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Ho'omaka hou 'ana ('New Beginnings')

Chapter Text

The fallout from the death of Maggie Williams is far worse that that of the premature demise of her husband. Maybe it’s that Danny is left head of the family, just fifteen when he’s unexpectedly assigned as the person to turn to for his three younger siblings. He’s the man of the house, effectively now playing the role of two parents to his brother and sisters.

Well, unexpectedly might be a stretch. In truth, Danny had seen his mother’s death coming for a while now. Danny’s struggling with it, really fucking struggling with the burden that’s about to be put on him, a part of which he’s already been desperately trying to deal with since the death of his father eight months ago. It was a blur; news articles with pictures of Richard Williams, the hero that gave his life in order to save three, the loyal firefighter that left his children fatherless as he tried to protect the people of Newark.

And Danny knows it’s selfish -- believe him, he does -- but that last part is what’s worse. He wishes that his father, ‘the hero,’ hadn’t given his life. And the eldest Williams boy can’t help but be a little pissed off at his dad, annoyed at his ‘willingness to give his life in a sacrifice for others’ because, dammit, they really needed him.

With Richard’s passing, Danny’s mother had fallen to pieces. Danny suspects something more than biology may have been at play, because no sooner had the man of the house been buried six feet under than Maggie Williams was given a diagnosis of lung cancer, the smoking having finally caught up with her and the verdict coming too late to have any hope of ridding her of the disease.

The only silver lining to this dark, dark cloud is that the late diagnosis meant a quick death. Painful, maybe, but Danny’s of the notion that three months of the physical pain of the symptoms and the psychological pain of losing her husband, is far better than what could have turned out to be years full of a battle against it. If she’d been optimistic and happy during the time, or even just putting on a brave face for her children, then Danny may have taken a different perspective. But she wasn’t, and she didn’t.

And with her death, Danny is distraught. Only now does the tragic passing of his father really catch up with him, and he mourns the loss in silence, holding back tears until he knows he is alone within the confines of the shitty care home they’ve been sent to pending the visit of a more qualified social worker.

It really is a shithole; thuggish kids with nothing to do but cause trouble, insincere social workers just looking to make it through another day without any disasters, and a tattered building, tainted by vicious vandalism inflicted by its more permanent residents. The outside vaguely resembles a prison, the inside an abused youth club, and frankly, Danny’s surprised the place manages to pass the tests.

In the days between being pushed through the doors of the looming building and the visit from this illusive woman who has been described as nothing more than a kind lady come to help them all out, Danny does his best to comfort his hysterical sisters, their main fear being that of ending up in this place for good, which is a pretty valid one. Danny hopes that’s not the case, but honestly, he’s no idea who would be willing to take all four of them. As for Matty, now fourteen, he puts on a brave face, stays quiet, and Danny suspects he’s doing much of what he himself is doing...bottling it up.

Lucy, just six years old, clings to him like her life depends on it, and Danny is glad for the summer holidays because he knows there’s no way he’d manage to convince her to let him go if they were up and into school every morning. He doesn’t even try, just keeps hold of her, welcomes her into his bed with whispered reassurances, hugs her until he can feel her body relax and drift off to sleep. The painful part is those whispered reassurances that things will be okay, because Danny’s not yet sure whether to believe them.

Olivia deals marginally better, goes about her day with a glum expression, only slightly lightened by the fact that, in truth, her relationship with their parents had never been quite as close as the others. Danny had been a Daddy’s boy, though since he’d taken up boxing things had been strained between him and both of his parents. Lucy and Matty had clung to their mother, and Livvy, well she’d never been quite so sentimental; a tomboy content most of the time to sit in her room alone.

Matty’s always been the closest to her, and Danny can -- as far as possible -- rest assured that he’s keeping a watchful eye, ensuring she’s doing as well as can be expected beneath that hardened front she keeps up.

Danny worries about her the most for the simple reason that she’s hard to read. But inbetween checking on Matty, consoling Lucy, and worrying about where they’re going to live and go to school for the rest of their childhood, Danny doesn’t have a huge amount of time to think about it. Maybe it’s self-centred, but any free time he does have is spent down at the local gym putting the last of his membership to good use. He bypasses most of the equipment, content to take out all of his anger for the situation he’s been left in on the heavy bag that hangs from the ceiling, sorely working through the desire to hit more than a bag, the desire to get in the ring and have it out with a stranger. Baseball has been sidelined for the time being.

It’s on the third day that he gets called downstairs and is led to an office where a black woman sits across from him, dressed in clothes that clash, but an open smile and sympathetic eyes force their way into her expression before he’s even had a chance to say anything.

 The social worker then, he guesses.

She looks like the kind of person genuinely in it for helping the kids -- for which Danny is glad -- if a little tired from the stress of the job.

“Hi, Daniel-“

“Danny.” He makes the correction instantly, because only his mother called him that, and he figures that all things considered, manners aren’t a priority right now.

As he sits there, properly talking to a stranger for a few minutes as she runs through the details of what will happen to the house and their possessions, Danny realizes that maybe he’s okay. Arguably better than he should be, but okay. The death of his parents has upset him -- of course -- but having had three days to cry about it, and too much time to think about what will happen to the four of them, he’s managed to pull himself together, force away the level of sadness that his siblings are feeling. He doesn’t have the time to grieve, not when the family is relying on him to make sure they all get through this okay.

He answers her questions efficiently, listens to her babble about how their grandparents will liquidate their inherited assets and setup a trust fund for each of them, and by the time she finally pauses for breath, he still has absolutely no idea as to what the living arrangements will be, but if anyone upstairs is listening, well then he’s praying just as much as his siblings that they won’t have to stay here.

“And now I’m afraid we’re going to need to talk about where you and your siblings will live.”

Danny nods obediently, put off by the silence. “Danny, as the eldest, we want to let you make the decision. You’re staying here for a few more days anyway in order that you can attend the funeral if you so wish, and if there are any disagreements then we’ll talk further. But at the moment the choice is yours, and we have two offers of places for you to stay.”

Danny blinks, confused. “Normally, as they are willing, we would send you to your grandparents without a second thought. They live in New York, yes?” Danny nods, though he honestly hadn’t been expecting an offer of residence from their grandparents, not with the rift caused by their mother’s choice of husband. “Okay, so it’s not too far, and I gather that you get on well.” Social worker speak for: I gather you’ve met at least once in your lifetime, and it didn’t end in a brawl, which can only be a good thing. “Your mother’s will though, it had another request. Can you think why that may be?”

Danny shrugs. “She talked about it a bit at the end. She was on the phone to them a lot,” -- may as well go with it now -- “worried about whether they’d have room and time for us, with other grandchildren around the corner.” Truth be told, Danny’s not sure he or the others could cope with it anyway. Maggie Williams’ mother is the spitting image of her daughter, and he’s pretty sure Lucy would break all over again if she came face to face with the woman for so long so soon. As for Livvy, Danny doesn’t have the first clue how she’d react. The last thing they need is a constant reminder of what they’ve all lost.

The woman nods, and stereotypical though she may be, Danny kind of likes her, takes comfort in the way her hand twitches upon the desk, maybe suppressing the urge to reach out with a touch designed to comfort him. “Okay, so that’s the first option. But your mother offered another solution in her will.” She sorts through her notes for a few seconds. “This man isn’t strictly a relative, but your mother seemed sure he would be able to look after you. The name is Jake Murray, he’s a mechanic.”

Danny doesn’t have a clue as to who the guy is, even less of an idea as to why their mother might list him as a person to stay with. “I gather you don’t know him?” Danny shakes his head, intertwining his fingers over and over again in his lap as he kicks his feet beneath the chair he’s sitting on. “That’s okay, I didn’t get the impression you’d ever met him from your mother’s message. I know it might be scary, staying with someone you don’t know, but if your mother thought it was the best option, which she obviously did, I would urge you to think about it.”

“Where does he live?” Danny asks, because at this point in time, as crazy as it seems, it really may be the better choice.

“Hawaii.” Danny’s eyes widen, he leans forwards in his chair, and the woman cringes back, a little intimidated though used to contending with this kind of reaction.

In the months since his father’s death, Danny has put on some weight, all of it muscle. He’s well aware that he’s not the tallest fifteen year old in the world, and while the years of baseball has kept him lean and toned, boxing has added to his physique.

He’s no longer a scrawny blond kid with a harsh buzz cut. His hair is longer now, standing on end though only for a lack of care. He’s broad shouldered and muscled up top, with nimble legs and a skinny waist, and he can handle himself, aware that he walks with a slight air of confidence only because it’s been pointed out to him by kids at school in recent months.

Danny reigns himself in though, calms down and sits back in his seat with a look that he hopes conveys some kind of apology, because if there’s one thing he can think of right now that will make this situation worse, it’s losing control of his temper.

And the stupid thing is, for all of his impending argument about what the woman is suggesting, Danny still thinks it would be better for them. He’s not a massive fan of sweltering heat and the paradisical landscape that his mind conjures up, but it may not turn out to be the worst thing in the world. And whatever his own thoughts may be on moving to some kind of idyllic island, he just knows that the others would love it.

Danny’s street smart with more than his fair share of trouble to have dealt with in the past, so he tries to soften his face, and asks something which may actually be helpful to this whole situation.

“Okay, um. This guy, Jake Murray, is there anything else you can tell me about him?”

The woman nods, seemingly reaffirmed with her use in helping a family out. “Yes of course. We don’t know a lot but…” She pulls a piece of paper from the stack atop her legs. “What we do know is that he has no kids of his own, financially stable, he owns a garage where he works as a self-employed mechanic as well as running a pool repairs business. As for the relationship to your mother, all we’ve been able to confirm is that they went to school together, and that they’ve kept in contact since.” Well that gives an approximate age, suggests that he’s young enough that he should be able to cope with the basics of looking after kids better than their grandparents.

“Okay.” Danny stays quiet for the moment, and he can feel the piercing gaze of the woman on his form. “How long do we have to make a decision? Can I talk to the others?”

She nods. “Of course. Look, Danny, I don’t want to rush you into a decision, but these things take a few days to get sorted, and from what I’ve heard from the staff here, I gather you’re not enjoying your stay. I’ll be here for another couple of hours or so taking care of arrangements with a few other kids, and the sooner you make the decision, the sooner we can get the ball rolling.”

It makes sense. “Okay, sure. And this guy, he knows what to expect, how many, stuff like that?”

“Yes. Don’t feel you need to make your mind up so soon though, you can take all the time you need. This is important.” No shit, Sherlock.

“Okay, thanks for your help. Hopefully I’ll see you in a bit.” Danny gets up and leaves, calling Matty from the room they’re both sharing and leading the way to the girls’ room. Danny sits on the bed, and the three younger kids look up at him expectantly, marginally less upset as each day goes by.

He sighs and pulls Lucy into his lap, holds Olivia’s hand as he looks to Matty for some support, to make sure they’re on the same page. Matty clasps Olivia’s free hand in his own and meets Danny’s gaze. They could probably make this decision on their own, but that’s never been the way they do things. The Williams clan look out for each other, and that’s as important as ever when there’s such an imperative choice to be made. There’s no question they’re all looking to Danny to sort them out here, but he won’t make a decision unless he’s sure they’re all in agreement.

“Okay, look. I’m gonna cut straight to it, alright. If we want to get out of here quick” -- they all do, Olivia’s already having problems with the other kids and he and Matty have always been dangerously short-tempered when it comes to anyone but their siblings -- “then we’ll need to decide soon. We have two options. Option one is that we go to New York and stay with Gran and Gramps until we’ve all graduated.” Which would be a really long time, especially where Lucy’s concerned. Though Danny and Matty would probably object to staying in New York longer than necessary, maybe find a place that they could all stay together once they’ve graduated. That’s the option they’d been expecting apparently, maybe a testament to how Danny had held more of a grudge against their grandparents for the hostility they’d showed his father, than the others.

“Ma left another suggestion in her will though. She used to go to school with this guy, so I think he must be from Jersey. But he lives in Hawaii now, no other kids, a big enough house for all of us.” He’s met with blank stares, and then a smile from Lucy.

“Hawaii,” she says in response to the so far unspoken question, but Danny’s not ready for them to move on a whim, on the idea that it might be nice to have a couple of years in the sun.

“Hawaii,” Olivia says, and honestly, Danny’s surprised at that response. He’d had her pegged as a city girl, but then she would enjoy the surfing. He holds out until everyone’s voiced his or her initial opinion though.

“Hawaii,” Matty says, and dammit, Danny’s was not expecting that. Matty lets out a breath and continues. “Gran and Gramps can’t look after us. They’ve got enough to be dealing with anyway, and I don’t think I can look her in the eye without tearing up, which will be bad for us and worse for Gran.”

Danny nods because he can’t really dispute that. “Look,” he glances down to the two girls. “Are you sure? I mean, it seemed like the better choice to me too, but are we sure we want to travel halfway across the country and then some, to live with a guy none of us have ever met, in a place we’ve never even visited?”

Olivia shrugs, and Danny realizes this whole thing has aged her. Not physically…Physically she’s still the same. Cropped hair, about as dark as Matty’s, dressed in tatty dungarees with a pair of well-worn sneakers. But she seems more mature, more willing to offer a reasoned argument rather than be blinded by the prospect of the Hawaiian sun. “We don’t have a choice, Danny. Matty’s right.”

Danny looks back down to Lucy again. “And you, kiddo. What are you thinking?”

Lucy mimics her older sister’s roll of the shoulders, clenching a fistful of Danny’s t-shirt in her hands. “Too many things here.” Danny’s pretty sure that what she means to say is too many memories, a reminder of their parents behind every corner, shared experiences dotted around the city in which they live. And granted, New York isn’t New Jersey, but it’s significantly more similar to home than Hawaii would be.

Hawaii would provide a complete change of scenery, a complete change of company, an almost completely new life.

Danny thinks up worst case scenarios and everything that could go wrong, and Matty spends an hour countering them, until all four of them are still agreed, and Danny knows it’s useless to continue talking about it. Hawaii is the best choice right now.

He requests use of the phone down stairs and puts in a call to an upset-sounding grandma. She runs through all of the usuals, studiously ignoring the topic of their living arrangements until Danny finally brings them up himself.

“Gran, we’d love to stay with you, you know that.” If it were as simple as it sounded, even Danny would voice a preference to stay with family. “But we don’t want to be-“

She inevitably interrupts him with insistences that they wouldn’t be a burden, but for all it’s worth, Danny can hear it in her voice. She’s tired, the death of her daughter has aged her, and she suspects that maybe what Danny is suggesting here may really be the best thing for all of them.

He verifies though, asks her countless times about what she knows about this guy, to which she replies not all that much. Their mother and Jake Murray had indeed been very close, but never had she formally been introduced to the guy. Danny checks with her one last time before hanging up and letting his head fall back to the wall.

He goes upstairs, confirming for the final time with the others before he slips outside of the room and leaves the three of them to chat about what it might be like there, goes to inform the social worker of their decision. She checks at least a half dozen times more that they’re sure about it -- as though he’s made this decision on impulse -- goes up to see Matty, Olivia, and Lucy and ask them for herself -- as though Danny’s made this decision alone -- and then leaves with the promise that she’ll start the paperwork tomorrow and be in contact soon.

They attend the funeral of Maggie Williams the following day. First thing in the morning they all pile into the girls’ room, smartening each other up as they pat down creases in Lucy’s dress and readjust the collar of Matty’s dress shirt. He and Danny dress in black from head to toe with open collared shirts and black slacks, only bothering with coats when the breeze through the open window hits them. Olivia puts up a half-hearted last ditched attempt at a protest of attending, but Lucy looks up at her, all innocent and wise and says, “What if later you find out that really you had wanted to go?” And that marks the end of that discussion.

Lucy wants to wear a pair of bright flowery tights in view beneath her knee length dress because she says that their mom would want at least one of them to wear something colourful. And though they know it’s likely to attract a couple of disapproving stares from distant relatives, nobody has the heart to argue with her. She convinces Olivia to join the rebellion, suggesting that she wear bright socks beneath the pants she’s wearing due to a reluctance to bare her legs in anything but shorts.

The funeral is predictably solemn. Danny manages to hold himself together as he clutches Olivia and Lucy to his sides, swallowing the tears that threaten to come as he pulls Matty into a brief hug. Their grandparents are there, nodding their support for their mutual decision to travel to Hawaii in a week’s time, saying that their mother was probably right, that it’s probably for the best. And they all know it is, because as heartbreaking as the service is, the part that gets them the most is seeing her face, the face that is far too similar to that of the woman they’re here to bury.

Nobody even bothers to attempt to sleep alone for the rest of their time in Jersey. The four of them have always been close, but parental death has only brought them closer, eliminating any forgotten rifts that may previously have occurred and dampening the effect of any future ones. Danny’s still feeling the weight of the world on his shoulders, but Matty’s keeping his behaviour under control, and Danny knows it takes a lot of effort on his part to stay out of trouble, because he’s the same.

So Matty and Danny refuse point blank to listen to the instructions of the staff at the care home, head to Olivia and Lucy’s bedroom for the remaining six nights. They leave the curtains open to allow a dim glow to coat the room, and Matty presses to the very edge of one bed, Danny to the very edge of the other as Olivia and Lucy join them respectively.

With the boys in the beds, the girls fall asleep quickly, and when it begins to get close to the date of their departure for Hawaii, they sometimes indulge in quiet conversation, Danny trying to make sure he really is making the right decision for all of them.

“Hey Matty, you still sure this is right for us, that it’s what they’d have wanted? I mean, what if this guy turns out to be a total jackass, or some perv, huh?” They speak in hushed whispers, careful not to wake Lucy and Livvy up.

“Bro, we all agreed. It’s the right thing, we need to get away. And we can look after the girls. We’ll be okay…As long as we’re all together, we’ll be good.” He’s silent for a minute before adding something else. “Ma must have known this guy well to have even suggested it, he’ll probably turn out to be the nicest guy we ever met.”

Danny leaves it at that, and they talk softly for a little longer, taking the piss out of some of the other kids in the home, complaining about the staff before Matty goes quiet, and Danny realizes he’s fallen asleep.

They wake, engage with the other kids to as little extent as is allowed by the stupid team building exercises organized by the personnel here at the home, and then repeat the process. Olivia gets into a couple more tussles, and though they both know she doesn’t need the help, Matty gets involved in protecting her. But none of the staff bothers with attempting to punish them in any way; the four of them are the least of their worries at the home, and so they’re mostly left to their own devices.

Danny manages to get out to the gym a couple more times, gets involved in a boxing match with a sandbag. By the end of his session he has bruises and wounds on his knuckles though, the weight through the gloves not enough to sate the desire to cause some pain, to him or to someone close. Simply removing the gloves to worsen the burn is still not enough, but it will have to make do until he can get to the island, until he can find some sort of boxing club or competitive circuit.

The last two days are spent with a couple of visits back to their house, marking things to be thrown away or sold and gathering as much as they can into a suitcase each, with a few other things in a small carry on bag.

Danny has the least to pack. He’s added the muscle in the past year, which has meant pretty much a new wardrobe, but he’s never been fussy in the shopping department, and his wardrobe has suffered for it. All the shoes he has are a couple of pairs of Chucky Ts, a pair of high-tops and one pair of loafers that he’d worn to the funeral. His pants collection consists only of three pairs of jeans and some sports stuff for working out, and the chest of drawers in the corner of his old room houses several t-shirts, all pretty similar with a general colour scheme of white, grey, or blue. Add to that a couple of jackets and he’s pretty much done.

Olivia doesn’t have much either, the tomboy streak limiting the amount of shopping she can put up with, so the two of them top their bags off with joint items and things of sentimental worth. He throws anything that he thinks might be useful for school into his carry on bag and makes sure that the others do the same, adding four baseball caps to the top of the pile as Matty shouts him a reminder.

It’s not until he walks in to find the other three waiting for him though, all looking around the place with tears in their eyes, that Danny realizes the gravity of this moment. Olivia and Lucy are both staring at the younger girl’s most recent work of art. Danny can still remember the day it was drawn, weather warm enough for all of them to sit in the yard while Lucy had churned out picture after picture of them all sitting there. It had been at Ma’s bedside the night she died, and Danny can see the quake in Lucy’s hand as she holds it.

Matty is sat down in what had always been their father’s armchair, eyes glossed over as he stares into space. He’s replaying a memory, tear rolling down his cheek before he’s alerted to Danny’s presence, wiping it away and pushing himself to his feet.

Danny drops his own bag though, kneels down in front of Lucy and pulls her into a hug, Olivia joining only a moment later. One in each arm, he holds them tight, presses his face into Lucy’s hair, tries desperately to reassure them that they’re going to be alright. And he really hopes they will.

When Danny pulls away, Matty has drifted away again, only now shaking himself aware and taking a few steps closer. Danny tries to smile at him as he watches his little brother curl a protective arm around Olivia, pulling her in close as Danny takes Lucy’s hand and looks at each one of them.

“We’re gonna be okay, girls. You’ve got me and Matty, huh. Best big brothers in the world. That’s not gonna change, alright. We’re gonna be okay.”

He meets Matty’s gaze and knows he’s with him on this. Both of them will do everything they can to make sure everything really is okay.

A brief communal check of each of the bags convinces them that they have everything that they need, and then with their lives packed into four suitcases and four backpacks, and with one last glance around the inside of the home they’re likely never to see again, they walk out the door.

 

Chapter Text

The journey to Hawaii is alright. Bearable. Matty holds onto Olivia, and Danny holds onto Lucy, both of the girls doing the best they can to help with the transportation of luggage. In the end, they carry the backpacks while Danny and Matty struggle along with two suitcases each, keeping an eye out in order that they try not to lose anyone as they go.

The flight is a good fifteen hours or so if you include the stop along the way. Danny looks to the tickets as they walk out into the airport at San Francisco, letting out a sigh of relief as he realizes that, thank God, the flight numbers on their two sets of tickets are the same. It saves them having to collect and re-check their baggage, both of which they could really do without right now.

Danny’s age has just about meant that with the airline already short staffed, they’ve been able to duck the insistence of a babysitter for the journey, told simply to ask if they need help at any time. Which they don’t.

Danny still hasn’t even talked to this guy they’re supposed to be living with yet, but he’s been advised to check in at some point, and the stop in San Francisco seems as good a time as any.

“Matty,” he pulls a ten-dollar bill out of his pocket and hands it over. “Try and find a bottle of water and something to eat, okay. I’ll meet you at gate four in a bit, I’m gonna call Jake Murray.” Matty nods and tugs at Olivia’s hand, and Lucy -- still refusing to let more than a couple of feet come between them -- takes hold of Danny’s hand and goes with him.

They head for a pay phone, and Danny’s really fucking glad that he had the good sense to search the house for cash before they left. He’s got a good wad of bills in his pocket and a fair bit more in the case, some of which had come from the social worker.

Danny loads the machine with some change, picks up the phone and dials the number he’s been given, relieved when the phone is answered on the third ring. “Mr. Murray? It’s Danny Williams.”

“Oh, Danny! Hi, hello. How are you? Reached San Fran yet?”

“Yes, sir. Just touched down, waiting for the connection. I’m at a payphone so I can’t talk for long, but we were told to check in with you at some point.”

“Yeah, of course. No problem. We’ll talk some more when you get here, but I’ll be waiting at arrivals for you.” Danny listens to the gentle hum on the other end of the line. “Uhh, I’ll wear something conspicuous. Oh, I know, look for the tall guy in the grey overalls, okay?”

Danny smiles, the guy sounds nice enough. He’s gonna assume the overalls are something to do with his occupation rather than a deteriorating mental state. He’s pretty sure that would have caused some problems with social services. The guy can only be forty, the same age as his mother was. “Okay, great. Thanks very much.”

“Look forward to seeing you.” Danny hangs up the phone and lifts Lucy -- who’s been tugging at his shirt -- into his arms.

“Lucy, babe. You don’t need to hold on quite so tight, alright? I’m not going anywhere, and you’re gonna have to start first grade at a new school soon. I won’t be able to stay with you.” Lucy scowls like she thinks it’s the stupidest thing in the entire world, and they head off to find Matty and Livvy again.

The second leg of the journey is better than the first. They’re in less of a rush to board the plane in time with luggage already sorted, and all four of them refuse the offer of food because they’d whole-heartedly regretted it during the last flight about four seconds after the sickness had settled in.

Only Danny has ever flown before though, so it’s still down to him to calm the others and do his best to keep calm himself. It may be one of the statistically safest modes of transport, but it certainly doesn’t feel like it when you hit a bout of turbulence.

They touch down on time after hours of uncomfortable confinement and wait patiently for baggage in the busy terminal. Olivia pitches in and goes to grab a luggage cart, and they get three of the cases just about balanced by the time the last bag comes through on the carousel. Olivia walks alongside Matty, who pushes it in silence, and Danny holds the other as well as Lucy’s hand, and admittedly, something seems to have changed.

With their arrival in what feels like a new country, the silence has turned from loaded to something more comfortable. The sadness is still there, and Danny can see in her eyes that Olivia is suffering more than she’ll admit, but they’re all looking more like their usual selves.

They turn the corner, and though Jake probably doesn’t have any idea of who he’s looking for, a group of four sullen kids is pretty hard to miss. As is a man waving from the barrier, clad in the aforementioned jumpsuit and a pair of combat boots.

None of them have ever been particularly good at meeting new people, and Danny would claim to be the worst, considering he manages to find something to hate in just about every person he meets. The other three stand, silent and tense, at his side as they approach though, and Danny drops his suitcase to the floor in order to reach out with his right arm.

“Mr. Murray? Hi, I’m Danny.” The man -- probably a little under six foot -- shakes his hand and looks at him with something Danny thinks he must be mistaken in identifying as respect, because if the three kids he’s been looking after next to him are anything to go by, he doesn’t deserve an ounce of it.

“Please, call me Jake. Nice to meet you all.” He lifts a hand to point to the others. “You must be Matty, Olivia, and little Lucy.” They each nod a greeting as he points them out, and then picks up the bag from Danny’s feet. The simple fact that he’s just called Matt Matty goes some way to easing Danny’s nerves. It’s a family nickname more than anything, and Jake must have talked to their mother about them if he’s picked up the familiar touch this quickly.

Danny pushes the cart, pained to find as they walk out to the parking lot that the damn island is hotter outside than in. Reluctantly, he shrugs out of a leather jacket and throws it on the luggage cart atop the suitcases. They follow Jake as he leads the way to the car, which turns out to be a truck.

Matty and Danny help to secure the bags in the bay while Livvy and Lucy climb onto the backseat, and the three of them join them in the cab a couple of minutes later, Jake seemingly sensing the fatigue. It’s only eight o’clock in Hawaii, but that makes it two AM in Jersey and the day of travel is fast catching up with them. Lucy is beginning to doze against Matty’s arm. 

Jake begins to talk in a hushed voice. “So, was the flight okay, Danny?”

“Yeah, thanks. Not too bad.” A silence settles over them for a minute, and Danny figures he should probably ask while he still has the excuse. “So, you knew Ma from high school?”

He nods with a reminiscent smile. “Oh yeah, we were best friends back in the day. We didn’t speak as much as we’d have liked after I moved out here, but I loved her a lot.”

Danny’s not sure whether there’s the hint of something else there, that maybe their mother had shared more than just friendship with the guy, but Jake says nothing, and Danny doesn’t ask.

The car ride is no more than ten minutes, and the house is big, bigger than the place at home. “Wow,” Danny says as they get out, and Lucy looks up, a little bit in awe, lack of energy preventing anything more outrageous.

Between the five of them, they get the cases upstairs and onto the landing. “Okay kids, I’ve got four free rooms in this place, so unless any of you have the desire to share, you can fight amongst yourselves.”

