny, well, Danny wouldn’t have been a cop if he liked boring.

~

So it turned out Steve was a bit of a control freak. After an exasperating struggle over who would drive, Danny had finally conceded, handing his keys over to a would-be criminal who he had only known for four hours. And in an even stupider move, he was directing him to his apartment.

Danny really couldn’t explain it. What it was about McGarrett that seemed to make him lose all rational thought, and why Danny couldn’t really bring himself to mind any of it.

Frankly, he was a little worried as to what he wouldn’t do while with this man. But some part of Danny, the part that made him a good cop, the one that had kept him alive through all sorts of lethal situations, knew that no matter how foolish he was acting right now, he wasn’t actually in any danger.

So he brushed aside any lingering concerns as he directed Steve into the parking lot off of his building. McGarrett hadn’t even asked where they were going, or what he was still doing with him, so maybe he was feeling his own version of this insanity, which comforted Danny to an extent.

Once they had parked, he led Steve away from the car, snatching his keys back from his hand, and went up the steps to his second floor apartment, trusting Steve to follow him. The man was close behind him as he opened the door and welcomed him in with a sweep of his hand.

His apartment wasn’t much to look at, there were a few generic paintings that came with the place on the walls, and his fold-out couch was still open, blankets tangled. Instead of dishes, there were a few empty take out containers littering the counter and Danny doubted there was a thing in the fridge besides a couple of beers and a filter for the tap.

Still, it was home, and it was clean, disregarding the lived-in areas, and it was a place to unwind, which was what he needed right now. Hell, it was probably what McGarrett needed as well.

Shrugging off his jacket, he hug it on the hook, gesturing for Steve to do the same as he went forward to put the couch back together so they’d have a place to sit. Once that was done, he went to the kitchen for a few beers and hoped like hell he could remember where he’d last left the bottle-opener.

Finding what he was looking for after fruitlessly searching a few drawers, he popped the caps, grabbing both bottles in one hand by the stems and bringing them into the living area, setting them on the coffee table that McGarrett had dragged back in place.

Danny was oddly unselfconscious for being in such a personal space with someone he knew nothing about, so he set to rectify that situation in hopes to gain back a bit of his equilibrium.

“So, where are you staying?”

McGarrett picked up his bottle, taking a long draw before bring it down to rest on his knee, palms sliding back and forth on either side of it, making it spin.

“Over by the turnpike, just some no-name motel.”

Danny snorted “Oh no, no, babe, that just won’t do. You’re here for how long?”

Steve shrugged “Indefinitely. Could be a few months, could be a few years. They don’t really know what to do with me.”

Leaving that tidbit for later, Danny shook his head “Well, if you’re here for a few months at least, you shouldn’t be staying in some cheap motel, listen, I’ve been to all those places, you know why? Because murders are a daily occurrence over there. That’s no vacation.”

Steve took a hand away from the bottle, tilting his body towards Danny as he draped his arm over the back of the couch.

“What do you suggest I do? I can’t commit to any lease, and I can’t afford to stay in anywhere nice for that long.”

Since it seemed to be the theme for the day, Danny decided to just run with the whole ‘not thinking about consequences’ spiel. “Stay here. I gotta floor, even better, I think there’s a cot stuffed in one of the closets. It’s no Hilton, but it’s probably just as comfortable as whatever you’re on right now, and you have the added benefit of not having to worry about being shot in the middle of the night.”

Apparently Steve didn’t get the whole not talking about it memo as he tapped his fingers on his bottle, frowning at the amber liquid.

“Why are you doing this? You don’t know me. Hell, I could be one of those murders; especially considering the place you met me.”

Danny sighed, stretching out on his side of the couch, the toe of his shoe just barely nudging Steve’s under the coffee table. 

“To tell you the truth, I don’t know. I’ve never done this sort of thing. If you had told me this morning that not only would I aid and abet a criminal, but I’d let him drive my car and offer to let him stay in my home? I would’a committed you.”

McGarrett nodded, faint grin curling the edges of his lips, “That didn’t answer my question. There’s got to be more than ‘I don’t know’.”

Danny sighed impatiently. “Can’t you just let it rest? There probably is more to it, but I don’t have the faintest clue as to what that is at the moment.”

This time the grin was definitely present. “Well, you’re a cop, aren’t you? Just, investigate, or something.”

Danny threw his hands up, leaning forward so that he was facing the table.

“Investigate, he says! Listen buddy, it is not that easy. I can’t just-“ he waved his hand, “I don’t even want to think about this right now, okay? Maybe later, when I’ve had more than two hours of sleep and I didn’t just cause my career to almost crash and burn for no reason other than I felt like it.”

He jumped up, looking towards the closet where the cot was stashed, and back towards McGarrett.

“So, you staying or not?”

Steve smirked, that was definitely a smirk he was seeing there.

“Yeah-“ he broke off to peer at Danny’s nametag, Officer Daniel Williams, Newark PD “Danny, I’ll be staying.”

 The realization that he’d never even properly introduced himself, let alone given his name, didn’t even give him a pause in the face of all the other bizarre happenings of the day.

“Right, right, we’ll get you set up nice. Oh, and Steve?”

“Yeah Danny?”

“Welcome to New Jersey.”

~~

Danny woke up to a thump and the sound of someone cursing. Jerking awake, his hand was reaching for his service pistol before he had even opened his eyes.

As soon as he managed to pry them open, he saw McGarrett messing around with something in the kitchen. Groaning, Danny relaxed his shoulders and dropped his weapon, collapsing back onto the bed and flinging his arm across his eyes.

Clearing his throat so he’d be marginally understandable, he said gruffly “What the hell do you think you’re doing, Steven? It’s five in the fucking morning.”

He peered through the small gap between his forearm and his nose at McGarrett’s sheepish face.

“I-ah, I’m used to being up early and I thought I’d make some breakfast, but I noticed you didn’t have anything. So I went out to the store and got some basics. I was putting some of the stuff away and I guess I knocked over something in one of the cupboards.”

Danny shifted up onto his elbows, glaring “You managed to leave and come back without me noticing? And hey! Did you take my car?”

Steve shrugged, grinning, “I got skills, you think I don’t know how to be quiet? Besides, you seemed alright with me driving yesterday so I figured we’d be cool.”

“Cool, cool he says! For your information, I allowed you to drive my baby under duress and only because I was in the car! You can’t just go borrowing another mans car without telling him, that’s a little something called theft pal.”

And dammit if Steve didn’t deflate, losing his smile and shoulders becoming tense.

“I was just trying to be nice, okay? Believe it or not, I’m not stupid; I know what you risked the other day. I have no idea why you did it, but you got me off the hook. So I figured you might like a home cooked meal once in awhile rather than take out. It’s something I can do, just- sorry, alright?”

Danny sighed, feeling like an asshole as he untangled his legs from the covers. He swung them over the side of the bed, wincing as his stiff knee sent tendrils of pain throughout his body.

He carefully kept his eyes on his leg as he stretched it out, massaging the sore joint so he’d be able to walk normally today.

“Hey, hey- it’s fine. I- I’m just not used to this. I’m not saying you can’t drive my car, okay? I’d just like a little consideration, next time,” cautiously not thinking about the fact that he was assuming there would be a next time, “just wait until I wake up and then ask or something.”

After a beat of silence he chanced looking up and say Steve looking at him curiously, a slight frown on his face like he couldn’t quite figure out what Danny was aiming for here. Like maybe Danny had some ulterior motive or hidden meaning in his words.

Then Steve smiled, not like he had been, something sincere and soft around the edges.

“Yeah Danno, I can do that.”

Danny grinned before the words registered with his sleep-addled mind and his expression twisted into a scowl.

Danno? Where the hell did you get Danno? That is not my name Steven it’s ridiculous.

Stop smirking, I’m serious- you better not keep calling me that! Just forget it buddy.”

“I have a gun you know, it’s right here. I can shoot you.”

“Sure thing Danno.”

Steven I swear to god.”

~

They ended up grabbing breakfast at a diner down the street anyways, because Danny refused to start the kind of day this would inevitably end up being without a good serving of bacon and a side of hash browns. Everything Steve had bought could’ve been found in the house of any athlete, healthy and lean and not what Danny would ever want to eat.

“Seriously, do I look like the kind of guy who’d eat like that? No, wait, don’t answer that. I may be in shape but you know what? That’s from being a cop, protect and serve, McGarrett. You can’t exactly protect if you’re huffing and puffing while chasing down a suspect. But just because I work out doesn’t mean I have to eat like a rabbit. I don’t like my food to be green, if you hear what I’m saying.”

“It won’t always be like that Danny! You’re young now but just wait a few years, and exercising won’t compensate for eating enough fat that you could grease the floors with it.”

“Well then I’ll just deal with it when I get there, won’t I? I am not the kind of guy who restricts himself, I don’t have your secret ninja training, I’m just a good old Jersey boy, and let me tell you my friend, if there’s one thing we know how to do, it’s eat.  With that he slid into a booth, smiling as the waitress handed him a menu and ignoring Steve’s huff of annoyance.

“C’mon! Lookit this, eggs sunny side-up, sausage, buttermilk pancakes, real mom and pop kind of stuff, you’ll love it.”

Steve stared at him, eyebrow raised, unable to a slight smile off his face even in his irritation.

“Yeah, yeah. I think I’ll just grab a salad.”

“Whatever, suit yourself babe.”

After they placed their orders, Steve getting a Caesar, asking for extra chicken and dressing on the side with a blindingly charming grin, Danny relaxed back into his seat, grabbing a sugar packet and tapping it against the side of his coffee mug.

“So, why the leave? I mean, you seem pretty good at-“ he waved his hand off to the side, “stuff.”

Steve’s hand twitched a bit and Danny saw him get a little tense and hurried to rectify the situation.

“No, look, I’m not digging for information, okay? I don’t care what you did, hell, with how we met; I doubt much could surprise me. But you’re staying with me, okay, for however long you’re here, I figure we’ll be seeing a lot of each other and I’d just like to know, I don’t know, something about you. I’d feel a little better about all this- this craziness, if you weren’t such a stranger on paper.”

A bit of the tension seemed to flow of him and Steve looked out the window in contemplation and Jesus, he really was gorgeous. Danny pushed that bit of information aside, which he seemed to be doing a lot of lately, and tried to pay attention to what the guy was saying.

“I’m just- I don’t see the point of following all these rules exactly, okay? I mean there’s right and then there’s wrong, and sometimes in order to do what’s right you’ve gotta break a few rules. So that’s what I did. The higher ups didn’t exactly like me breaking ranks and they hated that I actually got things done.

So they don’t exactly know what to do with me, I’m good at what I do, too good to demote. I’m just in limbo until they figure it out, which they’re doing on their own time.”

For the first time, Danny saw how bothered McGarrett was, truly pissed off, at this uncertainty. Danny thought, from what he was sensing here, that he would’ve been happier losing a few years of progress so long as he didn’t have to sit around waiting. This was just about the worst reprimand he could be getting.

Danny could relate to that.

“So you have awhile to do what you want, go where you want, why Jersey? I mean, you don’t exactly seem to like it here. You definitely didn’t come for the scenery if you were staying in some no-name motel by the freeway.”

Steve craned his neck to angle past the window and the tall buildings in order to see the sliver of gray, cloudy sky, face blank.

“It was the first flight that I could find, I was out of the country and airfare is a bitch so I just got on the earliest Air Force plane that was heading for the U.S. It happened to be landing at the Joint Base near Trenton. Next flight wouldn’t be leaving for a few days and I just wanted to crash for awhile so I stopped at the first place I saw. It’s as good of a place as any.”

“Not Hawaii?” Steve threw him a sharp glance, but he didn’t need to ask where Danny had learned this information, like he had said, he wasn’t stupid.

“No, not Hawaii.”

No one could ever say that Danny had tact, and he couldn’t help his curiosity. If McGarrett really didn’t want to answer, he could just change the subject himself.

“Why not? I’m mean, don’t get me wrong, I love New Jersey, I live and breathe it and I’ll probably live here ‘till the day I die, but you don’t seem to happy.”

“Look Danny, just drop it okay? I appreciate all you’ve done to help me out, but you don’t know me. Maybe I’ll tell you later okay, but just- not right now.”

Danny relented, pouring them both a cup of coffee and digging in when the waitress brought their food, giving them both a lingering glance before she left.

Steve hadn’t looked away from the window, and Danny allowed the slightly tense silence to fill the table for the rest of the meal.

It was a front he couldn’t keep up, however, in the closed in and relatively private space of the car, especially not when Steve was concentrating on driving his car, and he was free to talk without worrying about Steve’s face and his irritatingly heart-felt expressions.

“I’m not sorry I brought it up, because let me tell you babe, I have no idea what I’m doing here, not a clue. And that scares me a little, okay? I’m a rational sort of guy; I don’t do these kinds of things without an explanation. I don’t even know what this-“ he gestured between the two of them “is. I don’t know what you’re thinking, or why it all feels so fucking familiar. I’m just trying to sort myself out. And knowing a little bit about you will help that, it’ll make a bit more sense why I’m letting you invade my life like this.

I know, I know, you haven’t asked me to do any of this. But you seem to be fine with going along with it so far, and unless that’s the kind of thing you do all the time, which I suspect it isn’t, then maybe you’d like to know a bit about me, too?”

Steve’s grin came back full force, seeming to shake the tension off his shoulders as easily as a dog shook off water.

“Yeah Danny, why don’t you tell me about yourself.”

“Why thank you, Steven. I don’t mind if I do. I’m twenty-five, and by the looks of your file, less than a day older than you, coincidences, right? I got my whole family over in Hoboken, but I moved to Newark because I had the most chance of getting into the academy early here. I’ve been on the force for about two years- joined as soon as I got my degree. I’m not planning on being a beat cop forever; I’m going to be a detective pretty soon, but it might take awhile because in everyone’s eyes I’m still a rookie, I am until I take a bullet for someone or solve something major. I’m working on that.”

He raised his finger warningly “Not that I want to be shot, no thank you. But the other thing is doable.

“I’m not dating anyone, if you couldn’t tell by my place, being a cop isn’t the most attractive career choice. Everyone who knows me says I’m a smartass by trade, but hey, I get shit done, I’m a good guy. And apparently I like secretive ninja-SEALs who should have a criminal record but don’t due to the fact that I’m good at being bad at my job when I have to be.”

Steve was still smiling at the end of his speech, and that helped ease a bit of Danny’s embarrassment at being so open.

When he spoke, it was quiet but there was something about his voice that held a steadiness that hadn’t been there before “I don’ know. Being a cop doesn’t seem all that bad.”

It took a minute for Danny to remember what he was referencing, and when he did Danny couldn’t help but clear his throat and look out the passenger window instead of at Steve’s face.

“Yeah, well. It’s something.”

Steve drove to the apartment and let Danny take over the driver’s seat, adjusting the controls with an exasperated air. He waved to Steve as he was leaving, saw him standing near the stairs leading up to the door watching him leave.

Danny knew McGarrett wouldn’t take off or steal any of his stuff. He couldn’t say how he knew, but it only took a day to learn that maybe the reason why he was doing all this wasn’t some fever or sudden lapse in rational thought, maybe it was just Steve. The kind of guy he was, and what he was doing to Danny.

He drove to work, obeying the speed limit and checking his mirrors and doing all the things Steve hadn’t, and when he got to work he waited in tense silence for a few hours, off-kilter enough that his co-workers picked something up and asked him if he was sick or something. No one asked about that crazy military guy who had been picked up the other day though, Danny didn’t get called into the boss’s office and he didn’t get any ominous calls about someone knowing what he had done.

Danny couldn’t quite believe it.

Then again, if he thought about it logically, this kind of shit happened all the time, and it was a shame. Usually the people let loose really were criminals, and they didn’t have the moral reasoning behind their actions that McGarrett did. Plus they didn’t have Danny’s help.

He continued the rest of the day, cajoling with his partner, feeling a slight twinge at not telling him about Steve, but that would only put him in an awkward position that Danny didn’t want to facilitate. Gradually the stress bled out of his body, as much as possible for the job he was doing anyways. They busted a few dealers and Danny cuffed a disruptive man at a department store who wouldn’t leave.

All in all, it was a good day.

And at the end of it, he went home where Steve had made them dinner, with vegetables for chrissakes, and all manner of things that Danny never would’ve touched, but he was tired and it was already made.

It had nothing to do with the way Steve was looking at him.

Nor with the tension that was building steadily between them that they both seemed acknowledged but left for later, too complicated to deal with right now when things were so strange and unsettled.

It was a schedule they adapted to and followed without disruption for the next month or so, and in that time, Danny learned a few things.

Steve had the habit of breaking into pidgin when he was annoyed, smug with the fact that Danny couldn’t understand him.

When Danny got annoyed, Steve called him ‘brah’ and ignored that it only frustrated Danny further.

He also called him Danno, all the goddamn time, and eventually Danny’s protests starting tapering off until it garnered only the occasional token objection when Danny was feeling particularly on edge.

He learned that Steve had a father who still lived in Hawaii, one who was also a cop, which wasn’t exactly surprising considering that Steve seemed to know about what Danny was talking about when he mentioned work on his off time. He also didn’t talk to him, and was closed mouth when Danny asked why.

There was a sister of unknown age named Mary that Steve had casually slipped into the conversation when Danny was talking about his brother, Matty.

“So he’s got this new girl, and she’s just wild, and not in the good way my friend, no way. But what am I going to say? He’s my brother, you know, I’m not his keeper. Still, I wish he’d just listen to me sometimes.”

“Yeah, that sounds just like Mary.”

“Who’s Mary?”

“My little sister.”

And after that he’d gestured for Danny to continue with his story, throwing out a snarky “It’s classified.” When Danny tried to pry more information from him.

 If the first day wasn’t enough of an indication, Danny learned that Steve was a health nut, he was constantly going for runs and he would drop down to do push ups at any given moment, ignoring Danny as he made comments on his form and the kind of stuff he ate, all nuts and berries and meat with no sauce. It was a travesty is what that was.

Still, Danny could admit that he appreciated the end result.

Which was another thing they danced around. Danny didn’t really know if Steve was gay or bisexual or what. Maybe he just liked to flirt, although Danny didn’t think so. For as much as the man was courteous and charming to whoever approached him, he kept up a barrier, it didn’t feel like he was flirting back, more that he was being polite.

It wasn’t like that when he talked with Danny. Although it could be called arguing, it held no malice. It was more of a way to relieve tension and there’d never been anyone else who seemed to find Danny’s tirades amusing.

It was one of the reasons why Danny found himself spending so much time with the man, besides the fact that he was camping out in his living room. He genuinely liked him.

They went out to games together and watched even more on television, the space between them being casually breeched by the edge of an arm, or the press of a knee warm against his side. Food suddenly occupied Danny’s fridge and if he wanted to eat, he could actually grab something that wasn’t take out or frozen.

He had drawn the line at the pineapple though. It had showed up one day in the back of one of the cupboards, like Steve thought he might be able to hide it behind everything else. With a groan he pulled it from behind some bags of chips and walked over to where Steve was lounging on the couch that was still unfolded from this morning, long legs stretched out and feet nearly hanging off the edge of it even though he was sitting up. He was reading a book that he must’ve gotten when he was out, and Danny knew that Steve could tell he was there, even if he appeared to be solely concentrated on the page in front of him.

“What is this?”

Steve finally set the book down, looked bemused.

“It’s a pineapple.”

“I know what it is, you schmuck, what I want to know is what it’s doing in my home!”

“What do you think it’s doing Danny, it’s an inanimate object. It’s not doing anything.”

Danny waved the fruit, gripped tight by the stem so he didn’t scrape up his hand.  “Look, I know your from the place that seems to think putting this” he gave it a shake “on things is acceptable, but you’re in Jersey, babe, we don’t eat this here.”

Steve said disbelievingly “Oh yeah, then why was it at the local market?”

“Crazy people Steven! That’s why. Because some people don’t appreciate this culture, and they like fruit on their pizzas, and they don’t have a fucking clue as to what they’re doing. I, however, do, and I know that I don’t want this thing anywhere near me.”

Steve looked indignant when he realized Danny was actually serious and he sighed, standing up and grabbing the pineapple out of his grasp, using his other hand to wrap his long fingers around Danny’s wrist, his thumb resting on Danny’s pulse.

“I’ll put it in my bag or something, Danno, chill out.”

Danny opened his mouth to start off on him again when he heard the tired way that Steve said it, and he abruptly changed direction, bringing up his free hand to rest it against Steve’s chest- feeling the steady beat of his heart.

“Yeah, alright.”

McGarrett smiled at him and true to his word stuffed the offending fruit in his duffel, which was apparently all he owned.

Then they settled down to watch whatever action movie was playing and mock the inaccuracies in both the shooting and fighting styles.

The thing about them that constantly snuck up on Danny was how they didn’t have problems. It was unreal, especially considering the situation they were in. They never had an actual conversation about rent, but on the day it was due, Steve handed him an envelope with exactly half in it, how Steve even knew about it, Danny didn’t know, but it was reasonable so he accepted it with a nod. Steve usually bought most of the groceries, but to be fair, he also ate most of them. Danny still wasn’t quite sure what Steve did during the days, but he knew that he always packed whatever he was going to eat from home, whereas Danny preferred to grab a bagel from the kiosk near the station for breakfast, and he managed lunch with his partner when he had the time. He wasn’t going out with his buddies quite as much these days, but he still went for dinner and drinks once or twice a week. He always left a message on the machine on those days, since Steve didn’t have a phone, and the one time he had gingerly approached the subject of Steve coming along, he had declined, saying it wasn’t his scene.

Danny could read between the lines and knew it was more that it would bring up awkward questions, especially if something managed to recognize him from that day at the PD.

For all the fights that the neighbors had complained about more than once, they never lingered and it was more a game then anything else. Danny’s irritation was real but fast fading as soon as Steve turned that cheesy grin him. And when Steve returned the exasperation, they lapsed into silence for an hour or two before dealing out a deck of cards or going down to the local bar. It worked. They worked, and Danny had never felt anything like it, which Steve seemed to corner the market on.

Danny never asked when Steve would be leaving, because he believed him when he said he just didn’t know.  

His Ma’ had always said he wasn’t practical when it came to things having to do with his emotions, and much as he’d like to deny it, Danny knew he wore his heart on his sleeve. He was always snapping because he didn’t know how to filter what he was feeling and hold things back. It meant that even though he knew this couldn’t be a good idea, he couldn’t help settling.

Which Steve didn’t actually discourage, even though he probably knew the consequences and pitfalls better than Danny ever could.

In fact, he was the one that finally approached the subject after being content to let it lie for weeks.

It all started when Danny came home early from work one day, paperwork surprisingly light and Jake, his partner, affable to picking up any slack for him. He was swinging the take-out bag from the Chinese place just down the street and about to reach for the door when he heard the phone ringing inside. Before he could hurry and answer it, Steve did with genial greeting.

“Hello, Danny’s not here right now.”

Just as he was about to walk in and say he was, in fact, on the premises, Steve made a strange noise, halfway between a laugh and a groan.

“Howzit braddah?”

What were they, in some sixties brat pack? Still, Danny couldn’t help but press closer, feeling slightly ashamed at eavesdropping but too curious about Steve and his past to do anything else. Obviously the person was from Hawaii, or he wouldn’t be talking like that, and that meant whoever he spoke to must’ve known him before he joined the Navy, which Danny learned through careful conversation was the day after he turned eighteen. Friend from High School maybe? Whoever ever it was must’ve responded because Steve said, sounding cautiously happy.

“Nah, nah, I’m on leave right now, I was a kolohe. Hey, how’s little cuz doing?”

“Shaka! Keiki was always real akamai.”

His toned turned a bit more serious.

“I’m not planning on visiting, Chin. I’m staying with this guy. Yeah, yeah, a haole, I was having a haad rub, he helped me out. No, not him, that kane was junk.”

Steve said a bit more quietly, even though as far as he knew no one could here him, “I like him, I like him a lot.”

“Ho brah, he’s, he’s just Danny, da’kine?”

Suddenly he laughed.

“Yeah, I will, I will. Catch a break for me.”

“Aloha.”

Then came the noise of the phone landing on the receiver and the shuffling noise, suddenly Steve was pulling the door open, shooting him an amused grin.

“I knew you were there the whole time, Danny. Like you said, you don’t have my ninja-SEAL training.”

Danny shrugged, trying to act nonchalant as he brought the bag to the counter. He opened his mouth to say something, brush it off, but he couldn’t. He had been in the wrong; there wasn’t a way to spin it to make it sound otherwise.

Still, he couldn’t help but ask.

“Who was that?”

It was Steve’s choice to shrug as he came up to lean besides Danny, even closer than usual.

“Just an old friend from school.”

Danny nodded “I could hear that, from what I could understand with all those weird words thrown in there.”

“It’s a language Danny.”

“No, no, it is not a language. It’s slang is what it is.” 

Finally looking up from where he’d been fiddling with the containers he was startled when he noticed that Steve had been getting increasingly closer, his face an inch away from Danny’s, his breathing shallow enough that Danny barely feel it on his lips.

“Danny?”

“Yeah?”

“Shut up.”

And with that Steve kissed him, so gently that Danny could barely feel the pressure. He slid his eyes closed and brought his hands up to grasp Steve’s arms, catching his elbows and holding him there as he tilted his head for a better angle.

He took a step closer and as he did so, opened his mouth slightly in order to bite at Steve’s bottom lip.

With a gasp, Steve surged forward, pushing Danny towards the nearby wall and pressing in close as be brought a hand to rest on the back of Danny’s neck, threading the ends of his fingers through the hair at the nape of his neck.

He curved his other arm around his waist, using his shoulders to nudge Danny’s arms around his neck.

This had been a long time coming. Danny had wanted it from the moment he saw Steve at the station, even if he wasn’t exactly sure what that feeling was. He just knew that he needed to be able to see the man again. He had to help him in any way he could, an urge he usually reserved for his friends and family.

Somehow, Steve had become both of those.

Danny had dated a few girls in his time, never seriously, but enough that he knew what he was doing. There had been a guy or two thrown in there from time to time, always a brief encounter and never someone he actually cared about.

This was different from all those times.  

He pulled away from the kiss with an intake of breath, using the hand that had threaded through Steve’s short hair to turn his head to the side so that he could reach his neck, mouth moving on it as he sucked light marks into the smooth skin.

Steve’s breathing grew faster and he clutched at Danny, tilting his neck into the contact.

“Danny, Danny, Danny.”

Danny pulled away just enough so he could be clearly heard.

“Yes Steven?”

Steve laughed, “Couch, yeah?”

Smirking, Danny pushed softly at Steve’s chest, moving him back towards said piece of furniture, which, of all times, was actually folded up and neatly made. He compensated by motioning for Steve to sit down then straddling his thighs, hands returning to his hair and leaning his weight into him as he went back for his mouth.

They kept at it for god knew how long- Danny wasn’t counting, when Steve pulled away, bringing him arms down to wrap tightly around Danny’s back and resting his forehead on Danny’s chest.

Danny took a deep, shuddering breath, telling himself to cool down as he let one hand come to rest on Steve’s back, the other continuing to rhythmically smooth down the hair at the back of his head.

“What’s up babe?”

He felt Steve turn his head, pressed his ear right above Danny’s heart.

“Nothing, I mean, something, but nothing bad. When you’re in the service, you can’t exactly- you can’t really stop to care about many people, not if you’re doing the kinds of things I was.

It’s just been a long time since I’ve cared, Danny.” 

Danny moved the hand on Steve’s head under his jaw so that he could tilt his face towards him, eyes flickering over his face and taking in his almost guarded expression, like he was ready to pull away and brush it off the moment it went south.

So Danny sighed, leaning forward to rest their foreheads together.

