Danny gets the second best shock of his life four months after he leaves Oahu for San Diego. He’s been joking for months that he’s going to wake up and Steve is going to be in his apartment to kidnap him back home. Garcia gets a good laugh out of it – Garcia now better understands Steve ever since the day Danny broke and started telling stories – but it’s always been just a joke.
At least, it’s a joke until one Wednesday morning he wakes up to light spilling in past the curtains and a solid presence in the bedside chair just watching him.
“Okay!” Danny spits out the word in a shocked shout, his heart already racing. “I’m armed!”
“You’re armed while you sleep?” is Steve’s incredulous retort. “Danny, I don’t think that’s safe.”
Danny fumbles to lean over to the bedside drawer, grabbing a knife in its case and showing it pointedly to Steve before shoving it right back in the drawer, slamming it shut. Steve is just sitting there, like it hasn’t been four months, like watching someone sleep isn’t strange, like it’s okay to just sit there and not even look like you need to breathe.
“McGarrett, you can call the Boy Scouts and tell them you earned your stalking badge,” Danny says tiredly, rubbing the sleep out of his eyes. “You give those Twilight vampires something to aspire to.”
Steve looks absolutely blank and clueless at once.
“Don’t worry, Grace will explain it to you some day.”
Danny tries to shake the fuzz out of his brain and works around to the real question.
“Steve, what the hell are you doing here?” he asks. Yeah, he’d always joked about this, but seeing it actually happening is a little bit terrifying. It makes him wonder if maybe something’s gone wrong or if somebody’s hurt. He can’t even control his fear once it gets started. “Kono? Chin? Is it…”
“Danny, everyone is fine,” Steve says. He sounds calm and casual. He sounds like he’s going to start asking Danny about his day and it is too early for this.
Danny rubs at his forehead and tries to figure out what he’s supposed to do in this situation. He pinches himself just to make sure it isn’t a dream – it isn’t and also, he’s pretty sure there shouldn’t be that much skin on his arm to pinch so maybe Mary’s right about him needing to lose weight.
“Danny?” Steven asks again, sounding hopeful.
“Steve, I need you to…” He waves in the generic direction of the air. “I need for you to be…” It’s so early and he still needs to go to work today. “I need for you to be not here right now. Just for a little. Okay?”
Steve doesn’t answer. He just stays right where he’s sitting and keeps staring at Danny.
“Okay,” Danny answers for him, leaning over to grab his wallet. He digs out a couple of bills and presses them into Steve’s hand. Danny sends Steve for breakfast to the bagel place down the street and when he’s sure that Steve’s gone, he fumbles for his cell and immediately calls Chin. “What the hell, you couldn’t have warned me? Said, I don’t know, ‘Hey Danny, so guess what, you’re probably going to wake up and Steve is going to be watching you sleep, like a maniac’. What is wrong with saying that! What is wrong with making that phone call!”
“Danny, calm down,” Chin says. He can hear Kono in the background, chirping a bright, ‘Hi Danny!’ at him.
“No, no, no, no ‘Hi Danny’,” Danny warns, waving his finger at the phone and wishing that they could see him, that they could see how very not okay with this whole thing he is. “You two are in so much trouble. I could have had a heart attack! Poor heart health runs in the Williams family, waking up to Steve McGarrett watching you could very well be the leading cause of death in Hawaii! That deserves warning.”
“If you’re worried about your heart,” Kono says, her voice just slightly distant, like she’s leaning over Chin’s shoulder, “maybe you should cut down on the sugary stuff. Mary told us that you put on a couple pounds.”
“I hate you,” Danny says, shaking his head. “I hate you so much. I am not visiting for your birthday anymore and you are not getting a nice new gun that I hand-picked for you.”
“Love you too, Danny,” Kono says, just as bright as ever. “Look,” she continues, sobering up. “Steve made us promise not to tell you. And truth be told, we’re both still trying to process the whole thing.”
“Process, what process?” Danny says with a scowl. “Steve got on a plane, he flew away, and then he’ll come back and sit in your bedrooms to wake you up and scare you half to death because it’s like a sport to him. There, you’re processed.”
There’s a very long span of silence.
“…what did the lunkhead do?” Danny asks with a sigh, brushing the curtains back from the window to make sure that Steve isn’t back yet. He’s a little bit scared, he won’t lie. Steve has a habit of doing things, of saying ‘I’ll be back’ and pulling grenades out of his car (which is Steve’s car now, seeing as Danny didn’t want to bring it with him to San Diego).
“Well,” Kono draws out the word. “Chin is the new head of Five-O.”
Danny can feel his heart clench and tighten, like the inevitable attack is coming now. “What did he do?” Danny growls.
“He quit,” Chin says, finally speaking up. “He called the governor in order to transfer the task force to me, told us that we weren’t to call you on threat of torture by extremely bad music, and gave the keys to his father’s house to Mary.”
