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Deja Vu All Over Again

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Danny found himself whistling as he pulled out of his driveway and onto the street. His house had been empty with Grace away for the weekend, but he'd have her back home soon. If that wasn't reason to be happy, he didn't know what was.

He'd made it less than four blocks when his police radio, a constant background noise in the Mustang, caught his attention. "Suspicious activity" caught his attention, but it was the address that made him frown as he repeated it in his head, not even needing the dispatch confirmation to know that it was John McGarrett's house.

The house was only two blocks over from Danny's, though in the opposite direction. Danny spun a quick U-turn in the middle of the road and gunned the engine, speeding past his own house to make it to McGarrett's in record time. He didn't bother to let dispatch know--if there really was something going on, he was going to need back up, and he also didn't want to waste time.

He pulled to a stop just before the house and jumped out, quickly making his way behind the cover of trees, listening for any sound. He could hear the occasional shout from the house, and the unmistakable sound of someone getting punched.

He peeked out around the tree to see that the front door was unguarded, and had just decided to make a run for it when he heard the gunshot.

That sent him flying to the door, which he shoved open while hiding behind the wall next to it for cover. A shot came at him, and Danny ducked around again, shooting, but all he saw was the retreating backs of two white males as they disappeared out the back door.

And John McGarrett, slumped over in a chair, obviously dead.

***

No one is supposed to remember the moment they're born, but Danny did. He remembered only because it was so different from everything that had happened since. Well, almost. He remembered crying, and how different it sounded at first, as if he was crying into a vacuum: no echo, no reverberation of the noise, just his muffled cry.

And then there was noise, and motion, and harsh light and rough fabric, and then...well, then he didn't remember anything else for a couple of years, when the vague recollections of childhood, consistent with everyone else he knows, start. Nothing further back, except that one, brief minute.

When he was four, Danny tripped over one of his sister's toys and fell on his arm. He remembered only that it hurt, and that he wished he'd seen the toy. Then suddenly he was walking again, as if it hadn't happened, and he dodged the toy just in time and was fine.

His mother told him it wasn't nice to make up stories, and that he should always tell the truth. The more Danny had tried to tell her it was the truth, the more annoyed she'd gotten, so he shut up. And he never mentioned all the other times when things happened, but then they hadn't.

At ten, he learned about déjà vu in school, and pestered his teacher about it until she explained it wasn't real, it was only something people made up to explain a trick their minds played on them. When he tried to tell her no, it was real, people just had it wrong, she gave him such an odd look that he shut up. Suddenly things shifted, and he'd never asked the question in the first place.

He'd always thought that was it, that sometimes things just happened over for him, until one day when he was sixteen, parked in an alley with Patty Simpson, in the back seat, rounding first and steadily on his way to second. He'd been smooth the whole time, using all his best moves, and she had been really into it.

And then she just froze. He stopped and pulled back, asking what was wrong, which was when he realized she'd literally frozen. No movement, stuck in the same position she'd been kissing him in--and now he understood why nature made people instinctively close their eyes when they kissed--her arms barely giving him enough room to move.

"Patty? Hey, Patty." He poked her, but nothing. Then he looked around, and realized nothing was moving. There was a piece of litter hanging in midair outside the car window, and at the far end of the alley he could see the headlights of a truck that was just stopped on the road. It was like nothing he could ever remember.

Except the sound. His voice had that same muffled, vacuum sound that he'd only heard one other time, the time he'd thought was just a dream. The moment he was born.

What if he was supposed to fix things like this, and no one had ever told him, and the world was stuck like this forever, and he had to walk around in it with nothing but his own muffled-sounding voice for company?

"Danny? What's wrong?"

Danny blinked, looking back at Patty, who was moving again, looking worried. The sounds of the city were suddenly loud in his ears once more, and everything seemed perfectly normal.

"Are you okay?" Patty asked.

Okay? Everything around him had just stopped. Completely. And apparently no one else had noticed. He opened his mouth to say just that, then remembered the times he'd tried to tell people before. "I'm fine," he said. "Just thought I heard something."

"I must not be distracting you enough," she said with a giggle.

"Babe, you are plenty distracting," he said, giving her his best practiced smile as he moved back in, pushing the incident away to think about later. Much later. As in, never again.

***

Over time, he figured out how to manipulate it himself, or at least he thought he did, since it only worked about half the time. As near as he could tell, whoever or whatever had given him this let him use it for himself occasionally, as long as he used it mostly for good. He'd become a star baseball player in high school, but was careful not to be too good, and it had put him in a position to save a few people on road games.

As he got older, he discovered he could use it in gambling, but he was careful only to use it when he needed it. And he'd become a cop, so that his gift would be a use for the greater good, which he figured evened out any personal use.

He screwed up his proposal to Rachel and spilled wine on her, and managed to do it over flawlessly. He saw Grace's birth twice--he'd have done it more, but he'd long since learned he could only adjust the same minute once.

He had not, however, been the one to send himself back a minute to see the second worst sight of his life--his wife kissing another man. One second, he'd been standing there wondering about the awkwardness between Rachel and her co-worker, Stan, who'd just 'dropped off some papers,' and the next he was standing ten feet from the step, watching them kiss. On Danny's own porch, the one he'd just come from a 12-hour shift as a cop to pay for.