“Jesus, Steve. That’s heavy. It’s real heavy.” Steve shifted cautiously, relaxing arms to slide his hands over Danny’s hips.

“Yeah, Danno, it is.”

With a final, regretful sigh he gave Steve a lingering kiss, moving past his lips to nose at his neck before rolling off of him and collapsing beside him on the couch.

Reaching over took more effort than he’d like, but he managed to reach the remote and turn on the set to some news channel. 

He tilted his head and looked at Steve out of the corner of his eye.

“Want to watch the game?”

“Sure Danno, that’d be good.”

“Alright then, we’ll watch the game, just you wait, you’ll love it babe, all the action a SEAL like you needs to stay strong and crazy.” 

Once he found the right channel, he settled back, but unlike before he moved all the way into Steve’s space, so they were pressed together from shoulder to knee, their calves tangled together. And for the first time, he allowed his hand to drift over into Steve’s space, moving over his palm and interlacing their fingers together.

He saw Steve grin, the wide, silly one that he only got occasionally, and he squeezed their palms together tightly, not letting go.

Never letting go.

~

Jesus but was he a sap. It had been two weeks since they’d first acted on what it was between then, and so far it hadn’t changed their relationship in any way but what they did sometimes in between arguing over who got to drive the car and where they were going to eat.

They hadn’t even gone beyond kissing; he hadn’t felt this virginal sine seventh grade with Linda where he’d spent four months holding hands nervously and getting a peck on the cheek before she broke up with him for that douche Brad over at Henley.

But there was something about this, something fragile that made Danny want to treat it carefully, make sure it didn’t break over something stupid. Why this translated into no hands below the waist when he was perfectly content to yell at Steve when he left wet towel on the floor, Danny didn’t know.

It was working though, Steve smiled more then ever, and now, most of the time when Danny asked a question, he got an answer that actually had some directness to it, none of that obscure bullshitting that Steve was somehow a master of.

Maybe it was just that Danny was learning to ask the right questions.

It was six in the morning and for once he was up before Steve. Sometime in the past week they had started sharing the bed together, probably when Danny looked over and noticed that half of Steve’s legs were hanging off of the cot, which was ridiculous and for chrissakes they weren’t twelve. So the next night when he was settling in, he looked over and casually said,

“You know, much as I own it, I’m a small man. I got a lot of space here, babe.”

Steve had rolled over and grinned at him.

“You asking?”

“Yeah, sure I am. You want an engraved invitation?”

If anything, Steve’s grin grew wider.

“Well, I don’t know Danny. I mean, I’m not easy or anything. A little respect might be nice, you know, you gotta treat me right.”

He probably wasn’t expecting Danny’s response to that to be heaving himself from the bed and crossing over to the cot on the other side of the room.

He definitely wasn’t anticipating Danny getting down on one knee, his good one, which was evidenced by his wide eyes.

Trying to appear as sincere as possible, and not letting himself grin, Danny picked up Steve’s hand and brought it to his chest, resting his palm over his heart, fingers splayed out and gripping the cotton of his shirt.

“Steven, would you please do me the honor of getting your ass in my bed so we can both get some shut eye and your back might actually forgive you in five years or so.”

Steve shook his head, giving him that smile that pulled up more on one side than the other and showed his teeth.

“You’re a piece of work, you know that Danny?”

“Yeah, yeah, look who’s talking Mr. Napalm-In-The-Morning.”

But Steve kept his hand on Danny’s chest, even when Danny had let go, and after he followed him to the bed and gotten under the covers, he curled in towards him, slinging an arm over his chest and bracketing his hips with one of those mile long legs.

The same position he was in now, as a matter of fact, his head nestled under Danny’s chin, breath puffing against Danny’s throat.

He had to get up soon to start getting ready for work, but damn it if he wasn’t too comfortable to get up, not to mention the uncomfortable situation below the metaphorical belt, his hard-on resting snugly against Steve’s hip.

Shifting, he tried to turn so that he could remove contact and let it die down, maybe get up and go take care of it in the shower.

Only that caused Steve to hold him even tighter and increased the pressure. Danny would’ve thought the universe hated him, except he had felt Steve’s breathing change subtly when he tried to move, something he would never have noticed if he hadn’t just spent the last ten minutes listening to it.

His suspicions were confirmed when Steve’s hand moved from where it had been resting on his shoulder, drifting down to trace the line of his erection through his shorts, causing Danny to groan.

Much as it pained him to do so, Danny reached down and grabbed Steve’s wrist, stopping the movement.

His voice was scratchy when he spoke, “Babe, I gotta tell you, this is bad timing. I need to leave in” he looked at the clock on the end table, “twenty minutes, that mean’s I have to shower now or I won’t be able to make coffee. I need coffee, McGarrett, and none of that crap the station has”

Steve finally lifted his head from the pillow, strangely beautiful in the overcast light of the rising sun, pillow lines pressed into his face and hair mussed.

“I’ll just have to be quick then.” Grinning, and before he could half-heartedly protest, Steve dove beneath the covers, deftly pulling Danny out of his boxers and slipping his mouth over the head with little fanfare.

“Jesuschrist.” Danny was quick to still the instinctual thrust he wanted to make, instead moving his hands down to lock one tightly over Steve’s shoulder, the other coming to rest over his lightly bobbing head, scratching at his scalp and getting a pleased groan for his efforts.

True to his word, Steve was fast, experimenting until he hit upon exactly what Danny liked, relaxing his throat so he could take it down to the base and carefully flicking his tongue on the upstroke.

Danny was reduced to incoherency, trying not to thrash and barely keeping his moans in check, not wanting to wake the neighbors.

He couldn’t help the talking though, he had never been able to keep his mouth in check.

“Stevesteve- fuck, you’re so good babe, you’re so good at this. Don’t even want to know how you got to be so good- holy fuck. Steve, just like that.”

And so on, barely aware of he was saying until he was on the verge of coming, and after he warningly tugged Steve’s hair and had his hand batted away impatiently, he shuddered through the most intense orgasm he’d had in, well, he didn’t know when he’d had one this good. He’d never known anyone like Steve, never had this.

When the aftershocks had faded away, leaving him twitching, he pulled Steve up, taking in his flushed face and smug grin.

Pulling him into a kiss, he ignored the morning breath, sweeping his tongue into his mouth and pushing his hand down the front of Steve’s sweats, curling his hand around his hard cock, the heat searing on his palm.

Steve gasped, jerking in his grasp, and Danny moved away, heart giving a twitch when Steve tried to follow him. He quickly pushed Steve down so that he was on top.

“Hold on babe, just a minute.” He freed his hand, hearing Steve whine at the loss of contact, bringing his palm up so that he could lick his palm, then quickly wetting his fingers before putting them back.

He really did have to hurry, so instead of drawing it out, he kept the strokes quick and smooth, twisting with his thumb at the top when he noticed how Steve twitched each time. Instead of going for the mouth, he started licking and biting behind his ear, which he had noticed was particularly sensitive.

Steve was much less vocal than Danny, the quiet intensity that he had in day-to-day life translating into bed. He was more physical though, constantly twitching and moving his hands in fleeting touches over Danny’s body, finally bringing them up to clench in Danny’s ungelled hair as his hips strained forward.

Soon his body was curling in, abdomen drawing tight as his cock jerked in Danny’s hand, spilling over his fist and panting into the sheet as he tried to slow his breathing.

Drawing away slowly, Danny gave Steve a drawn out kiss as he started shifting off the bed.

Once his feet hit solid ground, he was quick to pull away before he could be drawn in. With an apologetic wave, he left to shower, grabbing his clothes along the way.

Even though he rushed through it, missing a spot while shaving and barely glancing in the mirror before he left the room, he wouldn’t have time to make coffee, which was why seeing Steve standing beside the machine, mug in hand, was such a welcome site.

“You’re a life saver, babe.”

He walked over, throwing his coat over his arm as he grabbed the mug and set it down on the counter, dragging Steve close so he could kiss him fiercely. He pulled away after a moment and gave Steve a wide grin, seeing him quirk his lips in return, tilting his head back, eyes smiling more than anything else.

With a lingering glance he grabbed his coffee, rushing out the door and hearing Steve call out as he was closing it.

“See you later, Danno.”

Shaking his head, he almost wished he felt a wash of irritation over that affront, but his morning had been too good, and his coffee was too strong for him to be anything other than happy.

Not even having the re-adjust his car’s seats settings like he had to every morning bothered him, it was almost unnatural. Of course something had to come along and ruin it.

He was waiting at the stop sign, just about to accelerate when he felt a car rear-end him, breaking a tail light. Jesus Christ, didn’t anyone know how to drive these days? Reaching over into his glove compartment, he grabbed his insurance information and a notepad and pen, feeling his shoulders get tenser as the missing irritation hit him in waves.

Getting out, he almost had a mind to slam his door, but his baby had gotten enough damage that morning, so he closed it normally, like a person who wasn’t about to start yelling the moment they set their sights on the driver.

Walking over, he saw the person getting out of their corvette, a woman with long brown hair pulled up into a bun, makeup light but carefully applied, tall and slim and just his type. Seeing as he had just had a spectacular blowjob this morning from his own tall brunette, the sight didn’t do much to calm his anger. Before she could open his mouth to complain, he started yelling.

“What the hell is the matter with you? Huh? Didn’t you see that sign? Red, eight-says, with big-freaking white letters on it telling you to do something you’re so obviously incapable of!”

He saw the charm dry up in the woman’s eyes and the air of gentleness vanished. Danny was pretty good with body language, he could tell she had been about to flirt with him, and if he really wanted, he probably could’ve gotten a date with her. He was almost startled to find he didn’t feel any regret at having lost that chance.

Whatever he had with Steve, even if they hadn’t labeled it yet, it was something. And Danny wasn’t the type of person to ever turn his back on that, no matter how gorgeous the woman.

She spoke with a soft British tone that startled him “Excuse me. I’m new to this country and the roads are terribly confusing. I just got a bit turned around I’m afraid, no harm to it.”

“No harm to it? No harm to it? Lady, in case you didn’t know, I’m a cop, let me tell you, there’s a lot of harm in driving recklessly. What if it had been raining and that little bump turned into a full on slide? What if there had been a child in the backseat? I’ve seen little things like this get bad very quickly.”

It seemed like she was trying to salvage her original plan as she tilted her body invitingly towards him.

“You’re a police officer? Then surely you could help me? Perhaps I might benefit from lessons.”

Danny was about to go off on another tirade about how just because he had a badge didn’t mean he had to teach people how to follow the law, when he gave her an assessing glance. She obviously thought it meant her flirting was working as her smile grew a bit brighter, but no matter her approach, she was pretty, and Jake had been saying that it had been hard to find nice girls in his line of work, and he just didn’t have the time or the energy to go out and find someone. Well, it looked like this one would fall right into his lap.

“You know what, that’s a great idea, I don’t know why I didn’t think about it. A few private lessons, a little rule revision and you should be fine. Let me tell you, my partner Jake is a great driver, spectacular even. You’ll get along great.”

Before she could back track, he grabbed her insurance card, copying down the information then copying his own onto a sheet of paper, adding Jake’s number and the address of the precinct. Tearing it out of the notepad, he handed it to her, patting her hand.

“Just take care of this, alright? I’d like to get my car fixed as soon as possible, but I’m late for work. Call Jake, he’ll set you up, and don’t think this means you can just let it slip by you, if you need lessons, you should have them. If you don’t call him by tomorrow morning, I’ll have to issue a ticket in your name and possibly charge you with reckless driving.  I should be giving you a Breathalyzer right now, but like I said, I’m late.”

He said this as he was backing away towards his car, wrenching the door open and buckling in. He started the engine and leaned out the window one last time,

“I mean it, call him!” With that, and a careful glance in both directions, he drove away, seeing the women’s confused expression in the mirror.

When he got to the station, he called Jake over and explained the situation to him, quelling his complaints about wasting his time teaching some stranger how to drive.

“She’s nice, Jake, real nice, let me tell you, I would take her myself except-“ he cut himself off, realizing what he almost said. Jake of course, noticed, and took to it like a dog with a bone.

“What’s this, does Danny got a girl he’s hiding? C’mon man, don’t hold back on me! We’ve been partnered, what, over a year now? I haven’t heard you say a thing. I’ve been suspecting though, what with you skipping out on the boys so often. So what’s she’s like, she must be something special to keep you away so often.”

Danny took a steadying breath. This thing he had with Steve, it was good, it wasn’t something he was interested in lying about, and if he couldn’t tell his partner, who could he tell? He’d been on the beat with him, he new that Jake could be old fashioned sometimes, but he had never been a bigot. The real tell had happened what must’ve been eight months ago, half a year into their partnership. They were still feeling each other out, getting a sense of each other’s opinions, seeing if it was a good match. They had been called in on a gay bashing case, something Danny had seen a coupla’ cops look the other way on. Not Jake though, no, he kept it on the narrow, treating it just like any other case.

So Danny was pretty sure, at least he wouldn’t hate him. He might be a little uncomfortable, but they should still be able to work together. And he wanted this. He needed someone to know; because things with Steve, they were so strange yet so fantastic, too good to be true almost, the circumstances and nature of their relationship sometimes made him question his sanity. Having someone else know made it real in a way it wasn’t when the only person who ever saw Steve was him.

Before he could change his mind, he said, “Yeah, they’re special. He’s real special.”

He made sure to stare Jake straight in the eyes, seeing when what he had said registered, and keeping his gaze steady when he saw the question in them.

Yeah. That’s what I just said.

Jake paused a moment, looked to the side, then swiped a hand down his face before giving Danny a sheepish grin.

“Well, hell, who’d a thought, right? When do I get to meet him?”

Danny grinned, relieved, “Soon, I promise pal, I just gotta ask him first.”

Jake shrugged it off “Okay, okay, tell me when you know, alright. So, where were you on this arson case ‘cause I think-“

But Danny was only listening with half an ear because someone knew- and not just any someone, but Jake, his partner, his friend. And he was just fine with it, more than fine. It felt like something curled up tight inside of him had unfurled just a bit. Like maybe doing this would get easier.

Like maybe he could hope that he’d be able to keep doing this.

So he was grinning when he got home, excited to be able to invite Steve over to drinks with someone he knew, maybe grab a little dinner after.

His grin fell when he noticed that Steve was sitting hunched in the corner of the couch, staring at the far wall, letter clutched in his fist. He knew what it meant, he did, he investigated for a living and this was something that had been hanging in their blind spots ever since it became more than just something strange, until he actually started caring.

He took off his jacket, throwing it over the table as he walked over to the couch, sitting close, keeping his posture relaxed and easy, not saying a word.

After a few beats of silence, Steve spoke, his voice oddly flat.

“I’ve never had anyone to leave before.”

Danny’s breath caught.

“Hey, babe, hey. Even if” he cleared his throat “even if you leave you know, as in go somewhere else. You don’t- you don’t have to leave me if you know what I’m saying. Not unless you want to.”

And Danny did not do insecure, that was not his thing. He was confident to the point of cocky, he knew that. But he couldn’t help but feel like Steve could crush him with one word, if he really wanted.

He noticed then that Steve was staring at him, expression blank as his eyes assessed him. For all that he could grin, carefree and sincere, he had this default he always fell back on, one that said that he had a lot of thoughts going on, but you sure as hell weren’t going to figure them out by looking at him.

Steve leaned forward, in his space but not quite touching him.

“You sure about that Danny? Think about it, you barely know me; you don’t even know why I was almost kicked out. You’re a good guy Danny, you could have anyone, no listen to me, anyone you really wanted. They’d be lucky to have you. And this, this isn’t easy Danny, it’s not like the movies, we don’t always come back, and the times I do, it won’t always be happy. I might never be able to stay. Can you really do that, do you really want to deal with that for some guy you’ve know for a little under two months?”

Danny closed the space between them so that their legs were pressed together, grabbing Steve’s forearms and locking the with his own, fingers curling over his elbows.

“Well, this whole thing has been crazy, why not keep it consistent? We don’t want to throw any curveballs.”

“Danny-“ Steve’s voice pleading.

“I know Steve, I know- I’m being serious here. I don’t know what this is, but I know I’m not gonna give up on it, not if you don’t want to either. I’m here for the long-run, babe. I have to warn you, I don’t let go of things easy, and if don’t walk away then I can’t see myself jumping ship. Not unless you do something to fuck it up. Hell, maybe not even then.

This is insane, okay? I have no words for what this is. But I’m happy, and I always thought that happiness is something you should keep a hold of, and going through months, hell, years of having you be away, and having that suck as it no doubt will, well, in my book, that’s worth it so long as I still get to see you, and have a bit of this when I can. Because I gotta tell you, I don’t think I can feel like this again.”

Steve looked at him, desperate, and Danny knew his game. He wanted Danny to agree that maybe cutting their contact, moving on, would be the best move for both of them, because then Steve wouldn’t have to feel guilty for thinking he was putting him through this. Because if Danny didn’t reject him, Steve couldn’t do a damn thing but be grateful underneath all that fear.

“Are you sure Danny? Don’t commit to this kind of thing if you’re not sure.”

Danny sighed, moving so he could rest their foreheads together, noses brushing against each other, breathing the same air.

“Yeah, I’m sure.”

So that’s how it went when Danny found out Steve was leaving in a month for lands unknown, unknown to Danny at least. Steve was closed mouth, because of course it was classified, and Danny stopped pressing when he saw how much it bothered Steve not being able to tell him.

That was also the moment when Danny knew he loved him, not that he’d mention it. Things were too brittle around the edges and Steve still seemed to be waiting for Danny to leave him.

So instead, they went out for drinks, and Jake finally got to meet Steve.

They walked into the bar together, Steve’s arm slung across his shoulders, and even though everyone would assume they were just buddies, he couldn’t but be sort of proud. Steve was impressive, in all meanings of the word, and while Danny had no troubles in the looks department, far from it, he couldn’t help but think that Steve was like something out of a work of art. Untouchable, except for Danny.

They had picked a good time of day to come, getting late enough that there were a decent amount of people occupying the room to mask individual conversations, but it hadn’t hit the rush yet so there was plenty of breathing room.

Danny saw Jake sitting in the corner of the room and brought up a hand to curve around Steve’s waist, steering him towards the booth. Jake’s attention had been on the television set over the bar but it snapped to them when Danny stepped up to the table.

Grinning, Jake rose from his seat, clasping Danny’s hand and pulling him into a brief hug.

“Danny, my man! How are you doing on this fine evening? And introduce you to the mystery person who’s been keeping you busy.”

Danny smirked, “I’m doing just fine, Jake. And this, this is Steven.” Steve’s elbow jabbed him in the side, hard, but expertly steering clear of the ribs and anywhere it’d really hurt.  Jake’s grin got even wider at this, and his once over was quick but he seemed to improve. He held out his hand to shake, and Steve grasped it.

“The name’s Steve, it’s nice to meet you.”

“Manners, I like ‘em. I’m Jake, like you didn’t already know. Let’s all have us a few rounds, shall we?”

And they did, Danny taking the inside of the booth since Steve was more comfortable being able to easily stand up and probably dive under the table in case of random gunfire, knowing the kind of paranoia he had sometimes.

After they had settled in, Jake started in on the questions, which Danny had warned Steve about. They were partners, even if it had only been for a short amount of time, and partners stuck up for each other, made sure they were doing things right. Jake’d want to make sure it all lined up, that Steve was cool.

“So where’d you meet Danny?”

Steve shifted casually bringing his arm up to rest on the back of the booth, hand draped on Danny’s shoulder.

“I ran into him, literally, spilled my coffee on both of us, it was right outside of his place so he offered to let me clean up there. When he found out I was on leave and staying down at some throwaway motel, he said I could stay there until I had to leave.”

Even though Danny had never asked Steve to lie, it was implied that telling a cop, friend or not, who didn’t share Danny’s particular brand of crazy would probably be a bad idea. Danny was glad the lie was so smooth and minor that everything else could be the truth, if they wanted to tell it.

Jake choked a bit on his drink, swiping the back of his hand across his mouth. “Danny? This Danny letting you move in after what, an hour? Are you sure it wasn’t some body snatcher?”

Danny groused “Ah, shut up. I have seen you do some truly sad things my friend, decisions I would never bring into the light of day. And I think this outcome is a lot better than how any of those turned out, let me tell you.”

Jake cried out “Hey! Go for the heart why don’t you. We agreed never to talk about those things again. But you have to admit it’s not exactly like you.”

Danny looked at Jake’s curious eyes then took in Steve’s smiling face, the quiet kind of smile, like he wanted to know the answer as well.

“Yeah, well. Steve’s special.”

The rest of the night passed without much of a hitch. There were some stumbles over Steve’s Navy career, Jake easily catching the implications of what that meant, and he was treated with an assessing, semi-concerned gaze when it came out that Steve would be leaving. But Danny wouldn’t give this up, and having Steve meet Jake only confirmed that, it made him even more determined to keep what he had.

By the time he and Steve left the bar, it was nearing midnight and Danny could see Steve was getting twitchy. They were walking to the parking lot when he couldn’t resist asking.

“What, what is it Steven?”

They had reached the car and Steve shrugged as he leaned against the driver’s door, hands hooked casually in the pocket.

“You’re serious about this. All of this- us.”

That stopped Danny short.

Yes I’m serious. You mean to tell me that you didn’t believe me when I told you I was? You think I’m gonna lie about that sort of thing? Let me tell you babe, if I wanted to get out of this, you’re making it real easy.”

Steve frowned at him, looking off to the side of his face.

“I know Danno, okay, I didn’t think you were lying. This is just, fuck, I haven’t been introduced to someone’s- I don’t know, people, family, ohana- since High school. It’s a lot to handle.”

Danny snorted, open the door and sliding in, tapping an impatient rhythm on his knee as he waited for Steve to follow his example.

“Yeah well, get used to it. I don’t do things halfway you know. You think I’m ashamed of you? Not a chance buddy. Sure we gotta keep it a bit quiet, circumstances being what they are, but hiding you from people I love, people I trust? Not a chance. Think you can handle that?”

Steve’s gaze was assessing, a little amused, edging on affectionate.

“Yeah Danny, I can handle that. Think you can handle me being gone ninety-five percent of the time, constantly in danger, and never getting to be introduced to any of my people?”

And that didn’t bother Danny because he knew Steve didn’t have people, at least not ones that he talked to, and the ones he did were all in the Navy, which was a risk they wouldn’t take.

“Of course! Can I handle it? I’m a cop, handling it is what I do.”

Soon to be detective, too, but he wasn’t telling anyone that. He was almost done with the hours and courses required and he was confident he could pass the exam. Maybe it was a bit of Ma’s superstition bleeding through, but he was content to wait and tell people until it was actually done and over with.

Steve put the car in reverse and pulled out of the parking lot, just slow enough that Danny wouldn’t yell at him. He was learning all those little quirks and how to handle the, mostly just so he could mess with Danny, honing his natural skill until he knew just how to pick to annoy him, just when to back off.

“So it’s my last month as a free man, you planning on doing anything for me?”

It only held a hint of suggestiveness; Danny thought Steve was honestly curious about it, but he chose to take the subtler route.

“Babe, I’m planning on doing all sorts of things for you, to you, with you- you name it and it’s yours.”

 Steve’s glance as he looked away from the road was heated and Danny tried not to shift as he was pinned under it for a few seconds and then more then a few seconds and-

“Hey, hey, hey! Eyes on the road, I know I’m irresistible, but we can’t do anything if we crash and die, McGarrett.”

The heat was still there, but it was a bit more light-hearted now, playful.

“I know what I’m doing, I am an excellent driver. You know, you could learn a thing or two from me.”

Danny scowled, “Learn a few things? Like what! How to obey the speed limit? Pedestrian safety? Not to keep weapons in the glove box? No, don’t go giving me that look, I notice things, I’m good at noticing things, think I’m not gonna pick up on the fact that there’s a gun in my glove box and a knife under both the seats? You are not as subtle as you think, babe.”

Steve shrugged, “So I like to be prepared, you never know when you might have to defend yourself Danny.”

“From what? I know you carry- so do I, but do you really need to have hidden weapon caches? I’ve already found four in the apartment, I have this constant fear that I’m going to take a wrong step and trip a wire and get blown up by some C4. I’m developing a twitch.”

Steve abruptly got serious.

“I’d never rig anything that’d hurt you Danny, not without telling you.”

“Yeah, well, tell that to me when I’m walking around with three toes and a limp.”

“Danny-“

“Maybe a nice eye-patch when I roll over and get suckered by a knife in the couch cushions-“

“Oh, be serious-“

“You think I’m not being serious? I’m extremely serious here, deadly even. It’s bound to happen sometime babe.”

“No it won’t.”

“Oh yeah, how do you know?”

“Because you’re smart, Danny, and if you really want, I’ll tell you where I hid everything, there, you happy?”

“Everything, huh?”

“Yes.”

“Not a single rock unturned, no surprises?”

“Did you not just hear me, I said yes Danny.”

“Even the grenade in the air vent under the far right kitchen counter? Or hey, what about that knife that’s taped to the top of the ceiling fan?”

Steve was silent from across the car, semi-gaping at him but trying not to show it.

“Yeah babe, that’s what I thought. You got issues-“

“Oh, I do not have issues. It’s perfectly reasonable.”

“No, no- reasonable, Steven, is maybe having a case under some furniture to pull out when you need it-“

“You don’t consolidate weapons, Danny, it makes it too easy.”

“Too easy to what! To walk around your own home without getting maimed? What do you expect is going to happen, someone to walk in there and try to kill us-

“Oh my god. That is what you expect! Were you not going to tell me where all the weapons were in case I was being tortured for information or something?

“For- chrissakes- that is what you’re expecting!”

“It’s a valid concern!”

“No, Steven, valid- valid is locking the door at night, and when you leave the house, valid is not leaving your keys in your car, rolling up the windows when you go inside.

“Valid is not hiding C4 behind the bread!”

“I would never leave C4 lying around, Danny, it’s way too unstable-

“So not the point here.”

“Well, I think it’s relevant to your complaining.”

Which started Danny off on another tirade that continued until they got home, where Steve proceeded to shut him up by shoving him against the door as soon as it was closed and covering his mouth with his, licking into his mouth as he used one hand to deftly un-tuck Danny’s shirt and slip his hand underneath it, smoothing over his back.

Danny arched off the wall, using the momentum to switch their positions, Steve automatically adjusting and slouching as he wrapped his arms around Danny so they were eye level, pressed close together.

The movement brought their hips together, cocks brushing up against each other.

Steve shuddered, moving a leg to wrap around Danny’s hip and thrusting up as he ran his hand through Danny’s hair, grasping the long strands and tilting Danny’s head up so he could get at his neck.

Danny moaned, wrapping an arm around Steve’s straining shoulders as he levered the other hand on the wall, pressing into it, feeling the cool pressure of the plaster against his palm. He stared up at the ceiling with glazed eyes, watching the shadows dancing in the light of the moon that was shining through the half opened window.

“C’mere, c’mon.” Danny pulled Steve up, pressing into the fullness of his bottom lip with his thumb, hand cupping his chin as he traced the seam of his mouth.

Steve opened his mouth, tongue darting out to wet his lips, catching Danny’s thumb and making his breathing go ragged.

He moved his hand, sliding it along Steve’s jaw and curling it around the nape of his neck, tugging him forward into a heated kiss as he moved them back towards the bed. When the back of his knees hit the mattress, thankfully pulled out tonight, Danny collapsed back into it, pulling Steve with him.

Luckily even caught in a haze of lust and need, Steve still had reflexes and an instinctive need to keep Danny safe, and his arms shot out to catch his weight, his legs tangling with Danny’s, hips pushing into his as their chests brushed against each other. After a moment, Danny felt Steve press closer, allowing some of his weight to push them into the bed as he curled around him.