“Mary, what are you talking about, Mary, she’s still here, we had dinner just the other night!” Danny is starting to get ready to rant. By the time that Steve gets back, Danny’s going to be in full explosion mode. “Okay, okay,” he says, taking a deep breath and working towards a kind of calm. “I can handle this. I can handle Steve having a nervous breakdown and coming to my bedroom in the middle of the night. I am a professional with dealing with Steve’s brand of crazy.”
“Danny, if it’s any consolation, he’s probably not going to kill you,” Chin says.
“You’re so helpful. I can barely count the ways in which you are being helpful except that I can and they are numbered on one hand, one,” Danny deadpans. “Okay, scram, shoo, get, he’s coming back and you have bad guys to catch. Make sure you book ‘em just for me.”
“We wouldn’t think of anything else,” Kono promises. “Good luck, Danny.”
“Thanks, guys,” Danny says softly, hanging up and sliding his phone back on the dresser.
Steve is coming back up the walk and Danny is steeling himself for a knock-down drag-out conversation with no victor and a lot of spoils. At the last minute, he looks at what he’s been wearing – a white tank top and a well-worn pair of blue pajama pants – and throws on a button-down to try and make himself look just a little more presentable.
He’s left the door unlocked and it’s mere minutes before Steve comes inside and all of Danny’s well-thought plans go down the drain.
“You quit your job,” is all Danny can get out when Steve gets back to the bedroom. He’d intended to start with something else. Maybe he’d grab the food or maybe he’d make small talk, but it’s like the words have leapt out past his mouth before Danny could even do anything about it. “For me?” That’s what Danny’s not exactly clear of.
“Oh, this is gonna be good,” Danny mutters under his breath.
“I got shot.”
“You got what?” Danny explodes. “Are you kidding me? So not only did you quit your job, leave Hawaii, and practically scare the fuck out of me in the morning, you didn’t call to tell me that you got shot! What’s the matter with you!” Danny shouts, smacking Steve upside the back of his head. “I know it’s been different without me there, but did you lose what’s left of your mind? Is there that little sanity left that things like getting shot just slip away and get lost in the fabric of the universe like wayward socks and forgetting to call your grandmother on the weekend?”
Steve looks a bit hurt, actually, but Danny’s not backing down.
“Where did you get shot! When!”
“I got shot a week ago, it was just a through and through,” Steve protests, his eyes widening with every word, like he thinks that looking like a puppy is gonna do something about Danny’s mood.
He is sorely mistaken. Sorely mistaken.
“Thing is, Danny, I was alone. I got shot and I was alone until the ambulance came and that’s just not right. You were supposed to be there with me. You were supposed to use your stupid tie to try and stop the bleeding and then make a couple of jokes about how Superman can’t die from a bullet, but I got sirens in the distance. I got a crushing and overwhelming blanket of silence,” Steve says, putting the paper bag down on the table. “Things haven’t been right since you left. I haven’t been right.”
“Steve, babe,” Danny breaks in here, just to clarify. He waves a hand around, crossing his arms under his torso. “No offense, but I’ve always had this sneaking suspicion that you have never been right.”
“Hawaii isn’t right anymore and the last time that happened, I got on a plane and I left,” Steve says, so full of calm and reason. Danny suspects that even in Steve’s worst times, there is an ocean of calm just waiting to take over again. “So I made it right.”
“Okay,” Danny says, quietly. He nods his head like there’s a private beat he’s setting it to. “Okay.”
“We are gonna have a discussion sometime about proper greeting protocol,” Danny says, starting to button up his shirt. “But yes, okay.” Steve grins and it’s like the sun peeking out from behind the clouds, it’s so bright and beautiful. He steps forward and takes hold of Danny’s shirt for him, buttoning it up the rest of the way before smoothing his palm out over the front.
“Okay,” Steve says, chipper as anything.
Okay, Danny breathes out one last time when Steve leaves the room and Danny is left to process this for himself.
Steve moves in that afternoon. There’s no conversation about hotels. One minute Danny had a nice two-bedroom apartment and the next, Steve’s moved his boxes into the storage space and made a groove for his ass in Danny’s bed.
Danny should really have expected it, but he still feels a strangled sensation gripping him when he sees Steve walk into the precinct one day with two coffees in hand. He must go as pale as a sheet because Garcia is looking like he wants to get 911 on the phone to call an ambulance over. “Williams, you okay?”
“Yeah, but, Garcia, remember all that stuff I told you about McGarrett?”
“Yeah, the crazy ninja asshole with no regard for authority?”
Danny lets out a choked laugh. He’s got about five seconds before Steve’s within hearing distance. “Yeah, so I never told you any of that. And uh, I might have neglected to fill in a couple of blanks on that report that I’ll tell you about later,” he says, rushing the last words to get them out.