Lucy takes the smallest room because she says it’s cosy, Danny takes the one next door because it overlooks the front of the house rather than the beach at the back, Matty takes the one opposite with the argument that the biggest person should have the biggest room, and Olivia seems content enough with the room that backs onto the beach, happy to have the sound of the waves lull her to sleep.

No one’s really in the mood to chat, and they all turn in for the night almost immediately, Danny offering a thanks on behalf of all of them as he slips into the bedroom.

 

H

5

0

 

Danny opens his eyes to check the clock on the nightstand -- eight o’clock -- already fully expecting the glaring light shining through the glass of the window whose curtains he hadn’t had the energy to shut last night.

He takes a better look at the bedroom for the first time in the light, and it’s obvious, even from the faint smell of paint fumes, that Jake -- the man is too kind -- has repainted all of the rooms in preparation for their arrival. His has three off-white walls and one solid blue, furniture all relatively new and the bed as comfy as the one back home.

He listens in silence for the sound of voices, and then Lucy’s laughter travels up the stairs, followed by Matty’s shout.

Danny gets out of bed and lazily pulls on a pair of jeans and a white t-shirt, making his way down the stairs bare foot as he navigates his way to the kitchen.

The situation has apparently moved on since yesterday and Olivia -- though arguably too old for it -- sits in Matty’s lap, Lucy seemingly leaning over the table in what must be an absolutely abysmal attempt to help Mr- Jake, with the morning crossword.

“You could have woken me,” Danny says, rubbing the last of the sleep from his eyes as he does.

Jake swipes a hand through the air as he brushes Danny’s concerns away. “Danny, you’ve been taking care of all four of you for, what? Two weeks now? We all agreed you could do with the rest.”

Lucy beams up at Jake for a moment before he just smiles at her in amusement. “Can I get you some breakfast?”

Danny shakes his head. “Uh, no, this is fine,” he says, picking up whatever sugary sweet cereal Lucy has chosen from the bunch on the counter.

Danny pours it into Lucy’s used bowl and looks around the table at the faces of each of his siblings. They all look well rested today, happier and more cheerful. Jake catches his gaze as he looks away from Olivia, and Danny’s eyes flash away as he realizes it’s that same look of respect, probably something to do with his mother’s rose-tinted glasses.

Jake clears his throat and folds away the newspaper, face all business but for the open smile he’s still wearing. “Okay, listen up. I’ve enrolled you lot into school already. We can make changes if we need to but Danny and Matty, you guys will be at Kukui High. At the moment Danny’s down for Physics, Calc, English Lit, and AP History; Matty you’ve got Calc, Geography, Economics and French. You guys will have to make your own way to school I’m afraid, but it’s only a fifteen minute walk and you’ll find people to give you a lift around here no problem.”

He pauses for breath and points to Olivia and Lucy. “Livvy,” -- it’s a good sign that he’s calling her that, Danny thinks -- “you’re booked into Kalakaua Middle School, having elected to take some advanced Math and Spanish as your language. And Lucy, you my darling will be at Kahala Elementary, where, no doubt, you will have a bundle of fun.” Danny appreciates the enthusiasm; Lucy’s first day of school is going to be hard enough as it is.

“Girls, I open shop at nine, so I can drop you off on my way. Olivia, Kalakaua ends at half past three so I’ve booked Lucy into the after school club at Kahala where she can hang around for an hour or so. So if Olivia could pick Lucy up and you guys walk back alone, that would be great. The evenings won’t get dark nearly as early as they do in Jersey, and the route back is busy and safe. Kahala and Kalakaua are only a few minutes apart, I’ll show you in the morning. I should be back by six every night, so I’ll get dinner.”

“I’ll introduce all of you to the McGarrett kids sometime soon as well. Pretty sure the girl is in Livvy’s year so you two could walk back with her. If we get around to it then I think John’s partner has a cousin around the same age as Lucy, then there’s Steve who’s the same age as Danny -- that’s the McGarrett boy -- and Matty, if I’m not mistaken, Steve also hangs around with a younger football player, your age or the year below.”

All four of them just stare back at him with something between absolute bewilderment and affection for the man that seems intent on making sure that every one of them knows somebody on their first day.

Jake swipes a hand through the air. “Don’t worry about it; we’ll get around to it.” Danny is seriously starting to like this guy.

“Thanks, for everything,” Matty says, and the other three just nod, a little overwhelmed by all of this.

“No problem. It’s Saturday, so I have the day off today. I was thinking we should probably go shopping, make sure you guys have everything you need. I have a list of books that you boys need, but only Lucy has to wear a uniform, so we can get that taken care of easy enough.”

Danny takes this one. “Yeah, that sounds good. I have some money from back at the house tha-“

Jake cuts them off, shaking his head. “Not a chance. It’s no problem, honestly. I’ll just be glad to get you all settled in here. The house has been way too quiet since my sister moved off the island.”

Danny wants to force the money on him, but there’s a line between being polite and being rude, and he thinks that probably crosses it. “We’ll leave in a couple of hours. I just have to go out for a bit to take a look at someone’s pool, so I’ll leave you kids to unpack and take a proper look around the place. Feel free to go outside and sit on the beach, though I’d rather the girls weren’t out there alone.”

“Thank you,” Lucy says with a shy smile, and though she’s admittedly the most timid of all four of them, once she feels comfortable with someone -- which Jake is making easy -- she’s okay. She reaches out to pat his hand, and he smiles and gives her a playful tweak of the nose to which she giggles, the door to the house shutting just a couple of minutes later.

All four of them are still sat at the table, watching Danny eat as he drains the last of the milk from the bowl. “Okay, so what does everyone think?”

“He seems nice,” Olivia offers, and Lucy gives a fierce nod of agreement. Matty’s still smiling, which speaks volumes.

“Yeah, he does,” Danny concurs. “We’re gonna be fine here. But please people,” -- he’s looking at Olivia as he says it, because he knows what she can be like, however much he may love her -- “let’s try and make some friends. I know none of us really got close to anyone back home, but it’s gonna be easier if we know some people, so, brave faces and all that.”

Pep talk over, Danny gets up and rinses out his bowl, leaving it to dry on the draining board. “You heard Jake. I already unpacked some stuff last night, so I’ll help Lucy out.” She beams at him, and Danny lifts her high off the chair as they make the walk upstairs.

He starts out in her room, notices in the light that her room is decorated similarly to his, his wall of blue replaced by her wall of lilac. No wonder she chose this one. He runs through the mundane task of piling clothes into the wardrobe/drawers while she deals with replenishing the room with drawings she’s brought from back home.

Danny stuffs the bag underneath her bed and enlists Lucy to help finish unpacking in his own room, and then they both wander downstairs to find Matty and Olivia out on the beach. They’re paddling close to shore, and Danny realizes with regret that he’s gonna have to teach Lucy to swim sometime soon. Matty doesn’t have the patience for it, and Danny is sure it won’t be long before she’s pestering them about it.

She splashes around with Olivia close to shore though, and Danny keeps a close eye and stays well away, never having been particularly fond of the water. He’s content to lie back and soak up the sun. His complexion isn’t as dark as the island natives, but it’s dark enough that he doesn’t really burn, so he remains put with the hope of building his tan a little, allowing him to look less like the new kid on his first day of school.

Brave-faced though he may be -- or trying to be -- Danny is just as nervous as the others about fitting in here. It’s not that he particularly cares what others think of him -- unless we’re talking about Matty, Olivia, or Lucy -- but blending in with the crowds, maybe making a couple of friends, would certainly make life here easier.

As promised, two hours before lunch, Jake calls them in, herds the four of them towards the truck after Danny asks one last time if he’s sure he can’t give him any money.

The truck roars to life in an instant, and they drive straight to what Jake describes as ‘the closest to a shopping mall that you’ll get on the island.’

“Lucy, you okay for me to send your brothers off to get some books while we get your school dress sorted out?” She gives a tentative nod, and Jake smiles, clearly having noticed her tendency never to leave Danny’s side.

He takes the list and some money from Jake with a thanks and lets go of Lucy’s hand as he and Matty walk across the way to a book shop. They give up looking after just a few minutes, instead handing the list to the woman behind the counter. She sorts them out without any problems, instructing them to “have a nice day” as they leave the shop, wind chime tinkling as they do.

The shopping centre here is relatively big, perhaps bigger than Jake would have you believe, but with all of them used to the malls of Jersey and New York, it is a little on the small side, comparatively speaking. Navigating their way back to the uniform shop that the others had been seeking out doesn’t take long, and the place is quiet once they get there.

Lucy is just walking out of the changing room with what sounds like the second size she’s tried when they walk through to the back of the shop. “You get all of them?” Jake asks.

“Yeah, thanks.” Danny hands the rest of the money back to Jake along with as much of their own as he thinks he can get away with, and turns to Lucy with a smile.

“Luce, babe, that looks great.” She smiles, looking down at herself in the white and purple checked dress. They add a purple cardigan to the purchase before walking out in the direction of a department store that’s been newly built to keep up with the increasing amount of tourism.

Olivia’s eyes are drawn to their left as they walk in, and Jake’s gaze follows her as he leans into Danny and Matty with a lowered voice. “She a skateboarder?”

Danny nods. Her board had been one of the few things they’d had to leave behind back home. “Yeah, she loves it. Damn good too,” Matty says, watching Olivia who’s still quietly distracted.

Danny can already see Jake eyeing her curiously, and he knows exactly what he’s thinking. “No, Jake. Seriously, this is too much. You can’t buy her a skateboard…” He trails off.

Jake turns to look at him properly. “Danny, I told you. I’ve had an inheritance, I’m mortgage free, never going to have any kids of my own,” -- Danny stops himself asking further questions about that; none of his business. “You all will be here a few years, and I’ve got the money. Besides, I’m not gonna be able to entertain you guys all day, and she’s been quiet so far.” Danny doesn’t say anything, but he’s pretty sure the face he gives is one of resignation, because Jake moves in Olivia’s direction. “Take a look around the place and we’ll catch you up in a minute.”

Two sets of textbooks, one school uniform, one skateboard, four pairs of sunglasses and a few other things later, they head back home.

Olivia turns around as soon as they get through the door, throwing herself at Jake and hugging him for a few seconds. Danny watches, smiling when Jake wraps his arms around her. “You’re welcome, Livvy.”

She says thank you again, and Danny tries to offer Jake money…again, and then their purchases are dropped off in their rooms before lunch.

Danny lowers his voice and talks to Matty when Jake is distracted by the girls. “Thanks for helping keep the costs down this morning. Pretty sure this new climate is gonna require some new clothes though, so do you wanna go back this afternoon, take care of it.” Matty nods, straight faced, as Jake glances at him before they’re called back into the conversation.

 

H

5

0

 

“We’re just gonna head out for a bit if that’s alright, we won’t be more than a couple of hours.” It’s four when Danny heads out onto the balcony slash deck -- lanai, Jake has helpfully advised him -- calling to Jake who is sitting on the beach making sandcastles with Lucy.

“Yeah, take a look around town for a while. You need any money?”

“Nah, we’re alright. Thanks.” Even from a hundred yards away, the look on Jake’s face tells Danny that the man knows exactly what they’re up to. He and Matty grab their new sunglasses though, and make for the front door.

In the sweltering heat, the walk to the same mall as this morning takes them half an hour, but they make the journey happily, chatting away as they walk. He and Matty split up when they get through the door of the department store, and they don’t meet until three quarters of an hour later, bumping into each other outside of the changing rooms.

“You ready?” Danny asks. They take a look at each other’s choices and discard a couple of things they disagree on before paying and walking out the door.

They’ve kept it even, each picking up a couple of pairs of denim shorts at varying lengths, a couple of tank tops, one pair of flip-flops -- Danny refuses to call them ‘slippahs’­, whatever the label may say -- and one pair of board shorts which Danny only takes figuring he’ll probably have to wear them at some point.

They’ve also got a pair of shorts each for the girls, purposefully bought a little big with room for growth.

Living up to Danny’s suspicions, Jake is waiting for them in the living room when they get back shortly before six PM, glaring at them in something not even remotely hostile. “Sorry we’re late,” Danny offers, in a vain attempt to detract attention from the bags they’re holding.

“Don’t even try it boys,” Jake says, and he looks vaguely amused by their attempts to keep their shopping from him.

He pulls a wallet from his back pocket. “Look, at least let me pay half. If you needed stuff, you could have said. I get money for looking after you for exactly this kind of thing.”

Matty looks to Danny and he just shrugs. Danny winces, because they’ve spent a lot. “Uhh, one fifty. Something like that.” It was closer to two hundred, but Danny’s using some convoluted method of rounding, he reasons.

Jake peels off a few bills as he walks over, putting them into Danny’s hand as he walks into the kitchen. “Dinner’s in half an hour boys.”

 

H

5

0

 

By eight o’clock, Lucy is fast asleep, Olivia is upstairs still getting her room organized, Matty is out on the lanai reading a French textbook in an effort to polish up his skills for term time, and Danny is sitting with Jake, eyes on the TV, knees bouncing up and down because he’s feeling the need to hit something. It’s not anything to do with moving to Hawaii, just a natural urge that comes over him every now and then, made worse now by the lack of sports.

Danny’s still watching the screen when it goes blank without warning, and he turns to see that he’s been distracted enough to have attracted Jake’s attention and not have noticed. “Go get changed, we’re going for a run.”

Danny doesn’t even question it. He needs the exercise badly, and so he meets Jake at the bottom of the stairs five minutes later, having a good look at him for the first time without anyone else around. Jake has the body of a teenaged athlete that’s padded out a bit since. By no stretch of the imagination is he fat, and he still looks fit, but the muscles are less defined than they probably used to be, his almost six foot stature still giving him presence.

“Hey, Matty, Danny and I are going out for bit. Hold down the fort for an hour.”

“Sure.”

They make the journey to wherever it is that they’re going at a light jog, silence the whole way. The sign that they pass reads Honolulu Athletic Track and Jake gives a simple nod to the security guard as they wander on through. The place is absolutely deserted despite the sign indicating that it’s open twenty-four hours a day, and it consists of a large, unmarked sports field surrounded by a running track, the occasional stand of seats dotted at varying points around the course. A building marked ‘refreshments,’ stands to the side, water fountain attached to the side of the building.

Jake notices Danny looking around. “It’s a lot busier during the day, but any time after six and it’s virtually deserted. Most kids come down straight from school.”

They run a couple of laps together, before Jake peels off. “Keep going, kid. You don’t need me slowing you down.” Following that, Danny steps up the pace. Unable to keep himself to a jog anymore, he runs the circuit a few times at full tilt, slowing to a jog when he gets dangerously close to hyperventilating.

His eyes don’t stray from the track, and he pushes forwards with each stride, thankful that he’s running on rubber with some give rather than asphalt, because his knee would be absolutely fucked if he weren’t. The ACL which Danny had torn a year and a half ago still gives him some problems, but with some care it’s nothing detrimental.

So he keeps going, feeling only a slight twinge every now and then, walking in to the bench Jake is sitting at half an hour later, chest heaving as his breathing slowly begins to return to normal.

Danny tries to ignore the impressed glance Jake is giving him, but he takes the bottle of water offered, taking a few long sips before he leans back. They’re silent for a few minutes before Jake turns to him. “Danny, I’m too old for this, I can’t keep up with you. But listen, I’ll introduce you to someone who can tomorrow, that Steve kid I was talking about. He’s an awesome football player, best Kukui has ever seen, and I’d say you match each other on fitness…” Danny gives a nod, prays to God that the guy isn’t as arrogant as the stereotype would suggest. “Look, I can see you need this, need the exertion. So just don’t let it get like this, to the point you can barely stop moving.”

Danny nods, turns with a smile as he rubs the sweat from his forehead. Hawaii is far too humid for his liking. “Thanks, Jake. I’ll try not to.”

Danny gets up, his full intention being to make the walk back to the house, but Jake catches his hand as he does, and Danny turns to find the man running a calloused thumb over Danny’s knuckle, where there’s still bruising and scabbing from his last run-in with a heavy bag, his recent aversion to wearing gloves or any kind of protection strikingly obvious, and in hindsight, foolish.

“I noticed these yesterday,” Jake murmurs, no accusation in his tone. Danny pulls his hand away. “First I assumed you were a rough kid, but I can see you try not to be.” He narrows his eyes as he meets Danny’s gaze and gets up to start walking with him. “You do boxing back home or something? You look like a boxer.” Danny knows he’s referring to the typical physique, and he nods as he runs a hand through his sweaty head of hair.

“Yeah, I got into it just before Dad died.”

Jake just smiles as Danny looks back to him. “In which case, I’ve got something else to show you tomorrow.”

 

H

5

0

 

Danny wakes last, again, this time by a smiling Lucy bundling into the bed, gushing about Jake’s pancakes and reminding him that it’s only a few days until his birthday. Honestly, he’d forgotten about it, but he grins with her all the same, because it’s nice to see Lucy get excited to balance out those moments he finds her upset or blank.

Matty spends the majority of the morning at the front of the house with Olivia, reading a book as she gets to grips with her new skateboard while Danny looks over the schedule for his school year. Physics is almost certainly going to be a struggle again, so he opens a book in front of him as he keeps an eye on Lucy who’s playing on the beach, attempting to revise a whole year of work in a few hours so that he’s not completely out of his depth by the time it gets to their first day.

Jake is in and out of the house all morning and he whisks Lucy away with him for an hour or so before lunch, turning to Danny once they’re finally sat down.

“Danny, I’m gonna go out for a bit. I’ll be round at the McGarrett’s place, not too long. But with a bit of luck I’ll catch Steve, bring him back so that I can show you what I was talking about yesterday.”

He leaves shortly after, and Lucy -- bless her -- does her very best to help Danny with the washing up, which comprises of somehow getting more of the water on her than on the dishes, while Olivia and Matty go swimming out back. A heavy shower forces them inside an hour or so later though, and Jake catches Danny on his way to the living room.

“Come with me.”

Danny follows him into the garage -- the only room of the house he’s yet to visit -- and is pointed over to the heavy bag hanging in the middle of the room, mats covering the floor beneath them. Jake’s preference to use the driveway for the car means that the room is mostly empty, and he chucks a pair of lightweight training gloves and stands behind the bag, holding it still as he gestures for Danny to get going. “Steve was out, but I told his mom to send him over when he gets back. She said he wouldn’t be long.”

Danny hesitates for a moment, eyes narrowed before he falls into it effortlessly, and taking out the recurring frustration of the best part of a year as he pounds into the bag with as much force as possible. His footwork is light, his movements nimble, and he can feel the good it’s doing him to finally be able to hit something again.

He zones out for a while, and a glance to the clock says that he’s been at it for twenty minutes before he hears a sound behind him. Jake’s face breaks into a smile, and Danny turns to follow his gaze as a boy walks in through the door that leads directly to the front of the house.

“Steve,” Jake says, “good to see you, son.” Danny can’t help the way his head drops a little as he takes in the sight, because shit, he thought he had gotten over this. Danny averts his gaze, mindful of the fact that this isn’t the first time he’s found a guy attractive, though he’s pretty sure there isn’t a person on the entire planet who wouldn’t find ‘Steve’ attractive.

Danny’s not surprised at Jake’s earlier claim that the guy is the best football player to have graced the biggest high school on the island. He looks like a mainlander, though he’s got a healthy tan. Steve is tall -- probably closing in on six foot already -- and lean, giving him an air of athleticism to rival even the professionals. Remembering Jake’s suggestion that this guy is in the same year as Danny -- which would probably make him sixteen unless he has a birthday as late as Danny’s -- Danny thinks he looks a little older than his years, though he’s been told the same.

The presence of stubble is just about the only thing they have in common though, because where Danny is short, this guy is tall; where Danny is bulky, Steve is muscled but lean; where Danny’s hair is blond, Steve’s is dark. The guy is dressed casual in sweatpants and a t-shirt, yet Danny is pretty sure he’s never felt physical attraction quite like this. He’s going to make the manful effort to try and attribute it to attraction feeling different with the different genders, but…shit.

Steve steps forward with confidence, allowing Jake to initiate introductions as he holds out a hand for Danny, dropping it when the blond holds up the gloved hand with an apologetic smile.

“Danny, this is Steve McGarrett, he lives just down the road. Steve, Danny Williams, the eldest of the kids staying with me.” Danny has no idea whatsoever how much this kid knows about him, how much Jake’s friends know beyond the new presence of four kids. “I’ll leave you boys to it then.” With that and a final smile, Jake walks out of the room, calling Olivia’s name as he goes.

“Nice to meet you.”

Really, Danny should offer some kind of polite response to that, but the guy blindsides him by pulling off his t-shirt, leaving him in nothing but a white tank top which really isn’t helping the situation in Danny’s shorts. “Yeah, you too. Look, you mind if we get going quick. I’m kind of pumped.”

Steve gives him an odd look, whether a reaction to Danny’s bad manners or the lovesick stare Danny must be giving off right now, Danny’s not sure. He answers after a couple of seconds. “Yeah, you up for sparring, or do you want to stick to the bag?”

“Spar sounds good.” Steve must have been here before, because he walks past Danny, chucks some headgear over as he pulls on his own set of gloves.

They get moving quickly, and Danny knows as soon as he lands the first punch that this is going to help him more than anything else. Steve is good. By a non-verbal mutual agreement, the fighting doesn’t get too heavy, but they match each other hit for hit. Danny just about has a footwork advantage, probably due to baseball and practice more than anything, but they equal each other in strength, Steve’s height sometimes giving him the slight advantage.

Danny keeps his eyes objective as far as possible, avoiding Steve’s gaze and aborting any lingering glances in order to maintain his game, because apparently his body doesn’t give a damn that Danny hasn’t even had a conversation with the guy yet. For all Danny knows, Steve McGarrett could be an arrogant jackass, so caught up in his status as ‘the best football player Kukui has ever seen’ that he’s here for nothing more than to show off his physical prowess. If that’s the case, then he’s failed. Because though Danny is far from arrogant, he’s not an idiot, and he knows that he’s giving as good as he gets.

Danny lifts his hands, giving the signal to stop after half an hour of non-stop sparring, pulling off the boxing gear as he grabs the bottle of water that Jake had no doubt snuck in to drop off at some point in the last thirty minutes.

He chucks the bottle to Steve as he drops to the mat against the wall, leaning back and stretching his arms out in front of him as he looks up. They’re both now clad in material that is entirely soaked through with sweat, and Steve is wearing a ridiculously charming grin as he sits down opposite Danny, apparently not having held a grudge from Danny’s impolite conversation from before.

“You wanna talk about it?” he says, the smile turning into a smirk as he gives Danny the once over.

“Huh?” And for that Danny doesn’t even have the excuse of bad manners, because that was simply him getting caught checking the guy out.

“You seem a little…wound up. You wanna talk about it?” Danny notices the change in tone this time, making the question a more genuine one. And yeah, maybe he has been working himself a little hard this past couple of days.

“Oh, right, no, thanks.” Danny waves one hand through the air and runs the other over his hair before wiping his sweaty face against the equally sweaty t-shirt. “Just the last…well, year or so. I’m fine.”

Steve looks unconvinced, but he nods anyway, and Danny is aware of the second appraising look of the day.

It’s stuffy inside, and even Danny is willing to admit that a spot on the beach might be better than this. “You wanna go out back?”

Steve gets to his feet in response, and Danny winces at a slight twinge in his leg as he gets to his feet, a reminder that maybe he had been a little too vigorous in his exercise last night, especially if he’d been planning on doing this today. He intends to ignore it, but as soon as he walks he realizes it’s not going away, so receiving only a curious look from Steve as he does, Danny searches through the freezer before his hand emerges with an ice bag.

“You alright?” Steve asks, and Danny just waves away the concern and grabs a tea towel before they continue out to the area of private beach.

They sit on a patch of grass beneath a palm tree -- Danny’s choice because he doesn’t want the sand sticking to him all over, and with the amount he’s sweating that’s a sure thing.

Danny eases himself down slowly, and Steve is still staring at his knee as he joins him down there. Danny wraps the ice and presses it to his knee, wincing at the contrast of the cold against his hot skin. “Tore my ACL eighteen months ago, but it’s fine now. I’ve just been…over-exerting myself the last couple of days.” Danny cringes at the innuendo his mind conjures up there, but if Steve notices, well, then he doesn’t say anything.

It’s three o’clock and the sun is shining bright against the ocean, testament to what Danny thinks must be a schizophrenic climate here in Hawaii. “So how long have you been here? You like it?”

Danny shrugs, studiously avoiding Steve’s face again because it’s all he can do not to blush right now. “Only a couple of days. Do I like it? I like Jake, he’s great. Not a massive fan of the weather, but yeah, it’s okay.”

“Better than Jersey?”

“Not a chance in hell.” Steve gives him a look as though deciding whether to have him committed to a psychiatric ward, or just laugh, and Danny makes the mistake of looking back to his face. The guy looks something between constipated and amused by Danny’s attitude. “Jersey’s nice. You know, it’s got big buildings, roads with asphalt…”

“We have asphalt-” Steve says, and Danny gives him a look which shuts him right up because that is so not the point.

Lucy comes running up just a couple of seconds later, ruffling a hand in Danny’s hair before recoiling with a face of disgust at the sweat coating it. “Sorry, Luce, been getting back to some boxing.” Lucy’s hiding behind the tree now, and Danny reaches out to grab her hand, gently tugging until she comes in to view. “C’mere, babe, come meet Steve.”

Steve smiles, reaches out a hand that he offers in a fist bump. On Danny’s nod, she reaches out tentatively, bumping her tiny fist with Steve’s before running back in the direction of the house. “Sorry, she’s shy.”

“Yeah, my sister used to be just as bad.” He shakes his head with a laugh, and Danny bites his lip to stop himself from smiling stupidly at just that sound. “Not anymore though.” They’re silent for a few seconds, and Steve breaks it before it runs into something awkward. “So, is boxing your sport, or do you play something else? You’re pretty damn good.”

Danny turns the ice and exposes his leg to a colder patch of the cool. “Uh, no. Baseball’s my sport, that’s how I did the knee.”

“Position?”

“Shortstop.”

Steve opens his mouth to make the joke, but either the ease of it or Danny’s face puts him off, because he shuts his mouth with a pop. “So you’re going to Kukui for the new year? What subjects are you taking?”

“Yeah, me and Matty are enrolled at Kukui. I’m doing Physics, Calculus, History and AP English. You?” And Danny finds with a smirk that he’s asking out of genuine curiosity rather than social etiquette. Shit, I’m screwed.

“I’ll be with you for Physics and Calc, and I got Chemistry and Chinese.”

“Chinese?”

Steve shrugs, and he runs through some more stuff about the school for the next half an hour or so before getting up. “I need to get back, but it was nice meeting you.”

“Yeah, you too.” Too nice. “I’ll walk you out.” Steve takes one look at his knee and offers him a hand up. Danny takes it only because he knows that if he doesn’t, he’ll probably end up flat on his ass.

He’s relieved to find as he walks that it hasn’t worsened, so he can walk fine. As they walk up onto the lanai and through to the kitchen, Jake makes an appearance. He looks to Danny first. “Better?”

“Yeah, thanks. We should do it again.”

“Yeah, I could use someone to work out with.” Danny fights the blush as he hears yet another innuendo, and Steve fist bumps Jake as he picks up the discarded t-shirt from the back of the chair.

“Jake, Mom said we’ll be serving any time after six-thirty tomorrow, but we’ve got people arriving from four so any time after that is cool.”

“Okay, I’ll close up shop early. We’ll be around at five. Pass the message on, kid.”

“Will do.” With that, Steve leaves the house, and Jake turns to Danny with a smile.

