I DON'T KNOW, GUYS, SOMETIMES SHIT JUST GETS AWAY FROM ME, THE END.
Title: Weight of Days Lost Holding You Down
Author's Note: hermette, I blame you and I love you and I blame you and thank you so much for the incredible beta job, I cannot even. YOU ARE THE WIND BENEATH MY WINGS, OR SOMETHING. And, er, Cate, sorry I went and turned your prompt into...this whole thing...dfhdsjfk.
Summary: Steve jumps off buildings; Danny hits the wall.
Danny doesn't mean to stay awake for two days straight, because he's not crazy, masochistic, or Steve.
It's just--well, okay, Wednesday night they get a break on the case, that happens, that's not Danny's fault, criminals will be criminals and it's not like he could’ve just let Steve go out there alone. He wouldn't have let Steve go alone even when they were just partners, but now they're partners and partners, right, so there's an added side-dish of "Oh god if he dies I don't actually know what I'll do, what the fuck, what even is that, how did that happen," and also the general, you know, "I'm kind of enjoying his ass on a regular basis, I'd be glad if it survived."
And it takes all night, the chase and the shooting and the accidental base-jumping and Steve nearly strangling that one guy, because that's just how things go in Danny's life. He plans on catching some shut-eye after they book the guy, only the paperwork takes forever--it's hard to explain accidental base-jumping, okay, especially with a splitting headache--and he and Steve are heading for the door when his phone rings.
"Rachel?" Steve asks, his hand warm on the back of Danny's neck, even though the ringtone's given her away. It’s a less dire one than it once was, but Steve still knows it. "You gonna answer?"
"Probably should," Danny says, because he’s tired, he’s wiped, but family is family. He takes the call, brings the phone to his ear. "Yeah, Rach, what's up?"
Her voice is high, a little panicked--which, the thing is, Rachel doesn't panic easy, Rachel is cool as a cucumber most of the time, there's not much that can set her off. But once she's gone she's really gone, needs someone to help take the edge off; Danny gets that about her, gets how it can be impossible to separate from that high-strung freaked out place. It was one of the things that helped them understand each other at first, when things were still fresh and good between them--it was one of those things that helped them fall apart, when they stopped being able to calm each other, started driving each other further onto that precipice instead.
The point is, Rachel doesn't usually lose her shit over anything but Grace, and Danny feels his blood run cold before she's even gotten a whole sentence out.
It's just the flu, he reminds himself as Steve drives him to her house, trying to ignore the pressure building behind his eyes. It's just the flu, Gracie's just got the flu, it's not--it's just reminding Rachel of that time when she was three and got pneumonia and almost died, that's all, that's what's happening here. It's just that Stan's out of town and Gracie sounds like hell and that week, that week when she was too small to understand why she felt so bad, when she clung to Danny's shirt and wouldn't let go, was the worst week of any of their lives. It's just that Rachel's reliving some painful memories, right, and she's doing it alone, and Danny understands that, doesn't need to overreact--
"Danno," Steve says, his hand landing on Danny's thigh, "hey, Danny, she's going to be fine. "
"Yeah," Danny says, "I know, thank you, but I know, okay, I know, it's just--when she was little there was this thing, with pneumonia and the hospital and Rachel's, I'm--you know, it's a, it's just a thing, that's all."
Steve doesn't say anything, but he rubs his thumb back and forth on top of Danny's slacks, the pressure a solid line to reality. Danny closes his eyes and tries to remember that it's fine, really, it's fine, it's going to be fine.
Rachel opens the door in a t-shirt and a pair of sweats Danny remembers her owning back in Jersey, and the heavy circles under her eyes betray that this thing didn't just crop up today. He tries to muster up some irritation at that, but he's wiped out himself, and anyway Rachel looks like hell.
"I'm sorry," she says, "I should have called you before, but the doctor said it wasn't--and I wouldn't have bothered you, Daniel, I'm sorry to pull you out of--"
"Rach," Danny says, "Rach, hey, what's the point in moving across the country if I can't come by and help out, huh? You think I'm just in this for the dolphins and the fruity drinks, is that what you think? 'Cause I gotta tell you, I could live without them, I'm just saying. It's fine, really."
Rachel smiles at him, a wan, tired thing, and Danny sighs.
"In her room," Rachel says, and Danny takes the stairs four at a time, leaving Steve behind. He can hear Grace coughing from down the hall and it makes something wail in him, raw and awful, but he's trying not to think about it too much.