The worst had been Grace crying as her mother moved out, but thank God or the gods or whoever the hell controlled this thing, he'd only had to live through that once.

When the divorce was settled, Danny found he couldn't stand to be in the house. He couldn't look at any surface and not wonder what Rachel and Stan had done there, couldn't walk in or out without remembering that scene on the porch. Ironic, considering thanks to his front porch surprise granting him both a divorce and custody of Grace, Rachel was paying him for a change.

He also couldn't avoid the sudden--or so it felt--barrage of Hawaiian things. Ads on the radio and the TV, mentions from random people, six arrests in three weeks of Hawaiian natives (and where the hell Salvo was getting a sudden influx of Hawaiians he'd really like to know).

Hawaii had always seemed so exotic, ever since he was a teenager. It was like when he learned to drive, he'd developed a taste for adventure, and Hawaii seemed like a good one. So when he heard through the grapevine that Hawaii was getting as much of an influx of Jersey natives as he'd been seeing Hawaiians, and that Honolulu Police Department could use someone familiar with them, he jumped at the chance.

Rachel's face when he told her the news gave him more satisfaction than it should've, but not enough to make him want to relive it. He knew she could telecommute, and knew that the move wouldn't be that hard on her, but he still felt a slight twinge of guilt at making her go another 5,000 miles from her home.

Very slight. But still.

Grace was thrilled at the idea, and he managed to tell her twice without even trying. She cried a little at the airport saying goodbye to Rachel, even though Rachel would be following in a few weeks, but once that was over she was as excited as Danny was about the prospect of a new place and a new start.

Six months in they'd been happy and settled, and Rachel was getting more time with Grace than Danny sometimes thought she deserved, but since she worked from home and Danny was a cop, Grace was better off having her own mother as a babysitter.

The Salvo case continued to be a frustration for all of HPD, and Danny and John McGarrett, as the leads on the investigation, in particular. Each lead they'd had seemed to dry up within minutes of getting it, as if someone was plugging leaks faster than they could poke them into Salvo's organization.

But that aside, Danny was happy. Until he heard the call over the radio.

***

He didn't even try--he didn't have to. One second he was standing there, staring at John McGarrett's corpse, the next he was standing on the doorstep, hearing someone shouting, "My brother's dead, isn't he?"

Instinct drove him to kick in the door before the words were even finished, gun out, yelling, "Freeze! HPD!" before he even got a look at the man's face. Another man was running out the back, laptop left open on the desk, but the man who'd shouted, he was standing beside John McGarrett, alive and taped to a chair. The man had a gun in one hand and a phone in the other.

At the sight of Danny, the man turned, pointing his gun at him. Danny squeezed his trigger, and the man went down, two holes in his chest, fingers twitching for a moment before he stilled completely. Danny ignored the runner and rushed over to the would-be shooter, kicking his gun off to the side before he leaned down to check for a pulse.

Dead. Thank God.

"Danny," John said, "thank God. How did you get here so fast?"

"I'd just left the house to get--" Danny saw John's leg clearly for the first time. "You're hit!"

John looked down at his leg, where there was a hole in his pants and blood. "It's nothing," he said, "through and through."

"Still, we need to--" Danny frowned as he picked up a towel nearby and pressed it to John's wound. "Do you hear that?" Danny asked, looking around for the source of the tinny noise until he found the phone on the floor, just by John's foot. He picked the phone up and put it to his ear.

"Hesse, I swear to God I will hunt you down if you killed him! I swear--"

"Hey!"

There was sudden silence. "Who is this?" the voice demanded.

"Detective Danny Williams, HPD. Who is this?"

"Lt. Commander Steven McGarrett."

Danny let out a breath, never more grateful for his gift than right that moment, because otherwise he'd be telling this guy his father was dead. "Your father is fine." Which was close enough to true--Danny didn't need to get into the details at the moment. "Let me get his hands free and you can talk to him. Okay?"

There was a sharp exhalation, then, "Okay."

Danny carefully removed the tape binding John's hands together and handed him the phone. Danny used his own phone to make sure an ambulance was on its way with HPD before he freed John's legs. As soon as he had them free, Danny checked the wound, relieved to see that John appeared to be right. Through and through. Bad enough to be life threatening if left untreated, but with Danny applying pressure and the sirens getting closer by the second, John would be fine.

He was reassuring his son of that fact as Danny sat back on his knees, still holding the towel on the wound. "It's fine," John was saying, not for the first time. "Danny got here in time and shot Hesse."

Well, in time the second time at any rate, Danny thought, shuddering at the memory of John's lifeless body tied to the chair. He'd never get used to bringing the dead back to life, even if they had no idea they'd been dead. He'd only managed that kind of save a handful of times, but every time it was like seeing ghosts.

"Okay," John was saying as the paramedics rushed in with HPD. "I'll see you then." John ended the call and handed the phone back to Danny, who realized he was handling evidence and quickly placed it back on the ground before he messed up any other prints that might be on it. "Thank you, Danny," John said quietly, as the paramedics started tending his wound. "Another minute...I don't know what might have happened."

I do, Danny thought, suppressing another shudder. "All's well that ends well, right?" Danny said, before jerking his head towards the man on the ground. "I take it his name is Hesse?"