Danny slid a hand down Steve’s back, grabbing the hem of his shirt and pulling it up, yanking at it impatiently when it got caught around Steve’s arms.

Steve laughed, “Okay, hold on Danno, hold on, I got it.”

He shifted to his knees and reached with both hands to finish taking the shirt off, exposing his muscled chest. Danny stared up at him for a beat before reaching out, hands tracing the contours of his ribs, splaying his fingers against the tautness of his abdomen.

Steve shivered, licking his lips as he grabbed Danny’s shoulders pulling him up so that his arms were free and clutching at the fabric of his shirt, guiding it off oh him and letting him collapse back when he was gone. Danny watched through heavy eyes as Steve threw it to the side, falling back onto him, skin coming into contact in a flash of heat.

Danny groaned, clutching at Steve as he guided a hand down the back of his jeans, biting at his lips as he traced the muscle, dipping between them and pressing at Steve’s entrance as he jerked against him, Steve moved him elbows to bracket Danny’s head, going lax as he panted.

“We gonna do this Danny?”

Danny moved his head, nuzzling Steve’s neck as he continued to gently circle and press, making Steve’s groan and thrust down then back up, seeking more pressure, more contact.

“We can do whatever you want babe, anything.”

Steve didn’t even hesitate before he shoved an arm under Danny’s shoulders, levering his other arm and shoving with a leg as he flipped them over, landing on his back, head thumping on the pillow as Danny’s cock lined up flush with his, legs open around Danny’s hips.

“Fuck me.”

Danny paused, his breath catching.

“Yeah babe, I can do that.”

He went for a kiss, feeling Steve surge desperately into it as he reached out an arm, fumbling with the drawer of the end of table and hoping to god that he still had a few supplies left in there. It had been awhile since he’s had anyone.

It’s never felt like this.

This urgency surging inside him, unable to think of anything else but this burning need to be insidegodrightnow.

 He felt a thrill when he found what he was looking for, pulling out a condom and some lube.

Steve turned his head to the side to look, grinning when he saw what Danny had.

“Boy scout there, eh Danno?”

Danny grinned, running his free hand down Steve’s arm, grabbing his wrist in a firm grip and stretching his arm up behind his hand, pressing it into the pillow.

“Hey, it never hurts to feel prepared.”

Letting go of Steve’s wrist- feeling a rush of desire when Steve left it there, looking up at him with challenging, smiling eyes, he quickly shucked both of their jeans, shoving them over the side of the bed as he uncapped the bottle, getting his fingers slick and pressing a hand into Steve’s stomach, sliding it over to his hip and applying a gentle pressure as he brought his index finger down and nimbly sliding it in, watching Steve lose his smug expression as he arched into it, bearing down.

“Sometimes, it feels very, very good to be prepared.”

Steve huffed out a laugh, clutching at his shoulder with the hand that wasn’t resting on the pillow, not trying to move him, just resting there- anchoring himself.

“Yeah, yeah, you’re such a sweet –“ Steve broke off to gasp as Danny crooked his fingers, unerringly finding that spot inside him. “talker Danno.” Rushed at the end, getting quieter as it slipped into breathless silence.

Danny smiled softly, resting on one elbow as he shifted down the bed so that he could get the best angle. After a few more minutes, he added more slick from the bottle, nudging another finger in and watching as Steve fell apart, thrashing, hand grabbing the pillow in a tight fist as he ran his other hand over whatever part of Danny he could reach, focusing on his back, scratching his blunt nails down the smooth expanse.

 Danny shifted himself to the side, throwing a leg over Steve’s knees as he went to kiss him, feeling Steve latch onto him as soon as their lips made contact. While they were kissing, Danny managed to slip another finger in, alternating between thrusting and keeping his fingers crooked, gently nudging his prostate, making Steve thrash with each push as his breathing quickened and his moans became more desperate.

Danny waited until Steve was pleading with him to just get inside already, fucking hell, to slowly remove his fingers, feeling Steve twitch at the loss. Reaching over, he tore the packet and smoothly slid on the condom, thanking god that there had been no mishaps, not now, not with Steve. Not with this frenzied, heady emotion between them.

Moving forward, Danny leaned down to leisurely kiss Steve, ignoring his attempts to speed it up as he gradually rested his weight on him, resting his elbow alongside Steve’s as he pressed their palms together, twining their fingers beside Steve’s head.

With his other hand, he grabbed himself, guiding until he was just nudging in Steve. He pulled back so he could look at him, seeing his flushed face, his open mouth gasping for air as he blinked his heavy-lidded eyes.  

Danny waited until Steve had focused on him, staring for a moment before giving a small nod, the barest shift of his head, wrapping his arm around Danny’s waist as he slowly began to press inside, hooking an arm under Steve’s knee to tilt his hips up. The new angle allowed to him to more easily push inside, feeling Steve bear down until his hips were flush.

They both paused, Danny feeling the incredible heat around him, tight and smooth. But most important, what made him have to remind himself to breathe, to not start pounding into him, was that this was Steve. That’s who he was inside, who was wrapped around him, panting under him as he adjusted to Danny’s length.

When Steve had settled a bit, Danny leaned down, giving a small thrust as he captured his Steve’s lips in a searing kiss as he gradually sped up his thrusts, moving until he found just the right angle that had Steve trembling on every thrust, seeking him out as he pulled out, meeting him as he thrust in. 

Danny swallowed, trying not to lose control when Steve rolled his eyes, squeezing his hand and sliding the other down to his hip to urge him on. Danny took his queue and picked up the pace, letting go of Steve’s leg after he wrapped it around his torso, sliding his now free hand down to grasp Steve’s hard cock, the skin smooth and slick with sweat and lube easing the way of his hand.

As soon as Danny began thrusting in time with his hand, Steve was gone, thrashing, saying Danny’s name until it all blurred together and he came with a long-drawn out moan, curling forward and pressing his head into Danny’s neck as he went through the aftershocks.

Danny never slowed his thrusts and Steve’s muscles tightening as he shuddered pushed him over the edge as he thrust forward, stilling deep inside and panting, softly kissing whatever a part of Steve he could reach, his jaw, moving forward to his cheek and then softly kissing his parted lips. He gradually drew out as he as kissing him, reaching down to remove the condom and tossing it into the bin beside the bed all without breaking contact with Steve’s mouth. With that taken care of, he shifted to the side, resting his weight along Steve’s side and drawing the covers up over them.

Resting his head on Steve’s shoulder, he looked up at the ceiling, listening as both of their breathing normalized, feeling the last remaining tension drain out of Steve as he sank into the bed, wrapping an arm around Danny and resting his hand on the leg Danny had thrown over his hip.

Danny was content to remain silent until Steve spoke up, his voice rough.

“That was- that was good Danny.”

Danny snorted, but he understood that Steve wasn’t really used to expressing his feelings through words, an air of awkwardness descending over him when he had to talk about it. This was him reaching out, trying to show something, so Danny didn’t begrudge him that, but he couldn’t help teasing him a little.

“Just good? Babe, that was fantastic. Some of my best work.”  To belly the arrogance of his words, he ran a gentle hand down Steve’s side, pressed his lips tenderly against the jut of his collarbone, murmuring into his skin-

“S’cause of you, babe, all ‘cause of you. You’re-“ Extraordinary. Surprising. Incredible.

Mine.

“Great.” 

The days counting down to Steve’s departure were odd to say the least. They went about their days as they normally did- Danny eventually found out that Steve usually went to gyms and bookstores when he was at work, going to the range every other day. Keeping sharp, he said.

Preparing to kill is what Danny thought.

But he never questioned Steve about what he was doing, because he knew if he did Steve would just give him a charming grin and say that it was top secret, above Danny’s pay grade, hell, above Steve’s pay grade. And a part of Danny just didn’t want to think about what Steve would have to do, even knowing that whatever it was, he chose it.

Sometimes it was easy to forget how dangerous Steve was. Not to Danny, never to Danny. But that was the point wasn’t it? Danny only ever saw Steve when he was with him, all charming smiles and goofy grins as he laughed at Danny’s bad jokes and teased him about his hair. When he wasn’t being gentle, he was never rough, hell, not even in the way most people could accidently injure you, an elbow in the face when you were sleeping, treading on your foot or knocking your heads together.

 That was a sign in itself really; Steve was so in control of his body and how he moved it, constantly aware, that he stopped himself from letting go even in sleep.

Danny didn’t really understand though, he didn’t really get it until the day he saw Steve looking at a case file he had left on the coffee table.

It was this case they had half the department working on, a serial killer whose first known victim had cropped four months ago, before Steve had even arrived in New Jersey.

He- or at least the criminal profilers they had brought in thought it was a he, had been striking twice a month, and it was so random was the thing, all ages, sexes, races, weight, height, eye and hair color, nothing. And that was the kicker since he was so methodical with his kills, always taking his victim in the middle of the day, never by force. Somehow he lured them aware from what they were doing, and then as soon as they were out of site, he’d inject them. Not even the drug was telling, a simple cocktail you could mix up with over the counter medicine from the pharmacy.

But it did its job until he got them to the kill site, which seemed to move to a new location, never centralizing or focusing on a certain grid, scattered. Whoever he was, he was good at throwing them off his scent. The only reason they had even known it was a same guy was the method of the kill.

He’d wait for them to wake up, and then he’d begin torturing them. The M.E. thought it was the same amount of time for each victim, exactly twelve hours, with no break in between as far as he could tell. The one thing all the victims had in common was that they were in perfect health, and the reason why chilled Danny to the bone even as the anger settled deep inside him.

So they wouldn’t die before he was finished with them.

Then after twelve hours, probably on the dot, he’d smother them. People always thought that’d be a gentle kind of way to go, pillow over the head, like going to sleep as you lose the last of your oxygen.

But it wasn’t, it was one of the worst. Slow. Suffocation, your lungs burning as you struggled, the rest of your body free but unable to do anything.

Plus the time it required, it wasn’t swift like a bullet or a knife, took double the time of strangulation as the air wasn’t being forced out of you, just deprived.

After they were dead, this bastard would clean them off. He always wore gloves and there had never been any hair or fibers left at the scene. Since the victim never even had a chance to struggle, they never managed to catch any skin of DNA under their fingernails.  Then he would dump them just feet away from where they had died, the locations so random that it did the job of covering his tracks.

This guy, he wasn’t the type who hid, he wanted people to know what he was doing, that he was still out there killing, so they’d have something to fear, someone to dread.

It was getting so overwhelming at the PD that Danny had to bring some of the work home with him, Steve never questioned what was in the files, but Danny had come back from a run to find him paging through the documents, eyes hard and mouth set in a firm line.

Danny sighed, not really angry with him, but still, Steve shouldn’t be reading that. Walking forward until he was standing next to him, Danny rested a hand on his shoulder.

“Hey, interesting reading material there, huh?”

He saw Steve’s hand tapping a pattern into his leg, a tic he had noticed him get when he was getting angry, and not just the minor irritation he sometimes had for Danny, but truly and royally pissed off.

“I’ve been reading about this guy in the papers; I didn’t know you were working on the case.”

Danny sighed, dropping down beside him and closing his eyes, stretching his neck to try and remove some of the tension.

“Yeah, usually major crimes would take cases like this but all the details are getting leaked out and people are panicking; it’s a shit storm out there, they need all the help they can get.”

“Danny?”

“Yeah babe?”

“I think I know who’s doing this.”

Danny froze, his muscles locked, and after a moment of utter blankness he moved, gripping Steve by his bicep and holding himself back from giving him a shake.

“What? How? More importantly, how sure are you? We can’t do this if you aren’t positive.”

 Steve clenched his jaw, looking stoic, but Danny would tell he was shaken by whatever he had read, and not because of the kinds of things it described, but his own memories that related to it.

“I know, Danny, okay, I know.”

Danny took a deep breath, composing himself, he was a cop- he could handle this. He scanned the coffee table, spotting a notepad and a pen, after grabbing it he turned his full attention to Steve, who was looking increasingly agitated.

“Tell me everything you know.”

“It was a couple years ago, three. I was twenty-two, just out a school, and I got put in with this unit, right? Good group of guys, there was one of them though, Chris, Chris Hellen, he was a little messed up, we never new how he passed the psych eval, we guessed that he must’ve been one hell of an actor. Anyways, he was always, getting off from the sort of things we were doing. Not sexually, but after a mission when everyone else would be trying to forget what we’d just done, he’d be recounting it, you know, play-by-play, real sick stuff. And he’d be smiling, saying how he never got to do this shit in the real world, as a civilian. Anyways, we had been trying to get him out for awhile, but you know, processing, paperwork, it takes a long time, longer than you got sometimes.

So one of these missions, we’re in the jungle, I can’t say anymore. But he was taken by the targets, and man, they needed that information. We’re trained to endure a lot, and they knew that. So they really went to work on him.

Twelve hours. It took us twelve hours to neutralize the threat and get him out.”

Steve shook his head, looking down at the floor, lost in his recollection.

“Paperwork didn’t matter by then, the shape he was in, he’d be in a hospital for years recovering. I think he was. Before I came here, some of my old guys contacted me, they said that- they said he was finally being released, physical therapy had made him as good as he was gonna get. Four months ago Danny. He was released for months ago.

And this torture pattern, I’d never forget it. He’s recreating what was done to him, enjoying it. But he’s smart, you have to know he’s very smart, he was trained to evade, it’ll be difficult to take him out.”

Danny frowned, the pieces coming together, and suddenly it clicked, “The uniform! He’d still have his old uniform right? That’s how he’s getting them to go with him, especially if he’s disabled, has an obvious limp or something obvious. No one would expect anything, they’d try and help, and that’s when he’d get them.”

He wasn’t so lost in this revelation that he didn’t notice Steve steadily getting calmer. Not relaxed, but still. Like the only way he wouldn’t fly off the handle was if he didn’t let himself feel anything.

“What was done to him was horrible, Danny, but this? Using the service, bastardizing the people who give their lives, my brothers. Going against the code. We need to stop him.”

“I know, Steve, we will. I’ll get this down to the precinct and-“

“No! Now. I read that thing back to front, the times match up, he should be taking someone now, if he hasn’t already. The torture might just be getting started. Even if we organize a manhunt and find him in a few hours, that kind of damage could damage someone for life, sometimes you just can’t recover from that.”

“We need to follow procedure, they’re there for a reason you know, we can’t-“

“What if it’s a kid, Danny? What if he took a kid.”

Danny sighed, pinching the skin between his eyes and trying to relieve the tension.

“Okay, okay, I’ll go out on patrol, we send the station an anonymous tip so they can get that started, I’ll see what I pick up.”

“I’m coming with you.”

“Steve, babe, you know I can’t allow that. I don’t care if you’re a SEAL, in this case, you’re still a civilian, I don’t want to put you in this situation. Hell, I don’t want to put me in this situation.”

“No, Danny, I’m coming with you. I’m not asking, I’m going. He’s trained, and I’m sorry, but he could probably take you out before you even knew what hit you. You know Jake’s on vacation, you need back up.”

“I’m not going to be able to leave without you, am I?”

“No. You’re stuck with me Danny.”

Danny shook his head, standing up and going to retrieve his jacket, checking his gun and making sure he had an extra magazine.

“You got your gun.”

Steve managed to crack a small smile.

“You asking me if I have a weapon on me? Baby, I got more weapons then you can dream of.”

Danny gave him a grin in return, acknowledging the seriousness of the situation but allowing for a brief moment of levity.

“That’s my guy. Now lets go catch this sonofabitch.”

They placed the tip, giving the officer the name and a bullshit sighting of him with one of the victims, because fuck it, Danny trusted Steve. If he said it was him, it was. Danny had Steve make the call, just in case anyone managed to recognize his voice, and he hung up before he could give him name, then they were peeling out of the parking lot, Steve driving as had become habit ever since he came into Danny’s life.

Danny had the file in his lap, skimming through the contents and searching for a possible clue for his next kill-site.

“We have to cast out a net. We’ve been trying to get by looking for clues, trying to figure out the exact spot he may be using. But think about it, there aren’t too many places in Jersey that’s private enough for this sort of thing. He’d need to be able to get in, carrying a body, and get out without drawing suspicion to himself. None of the victims were gagged and the M.E. said their throats were raw, so it has to be far enough away that they can scream and people either wouldn’t notice or they’d brush it off. So far he’s used parks, some abandoned piers and warehouses. Anywhere with a very limited population.”

Steve was frowning, for once driving the speed limit as he considered where to go. He didn’t have near the same amount of knowledge about Jersey as Danny, but maybe that’s what they needed. Maybe he was too close to see the obvious, and Steve was observant, scarily so sometimes. He’d probably had the entire city cased out the first month he was here.

So Danny wasn’t surprised when Steve suddenly made a U-Turn, almost hitting an on-coming car and swerving out of the way just in time. Danny dropped the file, papers fluttering to the ground, grabbing the handrail above the window and trying not to puke.

“Fuck, Steve! A little warning might be nice. Whaddya’ got?”

Steve’s gaze was narrow as he maneuvered the car seamlessly in and out of traffic.

“Construction. Like you said, there are only a minute amount of unpopulated areas here, and he’s hit almost all of them. He knows that you’ve got his M.O. now, he’s going to change it up, not what he does to him, but anything he can alter while still keeping to his method, he needs that. He’ll still want to hear them, but he can’t just find a place with no people anymore, he’d have to go somewhere where he’d be able to cover them up with something.

They’re doing renovations down by the dock, with the ocean and the work crews and construction going on, especially the gulls, screaming would be completely drowned out or brushed aside as one of the birds. Plus guys are always going in and out, and a lot of them are carrying lumber, or barrels, he’d just have to borrow one of the loaders, hide the body in whatever else is in the tray. Easy in and out, and no one would ever notice- even if someone thought anything was suspicious, all those people wearing the same thing? It’d be easy to blend in.”

Danny smacked his palm on his forehead, “Makes sense, makes perfect sense actually. Anyone ever tell you you’d be a good cop, McGarrett?”

Steve’s knuckles turned white on the wheel.

“Yeah. They have.”

After a moment of silence, Danny launched into the game plan.

“Okay, so we won’t want to spook him if he’s transporting, we’re plain clothes but we should grab a few of those vests, try and blend a little. We’ll listen, if we’re actually looking for the noise, we should be able to pick it out, form a grid and go by it little my little, we don’t want to miss anything, he doesn’t need much space to work in. I should just leave you in the car, but I know you’d just end up following me anyways, by yourself. So you come with me but on one condition, you stick with me, you stay behind me. You’re not a cop, we don’t need to make this situation anymore stick than it already is, capiche?”

He stopped, waiting for confirmation and watching as Steve shrugged his shoulders, flicking him a quick glance.

“Okay, fine.”

“Good, great.”

 

“Did you really just say capiche?”

“Shuddup.”

~

They parked a block away from the main construction site, where it’d be the noisiest, the busiest and peeled out of the car. They asked around for the foreman and after Danny flashed him his badge he was quick to lend them some vests and hard hats, unfurling a map of the area and pointing out the areas that were cordoned off and should be empty.

After another pointed warning for Steve to stay behind him even though he knew he’d be a lost cause, Danny moved forward, walking casually and keeping his hands in his pockets, clutching his gun in one hand, out of site and hopefully unnoticeable. They didn’t want to start a panic.

Half an hour later they still had nothing when Steve suddenly perked up, jerking his head and grabbing a hold of Danny’s shoulder to put him to a stop.

“Do you hear that?”

And now that they weren’t moving and Danny no longer had the rustle of his plastic vest knocking against his neck, the clang of his helmet against his ear, he could hear it.

Screaming.

Breaking into a run, Danny threw off the hat, taking off the vest along the way while signaling Steve to go to the left.

The crowds around them thinned out until they were in a small, deserted radius, a brick building standing shrouded in yellow tape. The sound was even louder now, the sound of sobbing, pleading.

Danny brought out his gun, seeing Steve do the same, and walked towards the door, motioning for Steve to push it open so Danny could go in first.

Bracing himself, he moved in as soon as the door swung inward, not shouting out a warning even though he should. He didn’t want to spook the guy off, warn him. He wanted to catch the bastard. Sensing Steve behind him as he walked through the house towards the noise of a quiet sobbing, he directed him to the other side of a single door where light casting shadows, flickering underneath the door.

He held up three fingers and slowing held them down, seeing Steve tense to kick down the door once he reached zero.

As soon as his hand made a fist, Steve was bursting through, first of course, but Danny was quick to follow, finally allowing himself to shout.

“Freeze! Newark PD, put your hands in the air!”

The guy was someone who’d blend into a crowd. Out of uniform of course, he wouldn’t want to get it dirty. He had close-cropped brown hair, piercing blue eyes and a clean-shaven face. He looked nice, handsome, maybe only a few years older than them. Someone people would trust. He only had a few oddities about him; his stance was off-balance, relying heavily on his right side, and his left hand was heavily scarred. That, of course, was before he shifted and Danny noticed he hand opened is shirt, revealing a mass of scar tissue of every kind, burn marks, patches where the skin at been flayed, long, clean cut scars from a knife. Matching the marks on the victims almost exactly, the only difference being the size of the canvas and what could fit.

In front of him was a drawing table with hooks drilled onto each end, a rope looped through them to hold down the victim. A small girl, she couldn’t have been more than eleven.

Danny could see a bloody knife beside her, but apart from a few cuts she appeared unharmed, thank god, he must’ve just gotten to her.

His attention couldn’t have been off the perp for more than a second, but in that time he was already running. Before he could reach the door, Steve was on him, and Danny knew Steve could fight, he’d sparred with him a time or two, but this, this was entirely different.

Steve wasn’t holding back, he wasn’t worrying about breaking bones or someone getting more than hurt, he was fighting to kill, but Danny couldn’t blame him, because the man who he assumed was Hellen was fighting in just the same manner, if not escalating it.

It was killing him that he couldn’t do anything, but it was too close contact, he couldn’t risk using his gun and if he tried to interfere, Steve would probably pull back in fear of seriously injuring him and he’d be a liability.

So he concentrated on the girl, making quick work of the knots and shrugging off his jacket to wrap it around her over the tattered remains of her shirt.

“What’s your name sweetie?”

She took a shuddering breath, and he felt the urge to pat her back, but he didn’t know if she’d want to be touched right now. She was clearly trying to not stop crying, rubbing her eyes on the corner of the sleeve.

“Margaret.”

Danny very slowly held out his hand, making sure to telegraph his movements as he guided her out of the room, keeping one eye on Steve.

“Hi Margret, I’m Danny, I’m a cop okay, and I just need to go help my friend with that bad guy over there. I’m going to call the police and then give you the phone and you can go wait outside, just in the hallway over there. You’ll have an officer on the phone the entire time, can you do that?

After she nodded, seeming to get a bit of courage, he punched in the number straight to the primary detective’s desk, quickly informing her of the situation and their location. Before she could protest, he handed the phone to Margaret, making sure she was out the door before he turned back to the fight.

It looked like Steve had the upper hand, the bum leg not doing Hellen any favors, and just as Danny was about to cut in he got the drop on him. Panting, he kneeled above him, grabbing a hold of his head and banging it into the ground when he kept struggling.

This was more than taking him out, this was an attack on a personal level, but Danny allowed it because god knows he wanted to give the fucker a beating for what he had been doing, for what he had done. For what he would’ve kept doing in the future for who knows how long if they hadn’t have caught him.

Steve swallowed, visibly calming himself down, retreating behind that stoic mask. He glanced up, and his stare was wooden.

“Think maybe you should book ‘im, Danno?”

Trying to act normal, he scoffed even as he was pulling out his handcuffs.  “I should book him? Of course I should book him! I’m the cop. Of course only if I have your permission, Where’d they teach you that chain of command, the Army?”

Steve shook his head tiredly, eyes losing a bit of their glassiness, better, but he was still far too quiet.

“The Navy, Danny-”

He stood, letting Danny cuff the guy and haul him up, keeping his eyes on Hellen the entire time, posture stiff, serious.

“-the Navy.”

Danny stared at him, not breaking eye contact for a few seconds before bowing his head for a beat, then pushing Hellen forward as he gestured out the door.

“The little girl, do you think you could watch her until the paramedics get here? I don’t want to risk letting go of this guy and the back-up should be here soon, it’d probably be best if they didn’t know you were involved, especially not considering that some of them might recognize you. “

Steve nodded, going out and crouching down beside the girl. Danny couldn’t help but stop and stare for a few moments as he was leading the perp out the door, towards the sounds of sirens.

When the other officer’s got there, Danny gave them an account of what happened, carefully editing out Steve’s part, claiming that the guy was already beaten up; one of his would-be victims must’ve gotten the drop on him. Danny had a source who told him his suspicious, and all he’d had to do is yell at him, rough him up a little before putting the cuffs on him. He shouldered off the credit, stating that it should go towards the entire department.

It should go towards Steve, but Danny knew he’d prefer not to be known. This had never been about recognition for him.

He was stuck at the station for the next twelve hours, answering the same questions over and over again, receiving praises that made him cringe and just wishing that he could go home to Steve. They had to let him go sometime though, and after things had settled as much as they could be, be was finally allowed to go home.

It was dark by then, nearing midnight, so he unlocked the door quietly, nudging the door open gently even though he knew Steve wouldn’t be asleep.

Danny could tell that he wasn’t, even though the bed was pulled out and there was a figure under the covers. It was too still, the breathing too even, plus Steve usually rolled over onto his stomach after he had fallen asleep.

Danny didn’t call him out on it though, he went into the bathroom, taking a long shower and trying to scrub the filth of the day off of him, the reminders of Steve’s past, having to touch that scumbag. Not to mention the actual dirt he’d gotten on him at the crime scene.

After he felt suitably clean, he brushed his teeth, throwing on a pair of sweats and scrubbing a hand through his hair.

Steve had shifted over by the time he came out, freeing up his usual side of the bed, turned towards the wall, presenting Danny with the taut line of his back. Lifting the covers, he slid in behind him, carefully resting a hand on his lower back, feeling the muscles underneath it twitch, and then gradually relax.

Danny moved so that his chest was flush against Steve’s back, curling an arm around his waist and resting him palm so that it was pressed against Steve’s heart, feeling the beat of it. With Danny covering him, Steve sighed, tension draining out of him.

Danny gently kissed the back of his neck before letting his head hit the pillow, sinking into the warmth of the bed and the heat of Steve’s body beside him.

“You alright babe?”

He felt Steve breathing, the soft rise and fall of his chest underneath his arm, his heart beating a tattoo against his fingers.

“I will be.”

~

In the light of the morning it felt like everything had gone down months ago instead of hours. Danny woke up alone, but he relaxed when he heard Steve moving around in the bathroom, turning on the shower. It was funny how things worked like that. He had only known Steve for two and a half months, been with him for a little over half of that, and yet it felt like things had always been like this. Sharing a bed, having Steve get him coffee, Danny buying Steve’s favorite brand of beer instead of his own.  It was comfortable, familiar, but not boring, it was the reason why Danny was staying, why leaving wasn’t even an option that he’d ever seriously considered.

Of course all things couldn’t work that way, and the days until Steve had to deploy were dwindling down at an alarming rate.

Danny figured that with Steve gone, he’d get on much as he had been before. Hopefully make detective, maybe hone his shooting more, learn some of those crazy ninja moves Steve was performing. Because if they could stretch a month into years, Danny figuring that seeing Steve for only a few weeks a year would last him for a good long while.

It really wouldn’t be any different than how it had been; only now Danny had something to look forward to.

He wasn’t thinking about how serious this was becoming, how quick it was happening. Just like it had been from the beginning, Danny was choosing to push those things aside for later. In the meantime, he would live in the now, go to work, act normally, cementing the time with Steve in his memory.