"Hey, Monkey," he says, soft, when he goes into her room. Grace looks up at him from the bed, little face drawn, and it's all he can do to sound calm and composed. "I hear you're not feeling so good, huh?"
"I hate this," Gracie complains. "We had a field trip at school and I missed it--"
"I'll take you," Danny says, smoothing her hair back from her face. Her forehead's too hot, and he sighs, leaves his hand for a second. "Me and Steve, okay? To wherever it was you were supposed to go, we'll do a whole day when you're better, how's that sound? Good, right? It'll be great, baby, I swear, whatever you want, alright?"
"Okay, Danno," Grace sighs, and turns her face into the pillow. "Are you gonna stay? Mommy said you were coming, but she didn't know if you could stay or not."
"I'll stay," Danny says, over the tightness in his throat. "Of course I'll stay, who do you think I am, huh? Where am I gonna go? You think I got somewhere else to be?"
Grace laughs a little, but it turns into a cough, and Danny vows to never tell a joke for the rest of his life. "Will you tell me a story?"
"Yeah," Danny says, "yeah, Monkey, of course. Let me just go talk to your mom for a second, okay? I'll be right back, I promise, and I'll tell you whatever story you feel like."
Grace nods, and Danny smooths her hair down one last time before he goes downstairs again.
"Well, she's definitely sick," he says, when he finds Steve and Rachel in the kitchen. Between the three of them they look like a train hit them--Rachel worrying at the corner of her lip, Steve's face still marred with the bruise where that drug runner hit him, Danny blinking hard just to keep his eyes open. "You should go home, babe, catch some shut-eye, ice your face a little, you know?"
"I can stay," Steve says, and then winces. "I mean, I wouldn't want to--to presume anything--"
"Steven," Danny says, holding up a hand, and tries to ignore the way Rachel covers her smile. "Don't be an idiot, alright? I'm not trying to shoo you out or anything--and hell, I think Rach here probably likes you better than me--"
"That's not true," Rachel says. "I like him much better than you, actually. Try not to misquote me, Daniel; you know how I hate that."
"Lovely," Danny says, but he's grinning at her, and she's grinning at him, and Steve’s looking a little less like he feels banished. "This isn't about you not being welcome or anything, Steve, god. It's just--you look really bad, right, and I only got so much capacity for worry. Go get some sleep."
“I’m not exactly the only one running on a sleep deficient,” Steve says, giving Danny a pointed look.
“Yeah,” Danny says, “that’s the fucking truth, but you are the only one who’s likely to be leaving this house in the near future, and I’ve been wearing this shirt for two days, so my reasons are not entirely altruistic, you know? Go, seriously, go, and maybe bring back something for me to eat--”
“We’ve got food,” Rachel says, rolling her eyes. “I know you persist in imagining I’m a terrible cook--”
“No,” Danny says, “I don’t imagine that, Rachel, you are a lot of things, okay, a lot of fabulous things, I’m not saying anything against the things that you are, but a good cook? No.”
“Just because you’re comparing me to your mother--”
“You know what doesn’t go in a tuna casserole? Peas--”
“Daniel, for heaven’s sake, that was one time--”
“Guys,” Steve says, and oh, shit, they’re doing it again. Danny tries with Rachel, and Rachel tries with Danny, he knows she does, but sometimes it’s easy to slip into old arguments without either of them realizing it.
“Ah,” Rachel says, ducking her head, “sorry.”
“No,” Danny says, “no, it’s--I just, grease, you know? I want him to bring greasy food, pizza or those, those little things they do at Liliha’s, with the butter and the chocolate and, I don’t know, soup for Gracie, there’s soup on this island, right?”
“There’s soup on the island, Danno,” Steve says. “I can get you soup.”
“After you sleep,” Danny says, and he’s rambling now, but-- “And a movie, right, she likes movies, or we can--actually, no, there’s Netflix, I forgot about the--”
“Danny,” Steve says, and he’s all up in Danny’s personal space now, the same way he always is. Danny tries to be annoyed, and fails; Steve puts a hand on the side of his neck, swipes at Danny’s jaw with his thumb. “I will get you a shirt, and some food, and the stuff for Gracie, alright? I will sleep. I got this. Relax.”
“You’re just,” Danny says, waving a hand, “you know, you,” and Steve laughs.
“I know this is gonna come as a surprise to you,” he says, “but I can actually make it a couple hours without you policing my every move.”