“Barbeque at the McGarretts’ tomorrow evening; a chance for the others to meet some people before school starts.” His eyes travel to the ice pack still held in Danny’s hand. “You okay?”

Danny swipes a hand through the air, moves to wash it off and put it back in the freezer. “Fine. Tore my ACL a while back, I should have put a support on it but it’ll be okay by tomorrow.

“Okay, there’s Motrin or Tylenol in the drawer if you need anyway. Take a bath; you look like you could use one.” 

 

H

5

0

 

Jake leaves early for work the next morning to make up for the fact that he’ll be heading home early, and Danny wakes just before he leaves, knee feeling better if a little stiff after taking Jake’s advice last night. He pulls on denim shorts and a t-shirt before making his way down to breakfast, and Lucy calls him in on his way to help her with her hair. Danny gets her sorted, sleek blond locks arranged into two long braids, framing her smiling face as he chases her down the stairs.

Danny and Olivia wander into town before lunch to take a look around, largely because Olivia still looks like she could do with some convincing about their new home, but also because she’s been quiet.

Olivia still hasn’t said much regarding her opinion of the new living arrangements, or the island, or school. “You like it here?” Danny asks on the walk into town. Danny’s just about got the route memorized from the two visits they’ve already made.

“Yeah.”

But…”

“Nothing. I do like it. I just don’t want to forget about Ma and Dad, y’know.”

Danny nods because he gets it. He slings an arm around her shoulder because he hasn’t had much time alone with her since Lucy got clingy. “Yeah I know. I’ve got something back at the house that you might want; a locket.” They’re silent for a good few minutes more before Danny shoots her a smile. “You nervous about school?”

She nods, looking more vulnerable than Danny’s seen her since they arrived on Oahu.

“Don’t be, Livvy. You were popular back home. I know you didn’t have many people you were close to, but that’s only because you pushed them away. Just…be open to the new possibilities, ‘kay? At least until you’ve found a couple of people you like.” He grins. “Then you can chase away the rest of them.”

He quizzes her on aspects of the island as they continue into Honolulu, and she’s in higher spirits by the time they get there. They aren’t here for any reason other than to take a look around, so they weave in and out of the minimal Monday morning crowds, visiting shops pretty much at random and picking up nothing more than a couple of drinks to keep hydrated.

When they get back to the house, Matty and Lucy have got lunch on the table, but Danny stalls and drags Livvy up the stairs with him, ducking to look inside the drawer of the nightstand. He pulls out a locket and holds it up to the light. It wasn’t included in the will, and it’s not of enough financial worth for anyone to have gone looking for it, but he takes Olivia’s hand and drops it into her palm, gesturing for her to go ahead and open it up.

She smiles at the two photos opposite each other, both relatively recent. One is of their parents, just a couple of months before the fire that killed their father; on the other side is a picture of the four surviving members of the family, huddled together after a fun-filled afternoon in the back yard, all smiling and flushed from chasing each other after a game of tag still memorable to this day because of Matt’s stumble which sent him face first into the pond.

True to his word, Jake gets back from work at half past four with a call to get ready. Danny changes into a fresh tank top and pulls on a pair of Chucky T’s before ushering Lucy out the door, wrapping an arm around Olivia’s back and giving her a quick squeeze and a smile as he notices the gold chain that peeks out from beneath her dungarees and t-shirt. She looks happier for having the locket, and Jake comes up behind them having locked up the house, cheerfully asking how their day was as they make the ten minute walk down the road.

Danny can feel the nerves of his siblings around him as Jake knocks on the door, and he takes Lucy’s hand in his own as Matty notices and rests a hand on Olivia’s shoulder.

The woman that opens the door to them is still calling back to someone inside the house, but she quickly envelopes Jake in a hug, smiling as she pulls away and lets Jake press a kiss to her cheek. Something about it seems intimate, but Danny isn’t given more than a second to contemplate whether there’s more to Jake than meets the eye before the woman is introducing herself.

“Hi kids, nice to meet you. I’m Doris McGarrett; Dory.” She pauses for a moment to look at them all one by one, pointing as she mentions them. “You two must be Danny and Lucy from what Steve said last night. That leaves…Matthew and Olivia.” Danny bites the inside of his mouth to suppress the smile which threatens to make an appearance at the thought of Steve mentioning him last night, pushing the idea away with the reasoning that his mother was bound to have asked after being dragged to Jake’s place. And besides, what’s to say he was even mentioning them in a conversation that was remotely positive?

“Matty and Livvy,” Matty corrects with a reciprocated smile.

“Great. Come on in. You can go straight out to the back. You’re the last to arrive -- though John, my husband is still down at the station -- but I’m sure Jake’ll get to introducing you to everyone.” Danny vaguely remembers some mention of John McGarrett working for the Honolulu Police Department, and he decides that he likes this woman, Doris McGarrett, with her open smile and bubbly personality. What he’ll make of her husband, Danny has no idea.

Jake sporadically puts a hand on Danny’s back, guiding them all through the house -- which is fairly similar to his own place if a little smaller -- out past the lanai and onto the grass where there’s a barbeque and furniture setup. Almost everyone turns around to look at them, nearly all of them with smiles, and Steve gets up, greeting Danny with something between a hug and a high five before kneeling down to give another fist bump to Lucy.

“Hey.”

The others have gone back to their conversations for the moment, taking eyes off them as Jake turns to Steve. “Hey, kid. You mind giving me a hand with the introductions?”

Steve nods, and Danny points to Lucy first, then Olivia and Matty. “Hi, you met Lucy last night, and these are Livvy and Matty, twelve and fourteen.”

“Great, nice to meet you guys. Come on over, and Jake can introduce you to the group before you get acquainted with the rest of us.”

Jake bumbles forwards and is met with an array of waves, Hawaiian phrases, and slaps on the back. The group isn’t huge, only ten or so adults. Most of the names go in one ear and out the other, but Danny tries his best to remember the ones who are introduced as parents to the kids. There’s a Hawaiian couple that he forgets immediately purely because they’re names he can barely pronounce, and they’re the parents of the boy in Matty’s year. Then there’s a guy called Chin that looks like he can only be a few of years out of high school and is apparently John McGarrett’s partner, the cousin of the girl that will be at Kahala with Lucy.

Next comes a welcome reminder of Doris’s name, and lastly an introduction to Malia who graduated last year, and by the proximity at which they’re sitting, Danny would say she and Chin -- the partner -- are most definitely dating.

When they’re done, Steve leads all four of them a little further down the beach to where there’s a small group of kids, sat in a miniature circle. “Okay,” -- first he points to a small, skinny girl with blonde hair and a big smile with a husky voice as she finishes a conversation with the girl next to her -- “that’s my sister, Mary-Ann. She’s going into seventh grade with Livvy.” Mary-Ann smiles and the next person Steve points to is the girl next to her, a tanned island native, only a little bit taller than Lucy. “That’s Chin’s cousin Kono, and her friend, Charlie Fong. They’ll be with Lucy at Kahala Elementary.” Next he points to another islander with a short crop of black hair, big smile gracing his features. “And this is Meka. He’ll be a freshman with Matty.”

Steve goes on to introduce another kid, a Sophomore at Kukui, a guy called Kai who seems to be closest to the only unnamed kid finally introduced as another Sophomore, Greyson, who judging by the name and the face, is also a mainlander.

Danny nods to Matty as he steers both he and Olivia towards Mary-Ann, Kai, and Meka. Greyson drifts off to do his own thing, and Steve seems to sense that Danny would rather not leave Lucy alone yet, and waves the girl called Kono over to where he stands next to them.

Steve was right about his sister. Danny watches as she immediately engulfs a bewildered Olivia in a hug and gives her a wide, dimpled smile. Danny only hangs around for a couple of minutes with Lucy, and Kono has gotten Danny’s little sister relaxed and chatty by the time Steve suggests leaving them to it.

“You wanna play some soccer?”

Danny leans down to whisper in Lucy’s ear. “I’m just gonna go along the beach, leave you with Kono and Charlie, okay?”

He pulls away and she gives a nervous nod. “Call if you need anything, Luce.”

Steve points to everyone else. “You guys want to play some beach soccer?”

They all nod, and Danny smiles at Olivia because besides skateboarding, this is her sport.

And so begins a soccer match, which starts out as an even battle, and ends an hour later with Danny, Steve and Olivia -- the three best players -- trying desperately to dodge out of the way of the others, keeping the ball from the other four as much as they possibly can whilst getting shoved to the floor and breaking almost every rule in the handbook.

Steve looks at Danny a little strangely every now and then, but the Jersey boy puts it down to gauging a first -- second, really -- impression of him as Danny works under the same pretence, eyes lingering again as he runs around in shorts and a tank top, laughing so hard that Danny worries his face will split in two if the smile gets any wider.

It’s quarter to seven and the light it dimming when they’re called up to where the adults sit. There isn’t room for all of them, so the kids disperse after collecting plates of food. Lucy seems content enough to sit with Kono, away from Danny as Matty, Olivia, Meka and Mary-Ann sit close by, and Steve pulls Danny by the arm over to where the two sophomores, Greyson and Kai, sit.

“So, Steve. We finally got ourselves another haole, huh?”

Steve smiles and nods, taking a big bite of burger as he struggles to talk around it. “Yeah, somethin’ like that.” He chews for a few seconds, swallows, and looks back to Danny.

“Get used to it. It basically means mainlander, and you’ll hear it a lot at Kukui. I’ve been here seven years, and I’m still getting it most days.”

Danny nods, tucks into the chicken on his plate as he passively listens to the other three discuss going back to school. It doesn’t take more than a couple of minutes of listening to the conversation for Danny to decide that he doesn’t like Greyson -- he can’t even put his finger on why -- but he keeps quiet, answering the odd question until he and Kai leave, having been given strict instructions from parents to get home after they’ve eaten.

Steve gets up to see them out, and then he’s back by Danny’s side, watching the ocean. “You wanna sit further down?” Danny really wants to say no, because he fucking hates the sand, but dammit, Steve’s looking back at him through wide eyes framed by long eye lashes, and he just…can’t.

“Yeah, sure.”

Danny keeps watching the ocean for a bit, decides that whilst the idea of swimming in it may be preposterous to him, just having it close is okay, relaxing even. Steve must notice his gaze, though it’s not the first topic he broaches. “Your knee alright after yesterday?”

“Hmm, oh yeah. Fine thanks; nothing a hot bath couldn’t handle.”

There’s another few moments of silence before Steve turns to Danny with a curious smile. “You swim, Danny?”

Danny just laughs for a second and shifts in the spot where he sits. “Do I swim, he asks. Uhh, no. No, Steve, no I do not swim.” He looks over to Steve, and the guy looks ridiculously attractive with that damn smirk of his.

“You don’t swim, or you can’t swim?”

That gets another laugh, this one humourless. “I can swim, Steven. I swim for survival, not for fun.” Danny swipes a hand through the air to punctuate his point, an action that only serves to widen the grin on Steve’s face.

“So…Not a fan then?”

Danny lets out a loud sigh. “No, not a fan.”

“I think I might know why you get so angry, why you box, y’know.”

“Really?”

He looks across to Steve again, and he can’t even summon the energy to be truly irritated with the guy for not letting this one drop. “Yeah, you’re very sensitive.”

“I’m sensitive, huh?” It’s not the first time it’s been said. Doesn’t mean Danny’s happy about it though, and he can already feel the irrational rant coming over him.

“Yeah.”

“You think I’m sensitive,” he clarifies, like it isn’t already obvious.

“A little bit.”

And okay, maybe Danny was a little wrong on this front, it seems he can get irritated. Very irritated. Though he’s still not convinced it’s Steve that he’s irritated with; the emotion is more accurately directed at the ‘powers that be’ that have, frankly, dealt him a pretty shitty hand this past year.

“When did you come to the conclusion that I was sensitive, huh? Was it when my dad was burned alive trying to protect people he didn’t even know, or maybe when my mom suffered through three months of pain only to die at the end of it all. Is that when I seemed sensitive to you, huh?” The hand gestures are flying, but Danny can’t help it. He should probably work on that…and these ridiculous outbursts that have him taking out his frustration on people who are entirely not to blame for the underlying feelings. “I am really happy that life is great for you, okay Steven? I’m glad that you have your annoyingly charming mom, and your cheerful little sister, and your brave old man, okay? But sometimes life deals us a shitty hand, something to differentiate us all from each other, alright? It’s the unspoken glue that separates us from the rest of the animal kingdom, the relationships we can build with other human beings, you got that?”

Danny risks another look at Steve’s face, and shit, he had not meant for all of that to come out. Steve splutters for a second or two before finally forming anything coherent, and Danny just buries his face in his hands until it comes. “Jeez, Danny I’m sorry.”

“Don’t.” Danny forces his eyes away for a moment, because Steve’s eyes -- this guy he’s known for all of a day -- is looking at him with more honesty and sympathy than anyone they’ve come across since all of the tragedy, and it’s so, so, so, wrong that Danny is still thinking of kissing him just to get rid of all of it.

“I didn’t know- I mean, I didn’t know details or-“ So Jake had kept quiet on that front, not that Danny could have blamed him either way.

“Shit. I didn’t mean for it to come out like that. I mean, man, I’m sorry.”

They’re silent for almost a minute, and Danny runs a hand through his hair, silently wondering whether he may have just ruined something which could have developed into a perfectly decent-looking friendship just as Steve speaks again. “I can see why you’re on the AP English. You’re a good speaker, varied vocabulary.”

And with that, the tension drains from this little bubble they’re enclosed in, pierced by the laughter, first from Danny, and then Steve as he joins in.

They don’t say another word about it all evening. Lucy comes over at about eight o’clock, planting herself straight into Danny’s lap as she gives him a hug and a kiss on the cheek. “We’re going home with Jake.” Danny notes how she’s already calling it home with a smile. “He says you can stay for a bit longer, but curf- cuffew” -- Danny assumes she means curfew, tweaks her playfully on the nose for her efforts -- “is ten.”

“Okay Luce. I’ll see you later then, yeah.”

“Can I come wake you up in the mornin’?”

“Yeah, sure babe. Not too early though.”

“Night Danny, night Steve.” She nods innocently, runs back towards Matty who’s waiting to scoop her into his arms.

“She’s cute.” Danny turns to Steve with a smile because yeah, she really is. “You’re her favourite, right?”

“Yeah, she clung to me after Dad died. Barely left my side since Ma. Tonight is the longest I’ve been able to get her to let go of me.”

“Kono will look after her. She’s smart.”

They stay there for about another hour, chatting about everything and anything, before Danny gets up. “I should go,” he says, and he can’t think of any reason other than he’s hoping to get a word in with Matty before he’s asleep, so he leaves it open.

“Yeah okay. I’ll introduce you to Dad quick then give you a lift back.” Danny opens his mouth to protest, but doesn’t even bother.

They walk up to the lanai, where the three remaining adults sit; Meka’s father and the McGarrett parents. “Here they are,” Dory smiles, as though they’ve been the recent topic of conversation.

“Hey, son. Good day?” Steve nods and claps a hand to Danny’s back, and Danny gets another smile from Doris before he turns his gaze to Steve’s father.

John McGarrett is a little shorter than his son -- probably two or three inches shy of six foot -- with a more rounded face. He looks like a police officer. The eyes are a similar colour, but that’s pretty much where the father-son similarities end. Steve has a closer resemblance to his mother, with her angular face and straight nose. “Yeah, great. Dad, this is Danny Williams, the eldest of the kids staying with Jake.”

John gets to his feet and stretches an arm towards Danny over the table. “Hi, Danny, nice to meet you.”

“You too, sir.”

McGarrett Sr. cuts a hand through the air as he sits back in his seat. “Please, call me John. Steve, you giving him a lift home?”

“Yeah, I’ll be back in ten.”

With that, they walk around the side of the house, and Danny slides into the truck as indicated, a cop car sat in front of the house and a Marquis just about visible through the half-open garage.

“This your car?”

“Oh, yeah. Dad bought it cheap, Jake helped us fix it up after I passed my test back in April.” That probably makes Steve sixteen in March-ish; five or six months older than Danny. Why Danny thinks that matters, he doesn’t even know.

They’re both content to make the short journey in quiet, and by the time they pull up outside of Jake’s place, Danny feels the need to apologize again for the outburst, if nothing else then to try and make sure this guy doesn’t think he’s a loon, which Danny thinks is probably a lost cause anyway; that ship has sailed.

He makes the mistake of turning to him as the car slows to a halt, and Steve has got his bottom lip caught beneath his teeth, nibbling at it as he pulls on the handbrake. Danny stalls for a second. “Uhh, thanks for the lift. And listen, I’m sorry…about, unloading my proverbial shit on you earlier.”

Steve just nods and smiles like the most charming fucking guy on the planet. “No worries. If you ever need to…unload your proverbial shit on someone again, you know where I am.” Danny turns to leave, attention called back to the truck by Steve’s low voice. “Oh and, hey, D, I’ll pick you up on the first day back if you want, show you around the place. Matty too.”

Danny forces a smile. “Yeah, that sounds good. Thanks.” His ears take a moment to catch up with him, and he snaps back to the car to find Steve looking up expectantly. “Did you just call me D?”

Steve just shrugs as he leans out of the open window. “Maybe…I’ll swing around at eight-ish.”

All of that sounds far too enticing, and Danny doesn’t even try to come up with some kind of response. He just turns with what he hopes is a casual wave and walks up the drive, refusing to look back as he lets himself into the house.

Danny sends a wave and a thanks in Jake’s direction before he heads straight upstairs and into Matty’s room. He has the new Walkman that Ma bought for him a couple of months ago in his lap, eyes open and staring at the wall as Danny sits down next to him on the bed.

“Hey, you and the girls get on okay? Steve offered us a lift on the first day.”

“Oh, don’t worry about it. I said I’d walk with Meka. He seems pretty cool, nice guy. Livvy seems to like Mary, and Lucy can’t stop talking about Kono, said that other guy was nice too.”

“Cool.” Matty asks Danny a bit about Steve, and Danny tries to reign in his gushing as far as possible before ending the game of twenty questions and heading for the shower.

By the time he gets into bed that night, he’s still smiling like an idiot. And for the first time since they arrived, Danny has absolutely no doubt that life here on Oahu is going to turn out okay.

Chapter Text

The next couple of days pass without too much excitement. Danny spends some more time taking his anger out on the punching bag in the garage and makes another trip to the athletic track, this time careful to take it easy and wear his knee support.

Danny and Olivia are left alone in the house one afternoon, and Danny talks to her again and smiles when she says she’s also organized to walk back from school with Mary-Ann, who doesn’t seem to mind the slight detour they’ll have to take to pick up Lucy. She hasn’t taken the necklace from around her neck since Danny gave it to her, and she seems better for it; happier.

The four of them get to know Jake a little better over dinner every day, and Danny and Matty do everything they can to help with washing up, laundry and taking care of Olivia and Lucy, not that Jake seems to mind any of it anyway.

And then Danny is woken up by Lucy on Friday morning, her loud voice reaching him before she does, launching herself onto the bed and ruffling Danny’s hair as he struggles to lift himself from the depths of his slumber. He’s never been an early riser.

He pulls on a t-shirt over his sleep pants as he tries to ignore Lucy’s tugging, because since their arrival he hasn’t yet been able to sleep in his usual ensemble of sleep pants and a tee, discarding the tee within minutes every single night.

Finally he’s decent, and he gives in to Lucy’s nagging, follows her down the stairs as she excitedly babbles about his birthday. Danny hadn’t really forgotten per se, but he hadn’t remembered.

He’s still not fully awake yet, and he doesn’t have the awareness at this time of the morning to protest when Lucy pulls on his hand leading him to the garage, revealing a far too gleeful looking rest of the family -- Danny hesitantly includes Jake in that statement -- watching him as he enters. Their eyes flit between Danny and the sheet that Danny has never been curious enough to look under because it’s out of the way of the bag hanging from the ceiling.

Olivia pulls it off with a flourish, revealing the bike underneath. “Jake,” Danny groans, because really, he needn’t have bothered with a birthday present, no matter how grateful he may be.

“I don’t wanna hear it, Danny. These three mentioned the bike you had to leave back home, and I roped Matty and Lucy into helping me pick one out the other day. And don’t worry, I have a way you can pay me back.” The fact that Jake has tagged that last bit on to appease Danny is nothing short of obvious, but Danny’s beginning to think that the protests of Jake’s overspending are falling on deaf ears, so he breaks into a wide grin as he kneels to take a look at it.

It’s a BMX, as nice if not better than the one left in New Jersey. The front half of the frame is blue, the back half white, with a red and yellow stripe at the points where the colour changes.

He gets up off of his good knee and pulls Jake into a hug, and he can feel the moment of hesitance before Jake responds, just as he’d seen happen with Olivia the day after they’d arrived.

“You didn’t have to do this,” Danny says as he pulls away, looking straight at Jake so he can see how much it means to him.

“It’s your sixteenth son, and you deserve it.” The term of endearment isn’t lost on Danny, and even though he knows it’s not the first time Jake has used it, and that he’s used it with Steve too, it’s nice.

“Thank you. For this and everything else.” Jake smiles and blushes a little, and Danny pulls the other three into a group hug.

“Birthday breakfast!” Lucy yells, and they follow her through to the kitchen where there are several plates of pancakes, some now cool, some still a little warm.

Danny leans back, stuffed to the brim with food as he sets down his fork and releases a contented sigh. Olivia and Lucy run upstairs and Matty gets started on the washing up as he brushes off Jake’s words of protest.

“We were gonna go out for dinner, but I think you’ll have plans later.” The expression tells Danny not to ask, so he lets it slide.

“You gonna tell me how I can start paying you back for that bike then?”

“Yeah, okay.” The voice is one of reluctance, and Danny’s heart warms at the way this guy obviously didn’t want to employ this tactic in order to get Danny to willingly accept the bike. “But so you know, you can forget about doing anything serious, because you and Matty will be looking after your sisters until I get back from work anyway.” Danny begrudgingly accepts that in some misconstrued, backwards world, that could maybe be considered work.

“And don’t think I haven’t noticed how much you and Matty have been doing around the house. But if it’s gonna make it easier for you, then I’ll give you the odd errand to run. Ask you for some help when I need parts collected from town and delivered to me at the garage. Maybe send you out if I get a call for a simple cleaning job for the few pools I take care of, alright?”

Danny nods with a smile. “Sure. You mind if I got out for a bit, take the bike for a spin.”

“Go ahead. Matty, you staying in this morning?”

“Yeah, I’ll keep an eye on them. Livvy mentioned something about a dip in the water, but we’ll wait till Danny’s back to hang around with Luce.”

“Okay, good. There’s beans in the cupboard if you want them for lunch, I should get off to work.”

Danny is harassed in his room by Lucy again shortly after heading upstairs, and she pins a drawing she’s done of all five of them to Danny’s wall with a satisfied smirk, moving aside so that Matty and Olivia can give him another pair of Chucky Ts that they’d picked up earlier in the week to replace his oldest pair. All things considered, Danny’s birthday has turned out to be pretty damn great so far. He and Olivia go out for an hour, him cycling and her skateboarding up and down the neighbouring streets. Danny takes some time to get used to having a decent pair of brakes after the worn down pads of the bike he had back home.

By the time they get back to the house the sun is achingly hot and even Danny has to fight the urge to swim. He sits on the shore with Lucy while the others are splashing around, then heads inside after not very long at all to settle in front of the TV for an hour.

By the time Jake gets back, Danny has changed into the coolest clothes he has because it’s been the hottest day since they arrived and he’s spent most of the it with no shirt at all. He wonders down in a black tank top and a pair of blue denim shorts that end just above his knee. A baseball cap sits backwards on his head to keep his hair out of his eyes.

Jake looks mischievous when there’s a knock at the door and Danny’s suspicions are piqued when he tells him to go ahead and answer it.

Danny is greeted by the humungous sight that is Steve McGarrett, standing on the doorstep and looking painfully comfortable with the heat in a pair of shorts similar to Danny’s and a plain white v-neck, smirking at Danny’s face.

“Jake told me it was your birthday.” Danny groans. “Pizza on the beach? Dinner’s on me.” Danny looks back through the house to Jake who’s grinning with the results of his handiwork.

“Hey, Jake,” Steve calls blindly through the house.

“Hey there.”

Jake, you didn’t have to pay off the locals to show me a good birthday.”

“He didn’t,” Steve objects. “He mentioned that it was today, and I asked whether I could come grab you for a bite to eat.” Danny would scoff, but Steve looks so painfully honest that Danny can’t even argue with it.

“Okay, whatever.” He raises his voice. “Jake, I’ll see you in a bit.”

“Back by ten.” Danny looks down to his watch. It’s seven o’clock and Jake looks as if he has artfully timed dinner for the others with Danny’s departure so as not to have raised suspicions.

“Of course.”

Danny pulls the door shut behind him, glad to be sleeveless if he’s going to be spending more time outside. He’s worked up a healthy tan since he got here, skin darkened from lying out back, but he’s still not remotely comfortable with the sweltering heat that seems to reign over the island.

Steve is without his truck today, but he shoves his hands in his pockets as they walk in the direction of downtown Honolulu, steered closer to the beach as they near. “You had a good day?” he asks, and Danny tugs the back of his cap down further as he shoves his free hand into the pocket of his shorts.

“Yeah, actually. Better than I was expecting.”

Steve looks at him like he knows exactly what he’s talking about. “Yeah,” he grins. “Jake can be like that, he’s a great guy.”

“Yeah, he is. How do you guys know him?”

“Oh, Dad had car trouble when we first arrived, I think. Something like that. He was pointed in Jake’s direction, and we’ve all known each other since.”

Steve tells him a bit more about Jake as they walk; stuff like when he moved here, what little family he’s got.

“You’re from Jersey, right? That mean you like pizza?”

Danny forces away the huge grin that’s trying to edge its way onto his face. “Is there anyone in the country who doesn’t like pizza? Though I’ve seen the menus of a few places around town, and I just have one question, who the fuck has pineapple on a pizza?”

Steve shrugs, interest seemingly piqued by the change in Danny’s voice. He fights hard to control it, but it’s a lost cause, really. “Loads of people. What’s wrong with that?”

What’s wro- It’s an abomination, is what’s wrong, Steven. You wanna throw some pepperoni on your slice, that’s fine. But ham? Out. Fruit? Out. I don’t care where we are, pizza and pineapple do not belong in the same airspace.” He twirls his hand through the air to provide a visual aid for that last word.

It’s only now that Danny realizes they’ve stopped walking, standing outside a relatively permanent looking building along a stretch of beach. Steve looks at him for a moment before saying anything, and Danny shifts uncomfortably under his gaze. “I guess you feel quite strongly about this, huh?”

Danny just shakes his head and walks closer to the hut. Steve hands over a few bills for a large pizza, and two cokes, ignoring Danny’s offers of money as they head over to the beach’s ridge. Danny braves the sand, plants his ass a safe distance away from Steve as he opens up the box and takes a slice.

Danny senses it’s for his benefit, but they’ve ended up with plain old margarita, just the way Danny likes it. “Wow, this stuff is pretty damn good.” Not good enough to rival the stuff back home, but not half bad, certainly the best he’s had outside of Jersey or New York.

Danny watches Steve eat, and jeez, the guy must still be growing if he’s eating that much. They chat intermittently, but while Danny has a lot of trouble keeping quiet sometimes, unprovoked he’s happy to sit in companionable quiet, with the odd drabble of conversation.

The provocation comes just as they finish eating though, as a couple of girls walk by, ogling Steve -- and Danny, to an extent -- as they pass. Now Danny’s no womanizer -- particularly with his attention now inexplicably being held by the giant next to him -- but even he manages to notice the way their gazes linger on Steve as they pass, desperation winning out over dignity as they continue to look back to him.