John nodded. "Victor Hesse. He and his brother, Anton, supply guns to a lot of very bad people. Or supplied, I should say. Apparently his brother was just killed in Steve's custody."

"Which almost got you killed?"

"But it didn't," John said. "Thanks to you."

Thanks to whoever controls this gift. "I'm just glad I made it in time."

"Detective McGarrett," the paramedic said, "we need to take you to the hospital now."

John nodded, barely wincing as he moved himself over to the stretcher with a little help. Danny watched them strap him in, and said, "I'll come by the hospital," as John was being wheeled out.

He waited until John was gone, and then turned his attention back to making sure no one screwed up the crime scene. This whole thing had nearly been a disaster, and he wasn't about to let his save be for nothing.

***

Steve arrived at the house exhausted. He'd been on about four military flights and had completely lost track of what time it was anywhere. He'd had to ask the pilot for the date and time when they'd been on their approach to Honolulu.

After a call to his dad's cell went straight to voicemail, Steve went home. He wasn't sure if his dad was out of the hospital, and he needed to get rid of his bag anyway. The front door was locked, because apparently the black and yellow crime scene tape wasn't enough to keep anyone out, so Steve went around back and used an old trick that his father apparently had either never guessed, or never bothered to fix, on the back door.

He stopped short just a few feet past his father's desk at the mess that seemed to be everywhere. Papers were all over the place--apparently Victor had been stupid enough to think Steve might leave a paper trail with his father about Anton's whereabouts--and there was a chair overturned next to a lot of blood.

Steve swallowed as he looked at the dried puddle. He'd seen men die losing less blood than that, and he could easily have been coming home to a funeral, were it not for Detective Danny Williams.

He took a deep breath and forced himself to move past the mess, looking around to see what had changed in the house. Not much, as it turned out--with a few exceptions, it was almost as if his mother could come walking in at any moment.

Apparently the only reminders of his wife that his father had felt the need to remove were his children.

He made his way to the garage to see if his father had made any progress over the years on the Mercury--assuming he'd even kept it. He opened the door to the garage to see that he had, in fact, kept it. A quick look under the cover showed that he hadn't done much to fix it, however.

Steve ran his hand along the hood, remembering the day his dad had brought it in. "A project for us," he'd said, and Steve hadn't been able to take his eyes off the car, imagining himself driving along the Pali Highway in a year with his new license, looking like the cool quarterback should.

Too bad that by the time he'd gotten his license he had been 5,000 miles away.

He turned away from the car, taking one long look around the garage before heading back inside, but something caught his eye. An old, beat up tool box so messed up that the Champion sticker only said, "Champ."

Which was what his father had called him on the phone. Twice.  He'd thought it strange at the time, but now he wondered if it was more than coincidence.

He approached the box carefully, opening the lid as if it might explode. There wasn't an explosive inside, though, just a weird bunch of things that made no sense. He picked up the tape recorder and pressed play, surprised to hear his father's voice. "I can't continue this investigation into the police department from the inside. I don't trust the people I work with, so I'm going to have to do this on my own."

A noise from the other room startled him, and he hit the stop button and tossed the recorder in the box, closing the lid as he reached for his gun. A short, blond man came around the corner, his gun already drawn, and Steve braced himself, aiming his Sig. "Who are you?" Steve demanded.

The man blinked, and his stance relaxed a little, though his gun stayed up. "I'm Detective Danny Williams, Commander," he said carefully. "We spoke on the phone."

The voice did sound vaguely familiar, and the warm feeling it sent through him was the same as the one he'd attributed to learning his father was alive when Williams had given him the news on the phone. Still, Steve wasn't taking any chances. "Show me your ID."

Eyes rolling, the man said, "Who else would know I talked to you on the phone?"

I don't trust the people I work with,  the tape had said. And Steve knew this guy worked with his dad. "ID," he snapped.

"Fine. ID. Just don't shoot me while I'm pulling it out, okay?" Even with that, he kept his gun up with one hand while the other reached for his ID. When Steve saw the shield, he holstered his weapon. It still might not be safe to trust Williams, but at least he didn't think the man was going to shoot him on the spot.

When both their guns had been put away, Williams said, "Sorry. Your dad wasn't expecting you for another day, so when I heard noises in here--"

"Yeah,  I managed to get here a little sooner. Where is he, anyway?"

"Hospital."

Steve frowned. "Still? I would have thought he'd be home."

"They're about to release him," Williams said. "That's why I'm here--he asked me to get him some clothes. Said he wasn't going home in scrubs if he had to sew the pants they cut off him back together."

Steve laughed. "That sounds like Dad."

"Give me a minute to grab his stuff and I'll take you to the hospital, all right?"

Nodding, Steve followed him out of the garage and back into the house. "Thanks, Detective," he said.

"Call me Danny," the man threw over his shoulder, along with a smile, as he hurried for the stairs.

Steve watched him go, that feeling curling in his gut again. It must be the association of Danny with learning his father was alive, he thought. He was sure it would fade quickly enough.

A couple of minutes later, Danny was back downstairs with a bundle of clothes in his hand. "Ready?" he said with another one of those smiles.

Or maybe it wouldn't fade so quickly, Steve thought, as it curled up in the pit of his stomach like it was going to take up residence. "Yeah," he said, shaking the thoughts out of his head and following Danny out the door.