“Steven, you jumped off a building today. I turned my back for one second, one measly second, how much trouble could you cause in a second, and then I turn back around and you’re leaping off of buildings. That doesn’t inspire that much confidence, my friend, I’m just saying.”
“That was different,” Steve says, so easy, like it’s nothing, his palm still warm on Danny’s neck. “That was for work.”
“There is something so, so wrong with you,” Danny says, and only leans into the touch a little. “Deeply wrong. The wrongest.”
“Wrongest?” Rachel says, laughing, which, okay, Danny had kind of forgotten she was there. “I’m fairly certain that’s not a word.”
“McGarrett here defies words,” Danny says. It comes out fonder than he means it to--he knows it does because of Rachel’s soft smile, because of the way Steve’s face twists in all goofy, like it does when he’s happy and doesn’t know how to show it. “Alright, you, get out of here, go on, clean shirts and pizza are important, okay, and you’re gonna hit adrenaline crash before you get home if you don’t leave now.”
Steve rolls his eyes, the unspoken “SEALs don’t have adrenaline crashes, Danno, because we are irritating super-human beings,” hanging companionably between them. He does lean in and kiss Danny, a swift, easy thing, there and gone again at the edge of his mouth.
“Sleep,” Danny insists. “If you come racing back here I will not let you in, and if Rachel lets you in I’ll shoot you.”
“Yeah, yeah,” Steve says. “Don’t do anything crazy while I’m gone.”
“That’s you,” Danny reminds him. “With the crazy. I don’t have that problem.”
“Sure you don’t,” Steve says, and goes.
When Gracie was three and in the hospital, clammy and cold, too pale by half--that’s when Danny started making up stories. He’d told her fairy tales before that, read her books, picked up bits and pieces of other people’s fables, but after seventy-two hours in a shitty plastic hospital chair, his store of pre-made distractions was used up. Rachel sang to her, because she’d always had the better voice, and because Danny tended to drift towards Springsteen when left to his own devices--Gracie loved Jersey Girl and hated Glory Days, didn’t have feelings one way or the other about Thunder Road.
That hurt, the indifference to Thunder Road, but it was one of those things you came to accept, as a parent.
The point being, when Gracie was three and sick and scary, when Danny could barely string two sentences together that weren’t “How are you feeling?” and “Danno loves you,” he learned to pull his past out of his ass and weave it into something worth listening to. His sisters became princesses or dolphins or heroines; Matty became the Luigi to his Mario, the sidekick to his superhero. He just talked, right, talking was something he was good at, it wasn’t like it was hard, and Gracie ate it up with a spoon.
She’s older now, old enough to know where he’s pulling these things from when he talks about The Dread Pirate Steve, terror of the high seas, about Admiral Chin Ho and First Mate Kono, diligent in their quest to bring him to justice. She knows, and listens anyway--Danny’s not sure if she’s really interested or if she’s just humoring him, if she’s even old enough to humor him, if this is just about keeping him by her bed a little longer. He doesn’t care; he talks until his voice goes hoarse, reads to her when she asks, sings Springsteen and Sinatra and whatever else he can think of until she finally falls asleep.
Rachel’s in the living room when he goes downstairs, her feet tucked up under her on the couch, the television on. He’d ask what she’s watching, but it’s obvious she doesn’t know; she’s looking down at the leather, running her fingers across it absently. She jumps when he clears his throat.
“She’s sleeping,” Danny says, taking the armchair across from her. “Which, okay, is like the third time she’s fallen asleep, she keeps waking herself up coughing, but I think this time it’s gonna stick for a little while.”
“Fingers crossed,” Rachel sighs. “Do you want--I can get you a cup of tea, if you’d--oh, don’t make that face, Daniel, your objections to tea are well documented, it’s still polite to ask.”
“I’m fine,” Danny says, and scrubs at his face with the back of his hand. “Although I might make some coffee in a bit, if you’ve got any--don’t get up, Rach, if I want it I’ll make it.”
“Alright,” Rachel says, a little wary, but when he rolls his eyes and slants her a small smile, she relaxes again. “Sorry. Old habits, you know.”
“You had an old habit of getting me coffee?” Danny says. “Well, shit, if I’d known that back when we were together--”
“Oh, bugger right off,” Rachel says, but she’s laughing. She looks about like she always looks, when Gracie’s down with something bad--stretched a little too thin, less pulled together than usual. Danny remembers the lean times from when they were first together, when Rachel was getting her Masters and he was just shy of making detective. She looks a little bit like that girl now, with that same wild passion behind her eyes; a little bit like the woman she became, too, that calm under pressure she fought so hard to make her own.