Christ, he couldn’t even remember what it was like before he had come along.

“Hey Danny?”

He rolled over, some cop he was, he hadn’t even noticed that Steve had emerged from the bathroom, towel wrapped around his waist, blank-faced save for the raised eyebrow and the twitch of his mouth that indicated he could start smiling if Danny played his cards right.

“Yeah, what’s up?”

Steve shrugged, dropping his towel and starting to get dressed, and Danny knew he was acutely aware of what he was doing.

“I have an appointment today down at this tattoo place on seventh? I was wondering if you wanted to come with.”

Danny stared at him, shaking his head; of course Steve would be getting another tattoo weeks before he had to leave. He already had one adorning his right shoulder and bicep, and Danny had spotted a few others, a fading band on his forearm, a dull red sun burst fanning just across his nipple.

“What time is it?”

Steve voice was muffled as he tugged his shirt on over his head.

“Four. But it should take six or seven hours, so you can swing by after work, if you want.”

Danny decided not to ask what he’d be getting, he’d see for himself in a few hours.

“Sure babe, I’ll stop by.”

The rest of the day passed relatively slowly for him, Jake was still on vacation, so Danny had his share of the paperwork for the next few days. Not that he minded- Jake had done the same for him too many times to count. Still, after the excitement of the other day, Danny was itching to get out of the precinct and take down some bad guys.

Danny laughed quietly to himself- Jeez, he was starting to sound like Steve; maybe he was spending too much time with him, holed up in the apartment.

But he immediately dismissed that idea. There was no such thing, not for him. Especially not considering the fact that he’d be deprived of that contact in less than twenty days.

He would old those moments close, commit them to memory.

Sighing, he stretched his neck out, bringing a hand up to massage the knots. Much as he had appreciated the price of the foldout couch, and the practically, it was not doing his body any favors. Maybe he’d have to do something about that later, settle a little bit more. He was lined up to take his detective’s exam next month, which was the only step he hadn’t taken; all other technicalities dealt with and smoothed over. Not only did that mean a job more suited to his interests and talents, but a bigger paycheck.

Not that he was much of a material kind of guy, but he did enjoy certain luxuries.

Like being able to roll over without a broken spring digging into his back. Danny suspected it’d be a lot more unwelcome when he didn’t have Steve by his side to poke and prod over so he could find a more comfortable position. And he sure as hell wouldn’t be getting woken up by Steve’s mouth after a hard day on the job and an even tougher time at night.

Still, he was hesitant to make any major decisions, like moving. Danny grew roots, people who knew him for awhile always said he was like a tree, set him down, don’t bother him too much, and he’d grow around anything, settling deep.

He was yanked out of his family home for college, tossed in the dorms for two years before he found a place. It was far worse than what he had now, and he probably wouldn’t have moved for years if not for the job opportunity that was presented to him.

Besides, he liked his apartment; it had a certain charm to it. And maybe, just maybe, a small part of him didn’t want to make these kinds of decisions without Steve there along for the ride. Hell, knowing McGarrett, he’d probably insist on driving the whole thing, control freak that he was. Danny didn’t mind though, he knew he was, and what he wanted, he didn’t mind giving up control to the right person. And Steve was nothing if not that.

Didn’t mean he couldn’t get a new bed though.

By the time he was finished, it was six o’clock and Danny did not rush to his car, and he definitely didn’t double check the directions to make sure they were correct so that he could see as much of the process as necessary. No, none of those things were true. Right.

Danny had always thought it was alright to lie to yourself as long as you acknowledged that it was all bullshit.

He managed to make it to the parlor by six-fifteen, and, after stuffing his hands in his pockets, he leisurely strolled in.

A man with colorful sleeves and a nose piercing walked up to Danny, asking him if he had an appointment.

“No, no- ah, I just know someone who’s getting some work done. He asked me to stop by.”

The guy nodded, “That’s alright then, go find him, but watch your step and don’t make any sudden noises or movements.”

With a nod, Danny strode through the small reception area into the open room where people were sitting and lying in various positions. He instantly picked up where Steve was, in the far right corner, back to the wall of course, his left arm propped up on a padded table as a redheaded man slowly traced the outline. As Danny came closer he saw that the tattoo added a certain kind of symmetry to Steve’s body. It was almost the exact same size as the one on his opposite arm, and Danny suspected it’d have similar colors too.

Steve had of course noticed him as soon as he walked in, and he was watching with bright eyes as Danny walked up to him.

“Hey Danno! This is Paul. Mind if he pull’s up a chair?”

Paul stopped his work for a second, glancing up at him with a smile as he nodded to a row of spare seats lined up against the far wall.

“Nah man, it’s cool, just grab one of those, don’t jostle anyone.”

Danny huffed, what did they think he was, an idiot? He thought it was pretty common knowledge that it’d be a bad idea to bump into someone who was permanently marking up someone else’s skin. But he guessed a little precaution was never a bad thing.

Grabbing the nearest available chair, he picked it up and carried it over to Steve’s right side, setting down so that it was facing away from him, then throwing a leg of the side, leaning his chest into the back-rest as he draped his arms over the top, propping his chin up on them.

“How you doing Steven? Feeling like a piece of art yet?”

Steve grinned at him, “Not just yet Danny. I figure it’ll take the shading before I feel like a painting.”

“Oh babe, you’re already a painting.” Steve’s grin turned a bit more contemplative.

“Yeah?”

“Oh sure, all those lines, you know, I figure that’s what paintings should look like.”

Steve started at him, assessing, before tilting his head, extending his free arm out, elbow resting on the arm of the chair so that he could rest his hand over Danny’s. Danny instinctively turned his hand over, twining his fingers with Steve’s and squeezing.

Paul didn’t look up from his work as he asked “So how long you two been together?”

Danny paused, looking towards Steve, and saw him send a mischievous grin.

“Oh, you know, feels like a lifetime.”

But underneath the joking, there was a seriousness to his expression, truth in his words. Danny smiled, fingers tightening briefly around Steve’s.

“Yeah, something like that.”

After that they lapsed into silence, with the occasional meaningless murmur or question coming up. Danny mostly watched as the tattoo took shape, forming under his eyes and gradually gaining depth and color. He noticed that Steve was alternating between watching him and staring up at the ceiling, relaxing into the chair under the buzz of the needle.

What must’ve been hours later, Paul finally pulled away, clearing away the ink and blood with a rush of water and patting it dry. He leaned back and gestured towards a mirror at the back of the shop.

“Take a look.”

With a grin, Steve rose, taking a moment to stretch and re-align his spine before reaching out a hand to grab Danny’s, tugging him up and letting go after a brief pull in his direction, indicating Danny should follow him.

When they came up to the mirror, instead of looking at the tattoo, Danny watched Steve in a weird role reversal of the past few hours. He saw as his eyes lit up and his mouth quirked in a grin as he turned his arm back and forth and watched the flashing colors and clean lines flexing along with his muscle.

Steve turned to him, serious with a teasing air.

“So Danny, what d’you think?”

Danny tilted his head, reaching out a hand to rest it just below the ink, stroking the inside of his elbow with his thumb.

“You know what, it’s actually pretty beautiful.”

He never broke eye contact as he said it.

Later, curled in bed together, Danny resting his head on Steve’s chest- he watched the rise and fall of the tattoo, shifting slightly with each of Steve’s restful breaths. He resisted the urged to run a finger along it, having been warned by the artist to try and avoid contact with it. That didn’t mean he couldn’t stare at it though, and appreciate it all the same.

Two Weeks.

~

Day 13:

“Steven?”

A disgruntled sigh, then an expectant: “Yes Danny?”

“You know why they have disposable filters? Because you’re supposed to dispose of them. They’re not meant to last until the next freaking ice age!”

“Danny, you gotta think about what you’re doing to the environment-“

“Oh the environment. The environment he says! Since when have you become a tree hugging-“

“And the impact you have-“

“You yuppy-“

“I’m just saying there are more sensible options out there.”

“Steve?”

What? What.”

A quick inhale, the soft sounds of lips meeting and the rustle of fabric sliding against skin.

“Danny.”

“You know-

“this won’t always- ah- work.”

“Mhmm.” The sound of a chair falling over as two sets of feet stumbled over to the bed.

“Okay, okay-“a gasping concession “it might work.”

Day 12:

“It’s toast.”

“Yes it is toast, thank you for pointing that out Mr. Obvious.What the hell is wrong with toast?”

“Nothing, nothing at all.”

“Do not do that Steven, do not.

“I’m going to be leaving soon Danny; do you know what MRE’s taste like? I mean really, do you? You don’t want to know. You can’t even comprehend it.”

“What, are you saying my toast isn’t good enough for you?”

“Not at all, just that, you know, a little effort might be appreciated.”

“A little effort? What do you think that toast just fell out of the sky? Let me tell you, my friend, I had to make that toast; I sweated blood and tears to give you that. I put time into that. I even made sure to use that frou-frou oil spread instead of honest to god butter like any sane person would want. And you’re gonna tell me that’s not effort?”

“No Danny, it’s great, the toast is great.”

“Thank you, thank you very much. I appreciate that you took the time to acknowledge that.”

Steve took a bite of the plain bread, lightly golden and shimmering slightly in the thin grey light sifting through the curtains covering the kitchen window, chewing leisurely, tasting and swallowing after a moment’s consideration.

 “Waffles would be nice though.”

Oh- I’ll tell you where you can put your waffles!”

Later in the day, when the sun had set Danny came home from work exhausted, having chased down a suspected car thief when some new guy had spooked him and he had taken off. Groaning, he collapsed on the coach, slumping to the side, his head falling Steve’s lap.

Steve had been sitting with his feet propped up on the coffee table, flipping through the channels and trying to find something interesting to watch. He glanced down at Danny as his head thumped on his thigh, eyebrow raised.

“What’s up?”

Danny signed, turned on his side so he was facing the couch and he could press his forehead into Steve’s side, nose burrowing into his hip as he threw a heavy arm around his legs.

“M’tired. Not all of us can run ten miles without breaking a sweat.”

Steve snorted, “Really Danny, you ran ten miles?” But the gentle hand he rested on his head bellied the sarcasm of his words.

“It’s a figure of speech babe, I’m allowed to exaggerate once in awhile.”

Laughing, Steve started combing his fingers through Danny’s long blonde hair, bleached brighter from the pale sun and soft as the gel he had put in this morning wore off. “Once in awhile? Like you don’t do it every day.”

Danny sighed, resting his weight fully on Steve and breathing in the scent of his clothes, the slight hint of sweat from today’s work out, feeling the roughness of his jeans against his cheek, the soft, cool touch of his cotton against his lips.

“If I weren’t so worn-out I’d respond to that. As it is, I think I’ll just go to sleep, does that work for you?”

If Steve weren’t so in love, he would’ve kept pushing. But he saw how bone deep the weariness went, the stress of the past few weeks taking its toll on Danny, as it was, all he could say was-

“Yeah Danno, that works for me.”

And he kept combing his fingers through his hair, fingertips just grazing Danny’s scalp long after he had fallen asleep.

Day 11:  

“I just don’t know why you want to do this.”

“Why wouldn’t I want to meet your parents Danny?”

“It’s so traditional, I mean, do you know the type of pleasantries and conversations you’re setting yourself up for? Hell, I’ve never even mentioned that I could go for guys.”

“It’s called being respectful Danny, you should try it every once in awhile. And now’s as good of time as any, if you’re serious about this- who knows when I’ll get leave next.”

“Hey, I am respectful! Just not to you. And exactly! I could tell them when you’re gone, you know, after a few more months, and they’d see how serious it is and the idea would have a chance to settle before they saw you.”

Steve looked at him, questioning and vaguely insulted, “You think they wouldn’t like me?”  

Danny shook his head, running his hand over his hair, making sure it was in place, a nervous tic. “No, of course they’ll like you; you know that’s not what I’m saying. It’ll just a shock, I know it’ll be a shock, and my Ma, she doesn’t have the strongest heart you know, we don’t want to give her too many surprises in one evening.”

Steve seemed to consider that for a few seconds before he grinned, coming forward to clap Danny on his shoulder, brushing his lips softly over his.

“Don’t worry Danny, parents love me.”

“Great. Wonderful.”

Steve smirked. Danny sighed.

They squabbled over who would drive, Danny protesting on principle because of the earlier injustice, then giving up when Steve just stared at him, this look on his face like really? You’re going to be this childish. And Danny wanted to escape with some of his dignity intact, so he conceded and then talked the entire way over, bursts of irritation and frustration in between giving directions and small expressions of fondness which couldn’t help but slip in.

Finally they pulled up to Danny’s parents house, looking the same as it had a few months ago when he’d last visited, same as it had when he was five, then ten, then fifteen. Same as always.

His Pop had called earlier in the day, voice gruff as he told Danny that he hadn’t come over in far too long, and his mother was getting concerned. Plus she had this amazing new recipe that she wanted to try out why couldn’t he come over tonight? The whole family was stopping by, at least the ones that could. Which meant his brother, all of his sisters and at least a few cousins and uncles and aunts. A real gathering, which normally Danny would look forward to, but then he realized that he had been in the middle of kissing Steve when his dad had called, and as a result Steve had been close, his head resting on Danny’s bare shoulder as he listened to the whole conversation.

When his dad had asked, Steve raised his head, catching Danny’s eyes and giving him this look. Danny shook his head, mouthing all the reasons why this was a bad idea. But when Steve just frowned at him he sighed, lightly batting at Steve’s wandering hand and staring hopelessly up at the ceiling.

“Hey pop, I got someone I want you all to meet, would it be alright if I brought them over?”

His dad sounded gleeful as he said, “Of course! It’s been far too long since you brought a nice girl home Daniel, your mother will be thrilled.”

Danny decided not to correct him at this point in time, better to deal with it later when he could use Steve has a shield against inquiries.

“Yeah, yeah, well, I gotta go take care of some things, give Ma my love.”

“Sure thing, son.”

Sighing, Danny dropped the phone off the side of the bed, trying to put the conversation out of his mind and not having too much trouble with it as Steve chose that moment to shift down the bed, mouth open and hot against Danny’s skin as he worked his way down to his hipbones and then further still.  

Jesus- what a life.

The sound of a door closing brought him out of his thoughts and he would never admit to the moment of panic he felt when he saw Steve staring at him through the windshield.

He’d never want to hide Steve or anything; he just didn’t think he’d be telling his family so soon, especially not so many of them all at once. When he gave thought to it, he always pictured himself taking his mom out for coffee, getting her something nice with lots of sugar and cream like she loved, easing her into the thought, telling her about Steve’s good qualities and letting it sink in. Then having her help in telling his dad then, eventually, the rest of the family when the conversation came up.

And maybe, after they had known for more than a few months, Steve would come by, and they could meet him, well-versed in his and Danny’s past, at least the parts that were legal, and they’d all have dinner and Danny could feel that life was going nice and orderly, for once.

But of course, this was Steve.

He licked his lips, quickly glancing in the mirror to make sure he was presentable then opening the car door, bracing himself against the chill of the air and wrapping his arms tightly around his middle. He saw Steve coming around the front of the car to stand next to him, teasing grin becoming fond as he wrapped a warm arm around Danny’s shoulder. Steve was always like a furnace, admitting a heat that never faded, even after he’d been standing in the cold, Danny thought he really was a seal, insulated and temperate no matter what. Or maybe growing up in Hawaii had made it impossible for him to feel the chill.

Just another curiosity to add to his overall enigmatic presence- although Danny thought that maybe he was figuring him out, little by little.

“You ready Danno?”

Mentally bracing himself and squaring his shoulders, while leaning slightly into Steve’s arm to show that he was okay with it resting across them, he nodded, beginning to walk leisurely towards the front porch, being careful to avoid the ice of winter that was slicking the walkway.

Steve matched his pace, long legs keeping stride with his and fingers curling around the slope of Danny’s shoulder in a gentle reminder that no matter his teasing, Steve knew how much Danny cared, how important this was.

Although he didn’t mention them all too often, family was imperative to Danny, and he suspected Steve felt similarly, or else he wouldn’t be so hung up on what his dad had done, and if is sister was alright. If Steve didn’t care so much, it wouldn’t feel like such an injustice. And just like that, another piece of the puzzle settled in, and one of Danny’s questions was laid to rest.

Why Steve was so eager to meet Danny’s parents, and why even through his confidence, Danny could sense an unusual hint of worry.

Family was everything to Steve as well, and since he’d blocked his own out of his life, Danny was the only one he had. Danny’s family was the only one he had access to, and he desperately needed them to be alright with him, he had to have the security of that knowledge before he shipped off.

And Danny would do everything in his power to give him that, to show that Danny wasn’t ashamed of him, that he wouldn’t play him off to appease his parent’s concerns.

Armed with this new conviction, he uncurled his arms, wrapping one securely around Steve’s waist and resting a palm on his hip as they reached the door.

He shot a smile at Steve, raising his brow and giving him a questioning look.

You ready for this?

Steve visibly settled, grinning as he slouched a bit more, relaxing yet keeping his spine straight, his shoulders set back.

Of course.

With the confirmation, Danny took one last steadying breath before knocking on the door, feeling the dented and scarred wood under his knuckles, paint peeling from countless friends and family passing through the door.

He could hear a rush of voices inside, talking over each other and the clash of pots and pans, chairs scraping and the family dog barking, claws scrabbling on the hardwood floor as it rushed towards the door.

After his knock there was a sudden quiet- then he heard his Ma’ calling from the kitchen, the words becoming more distinct as she got closer.

“-and let me tell you Frank, if they had just taken it down there wouldn’t be all this hassle, and just you wait-“

The door suddenly swung open and a blast of heat washed over them, carrying the scent of roast and the fresh sugar cookies that she always made when Danny come over.

There was a bright smile on her face as she swiped the static blonde hair out of her face, then she took in the site of Steve, wrapped around Danny and smiling tentatively. A slight frown appeared, her eyes confused, before good manners took over again and she reached out a small hand, patting Danny on his arm.

“Is this who you were talking on the phone?” Questioning.

Danny swallowed, “Yeah Ma’, this is Steve, he’s well, he’s, you know. Important- to me.” 

Even though her eyes were just a little bit sad, her smile was genuine as she tugged Danny forward, pulling him into a long hug. He wrapped his arms around her, picking her small frame off the ground and giving her a twirl as she laughed, smelling the hint of the perfume that she’d been wearing ever since he could remember, vanilla, faint and tickling his nose.

Once he set her down, he glanced at Steve and saw him staring at the display with affectionate eyes, mouth set in a soft line.

His mother saw it too, and then she set upon him, standing up on her toes as she pulled Steve into a hug, her head not even reaching his shoulders. Steve froze for a moment, arms held out awkwardly before Danny rolled his eyes and reached out, grabbing Steve’s arm and moving to rest on her back.

At Danny’s touch, Steve relaxed, patting his hand on her shoulder and looking a mix between touched and wary.

His Ma’ pulled back, reaching up a hand to tap on Steve’s jaw.

“It’s lovely to meet you Steve, Danny, well, he hasn’t talked about you. But my boy looks happier, a lot happier than he did when we last saw him, that means more than anything else, you understand?”

Danny saw Steve swallow, moving past his nerves, “I do, Mrs. Williams.”

At that, his Ma’ laughed, finally pulling out of the embrace and dancing back into the house, tossing over her shoulder.

“Oh, none of that now! You can call me Jean, dear.”

Steve moved back towards him and Danny felt himself drawn back to his side, reaching down and brushing their fingers together, hands tangling together.

Steve was still staring at his mother’s retreating back, looking a little puzzled but happy.

“I like her.”

Danny grinned, nudging him with his elbow.

“Yeah, well. She likes you.”

After allowing himself a moment to revel in Steve’s smile, he pulled Steve into the house, shutting the door behind him as he led the way to the family room where everyone would no doubt be. When his mom got to cooking, she liked everyone to clear the kitchen, ever since that incident in the eighth grade with Matty and the cookie dough that everyone had sworn not to talk about.

His Ma’ had gone ahead in front of them and he could hear her as they came up flush with the archway, just stepping into the room as she finished talking.

“-and no matter what I want you all to be accepting do you hear me? I’m serious about this.”

Margaret, his sister, spoke, “What’s this all about Ma? The girl Danny’s bringing? What is she a hooker or something?”

The rest of his family, arranged in various configurations across the room, laughed and his Ma had just started to open her mouth to berate them when Steve, hand still securely entwined with Danny’s, leaning a bit more heavily, more obviously intimately into Danny’s space said-

“Not that I know of.”

Everyone stared, a bit wide eyed, and Danny thought he saw one of his cousins grimace as they took in Steve, large and tan and heartbreakingly gorgeous as he gave them all a charming grin.

There was a beat of silence before his younger sister, Holly, all of seventeen, levered herself up, walking over and offering her hand.

“Hey.”

Danny felt a bit of tension drain from Steve at this first contact and the hand he reached out to shake hers was steady.

“It’s nice to meet you.”

Danny chose that moment to speak up.

“Everyone, this is Steve.” Then, gesturing to each of them in turn, he began to introduce Steve to his immediate family. “That over there is my Pop, his name is Frank, then there’s Margaret, Holly, and Sara, my sisters. That’s Uncle Bobby, Aunt Kim, um, Uncle Daryl, then my cousins Vincent, Tommy, and Kara. My brother Matty should be here soon, too.”

Steve nodded, taking in the names, and Danny knew he wouldn’t forget them. He was also making note of their reactions, Danny following suit.

His dad was a bit blank faced, and Danny knew he was processing with this latest development. His Pop had never been a bigot, but he was still a traditional man’s man and while he never said anything outright homophobic, some of his comments could be spun that way if you didn’t know him. Danny thought it would be alright, after he had some time to get used to it, that he would accept it if not embrace it eventually.

His sisters were easily the least surprised- while he had never gone outright and told any of them, they had been by his place plenty enough, and he’d even seen Sara once when he was at dinner with a guy. She’d never mentioned it, but her gaze now was knowing.

His uncle’s reactions were comparable to his Pop’s, shocked, but he couldn’t read any disgust in their faces. In fact, Daryl was outright grinning as he took in Steve, and Danny knew it was because whether or not you swung that way, you had to admit that Steve was aesthetically beautiful. And his uncle had always been an appreciator of beautiful things. Aunt Kim was over with his Ma’, glancing occasionally at Steve with vague smiles as she listened to his mother.

Kara was only eight, so she was staring guileless, hanging onto Bobby’s hand as she swung her legs back and forth on the couch. Tommy was sixteen last Danny remembered, and he looked indifferent to the whole thing, like he was to the whole world at the moment- teenage angst doing Danny a favor in making everything equably intolerable. Vincent would be the most trouble, Danny knew. He was close to Danny and Steve’s age, a few months younger if less, and he was a bit of a sexist if Danny was being honest.

At the moment, he was frowning at both of them, lip curled, face surly.

Danny chose to ignore him as he tugged Steve towards the open space at the end of the couch, giving him the arm and pressing in close, with Margaret on his other side.

Used to this configuration of sitting on the couch with him, Steve moved his hand out of Danny’s, sliding his hand up his arm in a brief caress and slipping it around his shoulders, opposite elbow crooked and resting on the arm of the couch. He turned slightly so that his knee was nudging Danny’s and he was angled more towards him, body language open.

Danny relaxed back into his half-embrace, sinking into Steve’s side as he dropped a hand to his knee, letting it rest there.

Showing that he wouldn’t hide this, that he was comfortable with it. That it made him happy.

Uncle Daryl started talking about some work-related story and pretty soon the rest of his family followed suit, the conversation picking up an ease as his mother slipped from the room, heading back towards the kitchen to finish cooking dinner. It only ever felt uncomfortable because people were trying to avoid mentioning the bomb Danny had just dropped on them, and even that faded as they all settled.

Holly was the first to mention it.

“So how long have you guys been dating?”

Danny shrugged, “Around two months now.”

Sara piped in, “How’d you meet?”

This was never really something that they had spoken about, but it seemed like they had both settled on the story that Danny had told Jake, that they had bumped into each other. Danny thought he might tell his Ma’ the truth of everything later, a lot later, maybe in a year or ten, but for now he was comfortable with this small lie which Steve took over telling.

They exchanged various pleasantries as his family dug around for information, and it was his father who asked-

“So what is it you do, Steve?”

This was another thing that they never had an actual conversation about, but Danny knew Steve wouldn’t lie, even given the complications of their situation. If Steve planned on sticking around, which he assured Danny that he did, then his family would undoubtedly notice his extended absences.

“Naval Intelligence.”

Uncle Bobby leaned forward, interested.

“Oh, you’re a SEAL then?”

Steve nodded, gaining a hint of respect in his demeanor, “Yes sir.”

“Ever get deployed?”

Steve shifted, and Danny leaned a bit forward, curious. He had never really asked the specifics about Steve’s career or life in the military. It was always a subject he held a certain secrecy towards, and Danny truth be told wasn’t all that interested in the specifics.

“Four years in the ‘Stan- ah, Afghanistan that is. I just transferred into Intelligence about a year ago.”

Bobby leaned back in his seat.

“Well son, that’s alright then.”

And Danny thought his Pop looked a bit more relaxed, like Steve’s service made him a bit more acceptable in his eyes, and Danny hoped to god that was the truth. Anything that eased the way- that let him keep both Steve and good graces with his family was ace in his book.

Danny had finally started to relax, and Steve brought out that odd charm that he could have, equal parts easy-going and tense. Even Vinnie was starting to calm a bit, when Matty blew in, ranting about the traffic and his latest Accounting homework.

Then he looked at Steve and Danny and did a double-take, actually stumbling.

“What the fuck?”

His Pop sat up a straighter, casting a stern look at his other son.

“Relax Matty.”

Matt ran a hand threw his hair, ruffling it and looking towards Danny inquiringly.

“No- no, I just mean. What’s going on?”

Danny kept his hand on Steve’s knee, squeezing it as he spoke.

“Ma’ told you I was bringing someone home, didn’t she? Well, this is Steve.”

Matty let out a rush of breath, collapsing down into the closest available armchair. He frowned at both of them, and Danny knew he didn’t have a problem with it, he looked more confused than anything else, and unlike the others, maybe a bit hurt, that he’d had no clue. That Danny had never trusted him with this.

They had always been close, Danny looking after him and making sure he stayed out of trouble, Matty standing with Danny no matter what. But this was something Danny had always played close to the vest, and it’d had so little impact on anything else that he just didn’t want to- complicate things. He suspected that Matt wouldn’t see it that way, but he hoped that he’d come to.

“Steve, well. Steve. You’re a guy.” He gestured at them, “I mean, obviously. This is just unexpected, unexpected gayness.”

His mother scolded from the kitchen, “Matthew! Don’t you talk like that.”

Sara sniggered, saying “Yeah, Matthew, besides, you’ve seen Danny pick up plenty of girls, so I believe the term is bisexual.” Steve nudged him, leaning forward to whisper amusedly in his ear, breath hot and lips just barely brushing the shell of his ear, “You some kind of player Danny?”

Danny turned his head slightly towards Steve, not quite facing him, but able to see his expression as he said, equally quietly, “Not since you.”

Steve looked a bit touched and more than a bit satisfied as he rested back into the couch.

Matty was still frowning, but he seemed to have decided to leave it for later as he just shrugged, blowing the hair out of his face.

“Yeah, well. Whatever.”

Danny snorted not willing to let that slide, “Jesus Matty, what are you? Sixteen,” Tommy looked disgruntled, but since when was that new? “So yeah, I like Steve, no, I didn’t mention it, but what was the point? No guy was ever serious before, I wasn’t hiding anything, I still liked those girls-“ Steve prodded him with his elbow, grinning “All those girls.”

“- shut up Steven- you know I woulda’ told you if you’d asked.”