He plasters a bright grin on his face and tries to act like this is normal for Steve to just be dropping in on him at work. “Danno,” Steve greets, handing him a coffee. “It’s two milks and no sugar,” he warns. Typically, Danny’s coffee order runs closer to the lines of three creams, four sugars.
“Aw, come on,” Danny gripes. “Steve.”
“You’ve gained weight,” Steve says sternly, setting Danny’s coffee on his desk. “And you already had a couple of pounds to take off around your waistline. It’s an indicator of possible health problems, Danny.”
“Jesus, next thing you know, you’ll be calling my mother to get her on my ass about…” Danny trails off when he sees the guilty look on Steve’s face. “I swear to god, McGarrett, this is going to be the first exhibit in your murder trial.”
He finally remembers Garcia, glancing back to see his new partner watching the back and forth with amusement.
“Williams, I think I got a read on those blanks,” Garcia says with an apologetic shrug. He lifts himself out of his seat and leans forward, a hand extended to Steve. “I’m Anthony Garcia. I’ve been trying to corral this man ever since you cut him loose from Hawaii.”
Steve smiles that half-crooked grin and shakes Garcia’s hand and Danny can already sense that this is going to go poorly. It’s like Rachel and Steve all over again. Steve has basic social problems right up until the minute that someone is important in Danny’s life. Then he’s all perfect charm and handsome gentleman.
It’s just so irritating at the same time that it’s kind of charming.
Danny somehow becomes a third wheel with two men who are his partners. They talk about his life and shop-talk and Danny somehow ends up doing the paperwork for the last collar while Steve and Garcia laugh long and hard about old war stories.
And if Danny’s not mistaken, there’s even a conversation going on over there about ‘book ‘em, Danno’. “Hey!” Danny says sharply, looking up from where he’s jabbing dots on the page to make sure the paperwork is all done. “Both of you, you need time apart and I need my partner.”
Steve’s off the desk before you can say ‘AK-47’ and Danny waves his pen in the air like it’s a magic wand. “Not you, idiot, my partner,” he says again with only a heavy amount of inflection to make the difference.
There’s a real pinched look to Steve’s face, but Garcia just flashes an apologetic smile and Danny steals back his partner before Steve can do something Steve-like and convince Garcia to join a task-force or anything. “We’re going to interrogate a suspect,” Danny calls to Steve as they’re leaving. “Don’t you have that class thing on the base?”
“Yeah. Yeah, I do.” Steve just sits there, perched on Danny’s desk with his arms crossed. It tightens the polo shirt around his torso and makes Danny’s gaze linger just a moment too long. “I’ll see you at home?”
“Yeah,” Danny confirms with a hand lifted in the air. He thanks Garcia for holding the door as he leaves and is so busy thinking about Steve in that shirt that he doesn’t notice the unnatural silence between them for ten minutes. By then, he’s all the way past wary. “What?”
“In all your stories, you didn’t mention he was your person.”
“My what?” Danny scoffs. “My person? Is that the new ridiculous California thing? My person? Steve is my pain in the ass, of course, sure, and occasionally he’s good for a hostage situation seeing as he keeps a lot of weapons on him. And you know, the whole holding his breath thing can come in handy.”
Garcia, fuck him, just smirks.
“You have a kid,” Danny accuses. “You are going to hell for thinking what you just did!”
“Hey, man, you have no proof I’m thinking anything.”
“Just like any other day,” Danny says, feeling smug that at least he got that in. Garcia shoves at his shoulder and they get in the Mustang to go hunt down their latest suspects for an interrogation.
Danny feels a little looser after that. It’s like someone took the heavy boulder of tension from off his shoulders and pitched it far, far away. His zennish calm does not last long because scumbags are scumbags regardless of where in the world they are and two of their suspects are really impolite in their trying to shoot him to death.
By the time he and Garcia are ready to call it quits for the night, Danny has bloodstains on his shirt from the suspect, his vest has got frayed threads from getting stuck on rusty nails at the pier, and he is exhausted – flat out exhausted. He keeps touching the area on his neck where the bullet went by, unconvinced that he hasn’t been shot, and gives Garcia a pitiful look.
“Go home, man,” Garcia says. “I got this one. But you owe me next time.”
“I owe you everything in the world,” Danny agrees, but he doesn’t need anything more. “You can catch a ride?”
“I’ll find a ride. Go home to your breathless wonder.”
Danny reverses the Mustang expertly while flipping Garcia the finger. It’s a talent no boy from New Jersey grows up without.
When Danny gets back to the apartment complex, he’s a little surprised to see Steve is back from work earlier than usual. Danny’s not sure if this is good news or if the world is about to end and Steve gets the night off as a result. He drops his keys in the bowl at the front hallway and wanders inside to find Steve setting the table for dinner. That, in and of itself, is a bit worrying. Steve doesn’t tend to cook unless it’s one of those ‘fresh from the ocean’ things, but here he is with plates and cooking and candles.