Mostly she looks like Rachel, like this person Danny loved and didn’t love, like the mother of his child and his past and his friend. Like his family, for all he’s not really sure what the word means anymore.
Fuck, but he’s tired.
“So,” Rachel says, “you mentioned something about Steve jumping off a building. That sounds interesting.”
“Oh god,” Danny says, “let’s talk about your day instead, huh? Anything but that lunatic and my thrice-weekly cardiac events, please, please.”
Rachel smirks at him. “Well,” she says, “in between taking care of our daughter and calling you, I did manage to avert what would have undoubtedly been a mild fiscal disaster, but unless you’ve suddenly grown an interest in macroeconomics, I can’t imagine that will be much of a conversation.”
“Speaking of which,” Danny says, “I’m not exactly remembering you as being the most interested in police work, you know? Something about terrible pillow talk--”
“Well, it was,” Rachel says. “That doesn’t mean I’m not inclined towards hearing about Steve plummeting to his almost-doom.”
“You should just come for a ride along one day,” Danny says despairingly. “It happens often enough, I’m sure you’d catch him at it.”
“He’s good for you, I think,” Rachel says, cocking her head to the side and looking at him like he’s the latest...Danny doesn’t know, GDP report or whatever it is she spends her time analyzing, she always was smarter than him. “You’re less--I don’t know. You, I suppose.”
“Thanks,” Danny says, rolling his eyes, but there’s not really any bitterness behind it. “Not that I don’t appreciate the endorsement, Rach, but if anything I am good for him, okay? Because, seriously, you do not understand, the level of crazy--”
“Do you think you’re not crazy, Daniel?” Rachel says. “Is that honestly what you think?”
“I think I’m wandering into landmine territory, that’s what I think,” Danny says. “One misstep and it’ll all go to hell, don’t think I don’t know how you are with your...your sneaky. Er. Conversation traps of...aw, hell, I don’t know, you can’t expect much of me right now, okay? “
“Are you sure you don’t want a coffee?” Rachel says, peering at him with concern. “It’s only you’re looking kind of grey, and I think it’ll frighten Grace if she finds you old cold on the floor.”
“Yeah,” Danny says, getting up, “coffee would be--yeah.”
He goes into the kitchen and is surprised to find Rachel behind him; she smirks when he raises a questioning eyebrow at her and gestures at...oh. Oh, she’s got one of those coffee machines, of course she does, the ones with the buttons and settings and little rod things sticking out the sides, who requires this kind of precision for coffee in their own home? What happened to Mr. Coffee, that’s what Danny wants to know, to Mr. Coffee and pre-ground Folgers, okay, he is a cop, he doesn’t need to be all...
“I can figure it out,” he says, defensive, before she even gets a chance to get a word in edgewise.
“Of course you can,” Rachel says, more mocking than placating, a wicked curve to her mouth. “I’d just like to watch, if it’s all the same to you.”
Fifteen minutes later, Danny has managed to get coffee everywhere but in the cup--it’s dripping from his hair, it’s all over his shirt, it’s flooding across the counter, advancing on the edge with dangerous speed. Rachel, who can be very predictable when it comes to things like this, is exactly where Danny would expect her to be--leaning against the opposite wall, helpless with laughter.
“You could help,” Danny says, pushing another button and getting a face full of steam for his trouble. “Jesus Christ, is this some kind of torture device, huh? Who made this? Where did you even get this, Rachel, the cruel and unusual store?”
“Try the thing with the espresso button again,” Rachel says, around peals of laughter, “Daniel, your face, I can’t--”
Because Danny’s life is utter, utter shit, this is when Steve knocks on the door.
“You were supposed to sleep,” Danny says when he opens it, “and don’t say a word, I can see you thinking words, okay, don’t say them, hold them in, bite them back, McGarrett, I swear to god. Tell me you brought me a shirt, tell me that.”
“I brought you two shirts,” Steve says. “And a pair of sweats. And food, but I really think you should cool it on the trans-fat--”
“You,” Danny says, ignoring the comment about the trans-fat out of the goodness of his heart, “are still crazy, but there’s a good person buried under there--come inside, come on, bring the food to a place where I can eat it and teach me how to use this coffee maker, I know that SEAL brain of yours can figure it out.”