***

Steve found himself hesitating as they got off the elevator at the hospital. He had known that his father was going to die when he was on that call with Victor Hesse. There'd been no doubt in his mind, and none in his father's, judging by his words.

And yet all Steve had been able to say was that he was going to get his father out of it. He hadn't been able to come up with any appropriate last words to say to his own father.  And in the end, he hadn't gotten his father out of it. He owed that save to Danny Williams.

Who was stopping at a door and turning into a room, and Steve could see the easy smile on his face from the side. "Brought you a going home present," Danny said, a moment before he stepped aside and let Steve in the room.

Steve tried a smile, but it felt awkward on his face. "Hi, Dad," he said. John was sitting on the bed in a hospital gown, apparently waiting for his clothes. His face lit up at the sight of Steve in a way Steve hadn't seen in so many years he'd actually forgotten that look existed. When Steve reached out to shake his hand, John pulled him into a hug instead.

"It's good to have you home, son," he said in Steve's ear, squeezing him tight before letting him go.

"It's good to be here," Steve said, then cleared his throat. "I...I'm glad you're okay."

Steve stepped back, looking over at Danny, who took that as his cue to step forward. "I have your clothes," he said, dropping a bag on the bed. "We can wait outside while you change, and then get you out of here, okay?"

He nodded, so Steve turned and followed Danny back out of the room. "Been a while since you've seen him?" Danny asked.

Steve nodded. "I wasn't sure I ever would again," he said in a low voice, glancing back at the door before fixing his eyes on Danny. "Thank you."

"For what?"

"Saving him."

Danny gave a half shrug, but there was something more to the nonchalance that made Steve curious. "He's a good friend and a great cop," Danny said. "And I just answered the call I heard--thank the person who called it in."

"Actually, that was probably me."

"You? From North Korea?"

Steve nodded. "I had my unit call HPD the second I realized what was going on."

"So if you hadn't called it in, I wouldn't have known, and...well, you did, I did, and it worked out."

Steve cocked his head. "Was that English?" he said, needing to lighten the atmosphere.

"Why," Danny said, tilting his head and looking up at Steve, "would you prefer it in Hawaiian?"

There was a light in Danny's eyes that did the same thing to Steve as Danny's voice did, and Steve pushed that feeling down hard. "Sure," he said, pleased that he sounded mostly normal, "Hawaiian might be more comprehensible."

"Too bad. I don't speak it."

Steve frowned. "How can you live here and not speak any Hawaiian?"

"You're right!" Danny smacked himself in the forehead comically. "Of course, my house came with an instant fluency in Hawaiian. I forgot. How silly of me."

Steve couldn't hold back a laugh, feeling something unclench just a little inside with the sound. "Ho, no need snap, brah," he said, feeling his grin widen as Danny buried his head in his hands with a groan.

"And you're questioning my English?"

"That wasn't English. It was Bird."

"Yeah, I may not speak it, but I have been here long enough to recognize it by the way it sort of masquerades as English, but with a complete lack of any comprehensible meaning."

Danny's hands flew through the air at a rapid rate as he ranted about the frustration of having three languages in one American state, and Steve found himself watching those hands with fascination. He swallowed carefully, his eyes going back to Danny's face as his rant stopped and he stilled.

Steve was pretty sure he'd never seen anyone with eyes that blue.

"Let's get out of here before they decide to keep me."

John's voice from just behind Steve's right shoulder was as good as a bucket of cold water. Steve jerked his eyes away from Danny's face and turned to look at his father. "You're all ready?" Steve asked.

"More than ready. I hate hospitals."

They might be vastly different in some ways, but he had to admit he was in total agreement with his father on that one. "Let's go, then," Steve said, trying not to notice how Danny fell naturally into step beside him as they headed for the door.

***

Danny followed both McGarretts up to the house, noticing how similarly they walked, and how alike their postures were. He got the feeling Steve might find that comparison a little offensive, though, so he kept it to himself.

It was only when they ripped off the crime scene tape and stepped inside the house that Danny remembered that it hadn't been cleaned up. He was about to suggest they go to his place when father and son immediately started putting everything out of the way, blithely ignoring the blood on the floor as if by some unspoken agreement.

How fucked up did you have to be as a family to do that so calmly--and without even talking about it?

Danny shook his head and tried to ignore the clean up, distracting himself by watching Steve. The man had been completely unexpected. Danny had heard all about his accomplishments from John, from every school football achievement through his rapid rise up the ranks of the military. So he'd expected some sort of macho big man on campus type, one step away from stuffing a geek in a locker.

He hadn't expected a person who had looked so uncertain about seeing his own father. Or one who could tease Danny so easily without a hint of malice.

And he definitely hadn't expected to find the man so damn attractive.

He'd seen pictures--shots of younger Steve, half-boy, half-man, peppered the shelves at the McGarrett house. There were also a couple of very stern shots in uniform with Steve unsmiling and serious, one clearly taken just out of the academy, and another taken sometime after he'd gotten a fair amount of ribbons on his chest.

But the pictures hadn't done justice to the man in person. He'd been attractive enough when he was rigid and defensive, holding a gun, but when he'd relaxed, he was beautiful. And when he'd smiled Danny had fled the room with the first excuse he could find.

He'd had to take a minute to quell his body's reaction before he could go back downstairs.