“…Steve? Is someone coming over that I don’t know about?” Danny asks, sliding his palm up his torso until he comes to the knot of his tie, loosening it with steady fingers.
Steve closes the distance between them and takes hold of Danny’s hands with his own, prying them away from the tie. He replaces them quickly with his own, his breath ghosting past Danny’s neck and becoming incredibly distracting.
“It’s just us, Danny,” Steve says, sliding his fingers deftly through the knot of the tie and prying it loose. “You looked happy at work.”
“Yeah, well, straight-up homicide cases put me in a groove,” Danny says, standing his ground and not moving as Steve winds the fabric of the tie out from under the collar of his shirt, popping it up like he’s some remnant of the eighties. “I tell you we got a hundred percent solve rate, Garcia and I?”
“You seem to work well together,” Steve murmurs. The tie is wrapped around his palm, but he hasn’t made a single move to step away.
Danny glances up and tries to read the temperature here. “Yeah, we do,” he agrees, just a bit wary. “You jealous of that?” He’s not even trying to get a rise out of Steve. He genuinely can’t tell if that stoic look on Steve’s face is ‘I’m horrifyingly jealous of your new partnership’ or ‘I’m glad to see you do so well at work’ or maybe just ‘maybe I should have put more garlic on the bread’.
Steve smiles in such a calm way that Danny’s thinking maybe somebody spiked his tea with drugs and that’s why he’s home so early. “It was weird to see at first,” he says with a shrug. “But I’m not jealous. Because you come home to me,” Steve continues, sliding the tie down Danny’s neck and starting to unbutton his shirt. He gets one, then two buttons off. He ought to stop where it’s appropriate, but he keeps going for the third. “I’ve been waiting for the right time to broach this, but it always seems to slip away. Now that I know you’re happy here, I think it’s time.”
Danny’s heart is making a run for it. It’s going to leap out of his chest and leave him a bloody and yammering mess.
“You live with me,” Danny says, his voice low and throaty. Somehow, Steve has managed to find a way to close the distance between them, even though Danny would swear on his life that they were out of distance to close. “Steve, you live with me and Grace is blocks away and she knows you’re here. You make this into just a sex thing or you fly the coop when you get bored of me,” Danny lectures in a patient and even tone. It’s his ‘I am so very serious about this that I can’t even pretend to be angry’ voice. “If you do that, I will have no problem calling the Governor of Hawaii and respectfully asking her to redact your ass.”
Steve slides his palms down and unbuttons another of Danny’s buttons, leaving only two between him and total shirtlessness.
“You’re serious about this, huh?” Danny breathes out.
“I came here for you,” is all Steve needs to say for Danny to get with the program.
Danny just shoves at Steve to get him going in the direction of the bedroom. “Dinner’s gonna be cold, babe,” he announces, another tense vice on his chest seemingly released just like that. “I got things I need to do to you. So many things, you have no idea.”
Sometime over the last six months, Danny’s life has been kidnapped all over again. He would’ve said it was impossible to happen twice, but impossible is not a word that Steve McGarrett knows.
They get in the habit of having weekly dinners with Mary on the deck of their little apartment. Steve barbecues while Danny fetches drinks and it’s a little bit like having family again. Mary’s as good as his sister, he won’t deny that. They’re having one of those barbecues when Mary comes inside to help cook the side dishes with Danny. Steve is busy drinking beer and doing his thing outside with the grill.
“I got this,” Danny says with a look of confidence as he gestures to the spinach dip he’s putting together. “Old Williams family secret, we are good with an oven and an apron.”
“You’ll have to show me pictures,” Mary says with a slow smile. She casts a glance over her shoulder. “I wanted to ask you something about Steve.”
“Is he a lost cause?” Danny jumps right in without actually waiting for her to ask anything. “Yes, I’m sorry, but your brother is always going to have an idiotically happy reaction to things going boom. We tried to find a cure, but he’s too far gone.”
Mary just rolls her eyes. “You’re not as funny as you think you are.”
“That is total bullshit, but go on,” Danny encourages, a big grin on his face.
“Is my brother happy?” is what she has to ask.
And Danny, well, Danny’s big goofy grin probably puts him in the doghouse of happiness more than it does Steve, but Danny likes to think that it does the trick of answering. It’s enough for Mary, who comes around the kitchen island to nudge him with her hip and poke a finger into the dip before sucking it off.
“Not bad,” she says with approval. “Maybe I’ll tell Steve to keep you.”
He nudges her right back and they spend the hour bake-time joking back and forth about her being taller than him, ties in California, and Steve’s unfortunate hair in high school. No matter how the night varies, it always ends the same – the three of them tipsy, Danny and Steve sprawled out on the couch while Mary takes the chair, and with Steve’s fingers absently stroking Danny’s neck.