Danny just looks at Steve, eyes wide because those girls are, frankly, beautiful, with legs a mile long. “What?” he asks, feeling Danny’s gaze on the side of his head, presumably.

“Ok, wait a minute. Let me ask you a question.” Danny’s well aware that he’s about to enter into rant mode again, but he can’t seem to help himself with this guy around; it’s worse than usual.

“Go ahead.”

“Okay, right. Two very attractive ladies,” he says with a gesturing hand in the direction of their departure, “are eye-humping you” -- Steve glares at him -- “er, respectfully, and what? Nothing? I mean, should I check for a pulse?” Danny goes through the motions, grabbing his wrist and realizing too late that he holds on for longer than is necessary. “You alive? Hello?” If Steve was looking at him a little bit funny a second ago, now he appears to think Danny’s gone bat-shit crazy.

The expression turns into a fond smile a couple of seconds later though, and Danny just shakes his head in exasperation. “What is that, what’s that smile?” It’s goddamn gorgeous is what it is.

“What smile?” This is good. Danny ranting gives him less time to think.

“That stupid smile! What is it with you, huh?”

“You’re imagining things, D.” If Danny were to bet on it, he would say that the smile means this guy has an unreciprocated crush. Who the fuck wouldn’t reciprocate the advances of this guy, Danny’s not quite sure, but he lets it slide in favour of nipping this little niggle in the bud.

“Wha- I thought I told you not to call me that?”

“What? D? Why not, it’s just a nickname.”

“I already have a nickname, nut job. It’s Danny! As in Daniel…shortened to Danny. You get it?”

Steve makes a face that serves to mock Danny, nodding his head exaggeratedly. “I think so. But if I don’t get to call you D, you don’t get to call me Steven.”

Danny laughs a little. “Ha ha, nice try, jackass. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I’m gonna guess that Steven’s your birth name.” Danny watches as Steve considers whether to try and lie his way out of that one, but his shoulders sag with a sigh of defeat.

“Fine…D.”

Danny rises above it this time with an irritated eye roll.

“You know your way around Honolulu yet?” Steve asks after a minute or so of uninterrupted quiet. “I could show you around if you like, point you in the direction of the best places to avoid the tourists.”

So that’s what they do. By the time they get moving it’s almost eight o’clock, and though there are plenty of people around, most places are closed for the night except restaurants. Steve takes him through the streets Danny has yet to come across though, setting his stride to equal Danny’s as he points out the best places to eat, buy clothes, school supplies, and a whole host of other stuff.

“You been in the ocean yet?” Steve asks. It’s a quarter to ten and they’re just a few minutes walk from Jake’s place when he speaks up.

“Nope.”

Seriously? You’re in Hawaii, one of the hottest places in the U.S, and you still refuse to cool off in the depths of the ocean. What about surfing, you not gonna surf?”

“Not a chance in hell.”

Steve lets out a bewildered sigh, unable to understand Danny’s point of view as they slow outside the house. “Oh shit, Danny, wait. Forgot to give you this.” Danny turns to find Steve rummaging through the pockets of his shorts, coming out with a piece of string between his fingers.

Steve beckons him closer and on second inspection Danny realises it’s a friendship bracelet kind of thing, blue, yellow and purple with a small wooden bead. Steve turns the bead in his fingers to reveal a small D carved into one of the faces, and gestures for Danny to hold out his hand.

Danny bites hard on his lip as he holds out his wrist, and never has the term like a blushing school girl sounded more appropriate. Even in the dark, Steve seems to move with superhuman dexterity, turning so that the dim light from the streetlamp gives what little illumination is available. Danny lets out a breath that he is entirely aware he’s been holding when Steve’s fingers finally move away, and he lifts his hand to take a look.

A genuine smirk crosses his face. “Thanks. For this, for tonight…Thanks.”

“No problem, D.” Steve looks up from under long eyelashes, seemingly hopeful that he might have gotten away with that one.

Danny quirks an eyebrow, busting Steve in the act. “You know, if you think about it, it’s a term of endearment.” Steve holds his hands out, palms up to the sky and Danny just shoves both of his into his pockets. This guy is gonna be the death of me. And fuck it, Danny can’t quite bring himself to deny Steve the use of the nickname. As convoluted and inappropriate as it may be, Danny kind of likes the idea of having a name that Steve -- and only Steve -- can use.

So with that reasoning in his own mind, and the excuse of an attempt at reverse psychology if anybody else asks, Danny just shrugs. “Okay. Do it every day, I like it.” And dammit, Danny is so lost on this guy, because the smile that lights up Steve’s face in reaction should not be provoking any kind of biological reaction right now, but Danny can literally feel the butterflies in his stomach.

“Happy birthday, Danny. I’ll see you next Wednesday, first day of school.”

“Yeah, see ya then.” Before it can get any worse, Danny waves and backs away, turning into the house when he reaches the door. Matty is watching TV with Jake, the girls probably already in bed.

“Hey, Danny. Good night?”

“Yeah, thanks.”

Jake pulls his eyes away from the TV. “Hey, listen. Lucy was angry you went out without letting her say happy birthday again before you went to sleep. So I’m pretty sure I heard her sneak out of her room and into yours, though from what I can hear she must have fallen asleep there.”

“Okay, I’ll take a look in a minute. Thanks for today, Jake.”

“Don’t worry about it. I’ve got some stuff you can collect for me tomorrow if you’re up for it. No rush, any time before four o’clock.”

“Yeah, no problem. Night.” Matty seems content to stay in front of the TV for the moment, so Danny heads upstairs, bypassing his bedroom in favour of taking a shower first so as not to wake Lucy if she is in his room.

Sure enough, when he walks back through fifteen minutes later, dirty clothes in hand and a towel wrapped around his waist, Lucy is sprawled on top of the covers, face down and looking adorable in her sleep.

Danny folds the clothes over the chair at his desk and pulls on a pair of boxer briefs and plaid pajama pants before lifting Lucy up and pulling the covers back. She wakes in his arms with a sleepy smile, smug at her victory as she lets Danny lower her back into the bed.

Danny waits for her to shuffle over to the wall or get out of the bed, and her face is scrunched up with indecision. “You wanna stay here tonight?” That’s all she needs apparently, because she’s scooted all the way over to the wall of the single bed in a second flat, grinning as Danny joins her.

With no shirt for her to grab a fist full of, Lucy’s finds Danny’s closest hand and looks up at him. “Happy birthday, Danny.”

“Thanks Luce, now get some sleep.” She shuts her eyes obediently, and Danny presses one last kiss to the crown of her head before quickly following.

 

H

5

0

 

Mary-Ann McGarrett makes one visit to the household to see Olivia before the end of the holidays, and Matty goes to meet Meka on the beach. Lucy is dropped off at Kono’s place one afternoon to re-familiarize before the inevitable first day of school. When the time comes, Jake has done well in making sure all four of them will have someone to show them around on their first day, which is nice.

Matty is the first to leave on Wednesday morning having promised to meet Meka. He wishes the girls a good day at school and winks at Danny as he walks out through the door.

Danny has a little more trouble getting out of the house with Lucy on the verge of tears, but after numerous reassurances, and comforting words from Jake, Danny finally gets himself out of her grasp, pressing a kiss to her forehead as he promises that he’ll try and get back quickly as soon as school is out. Olivia seems the least nervous of all of them, perhaps because she’s content with the one friend she has now, not bothered whether she manages to make any more. So Danny just smiles, touches the chain of the pendant poking out from underneath the collar of her polo shirt as they smile at each other, and kisses her on the cheek just in time for the blare of a horn to come through the house.

Danny waves goodbye to Jake, who is reminding Livvy of the route she needs to take home after walking it through a couple of times yesterday afternoon, slings one strap of his backpack over his shoulder and heads for the door. If the dress code around town is anything to go by, then today won’t be a formal occasion. Though Danny’s been advised that every student will be roped into a school photograph at some point during the day, so he’s left a hat at home in favour of letting his hair do pretty much whatever it likes, dressed in shorts, a t-shirt, and a pair of high-tops.

When Danny gets to the truck, he notices the passenger seat already taken by what is -- judging by the arm Steve has slung around the back of her seat -- Steve’s girlfriend. She’s predictably beautiful, with long dark hair and an open well-balanced face, and an ever so slightly tomboy quality about the way she moves.

“Hey, D,” Steve smirks as Danny climbs into the backseat. Danny can tell they’ve just been talking about him by the way the girl smiles at the name, and if Danny were to guess then he’d say that she’s already been warned against calling him that. Well, that or she can tell by the look on Danny’s face that he’s not going to be making the name his legal one any time soon.

Steve and the girl both turn around in their seats and Steve flashes him a brilliant smile as she watches on in amusement. It’s completely irrational for Danny to have already decided not to like her based purely on her relationship status, seeing as losing her wouldn’t make any difference to the fact that Steve is not gay, but apparently Danny doesn’t care, or he’s being too immature to care.

“Danny, this is Cath. Cath, Danny Williams, just moved in with Jake.” Cath nods and holds out a slender hand.

“Aloha.” She’s another mainlander -- haole ­-- but apparently been here long enough for the island to have corrupted her use of the English language.

Steve and Cath give Danny a brief tour of Kukui when they get there, using the fifteen minutes they have to spare to point out the buildings that Danny will need to know of for lessons, as well as the canteen and sports facilities with the notice board for team signups. Danny puts his name down for the baseball tryouts while they’re there, bypassing the boxing because he’s not keen on filling his schedule and he can satisfy those needs back at Jake’s place, providing he can continue roping Steve in as a sparring partner.

The first school bell rings just as they’re finishing, and Danny follows the other two to a sports hall where they’re read a few morning announcements. And then the school bell rings for their first lesson, and Danny is pointed in the direction of his History class. If he’s honest, Danny could probably manage an AP History class, but it’s not something he really cares about, and so he sits happily enough at the back of the class, recovering from the embarrassment that was the conspicuous first entrance and introduction. Cath takes the spot next to him with a smile, and really, if she wasn’t dating Danny’s fucking crush, then he’d probably really like the girl.

English passes in a blur because it’s just about the only subject Danny has ever enjoyed. He has already been warned that Kukui runs a slightly different timetable to most, with five long periods instead of the more varied day he’s used to with shorter lessons. And so next he has an hour free which he uses to write part of a history essay, making brief conversation with Meka when he passes him in a corridor.

The next class Danny walks into is Physics, and Steve immediately throws his hands in the air, waving Danny over goofily to the spot next to him. “Everything going okay?”

“Yeah, I think so. Got totally lost on the way to the library but some chick took pity on me after ten minutes.”

“Cool.”

The conversation is interrupted by the entrance of a teacher whom Danny instantly likes for his lack of regard for introductions, letting Danny sink back into his seat with nothing more than a greeting of, “Nice to see a new face, you’re gonna have no problems if you’ve already met McGarrett.”

Danny doesn’t quite register that comment until they begin working and it becomes clear that Steve is an absolute science wizard. The next class, which is a rolling selection of sports starting with volleyball, only confirms what Danny had pretty much already known; he’s pretty fucking athletic too. For Danny, it’s one of the sports he finds most difficult for the simple reason that he’s short. He can fling himself a fair distance into the air, but when you’ve got six foot worth of Steve McGarrett on the other team, that counts for nothing.

Danny gets out of the changing room to find Steve waiting for him, leaning against the wall looking like something close to a Greek god as he breaks into a smile and leads the way to the lunchroom.

They sit at a big table that seems a hell of a lot more diverse than most. If you were to look at the names and ages on a piece of paper, you’d probably guess that they’re a group of stragglers that haven’t managed to find a niche in which to fit. With the athletic and handsome Steve, and the downright beautiful Catherine, it doesn’t take a genius to figure out that that’s not quite the case.

Danny smiles and slaps Matty on the back as he realizes that he, Meka, and a girl called Olina represent the freshmen among them. The two kids from the barbecue -- Greyson and Kai, both sophomores -- are also there, and then there’s Cath, Steve, a friend of Cath’s named Hiapo, another boy in their year named Hoku, and then Danny himself.

A couple of seniors wave a hello to Steve and Cath as they pass, and it follows that they’re popular, even with the seniors. Lunch passes with easy conversation, everyone engaging in different chatter as they catch up with what’s happened since they last saw each other. Ten minutes later Steve is dragging Danny in the direction of their Calculus classroom, Catherine following them with an amused shake of the head and a smirk.

The three of them sit down together, and the teacher goes through the highly painful motions of establishing that Danny is indeed the new kid, if anyone hadn’t yet noticed, before letting him sit back down again. Danny can just about match Steve in the math department, though the subject seems to be Cath’s strong suit.

By the time school is out, Danny is relatively calm about how this year will go. Physics is the only potential disaster, but he’ll cross that bridge when he comes to it.

“You want to spend an hour in the garage? We can drop Cath off at her house and then head to yours,” Steve suggests as they head for the car.

“Uh, yeah. Sounds good, you got a change of clothes?”

“Yeah.”

“Okay, you’re gonna have to give me a minute to catch up with Lucy ‘cause she was hysterical this morning, but yeah, sounds good.”

They drop Cath off at her place, and Danny fights the scowl as she presses a kiss to Steve’s cheek through the open window before they get moving. Having made the direct walk with Meka, Matty is already home when they get there, and Danny can just about see what must be Mary, Lucy and Olivia in the distance. Danny had had reservations about leaving Lucy to walk home alone with them, but as they approach, Olivia is holding her hand, and Danny figures she’s a mature kid for her age anyway.

“Hey, Luce,” Danny says as they finally make it through the door, and Steve emerges from the downstairs toilet having changed into cargo shorts and a dark t-shirt. He waves a hello to Lucy as she allows Danny to pick her up. “You have a good day?”

She nods. “Listen, I know I said we were gonna catch up, but you mind waiting till later for that, babe?”

She shakes her head and Danny sets her on the couch, passing over the remote that she’ll inevitably ask for as Matty and Olivia walk in. “Everything alright at school?”

“Yeah, Mary’s nice,” she says, eyes flickering to Steve who’s still leaning against the doorframe.

Danny jerks a thumb in the direction of the garage and runs upstairs to pull on a support for his knee and a pair of shorts before joining Steve, already shirtless after what can only be minutes of him fighting with a punch bag. Danny’s breath catches in his throat though, because seriously, first with the wifebeaters and now this. Danny can only hope it stops here, because any more distraction and he’s gonna have to find a new work out buddy.

Steve points to the bag, the question in his eyebrows.

“Bag first, spar later?”

Steve nods and gets into position to hold the bag steady, and Danny’s praying that if he can get himself pumped with Steve’s ridiculous body hidden behind the equipment for the time being, then maybe he’ll manage to stay focused for the second instalment. They switch after five minutes, and then they make the change to sparring, Danny mindful that he needs to go easy on his knee if he wants to be at the top of his game for tomorrow’s baseball tryouts. It’ll be the first time he’s played in months, and a sore knee isn’t going to improve his odds.

They’re done just inside of an hour, and then Steve has the decency to cover up as they refill a glass of water each in the kitchen.

Olivia has disappeared up the road to the McGarrett household after promising Matty she’d be back for dinner, and Jake is walking through the door early, telling Lucy with a smile that he’s been dying to know how her first day was all afternoon. At some point, Jake manages to sneak in an offer of dinner for Steve, and Danny pulls Lucy into his arms again, ignoring her protests as she grimaces at the sweaty feel of his skin.

“Let me cook, Jake. I’ll rope in Steve, make spaghetti bolognaise.”

And that’s exactly what Danny does. Steve is pretty damn hopeless in the kitchen, but Danny’s learned out of necessity from the months their mother was ill, so he directs Steve to chop up the carrots and onions as he gets about the rest of it. Olivia gets back just in time for dinner to be laid on the table, and Lucy manages to fill most of the silence on her own with chatter about school.

Steve leaves as it begins to get dark with a promise of a lift tomorrow. “In fact, unless I tell you otherwise, you can assume I’ll be here every day from now on,” he says with a grin.

 

H

5

0

 

The baseball trials come around quick the following day.

“Me and Cath will stick around. You’re only out there an hour, and I wouldn’t mind seeing you in action anyway.” Danny curses under his breath as he makes his way to the locker room, because the pressure he’s feeling just increased tenfold, and it’s not because he’s afraid of a crowd.

Well aware that it’s the stupidest idea ever to choose pants over shorts in this weather, Danny eventually pulls on his neutral pants anyway. Ideally, even he would trade for something cooler, but he knows what seeing a knee support might do to the first impression he gives on the field, so he covers it beneath the pants and grabs a baseball cap on his way out.

Baseball takes a bit of a backseat to football as the high school sport on the island, but there are still a lot of guys trying out, most of which have the added confidence of this being their second or third year. Danny knows he’s good though, better than he is at boxing, so whilst he doesn’t play the best he ever has, he knows it still went pretty damn well.

The coach comes over to speak to him at the end; a big, burly bloke, bald with deep-set frown lines but mustering a smile for Danny.

“Hey, bud. I don’t recognise you. You the kid that transferred over? Where are you from,” -- his eyes scan the sign-up sheet -- “Williams?”

“Yes sir, just moved here from New Jersey.” On seeing Steve and Cath still waiting up on the bleachers, the coach waves to them, and Danny rolls his eyes as Steve waves and grins back because it figures that every sports coach at the school has some time for the guy.

“Jersey, huh. You’re damn good, I’ll give you that. One of the best we’ve had, judging by that performance.” Danny smiles, maybe just a little smug that he knows he can play better.

“Thank you, sir.”

“Preferred position?”

“Shortstop.” It’s where he’s been playing today, but it wouldn’t be the first time a kid had been forced into a different position for a tryout.

“Okay. The team roster will be pinned up tomorrow, and your name will be on it, kid. Shortstop it is. I’ll see you next Wednesday for the first practice.”

Danny pulls off his hat and dips inside the locker room to pick up his bag before walking back out to Steve, letting the breeze tickle his scalp. He should really get his hair cut, but he’s beginning to like the length of it, just long enough to slick it back or leave it as it is, depending upon the occasion.

Cath’s got an arm looped through Steve’s as they step down to ground level, and Steve slaps him on the back. “Wow, D. You never said you were that freakin’ good.”

“You’re better at baseball than he is at football,” Cath says, and Danny inwardly curses again at how he’s not allowed to like her. Steve feigns offence. “Ah, c’mon, babe.” Cath smiles at him. “Okay, he’s as good as. That better?”

Steve just smiles. “She’s right though. Pretty fucking good.”

“Thanks,” Danny says, smiling as he realizes that if Steve hadn’t been enough to clinch it, then he’s just found the sure route to relative popularity in this school, whether that be something he wants or not.

 

H

5

0

 

It’s the following Monday that tryouts for the football team take place, and with Cath due home for a visit from her brother who is back from college for the week, Danny tags along with Steve. He sits in the stands away from the few other people looking on so that he can spend an undisturbed hour watching Steve at what is, without any shadow of a doubt, his sport.

Steve has the speed to get around most, the strength to take most on, and the selflessness to know when to pass, relinquish the glory. All in all, he’s pretty fucking good. So good, in fact, that there isn’t a single person that doesn’t come up to shake his hand at the end of the improvised game. There’s usually a little more hostility at the end of a trial match but pretty much everyone on the field -- and there are a lot of them -- seems resigned to the fact that Steve McGarrett will be the star quarterback, and more than likely captain the team despite still only being a junior.

Danny waits patiently, twiddling his thumbs as Steve pauses on his way to the changing room to talk to the coach before heading inside and stripping, only to reappear in a tank top and a pair of shorts, socks rolled down to around his ankles.

Danny nods concedingly at the smug smile as Steve walks over. Climbing over the last row of benches, he hops to the ground. “Pretty damn good, McGarrett.”

“Thanks.”

“I’ve just got one question though. What’s a quarterback doing with the number fifty?”

“No, it’s five-oh.”

“Yeah.” Danny’s pretty sure that’s what he just said.

They climb into the cab of the truck, and Steve lets out a sigh as the engine roars to life.

“No, it’s not- It’s not fifty, it’s five-oh. It’s what my dad calls our family because we’re not Hawaiians, so he nicknamed us five-o’s when we got here. As in the fiftieth state in the Union. I don’t know, it’s his way of making us feel like we belong or something I guess.”

Danny just nods and bites his bottom lip. “That’s the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard.”

Steve laughs as he turns the corner. “Apart from pineapple on pizza, right?”

“Right.”

 

H

5

0

 

By the time they’ve been on the island for a month and a half, the four Williams kids are pretty much settled. There’s still the odd hysterical bout from any one of them when something comes up that reminds them of life before their parents died, but they hold it together pretty well, begin to call Jake’s place home and include him in family after a surprisingly short amount of time.

Danny melts into the baseball team with ease, not really interested in making friends with any more than a couple of them, but able to maintain respect from most of the team anyway due to the simple fact that he’s the best there. Schoolwork is bearable. As anticipated, he uses the friendship with Steve to his advantage for his studies in Physics, and they continue to spend time with each other outside of school, whether it be out on the beach -- though Danny’s still only let Matty drag him into the water three times since arriving -- tucked away in the garage, or down at the running track.

As promised, Danny helps out with Jake’s work too, making good use of the bike as he makes trips across town to deliver parts to Jake at the garage, and going to visit clients that need nothing more than a simple clean of the pool. Every now and then Jake will ask him into the garage to help on the weekend after a particularly busy week, and Danny lets him show him some of the simple stuff to free Jake’s hands so that he can deal with the more serious problems.

Catherine is still proving to be annoyingly nice. Danny can’t bring himself to show anything worse than a little indifference, and even that gets difficult. The time Danny has been spending with Steve has made things only marginally easier, but Danny can still feel the response -- whether it be butterflies or something more embarrassing -- when the guy, who seems to have some sort of tendency towards being naked no matter how unnecessary, takes off his shirt, gets too close, or even just has a particularly good hair day.

Lucy has only recently begun to ask Danny to teach her to swim, and for the moment Danny is skilfully deflecting her nagging, all the while knowing he’ll cave eventually. Steve seems to have warmed the most to Lucy out of Danny’s siblings, for the simple reason that she’s so damn adorable and she likes having someone to carry her around the place. All the same, one particular Friday comes as a surprise.

Danny and Steve have made plans for a six o’clock run followed by a late, re-heated dinner when they get back. Steve has the afternoon off though with a free period, so Danny catches him at lunch. “Come round whenever you like, alright? I’ll need to check on Lucy but then we can do that Physics assignment or something.”

Steve cocks an eyebrow. “Check on Lucy?”

“Oh, yeah. Jake had to stay home today; she’s got a bug or something. Yesterday saw the worse of it, but Jake kept her home to be safe.”

That’s all Danny says on the matter, which is why he frowns at the disappearance of Jake’s truck when he walks up the drive and pulls his keys out of his bag.

Danny doesn’t want to shout Lucy awake, so he checks each room quietly, the frown deepening when there’s still no sign of Jake.

“Lucy?” Danny whispers, only to be met with silence.

He can hear a voice though, a voice that sounds disturbingly familiar.

Danny opens the door to Lucy’s purple room slowly, Steve’s voice growing louder until it reaches its peak, still a little softer than usual, void of that hardened edge that it often takes.

“My spelling is Wobbly. It’s good spelling but it Wobbles, and the-“

“Letters get in the wrong places,” Danny finishes, rounding the door with a smile. He knows that particular line of Winnie the Pooh because it’s one that Lucy’s begun to quote, an excuse for her spelling when she thinks she’s gotten something wrong.

Danny should probably widen his eyes in shock or something, but Steve is sitting there on the bed at about the same distance down the mattress as Lucy’s feet, his knees bent with socked feet resting close to the edge so that Lucy’s own feet are undisturbed beneath his legs.

“Danny?” Danny can hear the smile in her voice as she sits upright, and he kisses her forehead before pushing her back down.

“Babe, you’re supposed to be sleeping, not pestering Steve to read to you.”

“He offered, Danny!” Lucy whines in protest of her innocence.

Steve just looks plain sheepish as he gives a half-hearted shrug. “I dropped the truck at home and walked down to see if Jake wanted a babysitter. Y’know, so he could catch up on things at the garage.”

“I’m not a baby!”

Steve looks to her with a smile. “Yeah, right. Sorry, I meant a Lucy-sitter.” Lucy looks mollified and she takes a sip of water from the glass beside her bed.

“What, so you’ve been reading to my little sister for…an hour and a half?” Oh shit, he’s that guy.

Steve looks down at his watch, seemingly oblivious to how much time has passed. When he looks back, all bewildered and embarrassed, Danny breaks into a grin. “Yeah, I guess I have.”

“Okay, get up.” Steve does as he’s told, shifting so as not to nudge Lucy too much. “Listen, Luce. We’ve got work to do. So you should get some more sleep, okay. Make sure you’re all fit and healthy for the weekend.”

Danny pulls the curtains shut for her and follows Steve out and, Jesus, if Danny weren’t already past the point of obsession, he most certainly would be now. He’s pretty sure he hasn’t looked at another girl -- or guy -- since arriving. 

Chapter Text

It’s only a couple of weeks after that that anything changes, and within the space of five minutes, Danny allows himself to love Catherine Rollins.

“So,” Danny’s attempting to fill the silence as he and Cath wait in the truck, Steve jogging in the direction of the football field to check the dates for an upcoming game. “How long have you two been dating?” It seems like the stupidest question ever, and really, after two months of knowing the pair, Danny realizes that it’s absolutely ridiculous that he’s never asked this question to the two subjects themselves. “I mean, I know everyone says you’re not, and that you’re probably trying to keep it under wraps or something…”

But then again, with Danny making a stubborn attempt to thoroughly ignore the fact that they’re even in a relationship, maybe it’s not quite as crazy as it seems.

To Danny’s horror, Catherine erupts into hysterical laugher, her whole body shaking for a full minute before she gets herself under control. “Oh, shit, Danny. What the fuck am I supposed to say that?” Danny’s forehead crinkles in confusion. “You have got it so wrong, Jersey.” Then her face straightens out, as though she’s just realized it’s really not such a drastic assumption to make. Which it’s really not.

“You guys are close, right?” Danny nods, she knows they are. “Yeah, then I guess he won’t mind me telling you.” She narrows her eyes and Danny shifts uncomfortable on the back seat. “Unless…”

“Aw, c’mon Cath. You can’t leave me hanging after that.” Because, as hysterical as Catherine may be, Danny’s hanging on to a lifeline here, heart pounding through his chest in a way that is entirely irrational because Steve still...isn’t...gay.

“Fine. We’re gay,” she says, as though it’s the simplest thing in the world, and Danny nearly chokes on the air he’s breathing.

What?

“We’re gay.”

Danny tries to wrap his head around that. Once realizing it’s not gonna happen any time soon, he pushes the information aside to think about later. “What, both of you?”

“Uh, yeah. Though I experimented a little…made out with a couple of guys during the first semester at Kukui. I’m pretty sure Steve’s always known. He’s like that though; sure of himself. Anyway, he’s pretty much like a brother.”

Danny scoffs at that. “You kiss your real brother?”

“Shut up. You know what I mean. Anyway, think about it, Danny. Have you ever seen us actually kiss, and I mean properly.” Danny thinks about it, and as much as the slightest touch bothers him, no, he’s never witnessed a full on make out session. Or anything close.

“No…”

“Right. I may as well tell you the rest of it now, I guess.” Danny just collapses back against his seat, hands rolling with the signal to continue explaining whatever the fuck is going on.

“We pretty much knew each other was gay when we first met at Kukui. We got on well, and well, because of the complete lack of sexual tension, we’ve always been…”

“Touchy feely?”