Matty stared at them, silent as he took them in before shaking his head, scoffing.

“You guys sound like Ma’ and Pop.”

Danny grinned.

“Yeah, well.

After that, dinner went surprisingly well, everyone attempted to keep things normal, and if nothing else, his family had always had the ability to talk, no matter how uncomfortable things were.

Not even Vincent kicked up a fuss, though Danny knew he might pick up trouble later when they were gone, he was under the threat of Danny’s Ma’, and no one would cross her.

Steve was polite, obviously trying to make a good impression as he charmed every last one of them, the bastard. By the end of the night, his Pop was grinning up a storm as he and his Uncles all traded stories with Steve, and all his sisters looked half in love with the guy.

Tommy might’ve even let a smile slip a few times, much as he tried to suppress it.

Matty, at the end of the night, had given him a hug, brief but strong, and had shaken Steve’s hand, holding onto it at the end and staring at him, sending him a message which Steve accepted with a sober dip of his head.

His Ma’ had enfolded them both at once, holding them close before letting them go, reminding Danny to bring Steve next time he was in town. Danny promised that he would and then came the endless line of goodbye’s, finally ending with Danny’s father, who looked at them both with serious eyes.

He held out his hand for Steve to take, and pulled him a bit closer when he did.

“You’ll be good to my boy, won’t you?”

Steve didn’t break eye contact as he gave a short nod.

“Yes sir.”

Then his Pop grinned, “You’re alright.”

Steve returned the grin, the camaraderie of earlier returning.

“Thank you, sir.”

Then Danny was pulled into a sturdy embrace, his father patting his back before pulling back and ruffling Danny’s hair, ignoring his indignant noise and batting hands.

“Come by more often, Danny, Jean needs more opportunity to spoil you.”

Danny smiled, “Yeah Pop, I will.”

Then he clasped Steve’s hand in his, pulling him towards the door and out into the cold. The warmth still clung to their skin though, insulating them, and Steve rhythmically bumped into him on the walk towards the car.

Later, in bed, after they had come together, skin bare and heated under the blankets, warding off the chill of the air, Steve lay with his head on Danny’s chest, a favored position of his, listening to Danny’s heartbeat, his hand resting on Danny’s hip, his thumb tapping a rhythm into his skin

“I’m glad it went well.”

Danny took a deep breath, relaxing deeper into the bed, pulling the blankets more securely around them as he curved an arm around Steve, palm resting on his ribs, feeling them rise and fall slowly with his even breaths.

“Me too, babe. Me too.”

Day 10:

“You know Jake, you fall any harder and you’re going to break something.”

Jake snorted, punching his arm. “Oh, like you’re one to talk Mr. Seal, like you weren’t twice this bad.” Danny couldn’t help but be grateful as Jake easily avoided mentioning Steve’s name, or the fact that he was of the male species.

“Yeah, yeah, keep that up, you’ll see if I pick up your slack when you’re the one mooning.”

Jake shook his head, reverting back to his dreamy stare that had Danny laughing into his fist. “She’s just, amazing, you know? She’s all upper-class and sophisticated, you’d imagine she’d be real stiff, but she isn’t. She’s got this fire to her. I’ve never met anyone like her, Danny. I can’t even thank you enough for sending her my way.”

Danny shrugged, “Yeah well, I already had my own tall brunette knock-out, figured I should share the wealth.” He gave Jake his shit-eating grin, which resulted in Jake wrestling him into a headlock, heedless of the papers they were knocking off their desks.

After being suitably chastised by the Captain, they returned to their work, conversing in undertones as they went.

“Speaking of, how’s Steve doing?”

Danny gave the bull pen a quick look, but no one was paying attention to them, half the cops were out and the rest were glaring at the forms they had to fill out.

“He’s doing real well- took him to meet the folks last night.”

Jake smiled, elbowing him, “No shit. How’d it go?”

“Good, let me tell you, I couldn’t be more relieved.”

“Yeah, well, your family is great; I’d be more surprised if they gave you trouble about it.”

 “Still, you can’t help but worry about that kind of thing, you know?”

Jake sighed, leaning back. “I feel you brother. Thank god Rachel’s mother is in another country, according to her she’s a real bear.”

She said that?

Jake grinned, “Well, not in so many words, but I could read between the lines.”

Danny whistled, “You’re already talking about meeting the parents? What has it been, a month?”

“Oh, what are you talking about, you moved in with Steve the day you met him, you schmuck.”

Danny raised his hands, leaning back, “Hey hey, I’m not saying it isn’t weird. In fact, that’s exactly what I’m saying, we moved so fast you couldn’t even see us until the end.”

Jake shrugged “We’re not going that fast, really. We’ve been seeing each other practically every day, hell; we’ve been on almost twenty dates. Some people get married before that. And we still haven’t moved in together.”

Now it was Danny’s turn to punch Jake in the shoulder, “I oughta-

“Yeah, what’re you gonna do, you punk?” But they were both grinning.

Danny’s next words were sincere though. “I’m glad that’s going well man; you deserve it, someone nice like that.”

“Don’t we all?

“You speak the truth, my friend.” Danny hesitated before adding, “I’m going in for my exam tomorrow.”

“Yeah? How do you think you’ll do?”

“C’mon, I know the book back and forth, I could recite the book. And I already have all the field tests squared away.”

“I know you’ll get it, you’re lucky a spot opened up right when you’d be eligible. What is it, three years on patrol?”

Danny nodded, “Six months ago and I woulda’ been out of luck, and who knows when the next position would open up?”

Jake nodded, unusually tentative as he gestured between them, “Even without, you know, this, we’ll still meet up, right? Especially with Steve gone, you’ll be needing something to occupy your time.”

Danny leaned forward, clapping Jake on the back.

“What is this? You’re my friend Jake, it doesn’t matter if I get paired up with someone else, if I move up in ranks, you’ll still be my friend. And I don’t abandon my friends, okay? And hell, we’ll probably see each other more then than we do now. I don’t like being at my place when Steve’s not there, it feels off. Besides, you’ll be able to make detective in a year.”

Smirking, Jake said “Well, we can’t be hanging out too much, I got Rachel to treat, but I’m sure I’ll find time in my busy schedule to fit you in, Detective.”

“Oh fuck you.”

“I think Steve might have something to say about that.”

Danny shoved him, mind drifting back to Steve, as it had the habit of doing these days.

With the time counting down until he had to leave, each day became a bit more desperate. If Danny wasn’t so serious about his job, he’d probably skip a few days just to spend more time with him. He would’ve taken some vacation days only with his promotion to detective coming so soon, he couldn’t afford to be seen slacking off or missing days, and he couldn’t exactly ask for leave because my Navy SEAL boyfriend is deploying for god knows how long and I just want to stay home so I can fuck him into the mattress too many times to count before he leaves.

Well, he could, but not if he wanted to actually reach Detective. Besides, that statement wouldn’t be entirely true, he wanted to do much more than fuck Steve; he wanted to take him out for lunch, show him the snow and take him skating. Do all the things he wouldn’t have the chance to in ten days.

So he’d take the moments that he could, counting down the hours until he could go home, go back to Steve and fall into him, maybe take him against the floor, maybe have him fuck Danny for a change, anything so long as they were together. Then they’d settle down and watch a movie, not bothering to put the fold-out back in, lounging under the blankets because the windows of Danny’s minimalist apartment did little to insulate and the cold creeped in more than was comfortable.

And he’d make sure to commit these days to memory, taking each day at a time.

Because it was all he could do.

Day 9:

Danny watched in amusement as Steve frowned down at the card.

“It’s just a birthday card babe, sign your name and bam- look at that, you’re done.” Steve turned to look at him, that look, the one that said Danny should just quit when he was ahead.

“It’s not just a birthday card, Danny; it’s your mother’s birthday card. She was really sweet to me when she didn’t have to be, you know it could’ve gotten a lot more complicated if she hadn’t been so great.”

His Ma’s birthday wasn’t for another four months, but Steve had wanted to get everything squared ahead, because he had no idea if he’d be able to send any messages, mail or otherwise, and there was no way of knowing what the postal service would be like where he was going, how long it would take to send things.

And of course Steve had to be prepared. So he’d come home armed with cards, one for Mother’s Day, Christmas, Christ, Valentine’s Day, not that he’d shown Danny, but he wasn’t becoming a detective for nothing. There were birthday cards for every one of Danny’s immediate family, his parents and his siblings and no doubt Danny himself.

He’d let the bag drop on the table and he’d been spending the past hour painstakingly feeling them out, filling the inside sleeve with words he wouldn’t let Danny read, when he’d given a half-assed attempt at doing so. Unlike a certain someone, he did not feel the need to know everything that was going on in Steve’s life down to the last detail.

Danny knew that if he was the one writing letters and wouldn’t let Steve see, Steve would distract him with some sort of explosion, harmless but flashy of course, and stealing the paper, barricading himself in the bathroom in order to read them.

Danny should not find that endearing.

As it was, he didn’t much care. He imagined whatever Steve was writing was something annoyingly sincere and articulate, communicating something about his feelings that he never seemed to quite manage in real life interaction. He wouldn’t tease Steve about that sort of thing, not when it was so obviously important to him.

Well, Danny amended, he wouldn’t tease Steve much.

Day 8:

Danny opened the door of the apartment, hanging up his jacket and walking over to toss his keys on the counter. It seemed to be one of those rare times when Steve was out when he got home. Danny suspected that Steve had stayed home for the first few days, memorizing Danny’s schedule so that he could be awake before he was and back when he came home from work.

Danny didn’t give it any thought as he dropped down onto the couch, pulling out a few case files he was working on. He had taken his exam yesterday and he thought it had gone well; none of the questions really stumped him, although there were a few he was unsure of. He’d find out in a week whether or not he’d get the promotion, and until then he would distract himself as much as possible with what he could do.

If he was going to be moving up, and leaving Jake with a new partner, he wanted to get as many things settled as he could so he’d have the easiest transition. Danny would never regret his decision to become detective, but he couldn’t help but feel the slightest bit of guilt at leaving his partner behind. He couldn’t find it in him to wait until Jake was eligible though, and if the available spots would open up at the right time.

Hell, it was wishful thinking either way; they would never pair a junior detective with another junior detective.

He spent the next few hours working, losing track of time until he heard a key in the lock, the door gently easing open. He glanced at the clock and had to do a double-take when he noticed that it was ten o’clock, and no wonder his eyes were blurring, a persistent ache under his right shoulder-blade from holding his pen steady as he wrote his reports.

Danny couldn’t help but be thankful that he had lost track of time, or else he probably would’ve been far more worried about Steve, fuck, he would’ve been going out of his mind about Steve. There was no way for Danny to actually track him down, he didn’t carry a phone with him, and all of his usually places would probably be closed by now. And he had never not been home before.

But he was now, and Danny took his time rising from the couch, stretching his bad leg, rolling his neck as he tried to relieve the tension built up in his muscles from sitting in one place for so long.

All of the tension came flooding back when Steve stepped into a light and Danny got a look at his face.

His left eye was swelling up, not quite shut, but definitely getting there, the skin around it bruised and blackened. He had a split lip that Danny could see had healed over slightly, and his cheek looked tender, reddened and scraped. When Danny took in the rest of him, he was relieved to note that he was resting his weight normally, but there were definitely scratches on his neck and a ring of bruises on his wrist.

Danny rushed forward, fluttering his hands just above Steve’s skin before shaking his head, snapping himself out of it. He reached out and grabbed Steve’s shirt, pulling him towards the bathroom as he ranted.

“What the hell happened to you? Why didn’t you call me? And don’t tell me you don’t have a phone, there are more payphones out there than you know what to do with and you could’ve gotten change from anywhere. Jesus H. Christ, were you walking? What if you had a concussion, huh? What if you had a concussion and then you passed out and it’s fucking snowing outside Steven, you know what that means?

That means that it’s cold, you could’ve froze to death and I’d have no way of knowing where you were.” He continued on his tirade as he settled Steve against the counter, opening the medicine cabinet and pulling out the butterfly bandages and ointment he kept there, grabbing a roll of gauze from under the sink and setting them down.

He quieted when he noticed that Steve wasn’t responding, merely staring stonily ahead as Danny worked around him. He responded though when Danny gently grabbed the hem of his shirt, motioning pulling it off. He lifted his arms, keeping them raised as Danny eased the shirt over his torso, revealing the bruises and welts mapping his skin. He was especially careful in keeping the shirt from grazing Steve’s face as he pulled it over his head, finally tossing it to the side and easing his arms down, wincing in sympathy because Steve wasn’t letting himself.

He carefully cleaned Steve’s cuts, dabbing Hydrogen Peroxide on his scrapes and gently soothing his skin with his fingers. He reached up and tilted Steve’s head back, cupping a small handful of lukewarm water in his hand as he pressed it against Steve’s upper lip, tilted it so that the water slowly trickled over the cut on his lip. He knew from experience how much hot water could hurt on a fresh cut, and he pretended not to notice Steve’s quick flinch. After each bandage, he couldn’t help his own sentimentality as he pressed a soft kiss just above the edges of the bandages.

It seemed like it was that which finally broke Steve out of the fugue state he had been in, when Danny glanced up from the last piece of gauze that he had taped to a few of the opened welts on Steve’s ribs he noticed that he was staring down at him with caring eyes.

Danny rose from his crouch, grazing his hand over Steve’s shoulder before pressing mildly on his shoulder-blade. Steve obligingly leaned forward, resting his forehead against Danny. They stood there, pressed together by those two points of contact, although Danny could feel the heat of Steve’s thighs on either side of his hips as he accommodated Danny’s frame, not quite touching.

After a minute of silence, Danny spoke, trying to keep his voice quiet, trying not to spook Steve back into his closed-off defense.

“Please babe, just tell me what happened.”

Steve sighed and Danny could feel the rush of breath against his lips. A fleeting look showed that Steve’s eyes were closed, and his face was placid as he started talking, a quick catch of his breath as the first word he shaped stretched the cut on his lip.

“I was out for a walk when I ran into this old buddy of mine; I haven’t seen him in years. He was stationed with me for a tour and we got to be pretty good friends. Anyways, we got to talking and he suggested we go out for drinks, that he and a few guys from our old group were passing through here and I figured it would be fine.

“So we’re sitting there at the bar and you know, it’s been a few hours, we’ve all had a couple of drinks, and he just kept asking me about my life, what I was doing, who I was fucking. It’s different Danny, in the service, you think you understand how you talk, how you live in those kinds of situations, but you don’t. Who you are on a mission isn’t remotely like you are in the real world. At least you better hope to hell it’s not.

“I guess I’d just forgotten- I hadn’t seen these guys in awhile, I didn’t realize how different I was. How different they weren’t. You should’ve heard the things they were saying about, everything really. And then this guy walks in, you know, not like us, it was pretty obvious that he wasn’t trying to pick up women, if you know what I mean.

“And they start going in on him, and I was trying to ignore them, change the conversation, avoid confrontation, but then they started saying it louder, getting more aggressive, trying to get him to hear and I just couldn’t take it, Danny, I couldn’t. Maybe I could’ve looked past it and ignored it before, I’d have been ashamed as hell about it, but I could’ve done it. But not anymore, not after this.” He raises his hand and rested it on Danny’s chest, right above his heart, and Danny thought Christ, just like before. In a less tense situation he might’ve made a joke about how it wasn’t Steve’s job to take on all the morons single-handily, but Danny knew he wouldn’t have handle the situation any differently in Steve’s place.

“All I could think about was what we have here, what you gave to me. And I imagined what if it was you they were saying those things about.”

“Hell, Steve, you know I wouldn’t have taken that. I’d of beaten the shit out of them, or maybe arrested them if I was feeling nice.”

Steve’s smile was brief but heartfelt, fading quickly as he continued.

“Yeah, but this guy wasn’t doing anything, he was just getting more and more hunched over his drink, and I could see it Danny, I could see him getting beaten down. And here I am, with these four guys and they’re all my size and hecklers, and he probably had no training in self-defense. He was just ignoring it, trying to ignore it, hoping it would go away and I couldn’t do that anymore, I couldn’t. So I told them to stop, stood up, I was going to leave.

“And you know Danny; they couldn’t believe it, that I would do that, that I didn’t agree with them. But they got over that real quick, then they started going in on me. And I left, I headed out, I was going to walk home, it wasn’t that far, but they decided to follow me, and then one of them made this comment, about how maybe I had a boyfriend stashed away somewhere, and I didn’t confirm it Danny, I didn’t do anything, but they ran with that and I know, I know they were just bullshitting, that they didn’t actually believe what they were saying. But they were talking about you Danny, threatening you, even if they didn’t know it.

“I just, I flew off the handle. Fuck, I can’t even remember the last time that happened, it was years ago, I’ve never done anything like that, but I haven’t cared so much about someone in a long time, Danny. And no one’s ever threatened my dad or my sister like that. I didn’t know it could feel like that, like someone was tearing out my heart, stomping on it.

“And these guys have all had the same sort of combat training that I have. I’m better, but that edge doesn’t mean much against four guys who are okay. Four okay’s is worth a hell of a lot. So I held my own but still, I couldn’t hold it all off. I had jump on them at first because they didn’t actually expect me to do anything. But they got over that, and then they started in on me and Jesus Danny.”

Steve’s breathing was harsh and Danny’s heart felt like it was breaking as he wrapped his arms carefully around his shoulder’s, avoiding the bruising and wishing he could step in closer without pushing against his ribs.

“After a few minutes they let off, they were drunk and angry and stupid but they still had that respect drilled into them, they could beat the shit out of commanding officer if they were removed enough, but the training had to kick in sometime.

“So they left me there and I came home. And that’s what happened Danny.”

Christ, that’d been the most Danny had ever heard Steve say at one time, and his voice was ragged by the end of it, his swallows dry. Danny let his eyes slip shut and he held Steve for a few more moments before he slowly pulled away, putting away the supplies and leaving the bathroom only to come back with some sleeping pants.

He left to let Steve change, let him compose himself before coming back out, and when he did Danny was resting on the bed, glass of water and a couple pills on the end table. Danny took care not to pay too close attention to Steve as he walked over to the bed, downed the pills and then water in one long draw before he slid gingerly into bed, pushing the blankets down so that they rested above his hips.

Danny turned over now, settling down and getting as close as he could without actually touching him. He moved his head forward until his nose was brushing against Steve’s neck, his chin resting on his shoulder, one of the few areas on him that were free of any sort of bruises. Reaching out a hand, he set it on Steve’s forearm, fingers curling around it and the back of his knuckles just barely brushing against Steve’s side.

He felt Steve exhale as he relaxed into the bed, edging just a bit closer to him.

Danny leaned forward a fraction of an inch so that he could press him lips into Steve’s neck, more about comfort than anything else as the silence and the heat of each other’s bodies enveloped and eased them into sleep.

Day 7:

In the light of day, Steve’s injuries looked even worse, which was saying something, and Danny felt a savage anger burning low in his gut. If he didn’t think Steve would be absolutely against the idea, he’d go out right now and find those sonsofbitches, take them down any way he could.

Hell, who was he kidding, he’d probably do it anyways if he had anything to go on. As it was, Steve hadn’t given him any names, no descriptors, and even though he could go down to the bar they’d most likely been at, maybe question a few people, it would get back to Steve quicker than anything, and then he’d have to deal with that.

He’d just have to let it lie, and do everything he could to act normal because if there was one thing Steve didn’t want, it was pity.

So he pulled himself reluctantly from the bed after spending a few more minutes watching Steve’s chest rise in time with his breaths, shuffling into the kitchen to start making coffee, getting ready for the day ahead.

He didn’t want to wake Steve up and it seemed like the stress of last night, not to mention the painkillers, had taken its toll, and for once Steve didn’t wake up as Danny moved about the apartment, also in part because Danny tried to be especially quiet. Right before he left though, he couldn’t resist stepping up to the bed and staring for a few seconds, reaching out a hand to hover over Steve’s shoulder. He knew if he touched him though that Steve would be insanely alert, so he resisted, pulling it back and sighing.

Danny went and filled a glass with water, setting out Steve’s favorite tea and grabbing a few more painkillers, even knowing that Steve wouldn’t take them with a clearer head. For his own conscience, he put them out.

Then with one last lingering glance, he left, closely the door gently behind him and looking to drown his thoughts in the last dredges of a few persistent case files.

Day 6:

Danny cleared his throat. Steve looked at him from the other side of the couch, brow raised, waiting.

“So- uh, you know Rachel?”

“The one who tried to pick you up by hitting your car.” Steve looked unimpressed but slightly amused.

“Yeah- ah, that’s the one. Anyways, she’s dating Jake now, and well, Jake’s getting pretty serious about her. He wanted you to meet her, maybe go on a double date type of thing.”

Steve frowned, “Why would she want that?”

Danny smiled, looked back at the muted television. “Jake said we’re kind of like, the second family. His parents are down in Florida now and I’m the closest thing he has to a brother. And well, you’re the in-law buddy.”

“You sounded a little too gleeful about that part, Danno.”

“I can’t help that I find it amusing- Step-Steve.”

“Stop it Danny.”

“You gonna be all distant with him? Oh but Steve- honey! How will he ever learn to love you if you don’t emote.

“I know a lot of ways to hurt you, Danny.”

“But you never would.”

“Doesn’t mean I can’t think about it.”

“See, what kind of threat is that? It’s like going up to someone in a bank and saying, ‘You know what? I could come in here with a gun and shoot you and hold this place up. But I don’t really want to, so why don’t you just put all that money in a bag and cooperate with my demands. There’s a buddy.’ I mean, seriously? What’s that going to do?”

“Maybe it’d shut you up.”

“That doesn’t even make sense.

“It makes perfect sense if you look at it right.”

“Oh, look at it right, look at it right he says. You know who says that? People who know they said something that makes no sense whatsoever but they don’t want to admit it.”

“How did we even get into this?”

“How did you face even get into this?”

“Really Danny? Really.

“What, I thought that was how we were talking now. Hey Steve, why don’t you go wash my car, or else I’ll do something, but I won’t really, but I might.

“You have to know how ridiculous you’re being right now, there’s no way you can’t know.”

“You love it.”

“Yeah? So what.”

“So will you go on a double-date with Jake and Rachel?”

“Sure, whatever.”

“Okay then.”

“Okay.”

“Hey why don’t you go make me a sandwich or else I might think about possibly some day in some alternative reality that would never actually happen shooting you in the leg.”

“Danny, I swear.

Day 5:

“You look nice.”

Danny frowned, looking in the mirror as he tried and failed to straighten his tie.

“Yeah? Can’t get the tie right though.”

Steve watched him struggle for another minute before sighing and stepping forward, pressing his chest against Danny’s back and reaching out to tug Danny’s hands down.

“Who taught you to tie a tie? This is completely off, just, watch, watch my hands.”

Danny bit his lip, making sure to pay attention to what Steve was doing even as he spoke.

“So I got the instructions from this book I read once, so what, they were pretty clear.”

Steve sighed, his chin dropping to rest on top of Danny’s head.

“You can’t learn how to do something like this from a book Danno, it’s a muscle memory kind of thing- here.” He grabbed Danny’s hands, this time bringing them up and guiding them through the motions.

After Steve was confident that Danny had got it down, he finished the tie in order to save time, spinning Danny around as he was admiring his work and pressing him into the wall beside the mirror.

 Danny grinned up at Steve, feeling his eyes grow heavy as Steve leaned closer, breath fanning across his lips, tongue darting how to swipe across his lower lip.

“You got some other things committed to muscle memory, Danno?”

Danny slid an arm around Steve’s waist, being careful to avoid his upper ribs as he rested the other hand on his hip, thumb moving dangerously close to the fly of his slacks.

“Yeah, I think I’ve gotta a few things down, babe.”

Steve smiled, slow and dangerous at him, eyes heated.

“Oh really?”

“I sure do. But we’re going to be late if we don’t head out now, we can’t be late Steven.”

Steve groaned, dropping his head to rest on Danny’s shoulder.

Danny. Five minutes, c’mon.”

“No, five minutes! What’re you talking about? You say five minutes and it ends up being an hour, you’re like a black hole.”

Steve brought his head up, grinning, and Danny raised a hand to cover his mouth.

“Oh don’t even. So childish, Christ, we’re not animals’ babe.”

“Well, actually-“

“Shuddup, just, we’ll come back to this at a later more appropriate time, okay? Go, go.”

Steve sighed and Danny felt him tense up to go just before tightened his arms, drawing Steve forward and into a long kiss, being careful to avoid putting too much pressure on Steve’s lip.

After a few minutes of leaning against the wall, mouths locked and bodies pressed together, Danny gently pushed at Steve’s shoulder.

“Later, I promise.”

He made sure to double-check the lock as they were heading out, grabbing both their coats as he tossed the keys to Steve.

He’d let Jake pick the restaurant, knowing that he would choose something within both their budgets, and he’d made sure to mention the state of Steve’s face to him the other day. He didn’t want anyone asking any uncomfortable questions.

It was only when he was settled in the passenger seat that he noticed what Steve himself was wearing. He extended his hand, sliding it onto Steve’s thigh and lightly pinching it to get his attention, then massaging the spot to soothe any ache he may have caused.

Steve glanced over at him, questioning.

“Yeah Danno?”

Danny let himself smile at him even though Steve had already turned to look back at the road.

“You look nice too, babe.”

Day 4:

Thankfully dinner last night had gone well. Steve had charmed Rachel like he managed to charm most everyone else in Danny’s life, seemingly without effort, although Danny knew differently. In his natural state, Steve was a bit removed, reticent in his emotions, or at least he appeared to be. Danny knew he just played it close, deadpan in a way. When he wanted to though, all he had to do was let his emotions shine through, let his grin be easy and wide and constant. Everything else fell into place.

Later, when Rachel had headed to the ladies room and Steve had went to grab the check, Jake leaned over, nudging Danny.

“You gotta be careful with that one, Danny. He seems to catch everyone’s eye.”

Danny shook his head, “Yeah, yeah. But he only has mine, so quiet down, will ya’?”

 But easily as he brushed it off, the conversation lingered in his mind. Steve did draw a lot of attention, mostly the positive kind. Not that Danny had any problems in that department, Christ, someone had caused a traffic accident just to talk to him, misguided as that was, but he knew where he stood. And although he suspected Steve was there right along with him, he couldn’t help but feel the need to clarify.

So when he’d gotten home from work he grabbed a beer and sat next to Steve, glancing at him before looking back to the screen where a movie was playing- he did it a few more times until Steve sighed, reaching out to grab his hand and pull him into his side.

“What Danny.”

Fuck, he could do this, he wasn’t some kid.

“I don’t want you to be offended by this, alright? It’s just something Jake said last night.”

Steve frowned, “What’d he say?”

“That you draw a lot of attention, and it’s true, people like you. Not that people don’t like me, it isn’t some conversation, but I know, I mean, we’ve never really talked about this, but you know, I’m the faithful kind of guy, I have one person and I stick with them. And we agreed to keep this, here, keep us, but we’ve never talked specifically about it. And I’d just to confirm that we’ll stick with each other.”

Steve shook his head, dropping it to rest on the back of the couch and stare up at the ceiling.

“Danny, are you asking if I’m going to cheat on you?” his tone exasperated.

Danny shrugged, feeling oddly defensive.

“Not in so many words, I know you’d never go back on what you’ve said, but we’ve never actually confirmed that we’re, exclusive, if you know what I’m saying. I mean, I figured that, I figured you figured that. But, there’s no harm in being sure is there?”

“Yeah Danny, I figured that, Jesus, I never thought any different!”

Danny grinned, relieved both with Steve’s answer and the fact that he didn’t seem offended by Danny’s questions, like he understood where they were coming from even if he didn’t quite get why Danny had felt the urge to ask them in the first place.