“You two are gross,” she accuses, sticking out her tongue as she sprawls forward and puts an empty beer bottle on the table with eight others. Her hair falls messily over her shoulder as she levels a look at them.
Steve’s fingers have progressed to stroking down Danny’s back. Danny’s exhausted from his day and the beer and his eyes aren’t even staying open anymore.
“You’re the one who wants me happy,” Steve says, accusing her lazily.
“Yeah, but can’t you wait til I go to bed?”
She takes the guest room like she always does and the minute she closes the door, Steve gets that Look on his face that he always gets when he has a couple of beers in him and he has an idea. Danny doesn’t even put up a fight anymore and just shakes his head.
“Do what you’re gonna do,” Danny says.
Which is how he ends up pressed against the wall, legs wrapped around Steve’s waist, gagged, and fucked by a man who has entirely too much strength in his body for his own good.
When they’re not entertaining Mary, they sometimes have Garcia and some of the guys from the department over. Somehow, along the way, the wives and partners started to come over with them. It’s all Garcia’s fault because he got one glimpse of Danny and Steve bickering over whether a sauce had to be refrigerated or not and said, “Next time, I’ll bring the wife.”
It’s a Friday when the kids come over with all the wives and their small apartment is so full of people that Danny’s actually afraid he’s going to step on someone’s baby before he knows it. He escapes the wrath of his book club by getting back to the kitchen and clasping his hands together in prayer. “Steven, beer me,” he begs. “I need a beer more than I have ever needed anything in my life, including that thing you did to me the other night.”
Danny’s learned that talking about sex in a public place makes Steve pull this really funny face that has a real effect on Danny’s libido. It’s both amusing and dangerous at once, but Danny knows he’s gonna behave, what with fifteen people under their roof and most of them underage.
Steve has a quiet look of panic on his face, like all the noise and all people is leading them in a dangerous direction.
“Okay, Steve, I know this is hard to believe,” Danny says as he bends over to fish out a new bag of chips to put out. “But the toddler playing on the coffee table is not an assassin from the ‘Stan that’s here for you,” Danny says, nodding his head. He bends over a little further, muttering to himself about salsa, which is when he feels his ass being grabbed. “If that’s your sister, we need to have words.”
“Danny, downward dog is always gonna get you this kind of attention,” says Steve, who is currently pressing the whole front of his torso to Danny’s back and breathing the words out against his neck, lips pressed snugly just beneath his earlobe. “Bend with your knees.”
“What and not get this kinda treatment?” Danny’s pretty thrilled, to be perfectly honest. He straightens up, pressing a bottle of salsa into Steve’s hands. “We got houseguests. You are disallowed from locking us in the bedroom.”
When Steve opens his mouth, Danny flicks his forehead.
“I wasn’t going to say anything,” Steve says heatedly.
“I’m sure I owed you one,” Danny promises, snatching the salsa back and pressing a kiss on Steve’s cheek. Just before he goes back out to feed the hungry masses, Steve remembers to hand him a beer and Danny feels this momentary lapse of judgment where he thinks he could forgive Steve a lot of things just for that.
The entertaining is good for them. It keeps them in the loop of things happening at the precinct and it’s not so much of a secret that Steve and Danny live together and in addition to being former partners are also current partners. Occasionally there’s someone who’ll put up a fuss, but Garcia’s pretty aggressive when it comes to reminding those troublemakers that anyone who has a problem with Danny has a problem with the department.
The ugly rumor mill tends to die down for a while after Garcia gives his polite reminders.
It doesn’t hurt that Steve has his own work that comes with a hefty amount of respect. Steve spends his days on the Naval Base. He’s thrown his hat into the ring to teach some of the more insane courses they offer, but he also does his share of work for the country. Most of the time, Danny doesn’t get more of an answer than, “It’s classified,” but Steve does things like let the papers slip slightly so that Danny can see the headings.
“Are you seriously doing cryptography for the government?” Danny finally breaks one night and asks when he finds Steve with a stack of papers in bed, glasses sitting low on his nose. “Steven, what is this, the Cold War?”
“Your lack of knowledge about current affairs, frankly, scares me some days, Danny,” Steve says distractedly, reaching over to pull the covers back and let Danny into bed with him. Danny gets in with his case files, wearing a full set of pajamas and a pair of socks, and props himself up with the pillows. “Also, it’s classified.”
“I’m gonna start doing shots for every time you tell me that,” Danny warns. “And then you’re gonna pay for my liver transplant.”
Danny shifts until he finds a spot that’s comfortable, which mostly involves splaying out reports on Steve’s hipbones and scribbling notes when he needs to. Every now and again Steve twitches and Danny has to hide a grin by ducking his head.