"Danny?"

Danny blinked at John. "Sorry, I was thinking."

He heard Steve's snort and had a feeling he knew what kind of comment the man was holding back, but he kept his focus on John. "I was asking if you had to pick up Grace," John said.

"No, she's with Rachel for the night."

"Then you should stay for dinner," John said.

Danny couldn't help but look in Steve's direction, wondering if that was such a good idea. He needed some time to sort out this thing, whatever it was, away from Steve's presence. "I don't want to intrude on the reunion."

"You won't," Steve said, his eyes holding Danny's. "Stay."

He couldn't say no. And he didn't really want to. "Okay." He nodded, trying to pull his focus from Steve and failing, even when he looked back at John. "Thanks."

Out of the corner of his eye, Danny saw Steve smile, and Danny forced himself not look that direction. "We should get you off your feet," Steve said, and Danny saw John roll his eyes.

"Did those doctors tell you to say that?" John asked.

"No, common sense did, Dad. Come on, we'll sit out back."

As John headed for the back door, Danny felt Steve's hand, warm and solid, on his shoulder. "Can you go make sure he gets seated?" Steve asked, his voice low and too close, his mouth near Danny's ear, which was doing odd things to Danny's stomach. "I'm going to get another chair and some drinks."

"Sure," Danny said, looking in Steve's direction without actually looking directly at him.  Danny followed John out onto the lanai behind the house.

"We'll have to get another chair," John said.

"Steve's getting one," Danny said, pulling out the nearest chair. "Have a seat."

John lowered himself carefully into the chair. "Told you to babysit me, didn't he?"

Danny laughed. "No, sir."

"It's okay," John said, as Danny took the other chair. "He was like that after his mother died. Afraid I was going to disappear at any second. Every day I'd go to work and get that worried stare, like he was sure I wasn't coming back, but didn't want to ask me to stay."

"How long has she been gone?" Danny asked. He could tell from the pictures that it had probably been a while.

"Eighteen years." John turned his head slightly, eyes focused on the sea. "If Steve hadn't gone to the mainland, I'm not sure he'd have ever gotten over worrying that I'd be next."

"What happened to his mom?"

"Car wreck," John said, though something in the way he said it seemed off. John focused on Danny again. "I think Steve took it even harder than Mary did, but he seemed to adjust once he was gone. Anyway, that was a long time ago."

The abrupt change of subject could've been chalked up to someone who'd realized he'd said too much about personal things, but combined with the way John had said his wife died in a car wreck, it made Danny even more curious.

Before he could ask any more questions, Steve came through the door with a folding chair in one hand and a cooler in the other. "That garage is a dust factory, Dad," Steve said, putting the chair down and opening it up, dusting it off with his hands before sitting in it.

"I haven't had time to clean it up," John said.

"I'll see what I can do while I'm here."

"I don't want you wasting your leave doing that," John said, and Danny thought it sounded off. "How long can you stay?"

"I have a month," Steve said, not sounding entirely happy about it. "When he realized how much leave I had saved up, my CO insisted."

Danny, who was watching John to avoid staring at Steve, saw the way his mouth tightened. "It'll be nice to have you home for a bit."

The words were honest and heartfelt, which made the way John had seemed upset about Steve having a month to visit that much stranger. It was a puzzle, and Danny had entirely too much trouble leaving puzzles alone.

Danny's eyes drifted to Steve to find him studying Danny with a look that made Danny shift his eyes away for a few seconds before he had to look back, meeting that look with one of his own.

Apparently puzzles weren't the only thing he couldn't leave alone.

***

Steve was rinsing dishes off and putting them in the dishwasher when he felt Danny come into the kitchen. He didn't know how else to explain it--Danny hadn't really made any noise, but Steve had known he was there the moment he'd approached the door. "Dad fall asleep on you?" Steve asked without looking behind him.

"No, I just thought I'd bring the rest of the bottles in."

Steve heard the clinking of glasses as they went into the bin, and then saw Danny as he leaned his back against the counter beside the sink. "I get the feeling you and he have been spending a lot of time together," Steve said.

Danny shrugged. "He's a good guy, and we get along. But he's always seemed lonely. "

It was on the tip of Steve's tongue to say he wouldn't have been lonely if he hadn't sent everyone away, but he wasn't ready to lay that on Danny. On anyone, really. "So, what, you two are dating?" Steve teased with a sideways glance.

"Jealous?" Danny asked, eyebrows raised.

Steve wasn't sure exactly how to read that one. Was he jealous that his father apparently didn't feel the need to send Danny away when he had tossed away his own son, or was he jealous that his father was getting to spend a lot of time with Danny?

That the answer was 'both' was unsettling and unflattering.

"Nah," Steve said, picking up a plate and running it under the water. "He doesn't really seem to be your type."

"True," Danny said. "He's a little old for me - I like 'em my own age." He felt Danny shift, and wasn't sure if it was for comfort, or because it moved him a little closer to Steve. "And with tattoos," he added.

The plate landed in the sink with a loud clanging noise, but didn't break. Steve picked it up, focusing on getting it under the water again before hazarding a glance at Danny, who was watching him with an expression Steve couldn't quite decipher. Or maybe he was afraid to. "You're very funny," Steve said after a moment.

"Who said I was joking?"