“Right. I was gonna say tactile but that works. People assumed we were going out, we denied it so as not to push the idea too much. But you see, I’ve always been planning to train to be in the Navy after graduation, and you know about DADT, right? Stops openly gay people working in the U.S military.”

Danny nods, he’s heard of it. “Right, so to help me, and in order that neither of us to have to deal with…trouble, we just…stopped correcting people. Anyone you’ve asked, the people we’re friends with, will deny it because we deny it.”

“How many people know?”

Cath shrugs. “That we’re not dating? Quite a few. There’s more that think we are though, and we put up the…occasional display of affection. How many people know we’re gay? Pretty much no one, I guess. I’m sure a few people suspect it, but what with him being the local wonder boy and all, nobody’s ever said much about it.”

Danny sits up again, and Cath is smiling at him, a little amused. “Okay, so let me get this straight. Being gay is bad for your career, so you guys just…pretend to date.”

“Yeah, sort of. We don’t really have to pretend though. Just the occasional kiss in the parking lot or whatever.” Danny can see Steve approaching, just about to open the door to the car. “All the kisses on the cheek and arms around each other, that shit’s just natural.”

Steve looks mortified as soon as he joins them, eyes studiously fixed on the road as he starts the engine and clears his throat. “What are you talking about?”

Danny shrugs, meets his gaze in the mirror. “Oh, nothing, y’know. Just this whole fake relationship thing you’ve got going with Catherine, your neglect to tell me of your sexuality…the usual.” Steve’s eyes widen and then he uses the excuse -- albeit a valid one -- of returning his stunned gaze to the road.

Catherine looks across to Steve for a moment, still lightly amused, before speaking again. “Oh shit. It’s him, isn’t it?”

“Shut up, Cath.” The harsh edge to that sentence is enough to keep all three of them uncomfortably quiet for the remainder of the journey, and Catherine throws an apologetic wave into the car before Steve continues on to Jake’s house.

Danny looks out through the window, and then back to Steve, hands gripped tightly enough on the steering wheel to be turning his knuckles white. “Uh, you still up for the garage?”

“Yeah, lord knows I could do with it.” Steve still seems pretty tightly wound, so Danny keeps his mouth shut, impatiently content to let him work out his anger before broaching the topic.

They don’t bother with the bag tonight, just move swiftly to sparring as Steve tugs his shirt off and fights like a demon. Danny gives as good as he gets, matching Steve punch for punch, both letting themselves fall back to the wall of the garage only after taking a long drink from the bottle of water by the door.

They’re silent for a few minutes, and when they’re breathing has slowed and it becomes clear that Danny is going to have to be the one to initiate this conversation, initiate he does. “What did Cath mean, it’s him?”

Steve lets out an audible sigh and pulls his second glove off in frustration, getting rid of the headgear as Danny follows suit. He stays quiet for another few seconds though, as if debating whether to make another attempt at brushing it off. Not that Danny would let him get away with it, mind you.

“She, uh…Cath knew- She knew that I had a thing for someone, didn’t know who.”

Steve gives Danny a minute to think that through before he can feel the giant’s gaze on his face. He turns to find Steve’s eyes boring into his own, dark and wild with the workout and-

And then Steve’s lips are on his, fast and frantic and a little bit desperate, and Danny gets with the program. He’s too late though, because Steve is already pulling away, something between an apology and shame settling in his eyes.

“I’m sorry. I-“

And then Danny lets instinct take over and does what he’s wanted to do since day one. A hand -- seemingly of its own accord -- snakes up until it settles in the curls at the back of Steve’s neck, still wet with sweat from the exertion. He’s never done this with a guy before -- only done it with one girl for that matter -- and the result is something inexperienced and messy, and goddamn perfect.

Danny tugs Steve closer until he seems to have caught up, one hand following Danny’s example and resting between Danny’s shoulder and neck, grasping at the t-shirt there before he can feel Steve’s thumb running over the barely-there stubble along Danny’s jaw. The fleeting touch of Steve’s tongue sends a shiver up Danny’s spine, and what had started as a frantic and anxious kiss turns slows until it’s explorative, Steve making tentative movements to straighten out the position a little, give them both a better angle.

The sensations send a warmth flooding through Danny’s body, a heat caused by something other than the exercise, and in need of more, Danny opens his mouth to Steve, tongues making contact for the second time with something a little more confident.

When the need for a breath begins to become apparent, Danny pulls away, panting just a little and waiting for Steve to look up at him. Eventually, he does, and his eyes are brighter now, almost an electric blue. He looks caught between trepidation and a smile as they continue to share breaths, close enough still that Danny can feel Steve’s exhales on his lips, a gentle tickling that Danny eventually licks away, running his tongue across his bottom lip as he remains determined to hold Steve’s gaze.

Danny just smiles, tentative and relaxed as he waits for something.

“I’m sorry,” Steve says, and shit, what the fuck has he got to apologize for?

“What the fuck is wrong with you, Steven?” Steve looks panicked until he realizes where Danny’s going with this, the blond’s smile beginning to spread further over his face as Danny bites away the threat of a laugh at just how clueless this idiot can be. “Did you- Were you just there? What the- I don’t even know what to say. What? Did you miss the part where I kissed you back? Because I’m pretty sure I wasn’t giving off mixed signals.” Danny’s voice is doing that shouted whisper thing, for the simple reason that while they’re alone in the garage, they’re not alone in the house.

Danny takes his bottom lip between his teeth again as he waits for him to catch up. And then sure enough, after a few long seconds, Steve’s face transforms into that patented smirk and he pushes his gaze to somewhere behind Danny with just a hint of embarrassment. “Wha- So, what?”

Danny just shakes his head, maybe rolls his eyes a little. “What do you mean ‘So, what’? So, we do a little sneaking around, that’s what. Jesus, for someone so damn smart you can be really fucking dense McGarrett.”

Steve’s still looking at him, somewhat bewildered, maybe a little unconvinced. Danny does the thinking for both of them and kisses him one last time, just barely a touch of lips before he’s getting up and pulling Steve to his feet.

“Come on you idiot. Get up, I’m not done.” For the first time since they’ve arrived on Oahu, Danny actually indulges for a few seconds, lets his gaze travel over Steve’s naked torso before they pull the equipment back on and begin sparring.

It’s not much different than before other than the more frequent lock of eyes or the smirks they send each other’s way. And apparently the twenty minutes they spend fighting is the time Steve needs to think about this, because no sooner have they ridded themselves of the gloves and headgear than Steve is crowding Danny up against the wall, his lips nearing the smirk on Danny’s face as he waits patiently to see where Steve’s going with this.

Steve doesn’t pull away this time, just latches on, tongue running over the edges of Danny’s lips, one arm braced against the wall by Danny’s head as the other runs through his hair, now long and carelessly slicked back by dismissive hands when he’d taken the headgear off. Danny uses a hand at Steve’s hip to pull him in closer, and then they jump away from each other, picking up a bottle of water each in an effort to look casual and detract from the state that they just know they’re lips must be in.

It kind of figures that Steve should be such a great kisser considering his talents in pretty much every other area of his life.

The sound that’s torn them apart comes closer until Lucy’s bundling through the door to the garage, toothy smile and an aborted hug as she takes in Danny’s sweat-slick skin.

“Danny!” she whines, and Danny knows what she’s here to complain about before she’s started complaining about it. “Swimming! You promised!”

It’s a Monday, but sure enough, Danny does remember making the promise after Lucy’s continual tantrums about not being able to swim with Kono. “Yeah. Okay, listen, Lucy. I don’t think we’re gonna have time today, so how about we make a new deal.” She’s listening. “Okay, well seeing as we’ve got Steve here who is, by all accounts, as at home in the ocean as I am on the baseball field, how about we ask him to help us out on Saturday, see if we can’t have you swimming by the end of the day?”

Danny and Lucy both look over to Steve, now putting down the water bottle and- Is Danny imagining it or does Steve have a face after being kissed. Or kissing him. Whatever.

He smirks at Danny, smiles at Lucy. “Yeah, sure. Why not. Danny could probably use someone to teach him too.”

“Wha- How many times do I have to tell you; I can swim.” Steve just nods, humouring him as though he won’t believe it until he’s seen it.

“I have a football game though, so I can’t be here till lunch.”

Danny nods and looks down at Lucy. “You want me to go with him, make sure he doesn’t bail on us?” Lucy nods, and Steve just looks amused that he’s trying to use his sister here as an excuse to watch him play football. He really hasn’t seen a game in a while though.

 

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Steve and Danny manage to keep their hands off of each other until they’re stopped at a light, few people around at the early school hour. Steve leans in to give Danny a lingering kiss, both smiling as they pull away from each other. They’ve already stopped off at Catherine’s to find she’s already set off to school, and Steve sighs as he realizes she must think that he’s pissed off with her.

As they pull up in the parking lot, Catherine is there waiting though, legs crossed and worrying her lower lip. Danny can’t even help it. He just gets straight out of the truck, slings his bag over his shoulder and pulls her into a hug, showing her the most affection he has since his first day at Kukui.

“Wha- Danny?”

He pulls away from her unresponsive arms with a grin, kissing her on the cheek for good measure. “Thank you. You don’t know how hard it was to hate you for these past couple of months.”

Steve’s seems clued to what Danny has said as soon as he reaches them, touching her shoulder and planting one of his own kisses on Cath’s cheek as he simultaneously frowns at Danny. “What? That’s why you’ve been weird with Catherine? Seriously? You were jealous of our non-relationship?”

Danny shrugs and looks at the ground as he realizes he may have just given away the extent of this high school crush. He scratches at the back of his head. “Uhh, maybe?” He turns back to Catherine, arms spread wide and the grin reappearing. “But seriously, I am so over it. In fact, I think I may actually love you.”

Catherine still looks bemused by the flood of contact from Danny, but she breaks into a smile as she looks at Steve. “Ah, so it was Danny. I’m sorry ab...” Steve waves the apology away with a swipe of the hand, and Danny just continues to smile, finally managing to subdue it a little as Catherine points between them with raised eyebrows. “So this thing was mutual then, huh?”

Danny really does find it ridiculously easy to settle into a closer friendship with Cath. He likes her. A lot.

And it’s later in the week that Steve picks Danny up, without Catherine in the car, voice raised after giving Danny an affectionate touch. “Why the fuck did I get some sympathetic visit last night from Hoku, worried about how I was coping with the breakup of my longest relationship to date?”

“I don’t- As far as I know, we’re not even public, babe. So I can only assume you’re talking about your other relationship…the fake one.”

Catherine is waiting for them in that same spot when they pull into the parking lot, seemingly ready for Steve’s onslaught as she throws an apologetic glance Danny’s way.

Steve doesn’t even say anything, just stands there looking more attractive than anyone has the right to as he waits for an explanation. “Jesus, Steve.” She shifts her gaze to make sure there’s no one around. “You’re acting like I broke up with you for real. Look, this isn’t fair on Danny. How would you like it if every day you were hearing people talk about me and him as though we were a couple, if we had to put up the occasional display of a relationship to keep up the act?”

That alone is enough to soften Steve’s face, clearly not fond of that idea, Danny realizes with a shy smile. “I don’t mi-“

“Shut up, Danny.” It’s Cath that says it.

“Sure.”

“Look, Steve, don’t make this difficult. If people aren’t convinced of my sexuality after three years of maybe going out with you, of which I’m pretty sure most of the school thinks we’ve been sleeping together for at least one, then another year certainly isn’t gonna do it.” Danny can see she’s winning him over. “Let’s face it, you were in this ‘relationship’ for me, but I’m ending it.”

Steve shifts, hands in pockets as Danny looks on. “I’m not saying you and Danny need to go public or anything, but you don’t need to waste any more time on pretend dates with me when you could be out with him.”

Steve protests at that, because he and Danny both know just how much they love spending time with Cath -- yeah, Danny includes himself in that statement as of Monday afternoon. “Come on, Cath. You know I love you.”

“Me too,” Danny chimes, and Cath laughs before glaring at Steve again.

“Shut up, Steve. You know that’s not what I mean. I just mean we can quit the pretence of holding hands in the corridors or sneaking off with the excuse of ‘making out.’” The way she says that makes Danny pretty sure that it’s not something they’ve done. “You’re not getting rid of me that easy. I still expect a lift in the morning, and I still expect to be dragged along to the cinema every now and then, and I will be watching you play football on Saturday. But you guys need to have some fun too. So just let the rest of the school believe we’re close friends after a break up, and correct a few people if they refer to us as a couple, alright?”

 

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5

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By the time Saturday comes round, Steve and Danny haven’t actually spent that much time together. Work, football and baseball have kept them busy as well as Danny’s offer of some more help with the garage to Jake. If their touches grow a little more frequent and intimate at school, then no one seems to notice, though Lucy has been giving Danny curious looks every now and then, silent in her naïve musings.

“Hey,” Danny says as he reaches Catherine, sat in a secluded spot near the top level of the bleachers. She seems to be accommodating of Danny’s general dislike of most people.

“Hey, Danny.” He leans in to kiss her on the cheek before settling next to her, the hot day having convinced him into shorts and a tank top.

She offers him a sip of the drink she’s holding as they watch the teams warm up. “You know there’s a rumour going around that me and you are dating?”

Danny laughs. “Jesus, what is this school?” He thinks for a moment, casts his eyes to the sky before meeting Cath’s gaze. “Actually, I can see why they might think that.” They do spend a lot of time together, even if most of that time is spent with her ‘ex-boyfriend’ in tow.

“Hey, you guys are pegged as pretty much the two most eligible bachelors in the school, so people are bound to talk.” Danny raises his eyebrows at that label. “What you looking so confused about you idiot? You got the hair, the body, the baseball. Hell, if I wasn’t the other way inclined, I’d totally go for it.”

Danny does no more than give an incredulous look before returning his eyes to the field, gaze falling on the number ten Kukui player, leaning in a little too close for it to be passed off as anything less than suspicious. Danny recognizes the guy, Bane, as one of the few guys to be on the both the football and the baseball teams.

Catherine’s already following his line of vision though, mentioning it before Danny even has the chance. Not that he’s jealous… “Jeez, Danny. You so do not need to be worrying about that.”

Danny stays quiet for a minute before slowly turning, pulling his elbows off of his knees as he straightens up and opens his palms to the air. “What the hell is that supposed to mean?”

“Nothing.”

Catherine.”

“What? You want me to put my foot where it doesn’t belong again.” Danny settles for just glaring at her as the players before them begin to take positions for the start of the game. “Look, all I’m saying is… Aw, shit.” She throws her hands up in resignation. “He wouldn’t do that to you, wouldn’t mess around. Christ, he’s basically been in love with you since day one.” She points a finger at him, and Danny smiles just a little bit. “You tell him I said anything and I swear to God I’ll kill you.”

Danny nods obediently, responds with what he doesn’t really mean to be a coy smile. Cath narrows her eyes at him for a moment, and Danny is about to put up a defence when- “Fuck me. Christ, some Naval Intelligence officer I’m gonna make. You’re the same aren’t you? You two have been sitting at home pining over each other since fucking day one.”

The first whistle of the game goes, and Danny turns away from her, biting away the smile that seems keen on making an appearance.

Steve plays good. Alright, brilliant; really fucking brilliant. It’s a rough game, but he holds his own, keeps the team together for a comfortable win. As for the rest of the squad, Danny doesn’t have a fucking clue.

That Bane idiot holds Steve up for a few minutes when the coach is done talking to them, but then Steve is in and out of the changing rooms in five minutes flat having changed into board shorts and a tank top, ready for their swimming lesson.

Steve flings his arm around Danny in something that could easily be construed as either platonic or something more, and Danny doesn’t even bother to question it. “Ya played good,” Danny concedes.

“Thanks.” The three of them pile into the truck a minute later. “How many times did you say you’ve been swimming since you got here?”

“Four.” Steve and Catherine both laugh, Danny’s just content to wait it out, it taking half a minute before they finally pull out of the parking lot.

“Hey, Cath. You know, you can come if you like. Not that we need another swim instructor, but you don’t have to swim.”

“Uh, yeah okay. Why not. Just swing by my place so I can tell my mom.”

 

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“Okay Luce, we’ve got about five hours until we’ll need to get out of the water. You think we can do it?” It’s half past one by the time Lucy, Danny and Steve are lined up and ready to get into the water. Danny isn’t stupid, hasn’t missed the way Steve had seemed distracted by his chest as he’d pulled off his shirt. Danny’s grown more used to dealing with the ridiculous amount of nudity on Steve’s part -- not that it doesn’t still make him catch his breath -- but Danny’s rather more…modest with his body.

“Yeah!”

Catherine sits on the lanai chatting to Jake and playing soccer with Olivia -- at which she’s looking pretty damn good -- as they finally move towards the water.

Danny realizes just how eager Lucy is to get swimming as soon as she makes contact. The most difficult thing about learning to swim is the fear of the water, but she seems to have gotten over most of that with sheer determination, complaining briefly as the water stings her eyes. Nobody even bothers with arm bands, but it doesn’t take nearly as long as Danny had feared.

It doesn’t hurt that they have a resident of the water in tow to help out, and after numerous imitations in the shallow parts close to shore, Lucy announces her desire to move further out, and so they do.

The ocean presents a more difficult challenge than learning to swim in a pool, and it’s not ideal. But they seem to have picked the right day. Absolute shit for surfing, absolutely perfect for learning to swim.

Steve has all the patience of a statue, repeating the motions for Lucy when Danny gets frustrated with it, and then just an hour and a half after they get in, when they’ve just about moved past the point where Lucy can reach the sea floor, she goes for it. Lucy just about manages to splash over the six or seven feet between them.

After that it’s much easier. Those first few feet are the hardest, and then Lucy really gets moving, managing a messy front crawl over and over before, exhausted, she makes her way back to shore. Danny waits until he can see that Jake’s got an eye on her and then, whilst he’s in here, he makes the most of the water.

It’s five o’clock by the time they’ve been left alone, and Danny turns to Steve, satisfied smirk still playing on his lips. “She got the hang of it pretty quick.”

“Yeah, she’s a natural. Now all we gotta do is get you swimming.”

“I swim fine.”

“Really? ‘Cause this whole two hours I haven’t seen you out of your depth.” Cath comes up behind them, ducking beneath the water to dampen her hair.

“He’s right you know, not once.”

“Whose side are you on,” Danny asks. “Fine, whatever. I’ll swim.”

Danny kicks off, swimming away from the shore with quick strokes and lightly kicking legs, well aware that the other two are following, Steve mostly under the water, until he’s reached a respectable distance, well and truly being forced to tread water to maintain access to air. When Steve stills, he’s the same, feet ever so slightly above the sea floor as he just grins at Danny.

“Satisfied?”

“Very,” he smirks, splashing him as they inadvertently make it a race back to shore, laughing as all three of them fall to the sand.

For the first time since arriving, Danny can honestly say he’s maybe a little bit fond of the water.

Without a change of clothes other than the dirty football uniform, Steve and Cath head for the truck as they are, not bothering to cover up as they settle into the front seat.

Still shirtless, Danny leans against Steve’s side of the vehicle, standing in the road and just about out of sight with Cath’s body in the way. “Come over tonight? I’ll get my bike out and we can make a trip to the pier on Waikiki.”

“Ok, sure. Seven o’clock alright?”

“Make it quarter past. I’m cooking so allow for a minor disaster in the kitchen.”

“Oh. In that case, I’ll be round at half past seven.” Steve just makes a face at him before leaning down for a brief touch of their lips.

“See ya later, Cath.”

“Have a nice night, Danny.”

 

H

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The evening is good. As promised, Danny turns up on the McGarretts’ doorstep, BMX beside him as he waves a polite hello to Doris and waits for Steve to wheel his bike around. They move quickly, making it to the pier in less than ten minutes. It’s pretty much deserted; unusual, but there’s a big college game on TV tonight, and with vacation season mostly over, the vast majority of the island is inside watching.

Meanwhile, Danny and Steve make good use of the time alone, bikes discarded on the deck behind them as they swing their legs above the ocean, sitting above the water until they relent and lie down.

The first warning Danny gets is Steve’s hand clasped around his, the bracelet that matches Danny’s own tickling against his skin as Danny anticipates what’s going to come next.

…Which is Steve’s lips on his. Danny hears the shuffles as Steve plants an elbow on the hard deck and twists his body to hover over him. With one last glance into Danny’s eyes before the blond lets his own slide shut, he lifts his head to meet Steve in something slow and passionate that only ends with Steve gently pushing his head back down again. The touch of lips sends a shot of excitement through Danny before they’ve even had the chance to deepen it.

And then Danny’s eyes roll back a little, groan escaping his mouth as Steve’s lips relocate to the underside of Danny’s jaw, nipping lightly before moving far enough along his shoulder that the mark Danny feels him leave there -- just this side of the line between pleasure and pain -- will just about be covered by a t-shirt with a little more material than the tank he has on now.

Danny can feel the unmistakable arousal that’s flooding through him, blood heading straight for his cock as he reluctantly gives a small push on Steve’s chest, still talking in between lingering kisses. “Unless we’re- ‘Less we’re gonna keep going, we gotta stop.” Danny really hopes that makes sense, and mercifully Steve does begin to move away, however much Danny may want to tug him right back.

He murmurs a hum of agreement with the one last kiss left on Danny’s lips. “Yeah, you’re right. Too soon…” Yeah, way too fucking soon. And yet somehow, after barely a week of dating, it doesn’t really feel like it. Danny ignores it though, pushes the thoughts aside as Steve lies back against the deck again and Danny takes his hand, running a finger over his lips to prolong the taste of Steve in his mouth.

 

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Steve walks into the garage with Danny when they get back, under the pretence of helping him put his bike away -- as if anyone would actually buy that. Danny lets the bike rest against the workbench in the corner before turning and latching a hand onto Steve’s neck, pulling him into something just as meaningful as before, taking as much as Steve as he possibly can to savour until he’ll get to do this again.

And then with that, he pushes Steve back out into the Hawaiian air, glancing at the kitchen clock -- quarter to ten -- as he walks through towards the stairs. “Danny?” It’s Jake’s voice, and Danny follows it through to the living room to find him muting the television.

“Hey, I’m not late am I?”

“No, no. Not that.” He narrows his eyes, looking every bit suspicious as Danny sinks into the armchair, wary of the mark Steve left on his neck, hopefully just about invisible in the dim light of the room. “I just, I wanted to make sure you know that you can talk to me. Anything you need, y’know; school, family, relationships…” He trails off meaningfully at that point, and Danny knows better than to dwell over the avoidance of using the word that would have more comfortably slipped into that sentence; girlfriends.

Danny can feel the heat rising in his cheeks as he realizes that, shit, Jake is more clued in than he’d thought; and double shit, he really doesn’t want to lie to the man, not after everything he’s done for them. But when telling him could lead to a ban from the house, a ban from hitching a morning lift, and a ban from, well…Steve, he doesn’t really see any other option.

Jake seems to notice that Danny’s not inclined to say anything, and with a sigh he continues. “Also, I have something to tell you. I mention it now only because there’s every possibility you’ve already figured it out, and if you haven’t, well, then you probably will soon.”

Danny nods, confusion seeping onto his face as he shifts uncomfortably, though glad Jake seems to have dropped the other…issue. “Okay…”

“Well…I’m gay.” Danny runs through the statistical probabilities of having so many declarations of sexuality in the space of a week and a half before deciding it’s probably not worth thinking about. Jake pauses for a reaction, of which Danny gives none. “I wanted to tell you, because you deserve to know, and I met someone a little while back, so you may see him around from time to time.” Danny really fucking hates that look in Jake’s eye. It’s the one that clearly fears some kind of hostility or rebellion from Danny in light of the news, even if -- and Danny’s pretty sure that he does -- Jake suspects Danny of being similarly inclined.

“Why didn’t you tell us earlier?” Danny is merely curious. Or maybe trying to keep the focus of this conversation well and truly away from himself.

“You kids are young,” he shrugs. “And I don’t want you to have to deal with trouble at school because of it, but in light of recent events…” And Danny is absolutely positive that Jake knows now, because that sentence was clearly supposed to end with …I wanted you to know that it’s okay. “All I’m saying, is my door is always open, and I’d rather you did talk to me, but I’m not gonna try and force you.”

Danny leans forwards, elbows on his knees in an action that pretty much acts as a confirmation for Jake. Danny still won’t lie to him though, and so he sighs, hoping to give Jake as much as he can without having to actually say the words, because he’s pretty sure he can’t handle that yet. “I don’t wanna lie to you, Jake.” Danny sucks in a long breath, lets it all out again. “So…uh, thanks. But you don’t have to worry, because it would…” Danny really wants to flee the room right now. “…be hypocritical of me to hold it against you.”

Danny gets up to leave the room, wanting to give Jake a little more before he leaves, give Jake a reason to trust him. “And, uh, Jake? I’d appreciate it if you didn’t say anything…particularly to Steve’s parents,” he adds.

And Danny is instantaneously glad he said something, because Jake just smiles lightly at him and nods. “No problem.”

 

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“Aw, D. C’mon, was it really so bad last time?” It’s almost a month after their first kiss that Steve finally breaks Danny. He’s been pestering him for a good few days, using every persuasive technique he seems to know -- other than withholding kisses because they have little enough time alone as it is -- in an attempt to get Danny in the water again. And up until now, Danny has stood firm, but he knows he’s close to breaking point, because there’s only so long he can manage to keep this up, only so many times he can bear to turn him down.

“Not the point.”

Steve throws his second boxing glove to the ground with a predatory smile as he moves closer, Danny continuing to back up until the cold wall comes up against his bare back, the humid day having got the better of him.

Steve just stops there, lips hovering just a few millimetres away as he looks down at Danny. “And, uh, what if I said I could get us some privacy, no interruptions? Maybe see if we want to take things a little bit further.”

“What, and swimming in the ocean’s gonna help us with that, is it?” Danny keeps up his best effort at maintaining a full voice, but he can hear the way it breaks on the last word, pretty sure Steve notices too.

“Yeah, it just might.” Finally giving in to what they both want, Steve’s eyes slide shut and he presses forward, plastering his own chest to Danny’s as a hand comes to rest at his hip, slipping three fingertips beneath the waistband of Danny’s shorts and going no further.

“That a yes?” The words are muffled by the kiss, and Danny just nods a single hum of agreement, hoping to convey somewhere within the sound that this is totally unfair, and well aware that he completely misses the mark.

 

H

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0

 

Steve is zipping up a pocket on his board shorts as Danny joins him on the shore. “How long have we got until everyone gets back?” They stand out in the section of private beach outside Jake’s place, and Danny is searching the blue, trying to find the spot they’ll be heading. There’s nothing though, other than a long arch of land, most of which climbs to a sharp cliff.

“Jake’s taken everyone to see that new comedy, then for pizza. Shouldn’t be back for at least two and a half hours.” Danny had told Jake he had an assignment to do. He’s not particularly proud of the lie, but he could hardly tell him he was sneaking off to fool around with his boyfriend. It’s the reason he’s still letting Steve drag him off somewhere else though. Because as much as Danny may prefer the idea of doing this -- whatever they’re going to do -- on a bed, doing it under Jake’s roof only adds to the guilt. It’s absolutely nothing to do with the look that Steve got when Danny had confirmed their plans were still on for this evening.

At five o’clock, it’s still light, though the sun has dampened a bit.

“Then let’s go.” They push off together, and there’s absolutely no mistaking that Steve is a better swimmer than Danny, but he lets Danny set the pace, keeping their path in the direction of that cliff face, seemingly undaunted by the fact that the area looks impossible. It’s not though. Danny can see that as they get closer, and as they near a point a fair distance away from the row of houses back at shore, Danny realizes where they’re headed.