“I’m ticklish, okay?” Steve says defensively.
“I didn’t say a word, Steve, I think it’s adorable that your kryptonite is tickling. Good thing the bad guys in Honolulu didn’t know that an overeager kitten could fell you,” Danny says with a smirk, signing off on one more case file before stacking them on the dresser beside the bed. He steals Steve’s work from him, prying his glasses off and putting those aside too. “Sleep,” he insists, when Steve starts looking like he’s expecting an amorous interruption. “We stayed up way too late last night when you found my old high school pictures…”
“I regret nothing.”
“…and you have that thing in the morning, the deep-sea dive or whatever. Bed,” Danny says again, a little sterner this time.
Steve looks like he’s ready to launch one final protest and so Danny hauls out the big guns.
“Go to bed and tomorrow when you come home on your freakish adrenaline high, we’ll have sex and you can get me so riled up that I make our perfectly nice neighbors think we’re ungodly heathens,” he says.
Steve seems to take that as good enough because he settles down under the covers and slings an arm around Danny’s torso to haul him closer. “Promise?” he asks suspiciously as though Danny’s done this kind of thing before – twice, yes, admittedly.
“Yeah, Steve, swear on my glorious locks of hair,” Danny agrees.
He leans over to turn the lamp off and gets settled right back into the space that Steve’s left open for him. Being held captive by a Navy SEAL isn’t exactly so bad when their favorite method of torture seems to be really clingy sleeping.
Danny can deal with that kind of sleep deprivation provided that he gets to kick Steve in the shins when he starts snoring. There are some things that no amount of love can let you forgive, and a night spent listening to a lumberjack sawing away is so beyond the boundaries, as far as Danny’s concerned.
Danny gets home from seeing Grace and finds Steve waiting for him with a beer and a gentle smile on his face. Danny takes the beer, chugs half of it down, and lets his attention drift away at least for just a second. He hates this feeling. He hates coming home and being away from Grace for another week. He’s worked out new custody arrangements where he gets to see her one night a week in addition to every other weekend, but it still isn’t enough.
“You know,” Steve says, after the appropriate amount of time has passed and he knows that Danny is ready to talk. Danny wouldn’t be surprised if somewhere hidden in their apartment, there is a half-started Danny Williams Manual that Steve pulls out to consult and contribute to on a constant basis. “I think maybe I get a little bit of what you were feeling in Hawaii.”
“Yeah?” Danny’s not even close to as drunk as he’d like to be, so his confusion is purely because Steve isn’t making any damn sense. “How’s that?”
“I kind of hate Rachel.” Danny’s eyes widen and he’s practically laughing because Steve, the man who wanted to have tea the very first time he met Danny’s ex-wife, that very same man, is now professing to hate the woman.
This is gonna be good. “Yeah?” Danny replies, bemused. “Why’s that, babe?”
“I don’t mean that I hate her. I don’t. She’s an incredible woman who raised a beautiful daughter.” And there’s the respectful Steve that Danny knows has just been lingering around the corner. “But I hate that she moved, because it means that she moved you with her.”
Danny’s starting to get it.
“And I had to come after you.”
There’s a heavy pause now as Danny tries to calculate what the next move is. He could roll with this and continue on a casual note. He could pull out a couple new beers and commiserate about just how much Rachel can make their lives hell because she’s loyal to her new husband. The thing is, Danny thinks, the thing is that he has to stop and think about this for a minute because the issue is a lot deeper than just ‘man, can Rachel suck and I’m not talking about the good way, although…’
Danny leans forward, pressing his palms on his thighs and splaying his fingers out. “Steve, you didn’t have to follow me.” Danny hadn’t been anything more than a partner on the verge of something else. It’s not exactly the same situation as Danny and Grace.
Steve didn’t have to follow Danny across the ocean. But he did anyway and that says so much without even putting anything into words.
“Danny, ask Chin and Kono sometime,” Steve says, so sober, so serious, so Steve that it practically places a pain in Danny’s chest that he thinks he can only make go away by kissing Steve as hard as he can. “Ask them what happened when you left.”
“I’m guessing,” Danny says, his tone light in an attempt to keep the mood up, “I’m guessing maybe you were a pain in everyone’s ass. I’m guessing you probably shot someone that you shouldn’t have shot. And I’m guessing you tried to use my absence to put new policies into effect that everyone hates. People need coffee in the morning, Steve, you can’t just ban coffee!”
“In the quantities that the rest of you drank in, yes I could,” Steve says with that serious and determined look on his face. “You would have lived longer if I got my way.”
“No coffee bans,” Danny says sharply. “But yeah, Steve, I’m guessing you weren’t a real peach to live with.” He debates his next move here and in the end, he thinks that the only way this is going to work is if he goes with total honesty. “Listen, babe,” Danny says, turning on the couch so he’s facing Steve. “That feeling’s not gonna go away, so I’m about to give you some advice. Be a normal human being and nod right now so I can pretend you’re at least listening.”
