Steve stood near the corner of the lanai, leaning against the wall, watching the party. He saw Kono smiling at something Chin said, looking relaxed. He also saw the way her hand went to her phone in her pocket constantly, pulling it out every so often to see if she had a message. He'd told her to bring Adam, but her terse response that Chin wouldn't like it, combined with a shuttered expression, had made him drop it.
Chin looked relaxed, but Steve knew now how to look for the cracks. They were there, not wide, but there. But Chin was holding up, better than Steve thought he might if he'd lost someone he loved that deeply.
His eyes strayed to Danny, off in the opposite corner, smiling down at Gabby as he tucked her hair behind her ear. It was good to see Danny happy and settled in Hawaii, making a home for himself and Grace. Clearly Steve had been right to push Danny at Gabby. She made him happy and kept him in Hawaii, two things Steve considered very important.
Their team was the best, and he didn't want to lose anyone, especially the best partner he'd ever had. He'd do whatever it took to keep the team together, including throwing a party for their extended team at Danny's request. He'd thought at first it was to celebrate the outcome of the custody hearing, but it was on a night Grace was with Rachel, and Danny had made a point of ensuring Gabby could come, and Steve had agreed to whatever night that was.
And if Steve had stationed himself by the cooler of beer to get through it, who was going to notice? Or care?
"Hey, sailor," Catherine wrapped her hand around Steve's wrist, knuckles brushing against his stomach, pushing his hand further down into his pocket.
He gave her a smile, turning his head towards her, his eyes still watching Danny. "Glad you made it."
"I almost didn't," she said, launching into a story about something that happened on base. He quickly lost track of her words as he watched Danny move towards them and grab two drinks, giving Steve a smile before he turned and went back to Gabby.
"What's wrong?" Cath asked, when Danny was back across the room.
"Hm?" He frowned at her. "Nothing's wrong. Why?"
"I just told you the Loch Ness Monster ate the Missouri."
He blinked at her. "What?" he asked, as her words sunk in. "Sorry," he said, rubbing his eyes with his free hand. "I haven't been sleeping well."
"I know--I sleep with you, remember?" She touched his face, forcing him to look at her. "Steve, what's wrong?"
"Nothing's wrong that a little sleep won't cure."
She smiled, caressing his wrist. "Well, you'll have a better chance of that now. As I was trying to tell you when you were paying no attention, I'm going to be gone for a couple of days. I have to go back in the morning."
"So then I'll get some sleep tomorrow night," Steve said, forcing a smile as he pulled his hand out of his pocket and laced his fingers with hers.
A clanging noise drew his attention, and he looked across the lanai to see Danny clinking two beer bottles together. "If I could have everyone's attention please," he said, looking a little embarrassed. "I appreciate everyone being here tonight--"
"Even though it's technically my party?" Steve called out.
Danny laughed along with the rest of the group. "And I appreciate the use of Steve's house," he said, acknowledging Steve's comment with a nod. "There's something I wanted to do, and I wanted my family here when I did it."
A familiar warmth settled in Steve's stomach at Danny calling them family. He watched as Danny took Gabby's hand before lowering himself onto one knee. "Gabby, you have been a wonderful friend and you've been patient and kind, and I can't imagine the last year without you. So I was hoping you might do me the honor of becoming my wife."
Gabby's hand flew to her mouth, and Steve could see her eyes shining from there as she nodded, pulling Danny up and into a kiss. Steve felt Cath let go of his hand, saw her applauding, realized everyone else was as well and hurried to follow suit.
Everyone crowded around the happy couple, Catherine leaving his side to join in the congratulations. Steve saw Gabby showing her hand off, and realized he'd missed Danny putting a ring on it.
Steve hung back, letting the others finish their congratulations while he finished his beer. When the group had thinned out a little, Steve approached Danny and Gabby.
"Congratulations," Steve said, holding out his hand to Danny. Danny shook it, and Steve noticed the way Danny's hand felt against his palm, rough and soft at the same time. He looked down at their hands, blinking for a second.
"You all right there, buddy?" Danny asked, laughter in his voice.
Steve shook himself. "Yeah, sorry, fine. Just thinking." He let go of Danny's hand and turned to congratulate Gabby, giving her a kiss on the cheek. "Though why you want to saddle yourself with him, I'll never know," he teased her.
"I spend a lot of time with ancient artifacts that don't say much," Gabby said, smiling at him and Danny in turn. "His talking is a nice change."
"Did you two plan that little exchange in advance?" Danny asked. "Because I'll have you know I don't talk any more than anyone in my family. In fact, my uncle Joey could out talk a record. I saw him do it once. It was a--why are you laughing?"
Steve raised an eyebrow at him, sharing a glance with Gabby. "Congratulations," he said again, squeezing Danny's shoulder, letting his hand linger a second before he let go and went back to his corner to grab another beer.
Every muscle in Steve's body was straining, pleasure coursing through every vein as he thrust up into the warm, tight hand around his dick. He'd been on the edge so long, and he just wanted, he needed...
"Danny, please, just..." He looked up, Danny's eyes dark and hot, trained on Steve, as if his sole focus in life was to get Steve off. "Please."
"Please what, Steven?"
God, he loved it when Danny called him that, and Danny knew it, the bastard. Danny was just toying with him now.
Steve woke, hips pushing into the sheets, his body just on the edge of release. He gasped, rolling over to see Catherine sleeping soundly beside him, the reality so vastly different from his dream that it killed his need, his dick as confused as his brain, apparently.
He stared at her for a long moment, soft, gorgeous and naked, still smelling of sex from when they'd gone to bed hours ago. She was perfect for him, and he loved her, he really did.
He rolled away from her, onto his side, to stare at the wall. Yeah, he loved her.
The problem was he might actually be in love with someone else.