Danny follows him up onto the short stretch of shore which is a part of what is a small area of land, pressed right up against the cliff, no more than an eighth of the size of a football field though. Past the few steep yards of sand, the land makes a smooth transition to grass, a small row of trees shielding a patch of greenery behind where there’s absolutely nothing.

Steve just turns around, spreads his hands in an unspoken expression of ‘This okay?’ that Danny entirely understands.

“Jesus, you’re such a sap,” Danny half-heartedly complains, but then he closes the couple of yards of distance between them with a kiss, moving back until they’re stopped by the face of the cliff.

Danny pulls away, looks down to gather his thoughts before he looks back up to meet Steve’s gaze because shit, he’s nervous. Ready for it, but nervous.

The mere touch of Steve’s hands as he slips almost a full hand beneath Danny’s shorts sends a shot of arousal straight through Danny, dick reacting in a way that Danny hasn’t quite experienced in response to anyone’s touch but his own up until now.

Steve breaks the kiss for a second, pushing Danny to the grass before following suit, gently forcing Danny’s back to the ground as he hovers above. “Uh-uh,” Danny mutters, and he gives Steve a forceful push until he’s the one suspended above Steve, the big idiot laughing away as Danny leans in again.

The messing around feels familiar, calming both of their nerves as they revel in the time to be intimate. Danny runs his tongue along the row of perfect white teeth, drags himself away to suck a bruise into Steve’s collarbone and smiling against the skin as he hears the groan that breaks free from Steve’s lips.

By the time they’re both ready for it, the strangled noises becoming increasingly frequent, the kiss has turned sloppy and a little bit desperate. Danny tries to protest Steve’s efforts to move back on top, but he relents when Steve whispers to him. “Knee, D. Let me.” So Danny falls back to the ground, and Steve’s lips follow him, momentarily distracted before he realizes that the increased pressure at his crotch is Danny, untying the lace at his waist clumsily as he gives multi-tasking his best shot.

Steve lets him continue, one of his own hands travelling to the neat popper on Danny’s own shorts and getting that undone far quicker than Danny manages Steve’s.

Danny’s not an idiot, and he knows full well he’s not going to last long, so he doesn’t waste time in lifting his hips off the ground, pushing his shorts down until Steve just pulls them off from around his ankles and chucks them behind his head, his touch disappearing for just a couple of seconds before he’s back, now just as naked as Danny.

With the heat and the urgency of what they’re doing now picking up, Danny doesn’t have the time to take in the sight of Steve totally naked, doesn’t have the time to feel self-conscious himself. So he just lets his hand travel to where it will inevitably end up anyway, wraps his palm and fingers around Steve’s heavy length as he continues to kiss him.

Seconds later, Danny’s unable to stop his legs falling open in some kind of invitation, and Steve’s hand is there, keeping at the pace of Danny’s own as they pull in slow strokes, Danny pressing a tentative finger into the slit at the head because he’s hoping that gets Steve going just as much as it does himself. Steve’s lips pull away from Danny’s for just a second, sucking in a heavy breath and then letting it go again, and from then on the kisses are much more uncoordinated, sporadic as they both work in tandem to get them to the brink of orgasm.

Danny opens his eyes to find Steve looking into his own, face red, watching Danny’s lips as he bites into his lower one, eyes hungry for more, for everything he can get. But they’re edging closer, the inexperience of having someone else do this to them showing as they take gradually heavier breaths, make sounds that Danny hadn’t known that he could make, never mind Steve.

Steve tightens the pressure ever so slightly, and Danny’s whole body clenches just a little bit before he manages to return it to as close to normal as it’s going to get with his dick in Steve’s hands.

Steve is slick in his own hand, his body betraying the need -- as if his mouth isn’t already doing that -- as he gives the occasional thrust into Danny’s hand. His lips capture Danny’s again, and then no more than half a minute later, Danny’s mouth silences Steve’s groan, kept quiet and private despite the fact that there’s no one around to hear it. Steve tenses up and then relaxes, and Danny kisses him through the aftershocks, the sound of Steve’s orgasm and the final pump of Steve’s hand enough to send him over the edge, both sets of come spilling between them and brain short-circuiting for just a second as he comes to terms with his first time, so to speak.

Others may argue with him over what actually constitutes as a first time, but Danny considers that to be it, penetration or not.

Steve rolls off of Danny, collapsing on the patch of grass next to him as they both pant through it, neither even attempting to say a single thing until they’re somewhere within the vicinity of normal a minute later.

“Wow,” Steve gets out, voice still a little bit breathless.

Danny opens his eyes, looks up to the sky through the sparse branches obscuring the view. “Yeah.”

Steve rolls onto his side, throwing an arm over Danny’s chest as he lets his head settle there, occasionally shifting to plant a lazy kiss…somewhere.

Danny moves a hand to the back of Steve’s neck, clenching and dragging Steve up for something more closely resembling a proper kiss, and they repeat the process an hour later, taking advantage of the quick recovery time of a male adolescent.

“Time?” Danny asks as they collapse to the ground for the second time. Steve doesn’t say anything for a good thirty seconds.

“Six-thirty?” The words are slightly slurred and Danny just smiles as he shifts closer. The hidden question makes Danny suspect he’s guessing from the state of the sky, watch probably in his bag back at the house.

They pull on board shorts not long later, letting the sea water wash off the evidence of their ‘activities’ as they make the journey back to the house. Getting back is harder than getting out there and the loose feeling Danny’s got in his bones, body sated, isn’t helping him to make the strokes.

They make it back though, and a glance to the clock says it’s nearing seven o’clock.” Danny turns to find Steve wearing an even goofier smile than the one he can feel on his own face, and he doesn’t bother fighting the desire to kiss him again, just does it.

“I should go,” Steve says, looking down at Danny just as he tightens the grip around Danny’s waist. “In case they get back early.” Danny had told Steve about the Jake situation, to which he’d replied that he’s had his suspicions. As for the fact that Jake had guessed about he and Danny, they were both pretty relaxed.

But Danny is still reluctant to have him come home to find Danny and Steve, making out against the kitchen counter as Jake asks if they’ve been here all evening before following up with the obvious question of what they’ve been doing the past couple of hours.

So Danny only resists a little when Steve pulls away, grabbing his backpack as he heads out the door, throwing a ridiculously long leg over his bike as he pedals in the direction of the McGarrett house.

 

H

5

0

 

Danny is just walking out of the changing room, a couple of months later when he gets the overwhelming urge to hit someone. Catherine and Jake -- to some extent -- are still the only two people to know of what’s going on between Steve and Danny, though he’s still getting the odd glances from Lucy and the occasional comment from Olivia that he’s been determinedly ignoring.

And though Danny had decided long ago, at that football game he’d watched with Cath, that he really fucking hates Bane-douche bag-Richards it’s not until today that he realizes just how much.

The problem is, that over the last five months, Danny has gotten to know Steve McGarrett really fucking well. Which is why one look at the expression on Steve’s face as he leaves the changing room after baseball practice is enough to know that there’s nothing untoward about this situation. Not on his part. But then there’s Bane, resting a too familiar arm around Steve’s shoulders, leaning in far too close to whisper something in Steve’s ear as the giant just waits patiently for Danny after hanging around to watch the practice.

Danny is just about to say something, too -- what he’ll say without drawing attention to their relationship, he’s not sure, but he is sure he’d have thought of something -- only he doesn’t get the chance.

Because Steve, calm and collected as ever, is pushing away Bane’s hand, following it up with a smile to Danny as he catches sight of him, wriggling away from Bane as he walks over to see what’s up.

And then, well, what happens next Danny isn’t quite sure. Having taken the time to shower for a change, Danny is pretty much the last one out. And it’s a good job too, because Steve turns, slings an arm around Danny’s back as if it’s something he does every day. And then as if it’s not enough to draw Bane’s attention, Danny can feel Steve turn to cast a final glance in his direction, pressing a kiss into Danny’s hair as he turns back around with a grin.

“Jeez, D. You should see his face.”

Danny makes a deliberate attempt to keep his voice calm in order to maintain what display of friendship they’ve got going, which is fuck all. “Are you kidding me? What if he tells someone?” And Danny has always been under the impression that Steve was the one keeping this thing quiet, not that Danny’s been shouting it from the rooftops, but he thinks he could probably put up with the ribbing at school if it came to it. Which it probably wouldn’t with their reputations on the sports teams.

“Relax, Danny. So what if he does? You think anyone’s gonna believe that jackass.” Steve has a point.

When they get back to the house, Danny hops out, aborting the wave goodbye as he hears a voice from behind him. Lucy is sat on the doorstep, legs crossed with a downright angelic expression as her face lights up in a smile.

“Danny, stop him!” Steve hears it through the open window and he gets up and walks around the car, coming to a stop beside Danny.

“Hey, Luce. What you got there?”

Lucy lifts the piece of paper in her hand, launching herself off of the step and thrusting the sheet into Steve’s hand.

He takes it with a smile, and Danny leans over to take a look. It’s a drawing, not a masterpiece, but not bad for a six year old. There are two figures, one about twice the height of the other, labelled Steve to the blond figure branded Danny by the scrawl up top. Behind is what looks vaguely like the view from the beach out back, and Danny and Steve both break into a smile.

“For me?” Steve asks, pointing at himself as he says the words. “Luce, this is brilliant. You sure you don’t want to be an artist?”

She shakes her head violently. “I want to do English like Danny.” Steve nods, watches the expression on her face as she shifts into one that mirrors Steve’s.

 

H

5

0

 

The next three weeks is nothing short of an absolute blur. And then things fall apart. And the worst part is that Danny -- maybe a little optimistically, he’ll never know -- feels like maybe if none of this had ever happened, then life might have turned out very differently.

But shit happens, and Jake gives him the news on a Wednesday night. Steve is gone by Monday.

“She’s dead, son. Head on collision with a drunk driver.” Danny gets a quiver in his lips immediately, puts up no resistance when Jake pulls him into his arms. A few tears escape his eyes, because though Danny had never gotten to know Steve’s mother all that well -- the main purpose of visits being to find some time alone -- he sheds the tears for Steve, for the first-hand knowledge of what he’s going to go through with all this.

Danny doesn’t hear anything the next day, doesn’t hear anything at all until Saturday morning, the day of the funeral. He dresses in the same black suit he’d worn to his mother’s funeral, catches Steve’s eye for the first time in days as he ducks his head at the graveside.

He doesn’t smile, doesn’t cry, just looks at Steve in the hope that he’s giving off something in the ballpark of empathy.

He and Jake are the only two of their family here with Matty holding the fort down back home.

It’s not until they’re inside, room echoing with condolences that Danny walks over, puts a grounding touch to Steve’s forearm as he attempts to smile back at him. “Call if you need anything,” Danny says, and then he leaves.

The next day, Steve comes around to the house when the others are out, asks if they can swim out to that spot by the cliff. Danny says yes, because though he’s sure any psychologist would warn off sexual activity to numb the pain, Danny can see just how much Steve’s needs this.

So they go, spend half an hour with a couple of blowjobs and not nearly enough kisses, and then make their way back to the house. The hour they total together is way too quiet, way too uncomfortable, and Danny can feel something heavy in the atmosphere.

And in hindsight, that kiss Steve leaves him with before slipping through the front door, is far too desperate, far too forced to mean anything but goodbye.

Danny doesn’t even get to say the three words he’s been working up to saying these last couple of months, because Steve pulls out, face hardened and harsh and more than a little hurt.

Danny finds his watch a little later, forgotten on the edge of the basin where Steve must have left it when he got changed. Danny straps it onto his wrist, closes his eyes, and resolves to run it up to the house tomorrow morning.

Only, when the morning comes, Steve is gone.

Chapter Text

Danny spends the next eighteen years of his life pretty much miserable. Of course, there are highs, there are lows, and there are some periods where Danny even almost forgets about the short six months he had with Steve, but in general, the theme is a numbing feeling.

With Steve’s disappearance to a boarding school on the mainland, Danny has only two things to remember the guy by; the watch, which very rarely leaves his wrist for the ensuing eighteen years; and the bracelet he finds a couple of months later, lying beneath his bed in a position that seems far too deliberate for it’s lingering to have been an accident. It’s the one identical to Danny’s own, and in just a couple of months they’re both in tatters from all the touches. Danny takes the bracelets off, leaves them in his wallet to pull out on a particularly bad day, reminding himself all over again how he’s managed to let himself get so fucking hung up on the giant sixteen year old he fell in love with.

In terms of trying to contact Steve, John McGarrett is absolutely useless. So useless in fact, that it leads to a falling out between him and Jake. That afternoon of confrontation had been the angriest Danny had ever seen Jake since arriving on Oahu, and he hadn’t even laid eyes on him until after he’d arrived home. Only after establishing that Jake hadn’t mentioned anything more than a platonic relationship between the two boys had Danny dared to ask if the visit had helped with finding Steve. It hadn’t.

And so Danny had thanked him for trying, and cut himself off from everyone on the island but his siblings, Jake, and Catherine. When graduation had rolled around, and the time had come to choose a path to take, Danny had quickly decided that he was to follow the childhood ambition of becoming a cop. So, desperate to leave the island but determined to stay for the sake of the others, Danny had eagerly taken Jake up on the offer of helping him out in the garage on a more regular basis, splitting his time between there and college.

And it was with a strange kind of reluctance that Danny had ended up leaving the island at the age of twenty-one. Because, don’t get him wrong, Danny was being driven away from Hawaii by the same force that had driven them from New Jersey in the first place; memories. But there had been little left on the mainland five years ago in the way of people Danny was sad to see go. Now there’s Jake.

But all four of them say goodbye. They have too. With Lucy still unwilling to be in a different state than Danny, Matty somehow conning his way into an accountancy firm with dreams of making it to Wall Street, and Olivia simply coming with them by default, they leave Jake. He’s not alone this time. He has Andrew, the boyfriend moving in with him the week following the departure of the Williams’ kids, but Danny promises they’ll all stay in touch, visit if they ever get the chance.

Which they don’t.

So with Matty working, he moves Olivia into his new place with the promise of a room until she finds her feet, and Danny finds a place to rent with Lucy, she being enrolled in the high school Danny had been attending before they left for Hawaii. She moves out a good few years later, and then Danny spends a couple more years numb, unable to feel much at all.

He hooks up with a few women, hooks up with even fewer men for the simple reason that they bear a stronger resemblance to the guy that Danny knows no one could ever truly match up to.

And then Rachel comes along.

He charms her into coffee, then into bed, then into a marriage, and then Gracie is born. The most beautiful thing Danny has ever seen in his life, instantly topping the list of Danny’s priorities until the day he dies.

It’s enough. It’s just not quite...everything. There’s still a McGarrett shaped hole in Danny’s heart, and though Rachel and Grace are a pretty good fit, it’s not enough to fill the cracks, not enough to stop the hurt from seeping through. And then things inevitably fall apart. Danny loved Rachel very much, but, deny it as he may, the marriage would never have lasted, not with Danny entertaining a constant stream of ‘What ifs’. Rachel began to resent Danny for his work, for his passion, one of the few things that had ever been able to distract him.

Apart from Grace. Because when Danny’s with Grace, it’s almost great again. She’s so like Lucy despite the polar opposite aesthetics. And Danny clings to her like a lifeline. The odd visit from Lucy, Olivia, or Matty helps too, but Danny has never been more than a shadow of his former self.

And the realization that no amount of distance can ever truly help what he’s going through is what ultimately allows Danny to return to Oahu. Lucy follows him though. And Danny really does try hard to convince her not to come with him, but before he’s really gotten started on the persuasions, she’s eliminated most of the barriers, finding a room to rent and transferring to write for the biggest newspaper on the island within a week of expressing any interest.

Matty and Olivia are still living close together in Newark, with Matty making the daily commute, so Danny can’t really do anything but agree. So they end up back on the island, eighteen years since their last stay on the island, and eighteen years since last seeing Jake.

He’s their first stop.

And really, the guy hasn’t changed a bit. Andrew, whom Jake had started seeing while the Williams kids had been living with him, is great, and they’re happy together. They’ve spoken some in the last two decades, but nothing’s comparable to the irrational safety Danny feels when he’s engulfed in a hug, burying his face in the crook of Jake’s neck and breathing in the familiarity. All he manages to get out is, “It’s great to see you, Jake,” before he’s forced to pull away, let Lucy have her turn.

And then there’s another six months of hell. There’s six months of Rachel doing her absolute damnedest to minimise Danny’s time with Grace, six months of being made an outcast by all but one member of the Honolulu Police Department -- Meka, Matty’s old friend, being the exception -- and there’s six months of seeing Steve’s face everywhere: in the occasional glimpses Danny catches of John McGarrett at the station, in every goddamn fucking grain of sand -- and there’s a lot of them -- and to top it off, the bloody ocean.

It seems those looks from Lucy all those years ago hadn’t been entirely oblivious, because she’s mentioned it once or twice, but they rarely speak of Steve, because it only tears down pretty much every defence Danny has built over the years.

Chapter Text

And then, six months after moving back to the island, John McGarrett dies. Murdered. And Danny thinks, thinks really hard about taking a holiday, because Steve McGarrett is bound to come back to the islands; if nothing else, then for his father’s funeral.

Danny keeps his head down as much as possible, and Oahu has lots of people, so he figures he can blend in. The only problem is, through trying to avoid John McGarrett for the past half a year, Danny has pretty much made himself the only person eligible on the island to investigate his death.

And he gets pretty much nowhere. Not for a lack of trying, because however much Danny may want to forget about the whole McGarrett family, there’s no denying he’s a professional and fucking good at his job.

So after dropping Grace at school in the morning, seeing her off with a kiss and a “Danno loves you,” he makes his way down to the McGarrett house to take another look at everything, hoping that the couple of days he’s had away from it will provide a sort of fresh eyes effect. Only Danny’s a detective -- and a good one at that -- so when he arrives, it takes him no more than five seconds to walk around the house to realize that he’s not alone. It’s just an inexplicable feeling coupled with a single creak, and then Danny makes his way to the garage.

He can see the back of a head as he enters, gun raised. “Hey, you. Hands up, don’t move!”

“Who are you?” is the response that comes, and as Danny continues into the room, and the guy turns around, Danny has to suppress some kind of girly gasp, keep a handle on his temperament and remain with his gun in the air on the off-chance that this is some kind of trap.

He sees Steve’s eyes widen at the same moments his own do, though, and then, stuck in a state of shock, they just stare at each other, neither one able to kill the other in an instant. Danny kind of feels like doing it, too. Much as he loved -- loves? -  Danny’s not sure yet -- the guy, he’s so fucking angry right now.

“Danny?” Steve asks, cocking his head as he moves to stand in an awkward position, body relaxing slightly but gun still raised. And yeah, Danny’s heard about the idiot’s decorated military career, but God, he’s changed.

“Yeah, do you mind putting the fucking gun down.” It’s supposed to come out as a question but it ends up as more of an order, and Steve looks down at his gun for a moment -- as though confused -- before lowering the weapon and standing up, back ramrod straight.

Danny follows suit, a little more slowly because he’s supposed to be the police officer in this situation, the one with the control.

“Jesus, McGarrett. What the hell are you doing here? It’s an active crime scene.”

“Doesn’t look so active.” Shit, that was said with way too much hostility, and Danny is suddenly sure that this is not the same man he knew all those years ago. Not really.

And Danny really can’t be dealing with this. He swings around in a circle once, holstering the gun and shoving one hand into a pant pocket -- it’s been called the Danny Williams Swagger on many an occasion -- he walks out of the room, determinedly not looking back to the freaking lunatic.

He knows Steve will follow him, he can hear the footsteps just starting up. But he really needs to get outside or he’s at serious risk of suffering an asthma attack. Not that he has asthma.

Danny puts both hands on the hood of the Camaro, leaning down and hanging his head because he has no idea what to do with this situation. After several seconds -- all of which he can feel being observed by the six foot giant -- he makes the decision to let Steve lead on this, play it cool because he doesn’t really know what else to do. He’s a fish out of water, so to speak.

He slowly gets up, spins his body around so that he’s leaning against -- almost sitting -- on the hood, and waits for Steve to make the first move.

“Fuck,” is all that comes.

“Yeah,” Danny says, because that pretty much sums it up. Danny crosses his arms. “Hey, you know you can’t be here.” He glances down to the toolbox, “And you can’t take that with you, you know that. It’s evidence.” Steve’s eyes flicker down momentarily to nothing in particular, and Danny is suddenly very aware of the watch on his left hand, the watch that Steve probably won’t even remember, just like the feelings between them all those years ago, by the looks of things.

Danny is beginning to think -- if he’s honest, he’s thought it since day one -- that Steve hadn’t found the separation nearly as difficult as Danny had. He tucks the hand behind his back discreetly, waits for an answer.

“I came with this.”

“Look, would you just- Don’t, okay. I know it was there, it’s probably been catalogued too, so would you just put it back and leave.” There’s a pause. “I’m sorry for your loss,” Danny’s voice sounds detached, even to his own ear. “But you know this is against procedure.” Or at least he hopes he does, father being a cop and all. “What’s in the box?” he finally asks, because though it pains him to admit it, maybe McGarrett has noticed something Danny hasn’t.

Steve just smirks in response. “How long you been with the Honolulu PD?” He has the front to give a half laugh, and shit, if Danny hadn’t once loved this guy, he would have shot him by now. He gets it a lot though, the ribbing for the suit and tie.

“None of your business. Who are you, Barbara Walters?” Danny can’t help it, because apparently this idiot does exactly the same thing to his personality as it had done almost twenty years ago. Danny’s always been sarcastic, ironic, but it always used to get worse when Steve was around, and apparently that hasn’t changed. It’s the most animated conversation -- standoff -- he’s been a part of in eighteen years.

“You know it is my business if you’re investigating my father’s death.”

“I am. And I’d like to get back to that, so the sooner you leave, the sooner I can-”

“Anything you say.” And by this point they’re virtually talking over each other, having a conversation at double speed without anyone talking quicker than usual.

“Leave the box, or get arrested, alright?” Danny’s words are so clear that even Grace could follow the instructions now.

“You gonna call for backup?” He looks so fucking smug; as though their history is gonna change Danny’s answer to that.

Actually, it does. “An ambulance.” That finally seems to get through to Steve, and Danny watches as he sets the box down. “Thank you.”

“Don’t thank me yet.” The next couple of minutes are fucking ridiculous, like something out of a TV show. Danny just stands there, leans a little further back onto the Camaro and can do nothing but watch as Steve pulls out his phone, dials a number from speed dial, gets sworn in, assembles a one man task force, and makes small talk with the governor of freaking Hawaii.

“Now it’s my crime scene.” Danny just spins full circle once, lands back against the car as he runs one hand -- the other still firmly tucked into his pocket -- over the stubble at his chin.

When he dares to look back to Steve, something has changed. Like they’ve transferred from a professional conversation -- if you can call it that -- to a personal one.

“So, hey, D.” Danny cringes at the name, can’t help what slips out next.

“Don’t even-“ He takes a deep breath. “You call me that again, and I swear to God, you’re gonna need that ambulance.” Steve looks faintly amused, but something about Danny’s expression must be enough to convince him not to bother, because he continues.

“Danny, is there any chance you could give me a lift to the Hilton?”

Danny just laughs and clicks his tongue as he pulls his keys out of his pockets. “No fucking way, jackass.” He gets in the Camaro, ignores Steve’s purposeful stares as he attempts to demand Danny’s attention, and then backs out of the driveway, glad to have the space alone to run over whatever the fuck just happened.

Such is the hostility from the majority of HPD that Danny has taken to doing as much of his work from home as possible. It’s against regulations to have so much police paperwork at home, but frankly, he doesn’t give a damn. So he heads back to his sore excuse for an apartment and refrains from hitting his head against the wall, choosing instead to reach for the phone by the bed slash couch.

He dials the familiar number quickly, letting out a sigh of relief when Lucy picks up her cell on the third ring.

“Danny?”

“Hey, Luce.” He lets the sentence hang, unsure of how the hell he’s supposed to proceed with this.

“You call just to hear the sound of my breathing, or did you want something? Because I’m supposed to be working, so-”

“Steve McGarrett finally got into town.”

Shit.”

“Why- What’s that supposed to mean?”

“Well, shit. As in, oh fuck, the love of your life is here and oh fuck, what the hell are you going to do about it?”

“It’s not- Look, it’s complicated, okay. He’s not…the same.”

“We can’t do this over the phone, bro. How about a drink tonight? You gonna be working?”

“Fuck if I know. I’ll call if I’m free, meet you at the pub around the corner from your place.”

“Sure.” They exchange the pleasantries and hang up, and no sooner has Danny managed to grab a bite to eat and chase it down with a drink than there’s a knock at the door. Danny assembles his frown in preparation for the man he just knows he’s gonna find behind the door.

He reluctantly pulls it open, greeted by the mug of his former best friend, and a typical afternoon downpour in the state of Hawaii.

Steve explains how he swung by the precinct to check up on the investigation, and Danny just sighs as he forces his way into the ‘apartment,’ looking around the place with a level of disgust to rile him. Because the apartment may be a piece of crap, but only Danny is allowed to say that.

“Is this your kid?” he asks, and Danny considers telling him to fuck right off.

He settles for something slightly more polite. “Yeah, that’s stunning detective work.” Slightly.

“You don’t actually let her stay here with you, do you?” Deep breaths, Danny. Count to twenty.

“What are you, huh, Nanny 911?” Honestly, it kind of pisses Danny off a little that that is all Steve has to ask about family, about the past eighteen years of his life. It’s beginning to look more and more likely that their relationship had been a one-sided tale of unreciprocated love, which is different to how Danny remembers it.

Steve fires off about the case again, slipping back into professional mode as Danny reluctantly gives his opinion on each piece of evidence that Steve suggests.

“Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa. Are you suffering from dementia? This is no longer my case.”

“Your captain said you transferred in from New Jersey six months ago so your eyes are still fresh,” he says, like that should change anything.

“You know, I appreciate it but my psych eval’s not for six weeks.”

“Fold out bed, no ring on your finger. You obviously moved back out here to be close to your daughter. Which means in between visits all you got is your job and you take pride in it. That’s what I’m looking for.”

“Yeah, but y’know what, it’s guys like you that think they know how to do everything better and that only makes my job harder.” Not to mention the significant amount of baggage that could come with a partnership like this.

“You got no choice, Detective.” And now Danny wants to punch him. So. Fucking. Hard. Where the hell does the idiot get off telling him that. And calling him that. It’s like they’ve never met, and he’s so different that Danny’s beginning to wonder whether they actually have. “The governor gave me jurisdiction, I’m making you my partner.” Then there’s a glint of something. For the first time in the last couple of minutes there seems to be some sort of suggestion that they might have known each other. Once. “We’re gonna get along great.” And Danny wonders, really, has he been listening to the same conversation? Because as far as Danny can tell he’s given off every indicator of exactly the opposite, even despite the fact that years ago, they really did get on like a house on fire.

Danny resists the urge to shout down the place and follows him out the door, grabbing his keys and phone as he does.

A loaded silence falls between them, and it’s not broken until Danny’s cell rings, the familiar ringtone immediately presenting him with the urge to chuck the damn thing through the nearby window. He probably would, too, if said window didn’t happen to belong to his beloved Camaro. He rejects the call and lets out a sigh before realizing just how telling that might have been.

“Take it your marriage didn’t end too well?” Danny doesn’t owe the guy anything, but the words flow anyway.

“No. It would’ve had my ex-wife not remarried and dragged my daughter to this pineapple-infested hellhole.” Any fondness he might have developed for the place had quickly disintegrated with Steve’s departure, even upon return years later. Though that seems thoroughly stupid right now.

“You still don’t like the beach?”