Steve nods -- good boy -- and Danny is at least slightly assuaged.
“One day, you’re gonna wake up and realize that if you don’t figure out what to do with all those, those feelings,” he says, balling his hands up tight in a shadow mimicry of the anger he used to feel, “then it’s just gonna devour you whole. So one day I realized that I’m the one who made the choice. I chose to come after Grace and yeah, it makes me a good dad, it makes me a great dad,” he allows. “But it still means I chose. I chose it, Steve. Wasn’t Rachel’s fault for moving on. She just got there first.”
So now, now comes the part that involves Steve.
“Look, Steve,” Danny says. “I know your life was pretty shitty when I left, but you still chose to come out here. And I’m giving you the option to go back. I am not that kind of girl, Steve McGarrett, that’s gonna cry if you go. I will not shed a single tear because, quite frankly, I am sure you’ve made a dozen girls cry in your lifetime because your special hunk-love wasn’t bestowed upon them and I refuse to contribute to that.”
Steve is getting a pinched look on his face and he mouths ‘hunk-love’ very slowly. Danny’s going to lose the point if he doesn’t hustle to get it back on track.
“What I am saying!” he says, using his hands, “is that you are not bound here by me. You get to choose now, McGarrett, just like I chose to accept that I’m the one who followed Grace to Hawaii. Your call.”
Steve purses his lips and his attention veers sideways, away from Danny. He watches Steve warily, not sure what’s going to happen next, and while he might have just given Steve an out, he is practically begging with the whole universe that Steve does not actually take it.
“Is trash day tomorrow?” is all Steve asks.
Danny’s eyes bug-out, go wide, and he must have missed the rest of the conversation. He is sure that Steve hit him on the head and he’s just gone unconscious and he has actually missed all the subjects that bridged the gap between Rachel and trash-day. “Come again?”
“Trash day,” is all Steve says. “Tomorrow?”
“We are having a serious discussion!” Danny shouts, aware that they’ve had complaints from the neighbors already – Danny’s been at fault twice with sex and arguing and Steve had accidentally blown the oven door off during an experiment. “You are supposed to make a decision now and then tell me because that is what people in relationships do!”
Unless you’re Danny and Rachel and have effectively pioneered a system of glares. He doesn’t know that it’ll work with him and Steve. It’s very hard to learn when not at a young age.
“Danny,” Steve says in that way he has, that ‘I got this,’ tone that makes people trust him. “I decided. I decided a long time ago. Now, seriously, trash day. We’ve missed the last few weeks because you’ve forgotten…”
“Oh, I’ve forgotten, I’ve forgotten, I’m the one who’s been doing stakeouts all night, not sleeping in our cushy bed and able to put the trash out leisurely in the…”
“Because it’s going to start smelling, Danny! And that’s how we’ll get pests…”
“And let me tell you something, I am the one who took it out last time. I remember because I got a lot of comments from our nice elderly neighbor about how I need to wear more clothes out if I intend to meet people along the way. Did you know that apartment etiquette, Steve? Because I didn’t, I did not know my house robe was not good enough for old Mrs. O’Leary next door.”
“She bakes me cookies,” Steve says smugly. “She says I’m a perfect example of a young gentleman and you can learn from me.”
“Of course she does,” Danny says with a sigh. He waits just a moment, just one, for the dust to settle and the teasing to fall by the wayside. He leans forward and nudges Steve’s knee with his knuckles. “You’re sure about this? You made your choice?”
“Yeah,” Steve says with a nod. “Yeah, I did. Danno, it took me four months to make sure it was the right one, but I don’t have a single doubt in my heart. I made my choice.”
Danny doesn’t need any more convincing than that.
This week, Danny gets Grace on a Tuesday night.
She’s finished her homework and has eaten every last green from off her plate – Steve cooked, which means it’s a salmon and broccoli kind of night. Danny’s just finished putting her to bed in the guest room and sits beside her, his palm stroking her hair, unable to leave without lingering.
She’s his baby girl and one day she’s gonna grow up and he’s barely going to recognize her anymore, but right now on this Tuesday night, she’s his and that’s all that matters. He closes the door gently behind himself and walks down the hall to see what Steve’s up to – if Steve’s up to anything dangerous or if he’s decided today is when he reveals his plan to take over the western half of the states.
Steve looks relatively harmless. In that he’s got Danny’s cell phone in hand and is just talking away.
Danny arches a brow and mouths, ‘Who is it?’ and of all the people it could’ve been, Danny didn’t expect for Steve to whisper, “Your mother,” back at him. And they’re off, Danny’s heart rate accelerating into panic and beads of sweat forming on his upper lip. He hasn’t exactly come around to mentioning to his mother that his live-in ex-partner has become something of a serious boyfriend to him.