“Great, beautiful, hey- me too.”

Steve rolled his eyes, turning to wrap his arms around Danny and flip over, back flat on the couch and Danny resting on top of him, positioned comfortably between the ‘v’ of Steve’s legs.

“You don’t need ninja moves to get me here, babe, you know, you could just ask and I’d be happy to move like a normal person.

“Oh I know Danny, I just figured that this would be easier.”

Day 3:

Danny frowned, legs crossed, ankle resting on his knee as he kept his hands stuffed in his pockets, trying to avoid as much of the cold as possible. The things he did, Christ.

Steve suddenly appeared in his line of site, coming to drop down beside him, hand holding a paper bag that was emitting a heat Danny found himself leaning towards.

“Feed the ducks. Who in the hell would want to feed ducks, do you know how filthy are?”

 Steve looked unimpressed.

“Do you know how filthy dogs are?”

“Hey! Don’t you get started on dogs pal, dogs are man’s best friend.”

“Yeah, sure they are, and they’re filthy.”

“In their mouths maybe, but who’s getting up close and personal with their dogs mouth? Sick people I tell ya’.”

“Danny, dogs lick things. In fact, dogs lick everything. Their mouths are everywhere.”

“They are not everywhere. I admit they lick certain, selective, places, their bowls, sometimes the floor, occasionally- occasionally a hand, which you can wash in case you didn’t know.”

“Yeah, and themselves.

“They’re not cats Steve; they don’t lick their fur like that. You’ve obviously never had a dog, and for that I am sincerely sorry, your life is lacking.”

“I don’t need a dog to have a fulfilling life, Danny.”

“You just say that because you don’t know any better, and you know what? We’re getting a dog. Right now. Up, up!” He stood, shaking the flakes of snow from his coat as he started walking towards the car. He heard Steve spluttering behind him, hurrying to catch up and shaking the paper bag he still held.

“What about this bread, huh? You’re starving the ducks Danny.”

“What, you can’t eat bread now? That’s fresh, piping hot bread, you’re only so lucky to have that bread. A duck wouldn’t appreciate that bread nearly so much.”

Steve chose to ignore him, persisting on what he probably thought was the more pressing matter.

“We don’t need a dog Danny, I’m not even going to be here in a few days.”

“Exactly, I’ll get lonely, I’ll need someone around to keep me company.”

“The dog is a surrogate?”

“No, the dog is a friend. It’ll be there for me. You can’t begrudge me this dog, Steve.”

Sighing, Steve dropped his arm around Danny’s shoulders.

They got a dog.

Danny refused to name it Rufus, no matter how much Steve insisted.

They named the dog Rufus.

Day 3:

Danny ended up taking the last two days of Steve’s leave off despite his previous worry, he found that presenting the best image possible to the brass mattered less and less in the face of Steve’s imminent departure.

They spent the first day he took off lounging around the apartment much like they usually did, and Steve admitted that maybe, just maybe, Rufus was growing on him, quiet and friendly, staying curled on the floor beside the couch. Danny rewarded that admission with a, if he didn’t say so himself, spectacular blowjob, and he didn’t have to because Steve was happy to say it for him, sprawled out across the bed and panting as an old Sci-Fi movie played in the background.

Day 2:

The second day, Danny treated Steve to everything to everything New Jersey had to offer, knowing he wouldn’t be able to experience any of these things wherever he was going.

They squabbled over what movie to see, Danny putting up a vain effort for the cop drama, and eventually conceding to Steve’s desire to watch the action-fantasy. He knew deep down that he actually hadn’t tried that hard, not that he was admitting anything.

Then he treated him to dinner at the best steak-house in town, grinning at him from across the table as they nudged each other’s legs under the table, stupidly happy to be doing so. Finally they rented a movie at the local store, making popcorn with a compromising amount of butter, halfway between plain like Steve enjoyed and ‘so saturated they might as well be eating sticks of butter’ as Steve liked to say. Danny liked to call it flavor, thank you very much.

Later, after they had had each other under the heat of the blankets, sliding against one another, gasping and whispering words that were rushed yet sincere, Danny curled around Steve, avoiding the deeply bruised areas and stroking the soft skin of his inner arm as he soaked in the feel of Steve’s hand running through his hair, his heartbeat steady under his ear.

Day 1:

Danny woke to the sound of Steve in the shower, and after taking a moment to luxuriate in the heat of the bed he pushed himself up, stumbling over and pushing the already halfway open door further so he could slip inside, brushing his teeth quickly before knocking on the wall next to the shower curtain.

He had no doubt that Steve had been aware of him ever since he stepped into the room, probably before then, but it was still a courtesy.

Steve stuck his head out from behind the curtain, hair dark and flattened by the rushing water, he short Danny a grin before jerking his head in the direction of the shower when Danny raised an inquiring brow.

Then he disappeared back into the stall with a plume of steam, leaving Danny to take care of the rest of his clothes and ease himself inside.

One benefit of the place had been its shower-tub combo, something Danny had been looking for as the days of alternatively chasing down suspects and sitting at a desk all day took its toll on his muscles and sometimes he just needed a long bath to relieve the tension. Yet he could never afford more than a shower before work, and, in an unforeseen advantage, it allowed him to maneuver around Steve, slowly stepping into the spray with him, repressing a gasping breath as the hot water hit his slightly chilled skin.

Steve’s arms suddenly wrapped around him slick and bare as they glided over his shoulders, one hand curling up to cradle the back of his head and tilt it back so he could capture his lips.

Danny opened his mouth, allowing Steve’s tongue to slip inside as he explored his mouth in turn, easing his way around the still-healing cut on his bottom lip. He pressed closer, sucking in a harsh breath as their bodies came into full contact with one another.

He ran his hands gently over Steve’s sides, curling around to stroke his back in broad strokes and sweeping longer on each turn.

Steve moaned, breaking away from Danny’s lips to begin trailing kisses down his neck as he turned them, pushing Danny against the wall and pinning his hips in place with his hands. After spending a few minutes on Danny’s neck, biting under his jaw and try to futilely arch against him, Steve placed a few chaste kisses to his shoulders, no more than a fleeting contact, before moving lower still, licking at Danny’s nipple as he edged slowly down his chest, mouthing at his ribs, pausing to bite gently at his hip bone as he dropped to his knees, Danny straining against his hold.

Finally he moved towards Danny’s cock, hard from his earlier attentions. Danny opened his eyes enough so that he could see Steve, see him looking up towards him, mouth just to the side of him, head tilted as he grinned up at Danny.

“What d’you want Danno?”

Danny groaned, letting his head thump against the shower wall, sliding one hand to Steve’s shoulder, moving the other to gently hold the nape of his neck.

“You gotta be a smart-aleck even now, don’t you?”

Steve turned so that his mouth was just pressing against the base of him, tongue darting out just enough to make Danny groan before pulling away.

“I’m being courteous, Danny, maybe you’ve heard of it?” His mouth was set but his eyes were amused as they teased each other, but then he got more serious, more sincere.

 He leaned forward, resting his forehead on Danny’s abdomen.

“I want it to be good. I need it to be everything.”

Steve’s way of saying please without having to actually say it, and Danny sighed, using his thumb to trace the curve of Steve’s ear, his fingers threading through the shot dark hair, slick against his fingers. The water rushing over them was hot, the steam making the room heady. He didn’t say it was always good, that everything they did like this could never be bad, but he knew that Steve wasn’t asking that.

“Okay babe, let me tell you, I’d love if you could maybe do a little something when you’re down there, just a bit because hey, might as well if you’re so conveniently located.” By now Steve was back to grinning up at him, and it was Danny’s turn to get serious, making his grip a bit more steady as he shifted his stance, bracing his weight, opening his hips.

“Then, then you’re going to fuck me. Think you can do that?”

Steve’s grin got less amused, more self-assured and heavy with desire.

“Yeah Danno. I can do that.”

And he did, spending a couple minutes folding his mouth over the head of Danny’s cock, sliding down, setting an agonizingly slow pace and waiting until Danny was gasping and incoherent before pulling back and standing up, pressing Danny against the wall and releasing his hips to hold his shoulders, one hand falling to entwine with his and he kissed him.

Then he turned off the shower, reaching out an arm to grab the towel, giving them both a cursory drying, enough so they wouldn’t soak the bed, then he maneuvered Danny out of the tub, kissing him until Danny was disoriented and all he could tell was that he was moving backwards, trusting Steve to guide him.

Somehow Steve got them both to the bed even with his eyes closed, his mouth occupied with Danny’s, then he was pushing Danny back into the mattress as he reached out, opening the bedside drawer and getting their now oft used  supplies.

He was back to kissing Danny before he had even opened his eyes, distracting him as he slicked both hands, one sliding suddenly over his cock, a smooth grasp that Danny thrust into with a broken-off groan. After a minute of that, the feeling of pleasure building within him, he felt a finger edge gently into him, sliding inside with little fanfare as Danny tilted his hips, indicating his willingness. Steve swiftly found that spot inside him that made Danny arch and curse, and he began to draw his finger up, crooking it on the upstroke, gradually adding another finger, then another as Danny strained below him, hands going out on either side to clench at the sheets, biting his lip almost through as he threw his head back.

Then there was the crinkle of a wrapper, Steve’s hand briefly leaving his cock and returning to rest on his knee, tilting it up and to the side. Danny opened his eyes to see Steve bracing himself above him, down on one elbow, gaze piercing as he locked eye contact with him.

Danny felt the head of Steve’s cock slowly breach him, not slowing at his wince, but stopping once it was just settled. He gave Danny a few moments to rest before sliding the rest of the way in, aided by Danny bearing down, moving a hand from the blankets to slide around his back as he began small thrusts in and out, just a slight swivel of his hips as he pulled out, catching Danny’s prostrate as he withdrew.

Gradually the strokes began to get longer and soon Danny was moaning, a leg anchored around Steve’s hips, one hand clenching in his hair as he used the other to press the pads of his fingers along Steve’s spine.

Steve was gasping, little wrecked noises as he thrust into Danny. One hand had moved from his leg, sliding down to his hip and sweeping over his ribs to reach his neck, angling Danny’s head so that he could kiss him. Danny’s cock was still slick from Steve’s earlier attention, and it rubbed into Steve’s taut stomach each time he shifted down to pull out, then up to slide back in and it wasn’t too long before he was wrapping himself even more tightly around Steve, hand pulling on his hair and nails scratching as he came, arching against Steve, who soon followed, giving half a dozen shorter thrusts before resting fully inside, pausing and jerking against Danny, pressing him further into the bed as he shivered with the aftershocks.

After he recovered a bit of his breath, Steve slowly pulled out, taking care of the condom before slipping the blankets out from under Danny’s body, drawing them up around them as he moved down to rest his head on Danny’s chest. Danny moved both of his arms around Steve in a half-embrace as he settled, crooking a leg so Steve could settle one of his own in the space he made. He flailed out a hand, grabbing a tissue from the box on the floor beside the bed and swiped at his abdomen, cleaning himself up a bit so that when they woke in a few hours for the rest of the day it wouldn’t be uncomfortable.

Danny let his head slump to the side, cheek pressing into the pillow so he could more fully see Steve resting against him. He brought up one of his hands to tenderly trace his cheekbone along the superficial bruises, moving to catch on his lip.

Steve let his mouth drop open a fraction to accommodate to tips off Danny’s fingers, pads pressing into the fragile skin of his lips, warm and dry, feeling his slow, even breaths against his palm.

Day 0:

Danny felt Steve shifting against him, made himself open his eyes to blearily look at the clock, three in the morning. Steve had to leave at five to catch a transport out, and he wanted to spend as much of this time with him as possible. Yesterday after they had woken up, they stuck together throughout the day, Danny always trying to have a point of contact with Steve, a shoulder pressed against his, a hand on his leg. They watched stupid movies, or so each one of them said about the other’s choices. Rufus curled up on the other corner of the couch and Danny saw Steve’s hand stray to pet his shaggy head when he thought Danny wouldn’t notice.

It had been quiet, comfortable, and after they’d had each other once more at night, this time Danny taking control, Steve wanting to surrender for the last time, the only chance that he’d be able to until he came back.

Then they had fallen asleep, wrapped around one another.

And now Steve was leaving. It was almost inconceivable to Danny that they had only met two months ago, if felt like two years, like twenty, and Danny didn’t regret a single decision he’d made during that time, crazy as many of them had been.  Steve threw his life into disarray, he never quite knew what he would be doing next, what they might come against- he was a shock. Danny woudn’t want it any other way.

Steve made him feel. Alive, comforted, hell, irritated half the time, but their arguments were more fun than anything else.

And that was why Danny was staying, why he would wait.

Because Steve had come to mean everything, and from what he could figure out, something he was pretty good at doing, Steve felt the same.

So he got up with him, making coffee for himself and that weird tea for Steve when he went to shower and get ready, brushing his teeth in the kitchen sink so that when Steve came out, he could give him a long kiss, backing him against the counter and resting his weight fully on him, trusting Steve to support him as they twined together, Steve’s hand coming to rest between his shoulder-blades and pushing him up as the other caressed his side.

Then Danny pulled back to hand him his mug, batting his hands away when he tried to help make breakfast, but not quite willing to ask him to leave the kitchen, content to let him hover at his back, alternatively wrapping himself around Danny and impeding his movements and stealing the ingredients that he set out to ask a barrage of questions.

When Danny pulled out a mixing bowl and the waffle iron, Steve smiled, bright and happy.

“Waffles?”

Danny shrugged, leaning back into Steve’s chest as he began to pour the batter.

“Better than toast, right?”

He felt Steve shift to press a soft, open mouthed kiss on the back of his neck, moving to the side and crooking his head so he could rest his chin on Danny’s shoulder, watching as he cooked.

When they were ready, Danny set them out and unlike their usual configuration on opposite sides of the table, Steve sat directly beside him, leg pressing close against his, elbows brushing each other, stealing syrup sweet kisses in-between bites.

After they had eaten, they had an hour left, and Danny let Steve pull him to the bed, rolling under him so Danny rested on his chest. It was an experience Danny had never quite had before, the time drawn out, each touch accentuated and piercing, lasting on his skin long past the actual contact had moved on. And yet they were both aware of the swiftly dwindling minutes, counting down until Steve had to leave.

With twenty minutes to spare, Steve moved from the bed, giving Danny a leisurely kiss and stopping him from getting up when he went to get himself back in order, finish backing his bags and making sure he had everything he needed.

Danny watched him move around the apartment with half-lidded eyes, a feeling rising in his chest, the dread choking him. He swallowed roughly, refusing to let his emotion overwhelm him, to make it as easy for Steve as possible. He turned, burying his face in the pillow, smelling Steve and trying to block out what was happening.

Then he felt Steve’s hand fall on his shoulder, grasping it tightly and pulling him up and into a strong embrace.

Danny pressed his forehead into Steve’s neck, taking a deep, shaken breath, feeling Steve’s hands stroke rhythmically up and down his back.

After a few minutes, Steve pulled back, lips finding his, tongue twining with his, giving him a long kiss heavy with desire and sorrow.

When it ended, Steve rested his head against Danny’s, the warmth of his skin seeping into Danny, and he tried to cling to that feeling, tried to block out the emotions that were slowly but surely engulfing him, bleeding into what he was trying to preserve in this moment with Steve. 

This feeling of comfort, of love.

Steve spoke, his voice rough and quiet in the still of the air, a hush cast over them.

“Aloha Au Ia 'Oe.”

Danny cleared his throat. He didn’t know that much Hawaiian, but Steve was fond of slipping in phrases here and there, ways to express what he was feeling without the vulnerable edge that English somehow caused. Like even though Danny understood what he was getting across, another language made it a secret, a pledge.

The language of home.

Danny understood that particular phrase well enough, Steve had mentioned it once or twice, and Danny had defaulted to the internet to discover its meaning. He had never returned the sentiment though, not in words, but in his actions, his expressions, the fondness of his touch. This time was different though.

“I love you too.”

 Steve gave a pale imitation of his usual smile, tilting his head to kiss the corner of Danny’s mouth, murmuring softly against his skin-

“Mau Loa.”

Forever.

~

The first day after Steve had left; Danny was in a fugue state. It was his first day back to work, and luckily he hadn’t yet been promoted to detective yet, so Jake was there to shield questions and guide him along, teasing him into his normal reactions and attempting to distract him. He invited Danny to come over to his place as much as possible, telling him that Rachel held no hard feelings for their original meeting, in fact, she was pretty damn grateful, not that she’d ever say it, because it introduced her to Jake.

Danny declined for the moment, but he kept it in consideration, because he’d no doubt be taking Jake up on it sooner or later.

They had a simple route for that day, patrolling, and Danny was somewhat disappointed when nothing out of the ordinary happened, no suspects to catch, no perps to lock up.

 Danny wondered when he started looking forward to danger, anticipating it.

In fact, Steve’s absence made him consider more closely the changes that had happened in his life in the past few months, the differences stark and obvious now that he was by himself, his only distracters being an aging dog and an empty apartment.

He couldn’t find it himself to regret any of the changes, not really. He might bemoan them, mentioning to Jake how he thought getting shot was a rarity before Steve came around and stirred him up, making him want to take on the more dangerous calls, but his life felt altogether more after Steve had blown through it. The danger was increased, but so was the satisfaction, his sense of duty. It made him feel closer to Steve, made him take more risks than he ever had before.

He played looser by the rules, harder, and it warranted bigger rewards. A few days after Steve had left; he was transferred into Major Crimes as a junior detective, partnering with a vet. Reggie had been on the force for twenty years, in fact he was close to retiring, and so he considered Danny as a sort of protégée, teaching him everything he could in his last few years. 

His first week in, he collared a serial rapist that they had been tracking for half a year, a detail in the case file had jumped out at him, about the victims he chose. It reminded Danny of the guy Steve described at the bar, the night he’d gotten the shit beaten out of him. The guy was trailing the bars, changing it up, and they had officers stationed wherever they could, but they were stretched thin enough as it was in a city like Jersey and they couldn’t afford to keep anyone posted at a specific location. The bastard hadn’t hit the bar down the street yet, and on a hunch, Danny went down. He loosened the tie that he had taken to wearing, a reminder of Steve fixed around his throat, a constant pressure that made him think of Steve standing behind him, hands moving under his chin, eyes locked on his, dark and heady in the mirror.

He unbuttoned the top of the shirt, deepening the ‘v’ and showing a hint of his chest, rolling up his shirt sleeves and trying to ruffle his hair a bit. He wasn’t very good at looking vulnerable, his stance constantly on the edge of aggression, tense and shoulders back, his walk confident and steady. Danny consciously slumped his shoulders, watching in the mirror as he tried out different expressions, finally settling on one that let a hint of his emotions shine through, the raw ones that left him feeling scraped open.

It was a risk, but one he would take.

Trying to make his walk loose and ambling, he went to the bar, ignoring the plumes of smoke that it him as soon as he entered. He ducked his head down, looking at his feet and darting his eyes up to glance in the occasional corner as he made his way to the front, leaning on the counter and ordering a Fosters as he played with his shirt sleeves, a sign of a nervous tic. It was a fine line between overdoing the act, obviously telegraphing and faking the movements, and not acting enough, letting too much of his normal bearing shine through. He attempted to walk the line, letting a few things slip through, nothing obvious, playing at being confident. When he got his lager he went to sit at the end of the bar, slouching into his seat and angling his body slightly towards the crowd.

He took a careful sip then spent awhile rolling the bottle between his hands, picking at the label and pretending to drink more than he was, hoping that if the guy was watching, he’d think Danny was getting drunker. Gradually, he relaxed himself, made his looks more sweeping and easy, casting out his net and bingo.

This creep walked up to him, large and imposing with a rough-hewn and handsome face. Normally Danny would brush him off, thinking he was just trying to pick him up, but his stance was a little too eager, and little too eager.

He’d seen enough to recognize that cruel glint in his eyes that could be passed off as interest, and he knew the too-tight grip on his forearm wasn’t eagerness, but dominance.

Then came the tricky part- the guys were always taken in alleys, and he had to be careful not to let the guy get the drop on him. No matter Danny’s skills, he didn’t like the odds against the guy, and losing didn’t just mean having a couple of bruises, especially not when the fucker found out Danny was a cop. But he couldn’t flash his badge here, the guy would just escape into the crowd, and Danny couldn’t risk his gun in a place like this, and he had to be sure.

So he settled for a compromise, following the guy to the door when he indicated and angling his body so he’d easily be able to reach the soft spots of his body, vulnerable spaces that would drop him with the right hit, halfway there he started struggling a bit, pulling back, trying to stop, and when he opened up his mouth to stop him, the guy roughly pulled him around, glaring at him, growling under his breath.

“You’re going to come with me, and if you struggle, if you say anything, I will fucking kill you, understand?” Danny nodded, trying to show terror and suppress any hints of satisfaction at knowing he got the right guy.

He waiting until they were just about to go outside when he did it, twisting and lashing out with his elbow with all his strength and slamming it into the guys crotch. The perp exhaled sharply, and before he could react, Danny slammed his palm into his nose, breaking it and then grabbed him by the arm in a parody of their previous position, slamming him into the wall beside the door.

He got out his cuffs, getting the guy when he was still disoriented and pressing his gun against his lower back, leaning forward to say-

“You move and I’ll fucking kill you, you understand that you asshole?”

Then he pulled out his radio, calling for backup and clicking off the channel as he began to read the guy his rights.

Later in the office of the Captain, he got chewed out like never before, going in on a hunch without back-up, possibly endangering a crowd. Danny tried to explain that he didn’t really think it would work, it was just a feeling, but the Captain wouldn’t hear of it.

But he wasn’t suspended, and as he was leaving the office to head home to prepare for the slew of interviews and interrogations he would have to go through tomorrow to prove that he didn’t technically do anything illegal, just stupid, he saw Reggie sitting at his desk. When he noticed Danny looking, he gave him a short, sharp nod.

Sometimes you do what you have to do.

What wasn’t necessarily by the book, but what was right.

~

He got his first call from Steve two weeks later. His voice was quiet, and Danny thought he could hear distant yells and gunfire in the background. They exchanged the normal pleasantries, then a moment of slightly strained silence as they tried to come up with something to say- finally Danny decided he might as well tell him.

“So I guess you rubbed off on me babe, I got this guy, a real sick son-of-a-bitch, he would go out trolling for guys, looking for the weak ones, and take them out to the alley, rape ‘em and leave ‘em bleeding.”

“Yeah? How’d I have anything to do with that?”

“I didn’t exactly play by the rules, any of them. But I got the guy Steve, I got him.”

Steve was silent for a beat, and when he spoke his voice was a mix of reproachful and proud. “That’s great Danny, you’re a good detective you know- you got good instincts. But you gotta be careful, okay? I’m not there to back you up, Danny.”

He sighed, reaching out a hand to pat the side of the couch, letting a hint of a smile curl his lips when Rufus ran to leap beside him, settling his head on Danny’s thigh, tail thumping on the couch cushions.

“Yeah, yeah, I know. I still have to do my job. I have to do what’s right you know?”

“I know Danno.”

He rolled his neck, staring up at the cracks in the ceiling, a few new ones having appeared since Steve had left.

“So is there anything you can talk about?”

“Well the food here sucks.”

“No waffles?”

“Not even toast.”

“Ah babe, I feel for you, truly. When you get back, I’ll make you more waffles than you know what to do with.”

“Yeah?”

Danny swallowed, Steve had sounded oddly tentative on that last question, and he thought maybe a lot more was happening than Steve was letting on, a lot more that he couldn’t allow himself to think about, let alone tell Danny.

“Of course, what do you think? You think I’m not gonna take care of you? Let me tell you, you will be pampered my friend, I won’t even yell at you about grenades for a week. That’s how much I care.”

“Waffles and a free-for-all on weapons? You sure it’s you I’m talking to?”

“Hey, hey, hey, I did not say I wouldn’t yell at you about weapons, just grenades. That part’s important babe, you’d do well to remember that. And you love my waffles; I am a master at making waffles.”

“That you are Danno, hey look, I gotta go, okay?”

“Sure, sure, I’ll talk to you later.”

“You will. Aloha.”

I love you.

“Right back at ya’ babe.”

And time sped up for Danny, strangely fluid and with no real way to measure it. He couldn’t time Steve’s calls, or his letters which occasionally came up in the batch of mail, rare enough that he didn’t let himself anticipate them. Sometimes he could call as often as once a week, and one it took two months. Two months of Danny getting increasingly agitated and trying not to show it, trying not to reflect in the way he took down suspects, rougher than was strictly necessary, just edging the line of misconduct.

He tried to go out with his friends more often, going out when invited, spending time with Jake most of all, and getting increasingly serious with Rachel. Danny felt a certain thrill when he saw how happy they were, a contentment that his friend, someone he loved, as happy, and a lot of it in part to Danny’s decision to send Rachel over to Jake instead of giving her a ticket. At the same time, he tried to repress any feels of envy or annoyance at seeing them together, at ease and assured with their constant presence. He knew what he was getting into when he made his choice, maybe he didn’t fully comprehend what it was feel like, but he understood what would happen.

 It was worth it though, worth those two months of agonized waiting and worrying just to hear Steve’s voice when he called, just to hear him ask about the weather and if Danny remembered to take Rufus to the vet for his appointment. Banal, inconsequential things that started to shape their interactions, they bantered and it was like coming together, like making love, asking about Rufus was an embrace, a kiss on the cheek, a familiarity. When Steve said Aloha he meant it all meanings of the word, and when Danny called Steve babe he was telling him to be safe, as safe as he could be.

And the months passed, Danny putting up notes to remind himself to give out the cards Steve had so painstakingly written before he left, keeping the apartment as it was before Steve left. Not exactly the same but close enough so that if Danny didn’t focus too hard, he could almost believe Steve had just gone out for groceries; that he’d be back before Danny could even realize he was gone.

Danny turned 26, and he got a knock on the door with a courier holding a package. He had been trying not to wonder about what Steve might or might not do, since he hadn’t left a card for Danny’s birthday when he’d seem to have thought about everything else. He must’ve left the package with the delivery service with instructions to send it on the right day.

When Danny took the package, sitting against the couch and scratching Rufus on the back as he wandered by, he considered not opening it for a minute, savoring it, like a promise, a bit of Steve in the place that he hadn’t yet discovered. But then he figured that’s not what Steve would want him to do and he brought out his knife, flipping it open and cutting the tape of the box, opening it to discover a pile of letters, dated from the day Steve had met him until the day he left, a couple movies that Danny had mentioned in passing that he could never find, but that he loved as a kid. Some dog treats for Rufus and a picture of Steve. They had never been picture people, Danny didn’t have the patience to pose for portraits and Steve was constantly paranoid about leaving evidence of his identity, which Danny thought was absolutely crazy but what could you do?

This picture though had obviously been taken without Steve’s knowledge, he was loose and easy, his grin bright as he lounged against a tree in some sort of jungle, the background blurred and indistinct. He was wearing camouflage, hints of paint edging the lines of his face indicating that it had been fully covered at some point earlier in the day.

He had a lazy arm stretched out and a small colorful bird was perching on his fingers, eating something out of his palm as the sun filtered through the canopy of the leaves and shone on his features, highlighting the strong line of his jaw, the softness of his lips as he grinned.

Danny spent a long minute starting at it before he flipped it over, reading the scrawled writing on the back, shaky and obviously not written on a flat surface, probably while he had been moving.

“The food still sucks. Ho'i hou ke aloha.”

As Danny turned to the letters, reading them, he noticed phrases like that scattered throughout the lines, like he knew Danny would have to look them up and it would feel like he was saying them all over again. The letters themselves contained Steve’s thoughts, filling in the blanks of what Danny knew he did, confirming what he suspected of Steve’s thoughts and surprising him with the sincerity in which he could write.