“I still don’t like the beach.” Steve had made fucking sure of that when he’d upped and left.

Danny chances a glance over, and what he sees leaves him royally pissed off. He’s not sure what he was hoping for, maybe just an improvement on earlier. But Steve still looks the same; cold, amused by Danny’s apparent suffering, and so fucking smug it makes Danny want to drive straight into the ocean. Hot though; still hot.

“Still swimming for survival then?” And really, the fact that Steve remembers that conversation -- the night of his sixteenth birthday -- just as well as Danny does, that really shouldn’t make him happy.

The phone rings again, and Danny answers with a sigh. “Yes, Dear.”

“Danno?” Danny’s face rearranges into an involuntary smile, world brightening for a little while as he realizes it’s Gracie on the phone.

“Hey, Monkey.”

“Is something wrong?”

 “No, no, no. I thought you were your mom.”

“I was the most popular table in show and tell, Danno!”

“I am so glad that everyone liked Mr. Hoppy.”

“I’m looking forward to Saturday.”

“I’m excited too, babe. We’re gonna have so much fun this weekend.” Danny keeps his eyes firmly on the road, because he knows just how soft he sounds when he’s on the phone to his baby girl, he can’t help it. Wouldn’t want to.

“I have to go, just wanted to say hello. Love you.”

“Hey, Danno loves you.”

Danny puts the phone down, momentary contentment interrupted by the sound of Steve’s voice. He turns, completely unable to associate this guy with the sixteen-year-old McGarrett. Steve’s giving him nothing though, straight faced and serious like the Navy training has beaten all emotion out of him.

“Who’s Danno?”

“Don’t.”

“Hmm?”

“Jus-“

“Okay.”

“Thank you,” Danny says, insincere as hell because he knows it will take the guy less than a minute to ignore him.

“Danno,” Steve repeats, and there it is. The way that name just rolled right off the tongue leaves no doubt in Danny’s mind that today won’t be the last time he hears that name uttered from that annoyingly gorgeous -- and completely irritating -- mouth.

Danny rises above and ignores it, settling back into silence for a good five minutes.

“How have you been?” Steve finally asks, and Danny actually lets out a laugh at that. They dated for four months, knew each other for six, supposedly cared about each other more than anything, and Steve attempts to gloss over the past eighteen years with a simple How have you been?

How have you been, he says, Jesus fucking Christ, Steven. Just shut up, alright? Shut the fuck up.” Mercifully, he does.

Only problem is, that silence and peace clearly have an undisclosed expiry date, because less than half an hour later, Steve has got Danny shot, Danny has saved his life, and there’s been nothing in the form of apologies or thanks for anything that’s happened.

Danny is sitting and getting his arm tended to, and Action Man is nowhere to be seen, presumably working his way through searching the house. Danny walks around to meet him.

“Okay, so she was smuggled in four days ago on a cargo ship from China.”

“Excuse me,” Danny interrupts. “Excuse me.” Steve continues with details of the case regardless, ignoring Danny’s attempts to get his attention.

“Okay, excuse me. I’m sorry.” And he really shouldn’t be the one saying that. “This is typically where you would, uh, say thank you for saving your life.”

Steve just gives him a look, similar to the constipated one Danny had named in their teens. “You just shot my only lead.”

“Are you kidding me?” And just like that his attention is diverted back away from Danny and onto the case. Danny raises his voice. “You just took a stupid risk, okay. Understand that. I am not getting myself killed for your vendetta. I have a daughter, okay?”

“Yeah that girl there is someone’s daughter, too.”

“You don’t get it, you don’t get it.” Danny can feel the exasperation in his own voice as he shifts from foot to foot. He knows he’s gonna explode sometime soon. Very soon. “I mean, for someone who just lost his father, you’re pretty dense.” Danny knows it’s a low blow, but the words are out before he’s had a chance to filter them, and Steve is just being so fucking annoying.

“What did you just say?” And Danny can feel the confrontation coming on. “What’d you just say to me?” And shit, he looks angry. “What if she was yours, huh? Is there anything that you wouldn’t do to hunt down the son of a bitch that did that to her?” Steve has seen Danny with Lucy too many times for him not to know the answer to that one. Danny’s the same with Grace as he had been with Lucy.

“Do not question my resolve ok-“ Danny raises a finger, getting well within Steve’s personal space as he gets increasingly heated.

“I’m warning you. Take your finger out of my face.”

“Listen to me, you son of a bitch,” Danny says, jabbing to punctuate the words. And then Steve does it. And it’s unfair really, after all of Danny’s self-restraint today that he’s the guy to ‘land the first punch.’

Danny stays still, listening to Steve’s words as he keeps him in an armlock, saying whatever he thinks Steve wants to hear so he’ll finally be released from the hold. It figures that the guy is a ninja now, was pretty close even back then.

“Listen, okay. Now you don’t have to like me,” -- Danny sure as hell doesn’t -- “But right now, there’s no one else to do this job.”

“Okay,” Danny gets out. “Let me go.”

And Steve does. So Danny stretches out his fingers, straightens out slowly, and then takes his best swing. Which he knows is fucking good, because he and Steve both learnt from the best; each other. And Danny still has just as much upper body strength as he had all those years ago.

So he pulls back, follows through with the satisfying sensation of his knuckles connecting with Steve’s jaw, leaving a nice kind of pain in his hand when Steve staggers, bending over to take a second to recover. Danny sees the wince, knows he’s done some damage.

“You’re right, I don’t like you,” Danny says, more to himself than Steve. With that, he walks away, refusing to look back as he heads for the car. Steve is already there though, either ignoring the punch Danny just landed or finally catching up and realizing he’d deserved it.

Danny is still a little uncomfortable with the humongous elephant in the room, but he’s happy to let it sit until the end of the case in the hope that Steve will fuck off back to the Army or whatever. He cringes at how quickly Steve has turned into something he wants back to something he wants to go away. The thing is, he still wants Steve back, but he wants the sixteen year old…in the least inappropriate way possible.

“How’s the arm?” Steve asks as he drives, and Danny’s feeling a little better now, a little more relaxed after indulging himself in the unorthodox form of stress relief.

“Let’s just…not talk.”

“Right now or ever again?”

“Just- Both, okay.”

“You know, I think you might know why your wife left you.” Dangerous territory, but hey, maybe it’ll give Danny another reason to punch the jackass.

“Really?”

“Yeah, you’re very sensitive.”

“Sensitive?” Danny looks out the other side of the car for a moment, because they’ve had this conversation before. He has the flashback to that McGarrett barbecue that they’d all been invited to in their first few days on the island, when Steve had accused Danny of the very same thing. He takes a similar approach.

“Yeah.”

“I’m sensitive, huh. You think I’m sensitive?”

“Well, a little bit, yeah.”

“When did you come to the conclusion that I was sensitive, huh?” Danny can feel the hand gestures making an appearance, never so ‘vocal’ as when confronted with one Steve McGarrett. “Was it when a bullet was tearing through my flesh, is that when I seemed sensitive to you, huh?” Steve looks at him blankly, maybe a little reminiscent. “I am really happy that you are not afraid of anything, okay? I am glad that you have that G.I. Joe thousand-yard stare from chasing shoe bombers around the world, okay?” Now he’s practically quoting himself. “But in civilised society, we have rules, okay? It’s the unspoken glue that separates us from jackals and hyenas, alright?”

“Jackals and hyenas?”

“Yeah, whatever. Animal planet, okay?” And really, for two people so close together, Danny is aware that he is talking -- shouting -- far too loud. “The point is, rule number one; if you get somebody shot, you apologize.

“I’m sorry.”

“And you don’t wait for a special occasion, okay. Like birthdays-“

“I’m sorry.”

“Or frickin’ presidents’ day-“

“Look man, I’m sorry okay. I said I’m sorry. I’m sincerely sorry.” Danny can feel him watching him. “That’s what I was trying to tell you, last year; when this conversation first started.”

Danny bites his lip, runs a tongue over both of them as he tries to figure out what the fuck to do with the asshole. One glance over says he’s still not as strong as he’d hoped when it comes to resisting that face, however different it may be from the last time he saw it.

“Your, uh, apology is noted. Acceptance is pending.” It’s the best he can do, considering the guy just lost his dad.

“You let me know, now.” And this kind of conversation is easy to fall into, every word dripping with sarcasm.

“Yeah, I’ll let you know.”

Next up is a visit to Chin Ho Kelly, and Danny still vaguely remembers his face from the one time he’d met him at that barbeque. Thankfully, he seems to be cut from a different cloth to McGarrett, more level headed and reasonable despite the colourful history with HPD.

The trip to Kamekona would have been entertaining if not for the fact that Danny and Steve had ended up outside with t-shirts eleven sizes too big for them, heavy and deafening silence still making every moment spent together awkward. Technically, they’re still at work though, so Danny says nothing, fighting hard to maintain the professionalism in the hope that Steve will have nothing more than the punch to suggest otherwise by the end of the case.

The last introduction of the day is to none other than Kono, and Danny wanders if Lucy has met up with her since arriving back on the island. Not as far as he can remember being told.

Danny watches from the shore with the others as she decks a male surfer and discards her board in the sand. “Kono,” Danny grins, and for all the closeness of this girl and his sister, Danny himself had never actually known her that well.

She’s still got the dimples though, and Danny pulls her into a hug regardless. She looks good. They talk about the case for a bit before Kono turns to him. “Lucy back in town or is it just you? I’d love to see her.”

Danny gives her Lucy’s cell phone number, assuring her that Lucy would love to hear from her before they get back to the case.

And then something miraculous happens, because Steve manages not to piss Danny off for a good couple of hours. It really is almost as if they’ve never met and as much as Danny feels put upon to say it, they work well together.

And then the goddamn bastard has to take his shirt off as they go out back, still talking about the case as Danny tries desperately to keep his gaze from cataloguing the countless tattoos that seem to have made their way onto Steve’s body in the time apart. Danny’s only human.

And then Steve breaks the few seconds of quiet. “So, you gonna tell me what Danno means?” It’s still rolling off of his tongue just as easily as before, and it makes Danny uncomfortable, annoyed at the way he used to be happy that the guy gave him a nickname

“Yeah, when you tell me what’s in the tool box.” Danny still doesn’t understand why Steve had been so insistent on taking it.

“Truth is, I don’t know yet.” Danny takes a long pull of beer and turns his body to eliminate the temptation for his gaze to linger. “All I know, is that my father wanted me to find it.” Mercifully, he seems to have re-clothed himself. “Right now it’s just a puzzle.”

“You know, me and Grace, we like puzzles.” It’s not something Danny had to say, but Steve’s face has softened ever so slightly with the memory of his father, a shadow of his former self making its way into Steve’s face and body in the way he relaxes a little into his seat. And Danny thinks for a split-second, maybe it’s not too late.

“You’re a good father.”

“Yeah, maybe. I don’t know, y’know?” He really doesn’t. “There’s three ways of looking at it. One; I could get myself killed chasing some meth-head scumbag, and then what kind of father would I be?” A dead one. A very dead one.

“I always looked up to my father for that. Y’know, the sacrifices he made.” Yeah, Danny remembers. “I’m sure Grace is gonna feel the same way.”

“Yeah, maybe,” he concedes, because he really hopes so. “Either that or she may just think I’m a selfish son of a bitch. Y’know, ‘cause the truth is, it’s all I got. I need this. I wanna do what I’m good at, I wanna be reminded I’m good at what I do. If that means having to put up with your twisted belief that you are never wrong” -- and all of the fucking baggage that comes with it -- “so be it.”

Steve smiles at him as he takes the second wooden chair, and something feels a little different between them than before. Good different.

“So what’s the third?”

“Well even if I tell myself this isn’t permanent, it’s Gracie’s home now. It’s my job to keep it safe.” For Lucy too, because however old she may be, she’ll always be Danny’s little sister.

Another silence falls over them, the most comfortable one yet. Steve breaks it. “So, D- Danny,” he corrects himself after Danny’s outburst earlier. “Are we gonna- I mean, should we-“

“When we close the case,” Danny says, begrudgingly admitting to himself that they are gonna have to talk about this eventually.

Steve’s phone rings with a call from Chin about a break on the case, and Danny leaves Steve to it, calling Lucy and telling her to meet him at the pub.

He pulls her into a hug, a genuine smile breaking across his features. “Don’t even think about asking anything to do with me tonight, this is about you.” Danny makes a face. “Fine. One question.”

“Did Kono call?”

“Yeah, I’m meeting her some point this week. Now talk.”

Danny buys his time with orders for a couple of drinks at the bar before finally looking at Lucy properly. He shrugs. “He’s back. Got in a couple of days ago by the sounds of it.”

“And?”

“He’s changed. In a bad way, I think.” Lucy motions for him to continue, and Danny gives the cliff notes of what’s happened to get them to this point before giving another shrug. “I dunno if it’s the Navy, or just time. But he’s not the same. And I’m pretty sure there’s not anything…” He wants to say something about their relationship, about how Steve has seemingly gotten over it so easily, another meeting giving him no problems whatsoever. But he doesn’t.

He just stands, hugs Lucy for another long minute before driving her back to the place where she’s renting a room. And then, as though Danny hasn’t had enough fucking excitement for one day, he finds Catherine Rollins on his doorstep.

Danny seriously considers driving around the block a couple of times purely because of the heavy Steve association about to take place, and because this conversation is likely to go very similar to the one he’s just had. But he used to like Cath, so he gets out, praying that the Navy hasn’t done to her what it seems it may have done to Steve.

“Cath?” he asks, as though he doesn’t already know. She’s just as beautiful as before; tall, dark, good body.

She smiles, and yeah, she hasn’t changed a single bit. Danny lets himself be pulled into a hug by the uniformed officer, makes no protest when she leaves a kiss close to the corner of his mouth. And Danny realizes he’s grinning like an idiot.

Danny looks to his apartment for a moment. “I would invite you in, but if I’m honest we’re probably better off out here.” They sit down on the step, and Christ these past couple of days have involved far too many surprises.

“Why are you here, Cath? Not that I’m not happy to see you, but-“

“I’ve been avoiding you,” she says, and Danny had figured as much. “For eighteen years, I’ve been avoiding you.”

Danny just nods. “Look, I’ve had way too much of all this evasive shit. So could you just…tell me.”

She nods. “After I left the island, I joined the Navy, went through the motions…bumped into Steve somewhere along the way. Uh,” she looks to the sky. “Blah, blah, blah, avoided you in case you asked about him, started at Naval Intelligence, assigned to USS Enterprise, and now I’m back. Working Intelligence at Pearl. I’ll probably be deployed again at some point, but Hawaii is where I’ll be in down time. And I figured now Steve is back here for good, I can stop ignoring you.”

Danny groans at this whole situation and runs a hand over his face. They’re silent for a long while before Catherine starts up again.

“Look, Danny. You and Steve are still two of the people I care most about, even if I haven’t seen you in…a long time, which is why I need to tell you something. I have no idea what your situation is, but Steve still loves you.”

Danny turns to her, face aghast. “Is this some kind of sick joke? Are you fucking kidding me? He tell you he got me shot the other day? Didn’t even apologize. He’s been bugging me all day with his insane antics, and the way he looks at me… He didn’t say a thing you know, not one single thing about everything that happened back then until this afternoon-“

Cath cuts him off with a shake of the head and a fond smile. “You don’t get it.” Danny’s beginning to think he really doesn’t. “Okay, look, maybe I should have elaborated a little on that blah, blah, blah bit. Just listen, Danny. Promise me you’re not going to say anything until I’m done.”

“Fine.”

“And I swear to God if you tell him I told you this, I’ll murder you.” Danny nods, at pains not to break the first rule.

“Okay, when we first met again in Naval Intelligence, he was still pretty much broken. Bear in mind this was almost a decade later. And I know you’ll think I’m exaggerating, but I’m not. He’d been alone though and I think I must have helped, and by the time a year had gone around he seemed a little better. We, uh, we hooked up a few times,” Danny’s eyes widen. “Because well, we knew each other, it was safe, and DADT was still in place. It didn’t last long though. Neither of us had ever been there for more than the physical, but he seemed to stop wanting even that, so we broke it off, spent the time mostly talking instead.”

Cath detects the question in Danny’s eye. “Not about you, never about you, which, in itself, is pretty telling. So he got a little better, but only in exchange for his personality. You probably noticed, he’s not really the same guy. I still love him, but he’s more detached, less emotional, he’s closed himself off to the pain of anything like that happening again.”

Catherine puts an arm on Danny’s, and he turns to look her in the eye, quite frankly freaking out at the possibility of all of this being true. Because what the fuck would it mean anyway, if Steve is no longer more than a shell. It’s selfish, maybe, but being in a relationship like that wouldn’t help Steve any more than it would help Danny.

“Danny, he hasn’t stopped loving you for a single second. And I know it’s hard, all of this is. But please, just talk to him. Let him explain.”

“Can I talk now?”

“Yeah.”

“Is he gonna leave? I mean, I know he accepted the governor’s offer, but I figured he’d just go back once he’s closed his dad’s case.”

“No. He’ll stay. Unless he thinks you’d be better off without him. If he thinks it’ll be easier on you, he might leave again.” She gets up from her spot on the steps and shoves a hand in her pocket as Danny tries to comprehend what the fuck is happening to his life.

Danny gets up, and Cath hands him a piece of paper. “Listen, I have to go. But this is my phone number, we’ll meet for dinner or something, okay?”

She turns to leave, and Danny catches her, pulls her close for another hug and kisses her on the cheek. “Thanks.”

By the time he’s in bed, Danny has no idea what the hell to think. It’s way too late, and Danny is way too tired, but the revelation that Steve is still supposedly in love with him isn’t helping his state, so it takes a long while to fall into a fitful sleep.

Danny makes a very purposeful attempt to compartmentalize the following morning, refusing point blank to even think about last night considering that, should things go well, they may finally get to talk about it tonight.

After the rescue, Danny notes the tactile touches they give each other, almost intimate to an outsider, and he curses himself because though he’s returning them, Steve still looks distant somehow.

And then comes the fucking ship incident. During which Danny makes the very stupid mistake of telling the story behind the Danno nickname in the hope that seeing it’s Grace’s thing will deter Steve from using it in the future.

Apparently not, because less than five minutes later comes the words, “Book ‘em, Danno.” And right then, Danny just knows he’ll never shake the name. It should probably piss him off too -- and it does -- but there’s something strangely nice about it, and Danny presses a sub-conscious touch to the watch on his left wrist which he’s continued wearing only due to the fact that Steve hadn’t seemed to notice. It’s a common watch, anyway.

And then there’s that thing again, a glimmer of the open face that Danny remembers the first time he met the sixteen-year-old Steve McGarrett as he walks into Danny’s new office in the middle of their moving into the place.

He approaches while Danny’s sorting through papers, looking thoroughly bruised but not all that bad for it.

“Hey,” Danny looks up, smiles just a little because for whatever reason, the injuries soften his face, make him look less indestructible than he acts. He leans down to place something on the table, and Danny picks it up with a suspicious glare.

“Uh, what is this?” he asks, because Steve is already fleeing from the room.

“Three nights at the Kahala Hotel,” he says, like it’s nothing in the world. “Look, I know you’re gonna say no…”

“Yeah, you’re right. I’m gonna say no. What is it with you and my living arrangements?”

“Grace is coming over this weekend, right?”

“Yeah.”

“Okay, so I heard this place has a pool. You can swim with the dolphins, just take it.”

“Hey,” Danny says because the idiot is already backing out of the room again. “Uh, you look, you look really bad.” His eyes drift down to the sling. “Thank you.”

“You’re welcome.” The guy really seems in a rush to get out of here, but Danny walks around the desk.

“Hey, Steve, would you just wait a sec. Listen, I can do this” -- he gestures to the vast amounts of paperwork concerned with their impromptu and entirely illegal boarding of a Chinese ship -- “tomorrow. You wanna get a drink or something? Y’know, talk?”

Steve looks indecisive, guard let part the way down as he nods and gestures to the sling. “You mind staying in though, the house?”

Danny nods and tucks the tickets into his pocket. “I’ll be there in ten.”

Fifteen minutes later, he’s sat in the same chair as yesterday, light dimming as he takes a pull of the beer and runs a finger over the plastic of the watch absentmindedly. When Steve comes back out, Danny can tell just by the look on his face that he’s noticed, that he’d noticed some time ago.

“You kept that, huh?” He’s smiling, and Danny can’t help but return the expression just a little. He could try and pass this off as nothing more than a coincidence, claim to have happened to pick up the same one back in Jersey. For whatever reason, he doesn’t.

Danny looks down to the watch, unclasps it from his wrist and passes it to Steve. “Just holding on to it for you.”

Steve takes it, and Danny can feel his eyes on the side of his head as he turns back to the ocean, letting the motions calm him as far as possible.

“Hey,” he says, voice low as he calls Danny’s attention back to him. “Take this one.”

Danny turns to him, jaw hanging slack. “What is this? First a stay in a hotel, now a watch. You think I’m some kind of charity case?”

Steve hangs his head, and when he looks back up, the eyes are a softer blue, expression a little more vulnerable and heartfelt. Still nowhere close to the former Steve, but closer.

“D,” Danny doesn’t correct him this time. “It’s not that, you know it’s not that.” Danny watches as he shuffles around in his seat, giving him access to a pocket. “Look, I get it. I get why you held on to the watch. Hell, I’ve had this in my wallet for eighteen years.”

He passes over a piece of paper, and Danny unfolds it crease by crease, the material worn to the point of tearing with what looks like years of folding and unfolding. It’s the picture of he and Steve that Lucy drew, Danny’s hair yellow and wild and Steve about twice the size of him.

Danny turns to him, brow creased in…he’s not sure what. He looks to it and then back to Steve again, both watches still in his hands.

“Please, Danny. Just take the watch. It will give me the excuse to get one with a waterproof strap anyway.” Danny remains hesitant and unmoving as Steve leans forward and takes his hand, fastening the strap around his wrist as Danny just watches. He gets another de ja vu moment with Steve’s hands encircling his wrist, mind cast back to his sixteenth birthday with the gift of the bracelet that is still tucked away within Danny’s wallet. And for a moment Danny wonders if he’s doing this on purpose, trying to get Danny to think back to that year.

It’s a nice watch, one that looks like it has a ridiculous number of useless functions, made all the more flashy by the three separate clock faces to add to the digital one at the bottom. Danny looks at it for a moment before returning his gaze to his new boss. “So, you wanna talk then?”

“Yeah, look, ask what you need to, and then just give me a few minutes to talk, okay?”

Danny shifts his vision back to the sea, uncomfortable under Steve’s piercing stare. “Fine.” He’s quiet for a moment, trying to sum up all of the thousands of questions from the past eighteen years into just a few specific ones.

“Why did you leave, without a goodbye, without anything?” He pauses, and Steve is waiting for more. “And how was it so easy to leave?” That’s all he’s got, and he hears the long intake of breath from next to him, knees just a few centimeters from touching his own.

“Okay, firstly, it was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do, Danny. And that’s saying something considering all that’s happened in the last fifteen years.” Steve pauses for a moment, and Danny leans back into the chair and watches him fall apart just a little.

Finally he straightens up again, meeting Danny’s gaze and quickly looking away. “You know, I told my mom about us. Before she died, she knew.”

“What?”

Steve nods, a half-smile gracing his lips. “Mary had already pretty much guessed it, but I told Mom, made her swear on my life that she wouldn’t tell Dad. He wouldn’t have understood it, and if he’d known we’d probably have gotten even less time than we did.”

“And your mom?”

“She didn’t mind. ‘I’m happy if you’re happy’ is what she said.” Danny can hear a slight quiver in Steve’s voice, but nothing more.

“And Danny, I wanted to say something, I wanted to get back in touch. But I thought if I left you alone then you’d move on. And then when I heard you’d gotten married, I thought that was it…So I left you alone for good, but it was the absolute most difficult thing I’ve ever done.” He’s looking back at Danny now, and he shakes his head.

“Look, I don’t know what to say. Just- I care about you. A lot...probably more than I should. It’s been like that for eighteen years, and it’s going to stay like that for the rest of my life.” He swallows, and Danny keeps his gaze firmly on Steve’s face.

“I don’t want either of us to do something without thinking about it, because if nothing happens, then I think we can be good partners, Five-0 could work well. I love you though, so just think everything over, please.” Danny startles a little at hearing the words he’d regretted never saying himself all those years ago. He doesn’t say them back though, not yet. Not until he’s one hundred per cent sure that this is what he wants, that Steve isn’t as closed off and unemotional as he’s been these past few days, make sure that tonight isn’t a fluke or some kind of desperate attempt to get him back into bed. Danny doesn’t believe that last one anyway.

“Think,” he repeats. “Because I had a similar choice to this once before; the choice of whether to risk a military career for the guy I loved, or to turn my back on him in the hope that he’d moved on. And, Danno, I chose wrong. So take some time, all the time you need. If the answer’s no, then we can be friends, I hope, and I’ll never mention it again. If the answer’s something else, then you know where to find me.”

Danny finally gets up, hands the piece of paper back to Steve, and leaves.

Chapter Text

7.

It’s surreal the following day. Danny gets up and the first half hour is a blur, desperately trying to prevent his mind from straying to where it’s bound to go. He can’t help it though, and by the time he’s out the door and on the way to the car, he’s already got Steve’s watch on his wrist and his phone in his hand.

“Hey,” he tries to keep his voice neutral, because at this point Danny still has no idea what to do with the new information, with the new relationship prospect. “You already in or d’you want me to pick you up on my way?”

There’s a long pause, and the sound of Danny opening the door to the Camaro is what seems to shake Steve. “Nah, I’m already here. Thanks, see you in a minute.”

Danny ends the call and makes the journey, unsurprised to feel Steve’s gaze focused in on him from the moment he enters the Palace. He whole-heartedly tries to ignore it and, credit where credit’s due, Steve seems to revert back to his cold, impersonal self after only a minute or two of the indulgence.

Danny’s trying really hard, but there’s no fucking way he can comprehend all of this, no way to associate this Steve with the old Steve. It’s what he thinks over and over again, virtually every time they have a conversation, and then something will come up, like the look in his eyes last night when he’d mentioned love, and Danny thinks that maybe that sixteen year old is still in there somewhere, waiting to come out.

It’s later that day that Danny pays a visit to Jake. He hasn’t seen him in a couple of weeks, and Five-0 leaves the office early in anticipation of a long day tomorrow and because they’re waiting on old HPD records in the meantime.

Danny pulls him into a hug before shaking Andrew’s hand, and he lets himself be pulled into the house, Jake chattering about a customer from the garage earlier that day.

“What can I do you for, son?” Jake asks, and Danny only now realizes that he’s been caught in a daydream, eyes fixed firmly on the cup of coffee between his hands.

He smiles. “What, I can’t just drop around every once in a while?”

“Sure, but you haven’t heard a single word I’ve said since you got here, so why don’t you tell me what’s bothering you.” He’s not wrong, either. Andrew gives a sheepish sort of a smile and shuffles out the door, touching a hand to Jake’s as he goes. “This about Steve McGarrett?”

Danny looks up, his intention being to display some sort of surprise. He can’t muster it; somehow he doesn’t find it all that hard to believe that last night’s revelations are written all over his face.

“Maybe.” Danny meets his gaze properly now, letting Jake get a better look at him and try his best to gauge what’s happened. Danny feels exposed and tired, like his eyes alone will give any answer Jake demands.

“You love him?”

Danny lets out a quick rush of a breath. “Jeez, Jake. Just as well you got that one out quick. God forbid this conversation should start with some gentle build up.”

“Well, if the answer’s yes, which I suspect it is, then it’s pretty simple, isn’t it?”