Steve swallowed carefully, scanning Danny's face, trying to read him and coming up with only one answer. But was it reality or just what he wanted to see?

"I brought the last of the bottles," John said from the doorway.

Steve tore his gaze away from Danny, looking over his shoulder in a mixture of annoyance and relief. "Thanks, Dad. I could've gotten them."

"I'm not an invalid," he said, his tone mild. "But I am tired, so I think I'm going to head up to bed."

"That's my cue," Danny said, pushing off the counter. "Thank you for dinner--it's nice to see that Steve cooks better than his old man."

The look Danny gave Steve was warm, and Steve couldn't help but smile back, even as part of his mind was still trying to decipher their earlier conversation. "You think the steak was good, you should see what I can do with fresh ahi."

"I look forward to that," Danny said, and yes, okay, there was no mistaking that tone, and Steve found himself clearing his throat.

"I'll walk you out, Danny," John said, and the two of them left Steve alone in the kitchen with his thoughts.

As if coming home hadn't been difficult enough under these circumstances. This was the last thing he needed. He should find some reason to leave--visit Cath, maybe, or look up one of his former buddies. Anything would be safer than staying here when it was becoming clear that he wasn't the only one interested.

Yet despite every instinct telling him what a bad idea it was to stay, he couldn't even seriously consider leaving. He didn't want to.

"Can I help?"

John's voice startled Steve. "Sorry, didn't hear you come back in," Steve said. He looked over at the sink, but he'd managed to finish putting the dishes in the dishwasher while he was talking to Danny. "I'm just about done," Steve said, dealing with the last of the empty bottles. "You should go on up to bed."

"Okay," John said, and Steve heard him take a few steps before he said, "Steve?"

Steve turned to look at him. "Yeah?"

"It's good to see you."

Steve gave him a smile. "You too, Dad. Good night."

"Good night."

***

Danny was almost home when his phone started blaring a Disney tune--the latest ringtone Grace had picked, since he had yet to figure out how to change the ringtones himself. He smiled as he accepted the call. "Hey, Monkey! Shouldn't you be in bed?"

"I'm going," she said. "Just wanted to call to say good night."

"I'm glad you did. Did you and your mom have fun tonight?"

"Yeah! We made cookies!"

Danny smiled, picturing her covered in flour. "How many of the ingredients made it into the bowl?"

"Danno!" He didn't think he was imagining how she always managed to sound more exasperated when she'd spent time with Rachel. "All of them!"

"Good. Glad to hear it."

"Did you have fun tonight?" Grace asked.

Danny thought about it for a moment. It had been a little odd, with the undercurrents at the McGarrett house, but all in all...."I did," he answered at last. "I had dinner with Uncle John from down the street and his son."

"He has a son? But he's old!"

Danny tried not to laugh too hard as he pulled into his drive and got out of the car. "He's Grandpa's age, Gracie. His son is my age."

"Oh. Was he nice?"

"Yes," Danny said slowly. "Yes, he was."

"Good. Glad you had fun, Danno."

"I'm glad you had fun, too. But it's bedtime."

He recognized the long sigh that followed, but to her credit, Grace didn't try to fight it. "Okay. Night, Danno!"

"Night, Monkey."

Danny pocketed his phone as he went inside, still thinking about dinner at the McGarrett house. He couldn't quite shake the image of the two men calmly cleaning up a scene that he knew had actually killed John originally. But then he was the only one who knew that, so maybe it freaked him out more as a result. Or maybe they both had their emotions locked away so deep that they didn't feel anything when they saw it.

He found the thought of Steve being that closed off a little depressing, and decided to lock that away himself in favor of spending his night sleeping instead of imagining Steve McGarrett naked.

He didn't expect it to work, but he tried anyway.

***

Steve ignored the twinges in his shoulders and back as he pushed the last yards through the ocean to the beach. He hadn't been able to go out and just swim for fun in a while--Naval Intelligence had kept him more landlocked than anyone who joined the Navy would have expected. So when the cleaning crew had arrived that morning to wipe away all signs of the crime, he'd taken off for the ocean.

It had been his refuge after his mother died; there was something comforting about the symmetry of using it to avoid thinking about the near death of his father.

He shook himself as he stepped out of the water, wiping his face before he looked up at the house. His father was on the lanai with the other thing Steve had been avoiding thinking about--Danny. They looked as though they were in a rather heated discussion, which was, of course, the only reason Steve slowed his steps, taking longer to reach them than he really needed.

"...to protect him," his father was saying when Steve was close enough to hear, though he doubted they realized he could hear.

"Yeah, well--" Danny looked up and saw Steve and stopped, mouth open, eyes unblinking for a few seconds.

"Am I interrupting anything?" Steve asked, looking at his father, then back at Danny. He was still staring, his eyes bluer than the sky in the sunlight, his throat working a little in a way that challenged pretty much any weak excuse Steve still had in his head as to why he shouldn't want the man.

Danny finally blinked, a few times, but it was John who answered with an almost believable, "No. We were just talking about a dinner we have to go to."

"Dinner?" Steve glanced at his dad, then back at Danny, who seemed to be able to move again, and was giving Steve what could only be described as a thorough once-over. Possibly even a twice-over. Steve shifted a little closer to Danny, pushing his hips forward just a bit. "Where?"