Danny didn’t know how long he sat there, staring at the contents of the box and he sighed, scrubbing a hand over his face and setting the contents on the coffee table. Steve’s birthday was tomorrow and Danny had no way of sending him anything, there was no address on any of his letters and Steve himself had said that sending anything was pointless, he was constantly on the move and being re-routed to new areas, anything sent to him would end up being passed from hand to hand and probably lost before it could ever reach him. But Danny knew Steve didn’t place meaning on things like that, he was always surprised whenever Danny did something nice for him, like for all his mocking and teasing, Steve didn’t actually expect any kindness, and Christ if that wasn’t a shame. If it didn’t make Danny want to find some way to go back in time and give Steve everything that his life seemed to lack before Danny came along.

As it was, there wasn’t much he could do, and had dinner with his family to be getting to anyways. He check to make sure he had his cell phone on him and made sure to set the box on the counter where Rufus couldn’t accidently get to it.

Right before he left, he placed a lingering hand on top of the letters, staring down at his splayed fingers and imagining Steve’s hand shaping the words, silently mouthing them to himself as he went.

~

Jake and Rachel got married in the summer, and Danny was the best man.

He kept a bracing hand on Jake’s shoulder, trying to keep him calm, grinning when he saw how nervous the other man was.

“Relax buddy, for some reason she really likes you.”

That eased a bit of his tension as Jake laughed, mock-shoving off Danny’s hand, but grabbing it as he was pushing it away, giving it a brief shake, half a squeeze for strength as Rachel appeared at the end of the aisle.

“Yeah. Thank god for that.”

Danny moved back into place, smiling as he saw Rachel walk down the aisle in a slow march, her dress form-fitting and shining in the pale morning light.

He tried to picture this being his wedding day, what might’ve happened if he’d never met Steve. If he hadn’t, he never would’ve turned down Rachel’s offer, hell; he probably wouldn’t have even noticed it for what it was if he had fallen under her charm. He wondered if he and Jake would’ve switched positions, if he would’ve fallen as hard for her as he had. He was definitely the marrying type of guy- he wanted commitment, wanted that security and that sense of home, of family. He couldn’t help but hope some nights that maybe sometime in the future, what he and Steve had; it wouldn’t be considered something that had to be hidden, like maybe it could be normal, acceptable. Maybe he could marry him.

But he couldn’t think of those types of things too often, Danny wasn’t really a dreamer, he was practical, he lived life and took it as it came, doing what he had to do, and he tried not to think wishful thoughts when he couldn’t help it. And as curious as it was, he didn’t want to think about what would’ve happened if he’d accepted Rachel’s offer, if he was the one getting married today, because he had Steve, and that was worth more than any sense of normality or acceptance.

~

It was only later, months later, when Jake started coming over to his place, silent and brooding as he drank the beer Danny handed to him. It took him over a week to finally open up to Danny what had been steadily sending him into fits of melancholy at the most random provocation.

“Me and Rach’, we really want kids, you know? We really want a family. We stopped using any type of birth control a month before we actually got married and ever since then we’ve been really trying. Thinking maybe it’s just bad timing, you know? Some people have more trouble than others, and we thought that if we kept at it, we’d get lucky eventually. But it’s been four months, Danny, and it just didn’t feel right.

“So we went to this doctor, one Rachel found, and he did these test and I thought maybe we have some problems, maybe we have to use some of those special calendars, take some pills. Only no, it’s me Danny? I- I can’t-“ he gestured vaguely downward, sloshing his drink on his hand. Danny reached out, grabbing his wrist with one hand and setting down the bottle with the other. He pulled Jake from the kitchen table and sat him down at the couch, sitting at the other end and sighing.

“I understand what you’re saying.” Jake looked embarrassingly grateful at not actually having to say it, that his swimmers weren’t swimming, that he was on empty. Sterile. Useless. But Danny wouldn’t let him think that way, not if he could help it.  

“Hey, look man. I can’t begin to understand what you must be feeling, okay? But there are a lot of options, you and Rachel can still have kids. Hell- look at how many of them we see being abandoned or neglected on the job, all of them need homes.”

Jake shook his head, throwing an arm over his eyes and sighing.

“No, no. I mean, nothing against that, but, Rachel, she really wants to carry, you know, to feel it kicking, to have it grow. She wants that experience Danny, and the fact that I can’t provide that, it’s tearing me apart, I don’t know what to do.”

Danny cleared his throat, looking off to the side, watching as Rufus padded up to his bowl, dipping down to lap at the water, shifting his glance up to the picture of Steve that he had on the counter.

“Aren’t there ah- sperm banks, things like that? Clinics were you could go, I mean, it’s as close as you’re gonna get, and they do real good work. You’ll be able to watch ‘em grow, love ‘em just the same.”

Jake frowned, turning to look at Danny.

“I don’t want some stranger though, I mean sure you can read the traits on paper, IQ, looks, but what does that really tell you about a person, I don’t- hey, hey Danny, what about you?

Danny felt a rush of panic, alarm, and a nagging hint of happiness deep down that he was trying to ignore.

“What? What’re you talking about? I don’t know if I could do that Jake, I mean, it’s a kid.”

Jake moved forward, actually dropping to his knees beside the couch and grabbing Danny’s arm.

“Yeah but I trust you Danny. You’re a good guy, the best kind of guy, any kid with your genes would be well off. And you know you’d be close to any kid I had no matter who the father was, you’d be Uncle Danny anyways. But this way I can know, I can really know that if anything ever happened to me, anything- no don’t shake your head, you know the job, you know how dangerous it can be. This way I wouldn’t have to worry so much because you’d still be there, you’d be there for the baby, for Rach’- it fits Danny, it fits.”

Danny took a deep breath, trying to calm himself, closing his eyes as he tried to relax his jaw. Jesus. Being with Steve, wanting to be with Steve for the rest of his life, he always knew on the periphery that they’d never have kids of their own, have another one with the Williams blood running around. But he had always thought that it was good thing, considering that both of them could easily be killed in the line of duty, and that was no way to raise a kid, where neither parent was ever home, where they could possibly bring danger back at any moment. So he figured they could maybe adopt one day, if they really wanted to, that it’d be just as good, but this. He didn’t know what to do with this. Even if he wasn’t there as the kid’s father he could still be a part of their life, still see them grow. And he could give Jake this; give his best friend something that he so desperately wanted.

Reaching up a hand, he pinched at the skin between his eyes, trying to relieve the tension as he roughly swallowed.

“Just, let me talk to Steve, okay pal? I won’t make this kind of decision without him. But I promise you that I’ll ask- that I’ll really consider it, alright?”

Jake nodded, his movements exaggerated in his newfound happiness, an alright solution to a hard-hitting problem, one that Jake could live with, be happy about.

When Danny finally managed to catch Steve on the phone a week later, he was surprisingly supportive of the idea.

“Of course I think you should do it Danny, I mean what harm could it do? It sounds like it’d be like having a niece or something; I really don’t see any drawbacks.”

“Well, yeah, but I just don’t know babe, I don’t know how I might react to all this, if I’d be able to detach like that. See someone carrying my kid and know that I wouldn’t be there as the father, not really.”

“But you trust Jake, right? You know he’ll be a great dad, hell, I only met him a few times and I know he’d be a great dad.”

“He would be, yeah.”

“And you’ll still be there for the kid, Danny. You’ll still see ‘em, look out for them. Maybe not as a father in the traditional sense, but they’ll know how much you love them. They would never be able to not know that.”

“It’s just a big step, Steve, huge. I never pictured I’d be dealing with this kind of thing.”

“You never expected anything like what you have with me, either. And I think that turned out pretty okay.”

“Oh pretty okay, sure it did babe, but this is entirely different, this is a kid.

“Yeah, I got that Danny. Look, I say, go for it, why not, but it’s really up to you, you’re the one that’d be giving that up.”

“No, no, no Steven, if I do this, you’ll be right there with me- and don’t laugh! I’m serious here, even if I’m just there as an uncle, some type of godparent, you’re going to be right there with me, you get me? This is about the both of us.”

Steve was silent for a few beats, and his voice was sincere when he spoke, a bit reverent, “I think you should do it.”

Danny smiled softly, staring out at the apartment, at the slowly changing scenery, life gradually moving forward in a slow but inevitable march towards the future.

“You know what babe, I think you’re right.”

~

They found out it was a girl three months in, and Steve was there. He’d been gone for eight months and was on leave for Christmas, and the schmuck hadn’t told Danny that he was coming. It had been getting on in the evening, maybe seven, seven-thirty when he heard a knock on the door. Danny had been trying to cook pasta and he hadn’t added enough salt and the water was boiling over and he was trying to salvage the remaining water that he could, finally just moving it off the burner in frustration when the knocking got more insistent.

“Just a minute! Christ, calm down.”

He was wiping his hands off on a dish towel as he opened the door, ready to go off on whoever was being so loud at this time of night when he stopped mid-rant, his mouth hanging open as he did a double take.

There was Steve, standing haloed by the streetlight, a dirty duffle back lying by his feet as he stood there, hands shoved in his pockets, small grin on his face. He had lost weight, gained muscle, he looked leaner, harder, and not just in his body but the way he moved, the way his eyes were a little more closed off than they had been before. His hair was close cropped and Danny thought he saw a new scar on his arms which were bare, coat slung over his shoulder.

“What’s the matter with you? Why aren’t you wearing that, don’t you know how cold it is? And why didn’t you call you Neanderthal, there’s such a thing as phones nowadays, emails, letters, a cornucopia of ways you could’ve gotten in contact with me and said, hey Danny, guess what, I’m going to show up at your door in the middle of the night half-naked!”

“Okay, first off, I didn’t know I was getting leave until twenty hours ago and I’ve been shuttled on and off over various transport buses and planes ever since, I thought getting home as fast as possible was worth more than an hour or two of warning. Second, it is in no way the middle of the night, I don’t even know what you’re talking about; it’s a perfectly reasonable hour. Thirdly, I’m not half-naked; you know what half-naked looks like, and this? Is not it. So stop exaggerating, you’re so temperamental, I swear. And lastly, Danny?”

Danny had been steadily glowering at him as he talked, holding back a grin even as he kept his expression blank, but obviously Steve was waiting for an answer and he was happy to oblige, to take part in this, feeling that spark that lit their conversations that was missing when they did this on the phone.

“What, what is it that’s so important that it needs its own point Steven?”

Steve grinned, that one that was half-enthused, half-dark, as he stepped into the apartment, grabbing and swinging his duffle inside as he grabbed Danny and kicked the door shut with his foot even as he spun to slam Danny against it, making sure to move a hand between his head and the door to stop it from actually hitting it, taking any sting out of the contact by pressing his body against Danny and absorbing the shock.

He leaned in close, nuzzling his nose into Danny’s neck as he licked a stripe up the arch of his tendon, trailing small kisses to his ear.

“I’ve missed you Danno.”

~

Later as they were lying curled together under the covers, Danny’s eyes half-lidded as he soaked in the sensation having Steve’s body next to his after going so long without, he finally asked the question he’d been wondering since he first saw Steve standing on his doorstep.

“How long are you here for?”

Steve took a deep breath and Danny relished in feeling the rise of his chest under his palm.

“Two weeks.”

Danny grinned.

“Two weeks, I can work with that.”

It was strange now, to be with Steve when they could say that they had known each other, been together for almost ten months. Strange in the fact that living together, being so close, wasn’t so much of an oddity anymore. Danny wondered if it would always be like this, like their relationship was suspended separate from everyday life and the normal signs of time. It still felt like the first day they had met, wild and a rush, the only difference being that the rivers ran deeper, that Danny no longer had to worry about being crazy.

Because he was crazy, but he was better for it- Steve made it so.

And at times, he still couldn’t help but shake his head over that fact, that he accepted it so easily. That how much he had changed slipped his notice.

But everyone seemed to think that whatever it was, it worked for him. His Ma’ said that even with Steve gone, Danny was more at ease than he had ever been, the set of his shoulders not so tense, that his yelling was more of a pastime than out of the actual, heady anger that had always been present in his bones, settling deep down and rising at any perceived slights.

By his constant challenges, Steve had actually calmed him, in his own way.

And Danny couldn’t say if he’d made a significant impact in Steve’s life, but he thought he might’ve. Although his eyes still held a certain blankness to them, his face a degree of incredulity that was almost a default expression for him, he smiled frequently when he thought Danny’s attention was elsewhere, and Danny knew he loved the dog. Or else he wouldn’t have brought him special treats from somewhere on the other side of the world that Danny couldn’t pronounce.

Danny thought Steve liked having something that he could come home to after his tours, something to soothe his little tics that he picked up after being overseas.

Unlike the first time he had left, Danny didn’t think of Steve’s time left as a countdown, he couldn’t because who knew when Steve would go off active duty, when he’d actually be stationed somewhere where Danny might be able to follow. He chose to take it for what it was, time with Steve, not thinking of when he would leave, what he would do then. He knew he could handle it now, that the time would pass almost prematurely, and Steve would be knocking on his door again before he could even realize he’d been gone.

They spent the first few days in bed, only separating when Danny had to go to the station, and Danny was never more grateful for his steady dedication to work which meant he had a week’s worth of vacation built up to use for Steve’s last days in Jersey.

Until then though, he had to pull himself away from the warmth of the bed, gently pushing Steve back when he tried to get up.

“What was the last time you got to sleep in? You don’t have to be so damn efficient all the time, SuperSEAL, just relax, luxuriate- take Rufus for a walk later. I’ll be home before you know it.” Then he leaned down, capturing Steve’s lips in a long kiss before drawing away resting their foreheads together, noses brushing against each other as he took a few calming breaths, feeling more unperturbed than he’d had in quite awhile.

When he got to the PD, Reggie instantly noticed a difference, and he was smirking at Danny before he’d even sat down.

“What happened to you, son? You get laid?” Danny shook his head in annoyance, partly real but mostly put on. Being partners, you had to be close and it was best not to hide anything, so he’d felt it prudent to mention early on that he was involved with a guy, a SEAL to be exact, one that wasn’t around that often. It was best to get those kinds of things out of the way early, he figured, before they had settled.

Reggie had brushed it off without a care, “Williams, I’ve seen some terrible things in my day, I don’t really care who you fuck, so long as you’re not hurting anybody. “

And that had been that. Now though, he said mock-irritated, “What’s it to you- trying to get your kicks out of following the intimate details of my life?”

Reggie laughed, leaning back in his chair, “Boy, if I wanted to live vicariously through anyone, it sure as hell wouldn’t be you.”

“Hey- what’s that supposed to mean, you bastard, I’ll have you know my life is terrific, it’s wonderful.”

Reggie raised his brow.

“Maybe, but you spend ninety-five percent of your time pining, though I suspect that given that expression on your face, the other five percent is worth it.”

Danny grinned, leaning his elbow on the desk as he stared out the window into his city.

“Yeah, it’s worth it.”

And it was.

~

Of course when his mother had heard that Steve was back, she asked him to bring him over as soon as possible and get that visit out of the day, and Steve was only too happy to oblige. Seeing the gleeful expression on Steve’s face as his Ma’ mentioned cookies and homemade shakes and maybe they could go down to the ice rink later, Danny found he didn’t much care that it would take away from their time together, that Steve seemed to have a better relationship with his mother than he did. Steve deserved it.

So they went down to the house and found a fresh-baked tray of pastries set out, where Steve ate surprisingly delicately for someone in the military, drinking his shake and easily evading and re-directing questions that involved what he had been doing the past few months like a pro, Danny only caught it because he was somewhat removed from the conversation, content to let his mother settle her curiosity and only occasionally butting in with his own opinion on the matter.

Then his Pop got home from work where he was still holding a desk job down at the local fire department, too stubborn to retire and a little to worn around the edges to do his old job.

With his sisters and Matty along for the trip they all went down to the lake, frozen solid and buffed smooth by the countless skaters gliding along it.

Steve set out with a single-minded focus, and if you didn’t know him you might think he wasn’t enjoying himself, but Danny could tell he was having fun by the set of his shoulders, the way he fumbled for Danny’s hand when he almost tripped and didn’t let go again even after he’d found his footing.

He let go when Holly pulled up alongside them, and as Danny moved off the ice, settling down onto the bench by the side of the lake, watching as Steve twirled his younger sister around the ice, he couldn’t imagine his life any differently.

~

Jake called the next day, his voice high-pitched in both excitement and fear in a way Danny couldn’t help but rib him about, even as he shared his excitement. He assured Jake that he and Steve would stop by before the end of the appointment, and Danny could detect a hint of relief in Jake’s voice when he heard that.

It had been hard on Jake, with the situation as it was, and even though he was looking forward to being a father, Danny could tell he was terrified. And hell, Danny was too, but he didn’t have nearly so much on his plate so he buckled up and tried to be there, tried to support Jake whenever he needed someone to lean on.

And Steve was there for him, even if he had a tendency to poke fun at Danny.

They were in the car on the way to appointment, Danny leaning back into his seat, fiddling with the controls as he moved the seat back and forth.

“You know, you being gone, I actually got used to driving my car again.”

“You love that I drive our car.”

“No, I tolerate that you drive it, I actually enjoy driving you know- I didn’t get a license just because I had to. I’ve been at it for a decade; I think I know my stuff.”

“Sure you do. I just know it better.”

“You know what? I’m not even going to respond to that, because I am learning impulse control, my friend, I’m staying calm, cool, collected.”

“Uh-huh.”

“Don’t doubt me. I am a rock.”

“Oh yeah, you’re solid Danno.”

I am. I am an island in the middle of raging waters-“

“What the fuck have you been reading?”

“I am calm.”

“Jesus Christ.”

“He’s a good example of calm too, and peace. Maybe you should take a note out of his book, Steve, stop resorting to violence so often.”

“I’m never- I, don’t usually, resort to violence.”

“That’s just because you’re around me all the time, you love me, I’m your rock, baby, don’t you know it. But I’ve seen on occasion how you act when I’m not there to pull you back.”

“I’m not a horse Danny, you can’t rein me in.”

“But I can distract you.”

“I’m not easily distracted, you act like I have no conviction Danny- I got conviction.”

“Not when I’m sucking your cock.”

“Yeah, well- special circumstances; you can’t hold that against a guy, Danny, it’s just not right.”

 They continued to bicker on the way to the clinic, pulling up alongside Jake’s jeep and shifting a bit nervously as they walked into the waiting room.

Luckily they didn’t have to go up to the receptionist; Jake was waiting for them, pacing nervously. He rushed forward when they came in, pulling Steve into a hug when he reached them.

Danny laughing, seeing the confused expression on Steve’s face as he slowly raised one arm to pat Jake on the back, looking questioningly at Danny when Jake didn’t pull away right away. Danny reached out, grabbing onto Jake’s shoulder and pulling him back, giving him a brief but strong embrace, trying to settle him.

“Hey, it’s okay buddy. We’re just going to see it today, right? Nothing to worry about.”

Jake nodded, exhaling slowly and starting to trek back to the room, waving at the nurse when she looked towards them.

“I know- I know. I can’t help it though. I mean, a baby Danny, this is crazy.”

Danny came forward wrapping a companionable arm around his shoulders, feeling Steve’s hand come to rest on his back as he followed him.

“It is, but you’re going to love it, you’re going to be terrific. And last I saw Rachel, she was just glowing.”

“She was, she is. It’s one of those things that you hear about and brush off but it’s true Danny. I’m going to be a father.” He laughed, spinning around to lightly punch Danny in the shoulder as they stopped in front of a closed door.

“Hell, we’re going to be fathers Danny, the both of us. Steve can come too.”

Danny smiled, reaching out a hand to clasp Jake’s shoulder, and much as he felt a pang in his heart as he said the words, they were sincere.

“Me and Steve’ll be there, don’t doubt that, but this is your moment Jake, yours and Rach’s, you’re the parents, don’t sell yourself short.”

Jake smiled, but quietly, like he could tell Danny was maybe having more problems with this than he was letting on.

“Thanks Danny. I’m just going to go in and tell her you’re here, just give me a minute, okay?”

Danny nodded, “Sure thing Jake.”

When he had disappeared back in the room, Danny turned, leaning slightly into Steve as he grabbed his hand. He felt Steve sigh, wrapping an arm more firmly around his waist.

“You doing okay Danno?”

He shrugged, “I’m alright really. Not perfect, but I’ve been preparing myself for this ever since I went through with it. It’ll be hard, but I think I should be fine- I think we should be fine.”

Steve smiled, a slight one that showed more in his eyes than anything else, and Danny couldn’t resist reaching up, sliding his hand around the back of Steve’s neck to pull him down, kissing him sweetly.

There was the sound of a voice clearing behind them and Danny felt Steve tense, prepared to whirl around, and Danny quickly grabbed his arm before he could lash out, another lasting effect of whatever it was he was doing when he was gone.

Turning he saw Jake, and luckily he didn’t seem to have noticed that Danny had to restrain Steve because he had surprised them, he was too caught up in what was going on around them, already darting back into the room as he waved them in.

Steve turned an apologetic look on him, which Danny waved off, reaching up to rest his hand momentarily on his face, pressing into the curve of his jaw before pulling away and heading into the room.

Rachel was lying on the table, smiling beatifically as she stared at the ultrasound machine the nurse had turned towards them. Jake was standing beside her, holding her hand and when Rachel looked over at the noise, she beckoned them over nodding towards the screen.

“It’s a girl.”

Danny cleared his throat, and even then his voice was rough when he spoke, “A girl?”

Jake nodded, not taking his eyes off the screen, and Danny leaned back, assured to find Steve’s chest wide and steady behind him, strong arms coming up to wrap around him as they both started at the screen.

A girl.

They decided to call her Grace.

The day she was born was the happiest day of Danny’s life, bar none. The only thing that was even in the same ballpark was the day he met Steve. By some stroke of luck, and Danny suspecting quite a lot of threatening and rule breaking from Steve, he managed to make it there for the birth.

Rachel had said they could remain in the room, but off to the side, and Danny was happy to have that distance, leaning on the wall beside Steve and holding his hand as they watched her being born.

Later, after Rachel had fallen asleep and Jake had gone to get some coffee, Danny held Grace in his arms, staring down at her sleeping face, red and weirdly shaped and perfect. He felt Steve settle into the chair beside him, and after a few more minutes just staring at her, he turned to Steve, tilting his body to indicate Steve should take her.

Steve looked surprised at first, then nervous as Danny gently placed her in his arms, correcting his grip and making sure he had she settled comfortably.

And looking at the picture they made, Danny had to expand on his earlier statement. This might be the happiest day of his life, but this was the best moment. The most perfect minute he’d ever have.

Steve was staring down at Grace, his expression so open and loving in a way Danny had never seen before, he had a slight smile curling around his lips and he was hunched over her, so obviously protective. Danny had an arm wrapped around Steve’s back and he reached out his arm, curving his hand around the fragile curve of her head, steadying his elbow on Steve’s knee as he leaned towards him, forming a half canopy over Grace.

Steve leaned his forehead against Danny’s, both of them staring down at the little girl that Danny knew would alter the rest of their lives, pressed against each other, fingers brushing against one another where they were cradling her.

Steve spoke, his voice hushed and awed as he slowly tangled his fingers with Danny’s, using both of their hands to cup the back of her head and hold her close.

“No keia la, no keia po, a mau loa, nau ko`u aloha.”

When Danny leaned inquiringly into Steve, he turned, brushing his lips gently along Danny’s, murmuring, “From this day, from this night, forever more, my love is yours.”

Danny found that he agreed with that.

~

Unexpectedly enough, the dynamic of their relationship with Grace was easily established. Rachel and Jake were never afraid to give Danny time with Grace if he asked for it, and he was careful to never overstep his bounds, not too act too much like a parent. They found uncle didn’t quite work for him though, and instead he somehow became ‘Danno’.

Jake told Danny that she’d probably heard it from Steve one too many times, and it was easier to say than Danny anyways, so he might as well just resign himself to the fact that it wasn’t going anywhere.

And Danny couldn’t really find himself in it to care, as long as it was only ever Steve and Gracie using it. The onetime Matty had said it, not relenting even when Danny asked him to kindly stop, Danny had told the latest girl he had been trolling for that he was recovering from a certain venereal disease, and maybe she should avoid him for awhile until the outbreak cleared up. After that, for all that he might have glared, it was clear that Danno was a nickname reserved for two people.

Steve himself easily settled in whenever he came back home, infrequently and out of the blue as always. There was no real rhyme or reason to when he got leave, occasionally it fell on a holiday, but usually not. On a few notable occasions he had only returned for a few days, in which they spent holed up in the apartment, only leaving to take a trip to see Grace before falling back into bed. If they were lucky, they got a month, maybe more, and so the years stretched on, seasons passing. Eventually Reggie retired from the force and Danny himself took on a junior detective. He was surprised to find that he was the one that knew the ropes for a change- that people went to him when they had a question.

He worked mainly homicide, and he had one of the best solve rates in the department, already racking up an impressive record that had the brass looking at him for another raise. He wasn’t in it for the money, or even in the chase, he wanted to catch the guys, the people who were arrogant enough to think they could take a human life and get away with it without any sort of consequence. And he did it with good solid police work; he became known as the guy that did it ‘by-the-book’, which Steve found great amusement in.

Occasionally Steve would be there when he was working a particularly heavy case, and even though he should, Danny didn’t stop Steve when he noticed him looking through the case files when Danny was busy with other things.

Danny had never really been good at things he should do around Steve.

It was always off the record when Steve came on a case, and Danny somehow managed to avoid drawing attention to the fact. It helped that they usually ran into trouble when they weren’t looking for it, and so they were never on an official chase. Danny always brushed off any recommendations they tried to give him on the collars Steve managed, and he learned to eventually just start calling it in anonymously, watching other officers get their chance. He only ever took credit for the solves he made through solid detective work, rather than the purely by-chance accidently luck Steve managed to have, misfortune, a lot of people would probably say. But it got the guys off the street, and that was all either of them needed.

Danny watched through concerned eyes as Steve gradually got more reckless, less concern for the law than he’d ever had before, more violence displayed in a careless manner he wasn’t used to.

Danny didn’t speak to Steve about it though, at least not apart from yelling when it was actually going down, because he could see that it wouldn’t do any good except make him tense up, make him push Danny out in a way he couldn’t afford.

So for every time he casually broke some guys arm, Danny would bring him over to see Grace, watching as those same hands held her more carefully than even Danny did. And when he got too rough with someone they were taking down, using excessive force, too careless threats of torture and harm, Danny would slow them down in bed, taking Steve slowly, so slowly until he stopped begging and relaxed into it, boneless. Gentling him has much as he possibly could before Steve had to leave again. Come back harder, more removed, not understanding why you didn’t treat people a certain way, why it wasn’t acceptable to hurt people like that, even bad people- colder in a way that was masked by his bright grins and easy-going charm.

But all of that fell away with Danny, even more so with Grace. He’d lose his hard edges and his silences would change from brooding to teasing and then he was the same man Danny had met in the police station all those years ago. Only with each time Steve came home, Danny learned more about him. He saw how his casual insolence could turn instantly to genuine respect and deference in the face of something or someone he believed in, he came to find that the best way of reassuring Steve was to insult him, get him going, start a dialogue, which Danny was only too happy to do.

He discovered that no matter what kind of mood he was in, Grace could always cheer him up when nothing else could. Steve took an unholy delight in the fact that Grace called Danny ‘Danno’ and Danny would always remember the first time she had called him Uncle Steve, a kind of wonder to his face, like he’d never thought he’d have that place in anyone’s life. They weren’t second parents, but they were close enough.

Rufus might’ve been the only thing that remained the same, and Steve was long past denying his love of him, just another factor that added to their home, their ohana, as Steve called it.