“Is it?” Danny replies. He’s not so sure it is. “If you’d asked me before he’d come back, then I’d have said yes, without a moment of hesitation.” Jake sits in the seat opposite, hand cradling a glass of water as he waits for Danny to continue. “Has he been back here, has he come to see you?” Jake shakes his head once.

“He’s not the same, Jake. I dunno if it was the Navy, or something else, but he’s hollow and cold, nothing like the guy we knew twenty years ago. And truth is, I don’t know. It sounds terrible, but I don’t know if I love him like this.” Talking about his feelings with Jake like this feels strangely comfortable, so Danny makes no attempt to hold back.

Jake just shrugs, always the cool, calm and collected one. “Why don’t you bring him over here for dinner, I’d love to see him again anyway. Bring Grace and Lucy, too.”

It takes a while, but three weeks later, they set the date for the Wednesday of the week, the day following today’s Tuesday, the day following Grace’s first meeting with Danny’s colleagues. And it takes exactly that long for Danny to realize that he can’t go on without testing the waters a little, seeing if there’s any chance that the former Steve will make a return. And he does.

Danny’s a detective, and he’s not an idiot, so he’s noticed Steve’s glances, noticed his eyes on the back of Danny’s form for the past three weeks as Steve has been trying to gauge where they both stand.

Danny isn’t sure whether Steve had expected him to come straight back to him the day following his revelation, or whether he’d simply felt like Danny used to, eyes drawn to wherever he moves. Either way, the first week is hard, but Steve shows no shadow of disappointment, only curiosity.

Maybe it’s a result of all that Navy training again, maybe it’s something else. But Danny doesn’t believe for a second that it’s due to Steve’s exaggeration of any existing feelings, because with the man telling him on that hot Hawaiian night, looking him straight in the eye and appearing more open since their first -- second first? -- meeting, he had to be telling the truth.

But the first sign of what Danny’s looking for is all thanks to Grace.

It’s that morning spent watching a Kukui game, and the relaxed demeanor written all over Steve’s face when Danny and Grace approach, shuffling through the crowds of fans and then down the row, into their seats.

“Hey, Gracie,” he says, like he’s been calling her that her entire life. “I’m Steve; it’s great to finally meet you.” Danny watches as he offers a hand to her, giving it a little shake, and Grace looks happy enough. And then, there it is. That softer quality to Steve McGarrett’s eyes, reminiscent of the first time he’d met Lucy, reminiscent of the gentler touch he’d always adopted around her and Mary. It’s back, maybe even more so than before -- though that could just be the more drastic difference between the two personas -- and Danny has to blink a couple of times to pull him from his daze, because fuck, attractive doesn’t even begin to cover this man and the hold he has over Danny when he’s like this.

With the introductions finished, Steve and Grace continue to chat, Danny’s eyes firmly focused on the field as they venture into more dangerous territory, flinching just a little when Grace mentions how much Danny has talked about Steve at home.

Danny knows he’s talked a lot about the SEAL, can’t really avoid it when the guy is dangling people off of buildings and driving like a lunatic on a regular basis, but to the best of his knowledge the affection hasn’t entered the conversation…to the best of his knowledge.

Danny shrugs it off, but Steve’s gaze lingers on him for just a split second too long, and Danny is sure that Steve is disappointed that Danny’s said nothing to him in the past three weeks, having seemingly taken Steve up on his offer of never talking about this again.

Danny bites his lip in a way that he’s been told is mildly suggestive before, though he honestly doesn’t do it on purpose. He catches Steve staring for a moment, Kono looking on with a grin, and then Danny quickly aborts the action, throwing an arm around Grace as they settle in for fifteen minutes or so of strictly football-oriented talk.

Having Steve sit directly behind him makes watching him a hell of a lot harder than it must be the other way round, but it also acts as a kind of relief, and Danny manages to distract his attention away from the seemingly returned McGarrett, all smiles and charm just like the sixteen year old.

Steve and the cousins talk effortlessly with Grace, keeping up the familiar banter surrounding broken football records, and the plentiful fist bumps, and the continuous requests for food until Danny relents and all goes wrong.

The following two days consist of relentless work, chasing up leads, and dealing with Chin’s familial situation, and finally getting their guy just in time for the impending meal at Jake’s place. Lucy had RSVP’d without hesitation, and Steve had given a slightly less sure response with a look that said he’d clearly given up all hope of anything happening with Danny. And as of the moment, Danny’s still not sure about that.

There are these moments when they’re outside of the cases, when Steve kicks back and relaxes just a little, and Danny thinks he could easily slip into something here. And for Danny it’s important, because he’s never been the casual type, never one to sleep around, strings of one-night stands falling from his room the morning after. Everybody Danny’s ever with is something serious, he can’t help it - it’s how he’s built. And so with Steve, it’s all or nothing as far as a sexual relationship goes, and Danny’s beginning to come around to the idea that maybe all could work.

Steve has taken to driving Danny’s car, a true control freak with freakishly heightened reflexes that probably make him the better option in high-speed car chases anyway (of which there have been far too many).

Danny directs Steve in the direction of Rachel and Stan’s place, and he waits in the car while Danny gets out, grabbing Grace’s overnight bag from her mother and letting her run into him at full tilt, lifting her up and pleased to see she’s already out of school uniform for the weekend.

“Hey, Monkey.”

“Hey, Danno.”

She loosens her grip after a minute, but Danny keeps hold for another few seconds before trading an all-encompassing hug for a more practical hand to hold onto, and after a few cordial words to Rachel, they head to the car.

“Is Steve coming?”

“Yeah, babe. He’s waiting for us in the car. That okay?”

She nods exuberantly, and Danny feels an irrational annoyance at how she’s taken to him so quickly. Grace will be Grace though, and having met the giant Neanderthal of a man -- and dutifully listened to Danny’s horror stories -- only once, she’s shy as soon as they get in, quiet and nervous as Danny looks back to her with a smile.

“Hey, Gracie,” Steve says. He turns away from the wheel to offer a little hand shake the same as a few days ago, and Grace lights up a little bit, already more comfortable in the man’s company. And Steve is back; the sixteen year old.

He chatters away at Grace, asking her a few questions every now and then, toning down a story from work that makes what they do seem funny, and now Danny comes to think about it, there are moments.

“By the way, Lucy’s gonna be here as well,” Danny says as they walk towards the house. He smirks, because up until now he’s neglected to mention any of his siblings in regards to living arrangements, and Steve seemingly hasn’t been interested enough to ask.

Steve shoots him a look, and Danny can feel it, the refusal to look his way as Andrew, Jake and Lucy all begin to emerge from the house. Jake has an arm around Lucy, but he pulls it away as she moves forwards to embrace Danny and Grace together, and Steve seems to be initiating a polite re-introduction to Jake in the meantime, shaking Andrew’s hand with a smile.

“Remember me?” Lucy asks, and she grins.

Remember you? He still has that drawing you did Luce, tucked away in his wallet.” Danny bites his lip, realizing he may have somewhat given away the magnitude of the feelings involved here. Lucy just looks like she’s known all along, and Jake and Andrew have both taken up a poker face, leading Danny to believe that Andrew is far from oblivious as to all of this.

Lucy gets more than Danny had done on meeting Steve; he pulls her in for a brief hug, offers a smile as they move away again.

“Come on through to the back. It’s a nice day for the beach.”

Grace runs through first, comfortable enough with everyone in attendance to barrel all the way out to the yard, grabbing a bucket as she goes and setting about building a sandcastle. To his credit, Jake doesn’t mention the elephant in the room -- that is, Danny and Steve -- all evening, and even Lucy manages to keep quiet when Steve is in the vicinity.

Steve has wandered off to help Grace out with her project though, and Danny hangs back because he’d rather she said something to him alone than to blurt it out over dinner.

“I thought he’d changed?” Lucy says, and Danny gets it, because watching the guy play in the sand with Grace, he seems normal. But Danny knows him better than anyone here, and though it’s subtle, he can still see the changes in the posture, the darkness in the eyes. Those aren’t the changes that bother him anyway, but he can sense them all the same.

Danny nods. “He has. Grace seems to do something though, I think it’s because she’s similar to you when you were younger. Her presence reminds him of twenty years ago. But then when we’re working, or having drinks with the rest of the team, he’s…different.”

Jake nods. “I see it.” Danny looks to him, frowning, maybe a little disbelieving. “No, really; I knew the kid long enough to see what’s changed, can’t describe it though. But Danny, he’ll always be like that some of the time, at least at first. Military service has changed him, and I know that’s not what’s bothering you.”

“To an extent, yes, I get that you’re worried about how much of the time he’ll be like this. Afraid that dragging the old Steve out will become harder. But you’re scared of the commitment too. Son, I get it; I get that starting something, it would have to be serious. But you won’t know until you try, and all you can do is try to bring that guy,” he points to Steve, “out as much as possible. And I think you’d be surprised by how few people are able to do that. John always said that he’d changed, that he could hear it even through the phone. Hell, I thought you mentioned that Catherine had said something about it.”

He nods, it’s true. And now that Danny thinks about it, Jake makes some sense, puts forward some valid arguments. There’s no doubt that he’s scared of what it could mean, but Jake’s right. If Danny is the person best suited to bringing the lighter side of McGarrett out, then he owes it to Steve and himself to give it a shot.

He looks back over to Grace, and suspects she may be a part of that equation too.

Danny notices it more and more as the evening wears on. First it’s the Grace effect, and then the mood holds, even after she’s fallen asleep in her chair, leaning against Danny, and Steve still looks open. Nobody broaches the topic of the Navy, because they know there has to be something more there, something haunting.

Danny really can’t help but be drawn to the guy though, and every now and then he’ll do something like he used to; a comment to Lucy or an unconscious movement, and Danny lets out a smirk, about half of which are caught by Jake’s knowing gaze.

“You gonna let me drive?” Danny asks as they leave. “If we’re gonna drop you off…”

He settles a sleeping Grace into the backseat of the car, buckling the seatbelt and letting her head lull back onto the rest.

Steve chucks him the keys, and they get into the front, settling into a comfortable quiet. Lucy is staying at the house tonight, so the three of them offer a wave out the front window, and Danny pulls away into the street.

Danny has too much time to think in the quiet of the car, only the hum of the engine breaking the silence, and Danny can feel Steve’s eyes flicker to him every now and then, now carrying no hope whatsoever, just longing.

Steve gets out of the car with a sad look back to him, eyes darker and more distant than they were just minutes ago. The door to the McGarrett house closes, and Danny looks back to Grace, still stuck in her slumber, unlikely to wake at anything short of a nuclear explosion.

And Danny realizes that he has to. He just can’t continue in limbo, the uncertainty hanging over him of what could’ve been if he’d had the balls to go after it. The friendship is important, but even that is hindered by Steve’s demeanor, and if this is what will bring the man Danny loved -- loves -- back to them, and if it’s what Danny wants above anything else in this moment, then he knows he can’t allow things to remain as they are.

So he pushes out of the car and closes the door softly behind him, the car parked just a few yards away from the house. Danny knocks, and waits.

Steve opens it, brow creased in confusion, mouth open and about to say something when Danny moves forward. He doesn’t do anything rash, nothing too quick. He just moves well and truly into Steve’s personal space, waiting there, head raised and Steve’s breath running over his face as Danny waits in order to be one hundred per cent sure that this is what they both want.

And Steve’s eyes are bright and blue, a hint of hazel glistening in the light from the moon.

It’s been years since he’s last kissed a guy, and he lifts a slightly hesitant hand, settling it at the back of Steve’s neck before Steve loses it, presses his lips to Danny’s as he obviously craves the contact. Danny softens beneath his lips, tongue demanding entry and Steve giving it without an instant of hesitation, tongues meeting in something still relatively slow. Danny’s fighting hard to control it though, because he can’t let this get out of hand, not without testing the waters and not with Grace asleep in the car.

So with one final swipe of his tongue, licking a line across Steve’s lips, he pulls apart. Danny lets his gaze linger on Steve’s lips for just a second before his eyes slowly drift up, finally finding Steve’s. Danny can tell what he’s doing, can see the efforts in Steve’s face to suppress the smile for fear over what that might have meant.

“I’ll see you Monday,” Danny says, and then he retreats, letting his hand drop from Steve’s neck, turning and getting back into the car.

Danny would have made arrangements to see him tomorrow, but it’s a weekend with Grace, and she’s already mapped out Saturday to do some school work and watch a movie, and Sunday for a visit to the zoo. And then with Grace in a good mood, and the weather clear, Danny takes the plunge and texts him, an offer of a visit to the zoo on the table.

Sounds good. Pick me up on the way?

Danny sends a brief reply, and he and Grace head for the car, Danny shelving the formal attire in favor of denim shorts and a polo shirt, the weather too unbearably hot for anything else.

It comes as no surprise whatsoever when Steve emerges in cargo pants and a v-neck, even the lace up military boots exactly where they should be. Danny just shakes his head and wonders if he’s got a gun holstered somewhere, brushing aside the thought when Steve turns to look at Grace, face innocent with a big smile for his girl.

“Hey, Gracie. You get all your work done yesterday?”

Danny pulls out from the house and turns the car around, and he can feel Steve’s unrelenting gaze on him the whole time. It’s disconcerting and gratifying at the same time, and Danny won’t deny that after so many years of feeling like the chaser with Rachel, it’s nice to have the situation turned to an extent, nice to have someone as interested in Danny as Danny is in them.

Grace runs in the direction of the ticket booth, but it’s not until later when her attention is well and truly transfixed by the monkeys that Steve leans over, mouth close to Danny’s ear as he whispers a question.

“So, we should talk about Friday night.”

Danny smirks, turns his face to Steve. “About me kissing you?” And if Danny’s not mistaken, Steve seems relieved that they’re in agreement over the turn of events.

Steve runs a tongue over his lips, looking away uncomfortably for a second and Danny’s pretty willing to believe that Steve has found the dating thing just as hard as Danny has over the course of the last eighteen years.

“What happens now?” he asks, a light flush uncharacteristically coloring the SEAL’s cheeks. Danny glances over to Grace, her hands pressed up against the fence over the other side of the path.

Danny shrugs, smirk growing as his eyes return to meet Steve’s. “We date.”

Steve cocks an eyebrow, and Danny gets it. The word for what they’re doing seems kind of mundane for what they’re actually doing, for the tensions that have been building for pretty much the last two decades, but Danny’s got nothing better, so the smirk transforms into a full blown smile and he walks back towards Grace, leaving Steve to his thoughts for a minute or so before he can feel his presence at his back again.

The day goes quick. In between the laughter and the smiles, Grace gets in ten minutes for a cry after grazing her knee, and Steve pulls a band-aid out of one of those countless pockets, applies it and tells Danny to kiss it better. They stop for food somewhere along the way, and it’s just like the old times, Steve is just like the old times.

Grace is just about managing to keep her eyes open by the time they get back to Casa McGarrett, and though he feels like an idiot doing it, Danny walks Steve to the door just so that they get a chance to talk, so that Steve gets to ask some of those questions that Danny can see brewing just below the surface.

Steve opens the door and leans against the frame as he turns back to Danny, who just shoves one hand in a pocket and waits.

“So…Are you sure?”

Danny just nods. “Yeah, I’m sure. Sorry it took so long. I was…figuring some things out.” Steve shakes his head once to reject the apology. He really is looking pretty damn inexperienced with this whole thing. “You haven’t done this before, have you?”

It takes less than a second for Steve’s gaze to shift, eyes now focusing on something far past Danny before he looks away completely, eyes fixed on the ground.

“The whole, dating thing…?”

Danny uses his free hand to tilt Steve’s head, a gentle knock to the bottom of his chin forcing Steve to look at him. He shakes his head as much as Danny will allow. “No, not really.” He swallows. “I mean, one night stands, sure. But nothing serious. Not since you.”

Danny catches his bottom lip between his teeth and just watches him for a second.

“We should take this slow anyway, do things properly.” Steve nods, face calming as he gets over the embarrassment of that last admission. “In which case, I see Grace on Wednesday and Friday this week. We’ll go out or something, yeah?”

“Yeah.”

Danny turns and walks back to the car, one hand still firmly tucked into his pocket as the other swings free. Danny smiles; the Williams Swagger is back. Danny waves his free hand over his shoulder and hears a laugh from behind him.

 

H

5

0

 

“Wow, McGarrett. You clean up good, babe.” Steve has bypassed the usual honk of the horn from the truck in favor of actually getting out for their date, waiting at the door as Danny watches him cast an appreciative eye up and down his body.

“You too,” Steve smirks, and he jerks a thumb in the direction of the truck. “Ready?” They’re actually dressed relatively the same; both in jeans, both in dress shirts, Danny’s blue and Steve’s black. Steve has seemingly gone all out on the casual front -- though it’s a step up from his professional gear -- with flip flops to Danny’s Chucky T’s.

Danny nods. It’s Thursday, and they wrapped up the latest case an hour or so ago, the cut above Steve’s eye and the bruise surrounding it a reminder of the concluding fight. ‘Wait for backup’ Danny had said, rolling his eyes as the inevitable ‘You are the backup’ comment was thrown right back at him.

They make the journey in silence and Danny looks around skeptically as they pull up into a spot by the beach. Shit. He’d totally forgotten about this place, the best pizza he’s ever had on the island wiped from his memory as a smile begins to grace his face and suddenly, the flip-flops make more sense.

“Aloiki’s pizza hut? It’s still here?”

Steve nods. “His son runs it.”

Danny toes off his shoes and leaves them beneath the seat of the truck, wincing as he steps on a sharp stone before making it to the sand. “You do remember that I hate the beach?”

Steve nods. “I also remember that you never seemed to mind so much when I was around.” He grins as he hops over the sea wall, walking around the small building that no longer looks quite so close to collapse. Danny waits patiently, eyes taking in the familiar stretch of beach once again as fingers rub idly against the watch on his wrist.

Danny’s noticed that Steve’s already replaced it with a new, even more high-tech looking one, with what --unsurprisingly -- looks like a titanium reinforced strap. Probably just as well with all the trouble he runs into.

Steve returns a few minutes later with a pizza box, takes Danny’s hand easily as he leads him away. Danny looks down at their fingers, then back up to Steve with raised eyebrows.

“What? Five minutes into the first date and you can’t even keep your hands to yourself?”

Steve grins and shrugs as they sit down on the ridge of sand. “Yeah, okay. Well, third date rule, that’s all I’m sayin’.” Danny grins right back at him and grabs a slice from the pizza box, groaning as he takes a bite. Still the best on the island.

Tonight is the first time Danny attempts to broach the topic of Steve’s missing years, and he’s well aware that this could backfire hugely, but he deserves to know something.

“It’s classified,” Steve says. He throws the last crust back into the box and turns to Danny, eyes searching for something that Danny can’t quite understand.

Steve lets out a sigh. “Okay, it’s pretty much all classified.” He stares for another moment, eyes hazy in the darkened light. “But I’ll tell you what I can, most of which you already know.”

“I graduated high school on the mainland, and headed straight to Naval Academy. From there I went to SEAL training and was chosen for a team, stayed for six years, pretty much all of which is classified. After that I served four years in Afghanistan, and then I transferred to Naval Intelligence, where I found Cath, and started the whole Wo Fat thing.”

Danny looks away, chews on his bottom lip for a few seconds. “Seriously, that’s it? Eighteen years and that’s all I get?”

Danny props an arm on his bent knee and keeps his eyes studiously away from Steve even though he can feel the SEAL’s gaze locked on him.

Steve reaches out, and Danny flinches away reflexively because, frankly, he’s a little pissed off.

“Please, Danny, don’t do this. Even if I could, do you really think I enjoy reliving that stuff? Reliving the closeted, eighteen years of my life without the guy I’m in love with, without my parents, without my sister?”

Steve gets up, walking a little further down the beach, still within talking distance of Danny. He turns back to him, eyes blazing.

“Dammit, D. I finally found you again, and I can’t even- And I don’t even know- I get it, okay. I get that I’ve killed people, and I get that I can be…aggressive, but please…”

That word hangs in the air, and Steve has turned away again. Danny pushes himself up from the sand silently, catches Steve’s hand on its backswing and pulls it until Steve is facing him.

“I don’t- Steve, it’s not that. I’ve killed people too, and aggression…Well, shit. I don’t have a leg to stand on in that department.”

Steve’s eyes lighten a shade, twinkling in the moonlight as Danny tries to remember where he’s going with this.

“What is it then? Danny, I’ll do anything…”

Danny pulls Steve down until their foreheads rest together. “Just…don’t shut me out, alright? I need you not to push me away.”

“I’m-“

“You know what I mean,” Danny warns, and he feels the movement as Steve nods against him.

Danny’s hand travels to cup Steve’s cheek, smiling ever so slightly as he hesitates, lips barely a breath away as they meet each other’s gaze for just a moment.

Danny strokes a thumb along the line of Steve’s jaw before meeting him halfway, lips engaging in something a little more desperate than last night, but nothing you wouldn’t see pre-watershed.

Steve is the first to pull away, smirking ever so slightly as he runs his tongue over his lips. He drops to the sand, pulling Danny down with him as they settle on the ground, content to do nothing but stare at the sky for a good half an hour.

Steve breaks the silence with an admission. “You know, it took me a decade to make any progress from the day I left. I was pretty much distraught from that day on.” They fall into silence again, and Danny knows that this is Steve’s attempt at opening up to him, because he would never say it otherwise.

Steve clears his throat. “I know you probably don’t believe me, and it sounds ridiculous even now, but it took finding Cath again, finding a friend, to even think about anything but you.”

“I believe you,” Danny murmurs, and he can feel Steve’s curious eyes on the side of his head. “I believe you because I was the same. Except for me it was Rachel. She helped some, and then Grace came along and I was better, numbed to it.” There’s another minute of silence. “And I spoke to Cath. She told me as much.”

Steve lets out a humorless laugh and Danny can see him shaking his head in disbelief through the corner of his eye. “Ahh, Catherine.”

“You rat me out and I’ll murder you, McGarrett.” The demeanor suggests he probably believes him.

“We’re pathetic,” Steve announces as he gets to his feet, offering Danny a hand up and failing to let go again once they’re both upright.

Steve tosses the empty pizza box into a bin as they step back over the sea wall, unashamedly smirking as he opens the door for Danny and gives a flourished gesture for Danny to go ahead.

He joins him in the front seat of the truck just a few seconds later, driving at his usual F1 speed until they pull back into Danny’s apartment block.

“Do I get to walk you to the door?”

Danny just gets out, and Steve seems to take that as a yes, following him right up the steps until Danny has the door open, leaning against the frame with his bottom lip caught beneath his teeth.

Danny grabs a fistful of Steve’s shirt and pulls him forward, aware of the hand Steve plants on the wall to brace himself as their lips meet, a hell of a lot more urgent than the last time and dangerously close to getting out of hand.

Danny plays it cool, pushes him away as he realizes he’s got better at this part. He moves away, breathless and smiling as he shuts the door in Steve’s face, and he can just imagine the smirk on his face right now, the way he’s shaking his head in measured exasperation. Danny waits until he hears the truck pull away, and then steps into the shower and gets into bed.

 

H

5

0

 

Steve continues to keep close, flirting unfairly at work, while trying to maintain a level of professionalism to see off any suggestive comments from Kono, and it’s not until Saturday, which they have inevitably spent working, that they get a second date.

The night goes well. The restaurant they go to is peaceful and out of the way, by a small stretch of beach that Steve drags Danny onto afterwards, pulling him into the shadows and making no secret whatsoever of what they’ll be doing there.

The second they’re out of sight, Steve’s lips are on Danny’s neck, forcing an involuntary groan out of the blond until his lips are covered by Steve’s, tongues battling hard for dominance and this feels like it’s going too quickly if they’re to abide by the third date rule tonight, about which Danny was totally not joking.

Jake had been right about this though. His advice concerning Steve had been sound, and it really does seem like he’s changing, like every time he spends an hour with Grace and Danny, he softens up a little more quickly, and he’s less guarded when there’s a lack of criminals in the immediate vicinity.

Danny pulls away though, breathless and hot under the collar.

“Third date rule?” Steve murmurs, and Danny nods with a smirk, unable to contain the amusement at Steve’s tone.

“Okay, I got it. What about…” Steve pauses to think for a moment. “What about if the evening only involved sleeping. What if you stayed at my place? Would tomorrow constitute as the third date?”

Danny suppresses the laugh, this conversation would so not be happening if one of them was a woman.

He wears an open grin, catching Steve’s gaze as he nods. “Yeah, I guess it would. Though there’s gonna have to be a meal involved somewhere.”

Steve looks heavenward, squinting in deep though. “I think we can manage that.”

He pulls Danny into a hug, and they stay wrapped in each other’s embrace for a minute or so before Steve unwinds one of his arms and they start back towards the car.

They laugh their way upstairs, and Danny shakes his head and smiles at Steve’s first words once he’s manhandled him into his bed.

“You sure you’re not hot in a t-shirt? You look hot.”

Danny laughs way too hard at that, pressing his face into the pillow for a moment before looking back to Steve and realizing he’s not kidding, lying there in nothing more than a pair of boxer briefs.

Danny likes this though, he enjoys the comfortable banter, the playful way in which Steve is talking his way into getting as much as he can without getting it.

“I’m fine. Thanks for the concern though.”

Steve makes a face that melts into a smile as he solves half of the problem, slipping a none-too-innocent hand beneath the material of Danny’s tee and letting his palm rest flat on Danny’ stomach, rising and falling with the movement of Danny’s chest. The weight and the warmth feel nice there, and Danny drifts to sleep with a small smile playing on his lips.

When Danny wakes up the following morning, Steve is predictably out of bed, mercifully having let Danny sleep in until ten o’clock. Danny hauls himself out of the bed after the best night’s sleep he’s had in a long time, bypassing the addition of any extra clothes in favor of a direct route to the kitchen.

He can smell the food, and Danny would bet his bottom dollar that this is the meal he’s been promised.

“Morning,” Steve says, and Danny can taste the salt on his lips as he kisses him slowly. Any trace of doubt has been wiped from Danny’s mind, and he smiles as Steve moves away, muttering, “I love you,” as he pulls a chair out and motions for Danny to take a seat.

Danny could get used to this.

Chapter Text

Okay, first off, this isn't a new chapter. The fic is complete, and this is more of a notification than anything else.

I know I've spoken to a few of my readers about this already, and they'd shown interest, so I decided to add a post to the end of this fic. I have written a full length book. I totally understand if you're now scrabbling for the back button on your browser, so I'll be quick and to the point.

The book is called, 'Disparities,' self-published for Kindle under the pen name Elizabeth Cartwright. Here's a blurb:

Essentially on their own after the death of their mother, Lucy and Riley Rossen are left with little choice but to travel all the way to Hawaii to live with a man they barely know. As it turns out, their mother's high school friend is a multi-billionaire with more compassion than they could possibly have expected, and it’s there that they fall into a life with Skylar Anderton and his two closest friends. But Lucy fears she may jeopardize what they’ve found when she falls for Anderton’s nineteen year old protégé, and so she quickly realizes that this new life may not be quite as easy as she’d hoped.


Check the price in your region, but it's of a reasonable price everywhere as far as I know. I completely understand if you're interested but don't want to pay. In THAT case, follow me on social media. The book will be free at some point within the next couple of weeks, and I'll notify on Tumblr/Facebook/Twitter when I know when that day will be.

Obviously from my perspective I'd love for people to buy it, but I understand not everyone has the money, or even likes my writing that much.

Here's how to find me:

Facebook - search for the page Elizabeth Cartwright.

Tumblr - ellie.cartwright

Twitter - Cartwright_El

 

I think that's everything. If you made it to the end, thank you so much <3 I love you all :)