He’s been waiting for an opportune moment. Maybe Christmas when everyone has drank too much and his sisters are shouting at each other about what they want to do for New Years. Yeah, Danny’s thinking that’d be the perfect time.
“Steven,” Danny commands sharply. “Steven, give up the phone. Steven John McGarrett, you will not like the unholy retribution that will rain down on you if you don’t…” Somehow, he ends up standing on the couch and smacking Steve on the back of his head, snatching the phone in the melee.
“…but Danny’s been overprotective with his sisters since high school…”
“Ma, it’s okay, you can stop lying to Steve, I’m here,” Danny says, glaring right back at Steve – who has decided to turn his hurt puppy glare on Danny. It doesn’t work, it doesn’t work at all, and Danny is not going to feel so guilty later that he’ll probably give Steve an Apology Blowjob. He swats at Steve to make him go away so he can at least have a decent conversation with his mother.
“Daniel, sometimes I worry about you,” is the first thing his mother says to him.
As far as the Williams family goes, it’s not even that hefty a guilt-inducer. There’s just been so much worse.
“Steve tells me that you nearly got shot.”
“Nearly! Nearly, Ma, focus on the nearly,” Danny practically howls in his defense before he remembers just how close Grace is and the last thing he needs is to wake her up. “Steve worries too much, next thing you know he’s going to start throwing salt over his shoulder just in case, just in case, and this is a Navy SEAL. If a Navy SEAL is throwing salt to ward away demons, I am not living with said SEAL anymore.”
“So then things are going well?”
Danny pauses and watches as Steve finally gives up on getting the cell phone back. He roams around the apartment tidying up and putting away the cupcakes they’d had for dessert. He’s wearing yoga pants that make his ass look, frankly, fantastic and a long-sleeved Naval Intelligence sweatshirt.
“Yeah, I mean, they’re not half bad,” Danny admits. “Me and Garcia busted a drug ring,” he boasts proudly. “Even got my picture in the paper. I mailed a copy to you and Dad, and this time, no spelling mistakes,” he goes on, something warm pooling in his chest as he watches Steve glance back over his shoulder and smile proudly in Danny’s direction. “You okay there? Dad okay?”
“Your father needs something to occupy his time. He’s bored.”
“Ma, I think he’s just enjoying his retirement. Let the man be! So what he’s not working all the time anymore, it’s good for him, it’s good for the both of you. I mean, maybe, maybe you should start thinking about taking a trip out here,” Danny suggests, looking down the hallway like he’s already doing the math on where everyone will stay.
Now that he’s said it, he wants it. He wants it more than he’s wanted anything since he wanted Steve with him (and he got that). He wants his father to see the good work he’s doing and he wants both his parents to see how big Grace has gotten. He wants Steve to be able to shake his father’s hand and Danny wants to tell his mother that he thinks he’s done and that second time’s the charm.
“We’d love to come out and see you, Danny,” his Mom says in that soft and hushed way that comes when Danny does something surprising. The last time he heard her sound like that, he’d bought her a dozen bouquets of roses for Mother’s Day. “You wouldn’t mind?”
Steve has finished unloading the dishwasher and comes back to the living room, standing in front of Danny – who has yet to move from his position, standing on the couch cushions. Steve just looks at him in that unyielding way that says he wants to know everything about the situation – the man is secretly a gossip whore who hides it behind Naval training, Danny is convinced.
“No, Ma,” Danny says, soft as anything as he reaches his free hand out and cups Steve’s cheek with it, brushing the line of his jaw once before letting that palm slide down Steve’s neck. He presses it atop his heart and just lets it rest there. “Me and the family,” he says, not taking his gaze away from Steve’s for a single moment.
Get this, he wills. Understand this.
“Me and the family, we want you here.”
He knows the conversation goes on past that. They talk about New Jersey and he gives them updates about Grace and they all say their ‘I love you’s, but Danny’s pretty sure it all passes in a haze. Steve’s only moved so far as to sit down beside Danny on the couch and when Danny finally says goodbye – for the third time, his Mom has a tendency to bring up cousins and their updates at the last minute – he pries the cell phone away.
“The family?” Steve says as he shifts their bodies, sliding until Danny is on his back and Steve is comfortably straddling him. “I didn’t know you and Rachel were doing that well.”
Danny just laughs.
He laughs. And then he laughs some more, and when Steve starts getting a hurt look on his face, Danny kisses him while the laughter bubbles past his lips. “God, Steve, you’re so lucky that you’re an attractive idiot,” is all Danny has to say to him. “You’re my family, too,” he reminds him of what he once said in an airport so very far away.
Steve closes the distance between them and on a Tuesday night, Danny knows that whatever he might have done in his life, he did something very right to get him to this.
And he knows that second time’s the charm.