And the years passed, with scrapes and bruises, but they came out intact overall, Danny watching as Gracie learned to walk, growing closer and closer to Steve until there was never any doubt or insecurity between them, being a best friend to Jake and the occasional shoulder to cry on for Rachel, solving case after case, agonizing over those that he couldn’t figure out until Steve called him, talked him through it, or if he was lucky he was actually present to distract him.

Unfortunately, he wasn’t around when a part of Danny’s world shattered.

 He got the call at three in the morning, and he could barely understand Rachel as she told Danny that she was at the hospital, that Jake had been shot. Before she could finish the rest of her mostly incoherent sentence, Danny had shushed her, assuring her he would be right over. He got up, not bothering to do anything but put on his clothes before he grabbed the keys, speeding to the hospital and pushing through the doors.

He finally caught sight of Rachel in the waiting room, trying to contain her sobs and comfort Grace, who was sitting in lap, looking confused and terribly scared.

Danny rushed forward, dropping into the chair beside her and taking her hands in his, half-embracing Grace as a consequence.

“What happened, Rachel- what happened? Take a deep breath, that’s it, try to calm down, okay, I’m here, it’s okay, you’re not alone, you just need to tell me.”

She nodded and Danny could see her draw on that steel he had first seen in her, drawing strength from Danny now that she had something to center her.

“I don’t really know exactly how it happened- no one will tell me anything. But as far as I can figure out he was- he was on some kind of patrol when they got a call for a possible robbery in-progress. He went in, and I don’t know Danny, I don’t know. He ended up shot, in the chest and the doctors have been working on his for hours and they don’t think he’s going to make it Danny.” By the end of it she dissolved back into tears and he immediately wrapped his arms around the both of them, stroking her hair and holding Grace’s hand.

He remained in that position until his back was stiff, his legs asleep, and then Rachel finally pulled back, sniffing.

“I have to make a few calls, would you mind-“

“Watching Grace until you get back? Of course Rachel, go do whatever you need. She’ll be safe with me.”

Rachel stared at him unwaveringly for a few minutes before nodding, getting up with a wince and walking towards the hallway.

Danny pulled Grace into his lap, she was all of four years old now and getting heavier, but he cradled her to his chest just the same, wrapping his arms around her and rocking gently back and forth.

“It’ll be okay Monkey, it’ll be okay.”

“What’s wrong with Daddy?”

Danny took a deep breath, wishing to god Steve was here, but knowing he’d have to face this on his own, he’d have to be the strong one, strong enough for everyone.

“Some bad people hurt him, but don’t worry about it right now, okay? Danno will take care of everything.”

Grace still looked worried but she as the ignorance of youth beside her and so she settled down against him easily enough, drifting off to sleep after a few minutes. Danny sighed, rubbing a hand over his face and trying to ignore his own emotions, his own pain. He’d have time for that later.

He shifted, trying to get at the cell phone in his pocket, and when he finally had it in hand he scrolled down the contacts to the number that Steve had given him to call in case of an emergency. And hell, maybe this wasn’t an emergency in the truest sense of the word, but Jake was Steve’s friend too, and he’d want to know what was happened.

When he dialed the number it went straight to a toneless, obviously computerized voice telling him to leave his name, the recipient, and his message. Christ, sometimes he was tired of all this Covert Ops shit. After taking a deep breath, he began his message, keeping his voice hushed.

“Danny Williams leaving a message for Steve McGarrett. Yeah- ah, Jesus, there’s no good way to say this. Jake’s been shot Steve, he’s been shot and it doesn’t look good. From what Rachel told me they’re doing all they can, but a chest wound? And it happened so long ago, if he’s not stable by now he’s probably crashed a few times on the table. I- look, by the time you get this, he’ll probably be dead Steve. I’m sorry, I have to go, Gracie’s here with me. Look- aloha, alright?”

He felt ridiculous saying it, but it was the closest he could get to saying he loved him without being too obvious. For once he was grateful for the diverse meaning of the word, it might raise a few brows but it could be pretty easily brushed off in anyone called it to question, he knew Steve would understand.

A few minutes later Rachel returned, obviously having cleaned up and made a few phone calls to Jake’s family.

The doctor came out ten minutes later, informing them that he was sorry for their loss, but unfortunately, there was nothing more they could do.

Danny stood up, shifting Grace to his hip and hugging Rachel to his shoulder as she cried, clenching his jaw and staring blankly at the stark white wall of the waiting room.

The funeral was three days later.

As Danny stood in front of the mirror of his suddenly oppressive apartment, staring at himself, seeing the emptiness in his eyes, he tried to reconcile what was happening today with his view of the world.

Danny, he was the kind of guy who appreciated his routines, Steve being the one exception, and this was the kind of disturbance that he’d never want to have.

He was trying to help Rachel out as much as possible, and Jake’s parents had come down from Maine and were staying with her, helping her take Grace.

And Grace, Gracie- she was young enough that she couldn’t quite grasp what was going on, but old enough to know that it was something bad, and no matter what concepts she understood, she knew that her dad was gone, and that he wasn’t coming back. She alternated between throwing tantrums and retreating into a worrying depressive silence that had Danny wishing she was yelling and screaming and wrecking the room.

Danny still hadn’t heard back from Steve, and he wasn’t surprised, who knew if the message had even reached him. Let alone if he’d be able to come.

But Danny was hanging on by a thread and he didn’t know how much longer he could keep this up.

He shook his head, trying to clear his thoughts as he leaned his elbows against the counter, putting his head in his hands. He felt Rufus nudge against the back of his legs, making a quite whining noise, but he couldn’t find it in him to re-assure him, using all his energy to keep himself together.

Then there was a scraping noise, the sound of a key turning in the lock. Danny tensed, reaching for his gun as he turned to face the door, moving just out of sight.

When he saw Steve’s familiar figure he allowed himself to start breathing again, breathing out carefully, but unlike he would any other time, he didn’t joke. All he could do was slump against the wall, watching as Steve closed the door, setting down his bag and reaching down to pet Rufus before walked slowly over to Danny, coming to a stop in front of him.

He was wearing his service uniform and he looked tired, the bone-deep kind, like he hadn’t slept since Danny had called. Hell, he probably hadn’t. Danny wasn’t anything official to him, Jake wasn’t a member of his family, so he had no idea how Steve had managed to find a way to come home.

However he had, Danny was so fucking grateful for it. With a choked breath he moved forward, wrapping his arms around Steve’s was, moving his face into his shoulder and trying and failing to contain his trembling.

Steve’s arms immediately came up around him, not trying to soothe him, just holding him steady- holding him up. He felt Steve drop his chin and press a kiss into his hair, not moving. Danny moved closer, tightening his grasp and letting a bit of his rigid control go, allowing himself to feel for a moment. With Steve there, he didn’t have to take one everything, he knew Steve would take on as much of it as he could, as much as Danny would allow. All he needed was to be able to lean on Steve after everyone else poured their sorrow into him, the burden too much for one man. But with help, he could handle it, he could be there for Rach, for Gracie. Take care of them like Jake had hoped all those years ago.

After a few more minutes of selfish comfort he pulled away, wetting his dry lips and running a hand through his hair, settling it back in place. He felt Steve’s grip tighten momentarily before he let him go and took a step back, allowing Danny to compose himself and straightening his own uniform.

There was an odd hush in the room, neither of them wanting to break the silence, and Danny found that it suited him just fine. All the past few days had been filled with was talking, arranging, comforting- a never-ending stream of meaningless words. The silence was nice for a change.

Steve ended up staying for a week, which he said was all he could pull, but Danny was thankful to even have a day. He took an indefinite leave from work. Jake’s parents would be going back soon and Danny wanted to be there for Gracie until she started school, until he thought Rachel could handle both herself and Grace without falling apart.

It was hard, those first few months, probably the hardest of Danny’s life. Their comfortable routine disrupted, their world thrown into permanent disarray.

But humans adapt, and Danny had learned from his cases that children were unusually resilient, bouncing back quicker than anyone else. Grace was no exception and before too long, she was starting to return to a form of normalcy, re-shaping her world around the absence of her father. Rachel had a far harder time adapting, and Danny found he could offer little comfort to her.

Jake had been his best friend, they had grown close as partners, becoming even better friends after they hadn’t been. Grace had cemented their bond; Jake had been more of a brother than a friend. He had lost one of his family and to something so pointless, some stupid kid who didn’t know how to handle a gun and who had gotten spooked. Danny had learned after the hospital from report that Jake had responded to a call about a kid that was possibly carrying; only he had walked into a robbery in progress. As soon as the kid saw the uniform he panicked, started shooting, bullets had hit three bystanders, although none was killed, and it was more chance than skill that put the bullet square in Jake’s chest.

Danny would do everything in his power to honor his promise to Jake, he would follow Gracie wherever she went, watch over her, make sure nothing ever happened to her or her mother, not if he could help it. So he slowly started shaping his life just a little bit more around her, babysitting her more and more often so that Rachel could have time to herself, time to grieve without worrying about upsetting Grace, time to figure out her life. Eventually, Danny asked if he could have Grace over every other weekend, nothing excessive, but he wanted to be a part of her life. He’d never take Jake’s place, he would always be her father, the reason she existed, and Danny couldn’t imagine usurping that. But he was her Danno, whatever that meant to anyone, and he would be there for her.

Rachel agreed easily enough, although tensions occasionally rose- the structure of their relationships ambiguous. Rachel could be a friend, a sister, and at times, an enemy. Grace was his daughter, but not quite, and Danny still didn’t really know how to deal with that. Neither did Rachel, apparently, although Grace settled it one day when she had overheard them arguing with her simple, childish logic.

“Ms. Prescot asked us to go to the front and tell everyone about our families. I told them I had a Mommy, and a Daddy who was gone but he still loved me very much, a Danno, who was like a daddy but not the daddy, and a Steve. She looked kinda’ confused but she asked if everyone loved me and treated me well and I said of course you did, then Sara from down the street said that I was lucky because it was sorta like I had two sets of parents and when I didn’t like one I could go to the other. Which I thought was mean but I didn’t say so ‘cause that’s not polite. I love all of you, and you love me, even Daddy, although he can’t say it anymore. “

Danny had cleared his throat, looking over at Rachel who shrugged, staring at her daughter with assessing eyes.

“Well, that’s certainly one way to put it.”

Steve started coming home more frequently, his stays longer. Danny had always known that Steve had more control over his job than he let on, he was good at what he did, as he frequently liked to remind Danny, and he’d always managed to see Danny when he really needed to. But Danny never demanded for more time, because they didn’t work like that, and he knew Steve wasn’t so much asking for the missions he was getting, more like he didn’t turn them away. He had a wildness to him, the thing that had initially attracted Danny, and he had noticed that while Steve could adapt with relative ease to domesticity, the energy started building up inside him. He was the type that needed to be doing things. Danny thought that was why he always involved himself in Danny’s cases in some shape or form when he was there for more than a couple of weeks.

But Danny saw that Steve wasn’t forcing himself to stay longer for Danny’s sake- that he seemed to genuinely want to be there for Grace, for him, so he didn’t push the issue. He knew that Steve would eventually drift back into the secretive folds of his job when he needed to. Until then he was content to rely on him, relishing the increased time and falling back into the easy banter they had always had. It helped him move past the grief, arguing over who would drive the car (Steve) who would be cooking breakfast, thank you very much.

The weeks bled into months bled into years, and Danny moved through life much as he always had, much as he had been for the past eight years ever since Steve came into his life. Sometimes that thought hit him, the sheer length of it, the kind of relationship they had. For all Steve had trouble staying in one place, he’d never wavered in his love of Danny, he’d always came back to him, and Danny found that it meant a lot more than being able to stay in one place for any one period of time. That the kind of person Steve was would never leave him.

The fact that his parent’s had a stocking made for him at Christmas, and that he was the one urging Danny to visit his family when he was there- and the amusement he expressed when Danny told him about Grace’s summary of their familial structure, tinged with wonder, that same awe that he’d had for her since Steve first held her in the hospital room with Danny resting next to him, an awe he’d never lost. Danny knew Steve would always treat her like the most precious thing in the world, that he’d always come home to Danny.

They weren’t things he questioned, just simple truths that Danny knew would never change. It was why he never worried about going too far with the mocking, because he knew that he wouldn’t. And why he had forever resigned himself to the fact that he would be riding shotgun in Camaro when Steve was there, barring the occasional unforeseen circumstance. That was just how things were, you didn’t question them.

Then Stan came along.

He was rich and charming, and did Danny mention rich? And he swept Rachel off her feet. Not that Danny wasn’t happy to see her happy, much as it pained him, something feeling so fundamentally wrong about it all. It had been two years since Jake’s death and they had all been moving past it, the grief not so fresh in their minds.

But why did it have to be Stan.

There was something about the guy that Danny just didn’t like, a quality to him that indicated a certain slickness which Danny had learned early on never to trust.

Although he seemed committed to Rachel, and as Rachel so kindly pointed out, Danny didn’t really have any say in the manner. Barring her initial approach, what she fondly liked to refer to as the five minutes where she lost her mind and all sense of reason, she and Danny had never been together romantically, and much as they were linked together by Grace, it could only do so much.

Danny figured the only reason Stan was so comfortable with him being around so often was being he thought Danny was completely gay, not at all a threat to his position in Rachel’s life, and while he wasn’t entirely correct, Danny didn’t bother to explain it to him because for all intents and purposes he was Steve-sexual, and that was just too involved to talk about, it was one of those, ‘you had to have been there’ things. While he could find others just as attractive as always and he’d have the occasional fantasy, and really, who didn’t? He couldn’t imagine a life without Steve in it in some way shape or form.

 Danny took a certain amount of glee, probably too much, in the fact that Steve didn’t like Stan. The first time they had met, Stan had given him a once over, looking surprised, and Danny would be offended only he’d seen a lot Steve’s friend’s, and though they could certainly be tall and lean, built powerfully in a similar manner, so far none of them had nearly the same kind of appeal, an oddly refined look, a certain grace to his walk. Stan had probably been picturing some thug with a crew cut, not, well, Steve. He just had that affect on people.

But he seemed to sense the direction of Stan’s thoughts and bristled at them. Danny thought he saw Stan wince when they shook hands, and he definitely saw him attempt to discreetly stretch his fingers when he thought no one was looking.

Danny leaned into Steve, grinning, and that night he went down on Steve with an enthusiasm that, while always present, wasn’t usually so strong.

Of course Stan and Rachel had to hit it off, because that was just how his life worked, and he watched from the sidelines as their tentative dance gradually grew bolder. If Danny was more of a bastard, he might bring Jake into it, but he was Rachel’s friend too, and they couldn’t dwell forever. Not to mention that Grace actually seemed to like Stan of all things, and for her, he would try.

And not that he’d ever admit it, but he thought Stan’s money might as well be going towards Grace if it was going to be spent on anything, although it stung his pride that he even had the thought, let alone that he actually agreed with it in some dark recesses of his mind.

He did think it was significant that Rufus growled whenever Stan came near him though.

Danny had never been more proud of the dog. Or Steve.

~

He managed to make it through their whirlwind wedding without showing too much of his displeasure.

Well, he only yelled at half the wedding party, at most.

Steve wasn’t there with him to help keep him entertained, and it grated at him to see Gracie standing between them, like one little happy family. But he grimaced and thought of what he’d do the next time Steve came home to occupy his thoughts.

Then, of all ironies, Stan had to move them to Hawaii.

There was never any question that Danny would follow. He had made a promise to Jake, and more than that, Gracie was had become just as much his and she was Rachel’s and the memory of her father. He would never let her forget that he was there for her, that he would follow her. Besides, Steve would go wherever he went and Rufus would go where Danny went.

So he packed up, put in his notice to the Newark PD, while securing a detective’s position at the HPD, at least one thing turning out alright. His Ma’ cried when he told her- Danny had never been more than a few miles drive away, but Pop managed to calm her down and he’d given Danny’s hand a firm shake and later on he told Danny that he was proud of him, that a father a father who would do anything for their child was a good one.

Then he sighed and waited for Steve’s call, knowing the kick he’d get out of the whole thing.

“You’re going where?”

“I’m not saying it again Steven.”

“Oh c’mon! I gotta relish this Danno, I have to take it all in. Danny Williams in Hawaii, what a thought.”

“You know, your amusement is childish and I don’t appreciate it. I’m uprooting my life here! Leaving my city behind to head for some pineapple infested hellhole.”

“Hawaii isn’t that bad Danny, in fact, it’s pretty damn nice, I don’t know what you have against it.”

“Yeah, well I could say the same for you about Jersey.”

“Jersey is cold.”

“It’s called central heating babe, blankets, coats, you name it, you buy it, you wear it and you shut the fuck up and stop complaining about it.”

“It’s always grey outside, it’s depressing Danny.”

“Why’re you outside! We got buildings! Skyscrapers! Museums, these new-fangled things called roofs, maybe you’ve heard of them.”

“And the traffic, Jesus, you can hear it constantly.”

“Well if you hate Jersey so much why are you always coming back here! Huh, tell me that.”

“Because you’re there Danny, I’d have thought that’d be obviously by now.”

“Yeah well, even so. It’s not like you’re going to be sitting on the beach with a surfboard and one of those little umbrella drinks to say hello.”

“I could be.”

“But you won’t.”

“You know I can’t Danny, not right now, this op, it’s too delicate to leave right now.”

“Yeah, yeah- hey! I can meet your father.”

“Danny, do not go there.”

“Hey Mr. McGarrett, I’m your son-in-law, nice to meet you-“

Danny.”

“Oh, we’ve been dating for awhile now, a decade don’t you know? Oh- you don’t know. Oops.”

“Danno, one more word.”

“And what? You’re going to hiss at me over the phone, c’mon.”

“No, but you’re forgetting, you’re going to a place where I have connections.”

“Connections he says! What a lug. Let me tell you what you can do with your connections, babe.”

“Don’t you have any sense of respect? I got boundaries Danno.”

“Not with me.”

“But I do with my dad.”

Danny sighed, “I know babe, I do. You know I wouldn’t really do it.”

“You shouldn’t joke about that Danny.”

“Yeah, well, you shouldn’t joke about me leaving Jersey. You don’t joke about Jersey. It’s just not done.”

“I don’t know where you think you’re living but I hear jokes about Jersey all the-“

“Shut it.”

Danny moved to Hawaii.

Rufus died on the way over, but he was getting on in years, they had adopted him older than usual, and he couldn’t handle the stress of everything. Of course when he’d told Steve about it, through their shared pain over the matter, Steve couldn’t help but point out that he thought Rufus couldn’t handle the excitement, because Hawaii was great, and all Danny could say was, “Not now Steven, I mean it.

And no, Steve wasn’t waiting for him on the beach with one of those ridiculous drinks.   

Instead he found an apartment that made his last one look like a palace, a fold-out couch that made its predecessor seem like a luxury and derision where he used to receive respect.

Of course, Stan had to have a freaking mansion, and okay, maybe Danny was exaggerating slightly, but it was definitely some sort of manor house, large and imposing, and in a place like this, that was pretty much the equivalent of a mansion anywhere else. Worst of all, Grace had to like it here, she found the language Danny had been hearing slipped into his conversations for ages interesting, and she loved the sun and the beach, much to Danny’s chagrin.

The worst injustice though was the lack of respect. Here no one seemed to care that he had eighty-seven homicides under his belt and over a decade’s experience on the force. All they saw was his tie, which he had grown to enjoy wearing beyond just a sentimental reminder of Steve’s presence, and his obvious status as an outsider. Haole they called him, mainlander; an insult that Danny took to wearing as a badge of pride.

No he didn’t fit in, but he didn’t exactly want to. He didn’t move to Hawaii to make friends, or to go native, he went there to be with Gracie, and if nothing else, he got that.

Even though the visits were infrequent, the space between even starker now that he had nothing else to look forward to with any regularity. He found it odd that he had always handled being apart from Steve for extended periods of time remarkably well, the time drifting by in an indiscriminant haze, and yet the time between his visits with Grace seemed to stretch endlessly. He supposed it had something to do with the fact that before he was in Jersey, he was home, with his family, his friends, his job all backing him up. What was there for him in Hawaii, barring Grace? They put pineapple on pizza for chrissakes, it was a travesty.

But occasionally something cropped up that wasn’t too bad, like those little fried sugar things, and he had to admit after trying them with Grace that the shaved ice was alright.

He even met Steve’s father, worked with him on the sporadic case. He didn’t know what he had been expecting, but discounting his own preconceived bias against him, he was alright, Danny liked him, respected him as a senior detective, on that did good, solid work.

Although a part of Danny burned with the desire to talk to him, find out his side of the story of Steve’s dismissal- a story Danny had only heard once seven years ago, when he couldn’t contain his curiosity and had to ask, finding out only the bare facts of the situation. However, he managed to refrained. Unlike Steve, when someone asked him to stay out of something, he usually did it, unless it had something to do with public safety or a criminal investigations, and as far as Danny could tell, this was neither.

Then he was partnered with Meka, and things got a bit more tolerable, the other man’s easy-going and friendly nature soothing the more vocal jackals down at the station, his knowledge of the land given quietly to Danny when he needed it, lacking the mocking edge that it could have easily held.

Life went on.

Then John McGarrett was murdered while Steve listened to the whole thing over the phone.

And Danny didn’t quite know how to handle that. The issue of his father had always been a tricky one with Steve, he preferred not to mention it, and when he did, it was usually a cursory word here and there, maybe a meaningless anecdote or a trivial story that related to something they were doing, real throw-away stuff.

But he had still loved the guy, a lot from what Danny could tell. Even if Steve hadn’t talked to his family very much if at all, he had always made a point of keeping track of them, making sure they were all right. There were times when Danny would be cleaning up around the apartment and he’d find a scrap of a newspaper, or a note with some words scrawled across it, indistinct except for the names Mary and John.

On top of all that having to listen to it as it happened, Christ, Danny couldn’t even imagine it, he didn’t want to. It hurt him to think of what Steve must’ve been feeling at the time, about the fact that he experiences this all in the middle of some godforsaken jungle, stranded in enemy territory by himself. He would’ve had to make his own way back, the sound of his father’s last words and an echoing gunshot ringing in his head as he went.

Of course whenever Danny asked, he said he was fine, that he was dealing, and Danny tried to back off, but it was so frustrating sometimes, that Steve just couldn’t admit to the fact that he must be torn up inside.

Except when Danny pressed, Steve got truly angry, aggressive and not in his usual way, but on edge, and Danny knew that if he kept at it, Steve would actually get mad at him, pissed, something that had never happened before in all of their ten years together.

And if that wasn’t a sign that something was seriously wrong, Danny didn’t know what was.

So he eased up for the time being, for once choosing not to rant about Hawaii, sensing that just this once, it probably wouldn’t help any. Instead he started talking about Gracie, what she was doing in school and the friends she was making and as he continued, he could almost picture Steve in his mind, relaxing as he listening to Danny’s voice describing their girl, the one thing that could never be a source of discontent between them, not really.

At the end of the conversation, just before Steve had to go, Danny asked when he’d be in Hawaii, and Steve said he’d be getting there for the funeral, and that he couldn’t stay long, just a day or two.

And Danny resigned himself to that short visit, but he couldn’t help but wonder if there was a way he could get Steve to stay, an out they could both take.

But that was just wishful thinking, thinking that was abruptly derailed when Danny found out he was being made lead-investigator on the case, which didn’t really make much sense to him, a prized cop like this and they were giving it to the mainlander? Of course, it was mostly just clean up, it was pretty clear who had killed him, even if he hadn’t been caught. Most of the case had to do with paperwork, truth be told. He probably could’ve pretty easily gotten out of it by explaining his personal connection to the victim, close friends with his son, partial view. He couldn’t make himself do it though, some part of him feeling like he owed something to John McGarrett, for making Steve, for setting his life on the course it took and leading him to Danny. And maybe it felt just a little bit like he was making up for the fact that in sixth months he’d never made mention of his decade long relationship with his son.

Some part of Danny would always wonder what might have happened if he’d spoken up, if John might’ve tried to get in contact with Steve and maybe they’d have talked things out, been a little closer to reconciliation before he passed.

If the first and last conversation he had with his father in a decade didn’t involve hearing him get shot in the head.

But Danny had never really had much patience for what-if’s or regrets, but he could pine for things, he pined with the best of them. As Steve liked to point out, he thought Danny’s bemoaning over Hawaii’s downfalls and the longing in his voice whenever he talked about Jersey was ridiculous and maybe he should learn to let things go little, to stop holding grudges like that because ‘really, it can’t be good for your heart Danno’. Then Danny would respond about how he never let go of Steve, and he seemed to be enjoying the benefits of that. And Steve had said “Yeah, but I’m a person, Danny.”

Then Danny had responded “No, you’re a Neanderthal.” And it had set Steve off again and back and forth and that familiar banter was like coming home.

In the face of everything else he loved being torn away from him, he clung even tighter to those brief phone calls with Steve, delighting in their arguments if nothing else for their indication that things would be alright, that they’d settle back into their easy rhythm.

So he was feeling relatively at peace with the world as he drove the Camaro up the winding driveway, whistling when Steve’s childhood home came into view. He hadn’t checked out the financials but they must’ve been pretty well off, and it made Danny wonder what had Steve running so far from it all. He was just around to head into the house to collect some files when he noticed a car parked on the side of the house, out of view, and he was positive it wasn’t McGarrett’s car.

Frowning, he looked around, eyes narrowing when he noticed the door of the garage was pushed open. As he slowly started moving towards the point of entry, Danny reached down, pulling his gun from his holster and clicking the safety off, slowing raising his arms so he could bring the gun up at a moment’s notice.

When he came up to the door and listened carefully, hearing a rustling noise, he took a steadying breath before bursting in, raising his gun and pointing it at the intruder.

Only to find Steve facing him, gun also raised and pointed at Danny.

“Jesus fucking Christ! Steven, you’re a civilian, you don’t go pointing guns at people, you can get arrested for that you know.”

“I thought you were an intruder, and you had your gun pointed at me, in case you didn’t notice.”

“Yeah, well, technically, you are an intruder; this is still an active crime scene. And I’m legally allowed to point this gun my friend, at whoever poses a threat.”

“Oh, I am not a threat.”

“Babe, I gotta tell you, you kind of are.”

“I can’t believe I’m hearing this, you haven’t seen me in months and this is the greeting I get.”

“The reception might be a little warmer if you had told me you had gotten in.”

“I just arrived a few hours ago- I wanted to come check everything out before seeing you.”

“Oh yeah, why’s that?” As they had been talking they’d been walking steadily closer, stances easy, both a bit on edge, a bit dangerous, tensions running high.

Steve smirked as he closed the distance between them, leaning down and captured Danny’s lips in a heated kiss, sliding his hand down the back of his shirt, using his other hand to grab his tie and tug at it.

“The governor offered me my own task force. I accepted- I’m officially in the reserves as of this morning.”

Danny stared at him, raising a brow and trying to appear unruffled even as both irritation and excitement rose within him.

“A task force? Does she know the way you do things? You know, blow things up first, ask questions later.”

Steve shrugged “Apparently my methods are effective.”

“Shuddup.”

Steve grinned, slow and easy, “Apparently I’m the best they’ve ever seen.”  s

“I swear, your ego is so massive it could be its own planet. It has its own orbit.”

“Hey Danno.”

Danny sighed, raising his eyes heavenward.

“What Steven.”

“Governor gave me jurisdiction- I’m making you my partner.”

Danny shook his head, sighing as he let it drop onto Steve’s chest, resting his weight against him, feeling the steady beat against his cheek and the thrum of blood beneath his ear.

“I’m gonna get shot at, aren’t I?”

“Only a little bit.”