"The Governor's residence," John said, as if it was a nuisance to be invited to dinner there. "Boring evening, not--"

"You should come," Danny said, his voice a little hoarse. "The invitation included you."

John pushed himself out of the chair, favoring his injured leg. "I'm sure Steve wouldn't be interested in--"

"I'd love to," Steve said quickly, before his father could go any further. If his dad didn't want him going, then he had every intention of being there. That Danny was going to be there didn't exactly hurt the invitation either.

"Great," Danny said, smiling and rubbing his hands together. "I'll pick you both up at 7?"

Steve nodded. "Sounds good."

"I'll walk you out, Danny," John said, and Steve knew that tone. It was the tone his father got when he didn't get his way. Steve hadn't heard it much, but he knew it nonetheless. The comment about protecting someone, followed by his father's attempt to keep him away from the dinner, didn't take a huge leap to connect.

He had a feeling the toolbox he'd found in the garage was connected as well. It had disappeared from the garage when Steve had gone back the night before to look at it. More signs of his father trying to protect him from something.

After all, his father had sent him 5,000 miles away to protect him at 15--and the fact that Steve still wasn't sure why bugged him. No reason to think he'd stop now, never mind that Steve was a Navy SEAL more than capable of protecting himself.

At least Danny treated Steve like a normal person. Not that anyone who wore a tie in Hawaii probably knew much about normal. Maybe there was a story behind that--he'd have to corner Danny at dinner and ask.

Contemplating all the other things he could do to Danny in a corner, Steve grabbed a towel and started drying himself as he went into the house. He made it as far as the living room, the towel half over his head, when his father stepped in front of him. "Steve, are you sure this is a good idea?"

"It's just dinner, Dad," Steve said, hanging his towel around his neck. "I promise I know how to eat with the right fork--I won't embarrass you in front of the governor."

And just like that tone before, Steve knew the look on John's face. He'd gotten it the time he'd joined his teammates in toilet papering the coach's house. "Steven."

"What?"

"I got shot in the leg, not in the eyes."

Steve put on his best innocent face. "I have no idea what you're talking about."

"You know, Danny has a daughter."

"I'm aware of that."

"And you have a career."

Steve locked his jaw, struggling to keep his arms at his sides. "Your point?"

"That you should think carefully about what you're doing before you do something a lot of people might regret."

He studied his dad for a long moment. "Are we talking about Danny here, Dad? Or are we talking about that toolbox in the garage and whatever it is that got you shot?"

"Steve--"

The phone rang, and John glanced in its direction, breaking his hold on Steve's gaze. "Better get that," Steve said, brushing past him and heading up the stairs. "I'll get out of earshot in case it's something you don't want me to hear."

His father didn't stop him.

***

Steve was out of the shower and in his room by the time his father was off the phone. Only when he heard Danny's  Mustang pull up did Steve venture back downstairs again. Danny was standing by the door, talking to John, but his words trailed off when he saw Steve come down the stairs.

"Wow, you own a tie?" Danny said after a long moment.

"I am a Naval officer. Of course I own a tie."

"But one that doesn't come with a suit of armor?"

"It's called a uniform, Danny."

And honestly, the tie did actually belong with his uniform. As did the pants. Steve had found a white shirt and black jacket in his closet, both classic enough cuts that he could get away with them, and he'd pulled out his uniform tie to go with them. Thankfully, the blacks even matched closely enough that he thought no one would notice.

Except maybe Danny, who was studying him a little closer than most people would. But he didn't think Danny would complain.

John cleared his throat, and Steve wondered just how long he and Danny had been silently staring at each other. "We should go," John said. "Wouldn't want to be late."

"Right." Danny turned and opened the door, and they all filed out and into Danny's car. Steve climbed into the back, folding his knees up to his chest to fit in. "There really isn't a lot of room back here," he said, his eyes meeting Danny's in the rear view mirror. "Kind of defeats the purpose of a back seat, doesn’t it?"

He wondered if Danny would pick up on the implication. "Maybe, but the front seats go all the way back," Danny said, never blinking as he held Steve's gaze.

Okay then, Steve thought, shifting to adjust himself as he reacted to the suggestiveness in Danny's voice.

John finished lowering himself into the car and they took off for the governor's residence. The house appeared quiet as they pulled up, the car door opened by a guard almost before they came to a full stop.  The governor greeted them inside, shaking hands with John as if they were old friends. Which Steve supposed they could be, since he didn't really know that much about his father's life over the past 20 years.

Introductions over, the governor's patented politician smile firmly on her face, they went in to dinner. Steve was surprised to see that it was just the four of them, but apparently he had been right in his assessment, and his father really was friends with the governor.

Several stories about her days in the state's attorney's office later, Steve understood why. Jameson had apparently been very good at getting criminals off the street, and John had been her go-to detective on a number of important cases.

The stories kept them occupied until dessert, and if Steve missed a few points here and there studying the way Danny's hair smoothed so perfectly back over his ear, or the crinkles in his cheeks when he laughed, he was pretty sure no one noticed.

At a glance from Danny, full of promise, he amended that to almost no one.

When they started lingering over drinks, Jameson seemed to notice that she and John were the only ones talking. "I'm sorry, boys," she said. "I'm sure we're boring you with old war stories."

"Not at all, ma'am," Steve said, training drilled into him from dinners with politicians while in Naval Intelligence making it sound believable.

"Still, we should probably let you go, or John and I will be here all night talking."

"I can give Steve a ride," Danny said quickly. "If you two want to talk." Steve swallowed at the images that came unbidden to his head about Danny and rides.

The governor raised her eyebrows at John. "My driver can take you home later, if you like."

John's worried glance went between Steve and Danny a couple of times before settling on the governor again, turning into something Steve didn't quite recognize. "That would be great," John said. "Thank you."

Steve glanced at Danny and tried not to grin like a schoolboy about to go on his first date.

***

Danny's palms were a little moist on the steering wheel as he drove to one of his favorite bars. He'd suggested a drink before he took Steve home, half expecting Steve to turn him down, but he'd quickly accepted. The car had been silent, save for some truly hideous 80s ballad station he'd stopped on when Steve had said he loved the song.

Whatever reluctance about the attraction between them Danny had sensed in Steve the night before, there didn't seem to be any reluctance now. Steve had been sending him glances all night that were difficult to misinterpret.

At least he hoped he was interpreting them correctly, considering Steve was a Navy SEAL, and DADT was still very much the law--even if there was talk it would be gone soon.

He parked a couple of spots from the bar's door and jumped out, Steve catching up quickly enough that he grabbed the door before Danny could, holding it open. Danny murmured a thanks as he went through, feeling Steve close behind him as he made his way to a table.

The place was dark and relatively quiet, with booths around the walls that allowed for conversation, but not so quiet that you'd be overheard. Danny dropped into one side of a booth, watching as Steve gracefully slid into the other.

Before he could say anything, a waitress stopped at the table. "Hey, Detective," she said, "the usual?"

Danny nodded. "Longboard?" he asked Steve, who nodded back. "Two," Danny said to the waitress.

"You come here often?" Steve asked with a smirk that he somehow managed to make look cute instead of annoying.

"Often enough," Danny said. "I like the atmosphere."

Steve nodded at the waitress, who was smiling at them from the bar. "You're here often enough that she seems to know you well, anyway."

That was definitely not a note of jealousy, Danny told himself sternly, no matter how it sounded. Even if the way Steve looked at the waitress when she came back with the beers was decidedly unfriendly.

"So," Steve said after a sip of beer, "you have a daughter?"

Danny couldn't keep the smile off his face as he nodded. "Grace," he said. "She's eight going on twenty. And smart, and gorgeous, and just about perfect." Danny ducked his head and looked at his beer. "And I could go on about her for hours," he said, hazarding a look up at Steve, who was looking as though every word was fascinating. "So I'll stop now."

"You don't have to," Steve said, pushing his beer back and forth a little between his hands. "I don't mind."

"I'm sure you'll hear me talk about her a lot more," Danny said, then kicked himself for sounding as if he assumed they'd be spending a lot of time together.

But Steve didn't seem to mind. "So you've got Grace," he said, nodding at Danny's hand, "but no ring."

"Ah, yes, well, that would be because my ex-wife is wearing someone else's."

"You were married?"

Danny laughed. "I didn't give birth."

Steve rolled his eyes. "You don't have to be married to father a child."

"No," Danny said on a sigh, "but I preferred to be married to have one once I had fathered her. Which turned out to be a mistake--the marriage, not the daughter. I wouldn't trade her for anything."

"You share custody?"

Danny shook his head. "I have custody, but Rachel and Stan moved here so Rachel could be close to Grace, and with my job, well...she's better than a baby sitter."

"Cheaper, too."

"There is that," Danny agreed. He took a drink. "So what about you?"

"I'm not cheap," Steve said, "but I can babysit."

Danny laughed. "Duly noted. I'll be sure to call on you the next time I need someone to watch Grace."

"Anytime," Steve said.

Danny could tell he meant it. "And don't think I didn't notice how you didn't answer my question. I am a detective. I notice these things."

"I wasn't sure what the question was."

"Tell me about you."

Steve shrugged. "Not a lot to tell. Left Hawaii at 15, went to Annapolis, joined the Navy, became a SEAL and then went into Naval intelligence."

"He says as if it was like riding a bike," Danny teased. "That's quite a list of accomplishments. And I've heard a few more from your dad."

"Really? I'd have thought he wouldn't say much."

Danny frowned at him. "Why?"

Pushing his bottle back and forth a little between his hands, Steve hesitated for a moment before speaking. "We've never been particularly close," he said finally. "I love him, but I've been gone so long, and we don't seem to really know each other."

And you almost didn't. "He's very proud of you," Danny said, wanting to somehow bridge the gap between Steve and his father, knowing how close that call really was. "Seriously, I know from proud fathers, and that man is a proud father. Trust me."

"I do," Steve said gravely, and Danny felt goose bumps at the look Steve gave him. "So if you say it's true, then I'll believe it."

This was too fast. He knew it was too fast, and yet he couldn't find it in himself to care. It felt right in a way nothing had since he was a teenager, except for Grace and Hawaii. "Good," Danny said, and had to stop to clear his throat. "In that case, I have this awesome bridge back home I want to sell you."

Steve threw his head back and laughed, and Danny could only stare. He'd go back a minute every time that smile and laugh happened if he could, just to see it again. It was breathtaking.

And he was utterly and completely fucked.

***