“Is that why you’re covered in coffee?” Steve says, handing him a box of pizza that doesn’t smell like it has fruit on it, thank god.
“No,” Danny says, “I went for a coffee swim, I thought it would be--yes, Steven, of course that’s why I’m covered in coffee, that machine is an evil beast from hell, why else would I be covered in coffee?”
“It’s hard to know, with you,” Steve says. “I’m kind of sorry I missed that.”
“No,” Rachel says, coming in from the kitchen and wiping tears of laughter from her eyes, “you’re extremely sorry you missed it, believe me.”
“How’s Grace?” Steve says, rather than asking her to explain. Danny suspects this is only because he’s still in the room, but hell, he’ll take what he can get. Rachel’s smile slips a little, but her shoulders square, and Danny is reminded for the thousandth time that he underestimates her more than he should.
“I was just going to check on her, actually,” she says. “You really should teach him to use the coffeemaker while I’m up there, if only for entertainment value.”
“Will do,” Steve says, grinning at her, but his smile’s gone the second she’s up the stairs. The look he gives Danny is somewhere between concern and irritation, and Danny pinches the bridge of his nose to ward off the impending headache.
“No,” he says, “no, whatever you’re going to say just, just no, Steven, I can’t do it, you should be in trouble anyway, not me, you were only gone for like--for like two hours, okay, three tops, that’s barely enough time for a nap, I gave you explicit instructions--”
He stops, because Steve’s crowding him, backing him up into the counter.
“Er,” he says, “babe, look, whatever it is you’re angling for, my daughter and my ex-wife are upstairs, and this is not exactly--”
“Shut up, Danno,” Steve says, and slides both hands into Danny’s hair, fingers first. His thumbs are pressed into Danny’s temples, rubbing gently, and this would be...sweet, actually, in a weird, too-intense, McGarrett sort of way, if it wasn’t for the look of furious concentration on Steve’s face.
“McGarrett,” Danny says, “swear to god, if you don’t stop looking at me like you’re trying to set me on fire with your mind, I’m gonna--”
“What?” Steve says, calling his bluff, and Danny’s totally fucked, because he’s got nothing. “What are you gonna do? Drip on me?”
“That’s a low blow,” Danny says, but he drops his head forward a little, lets his eyes close. Steve steps closer and Danny sighs, giving it up entirely. “Would it have killed you to just make the coffee? Or sleep, okay, what’d I tell you about that, huh?”
“I slept,” Steve says, shrugging. “I’ll sleep more. I’m--”
“A SEAL, yeah, yeah, I know about your magical military powers,” Danny mutters. “You don’t need normal human things because you’re secretly a robot, I get it, you’re all--I know about the things that you--are, and. Not.”
“Feels good, then?” Steve says, sounding too smug by half. Danny groans.
“Of course it feels good, you asshole,” he says, “don’t let it go to your head, this isn’t a, a skill you have or anything, I’m just--I’m a human person, okay, unlike you, I know that’s not an experience we share and whatever, but this? With the headrubbing? To real, non-SEAL people? Yeah, babe, it feels good, it’s not you, don’t make that face.”
“Your eyes are closed,” Steve points out.
“You think I need to see your face to know you’re making the face?”
“You’re babbling,” Steve says, fond and too innocent at once. “I can’t understand a thing you’re saying, it’s really--”
“I hate you,” Danny says, “I hate you so much,” but he shuts up after that. They can’t stand there more than a minute, Steve rubbing his temples just hard enough, but it feels like years; Danny lets himself relax muscles he hadn’t known he was tensing, takes a long, deep breath. When Steve steps back Danny kisses him, because he can’t help himself, because Steve makes him lose control of his body sometimes, and Steve breathes easily into his mouth. It’s good, this thing they have between them, makes Danny feel less like hitting things. Makes Danny feel more solid, not that he’d say as much out loud.
“About the part where I told you to sleep,” Danny says, pulling back, and Steve laughs.
“Go change or something,” he says, “you look like shit.”
“Jesus,” Danny says, “is it something about me, huh? Am I just drawn to you abusive types, because, Steven, babe, the love, where is it, I ask you--”
“I’ll make you the coffee,” Steve says, grinning at him. It’s a lopsided sort of smile, torn asunder just a bit by the circles still under his eyes. They’ve faded a little, even if the bruise on the side of his face has darkened, and he looks like he always looks after the big cases wind down; Danny can see the dearth of adrenaline in the way he moves, like he’s craving something to get his blood up again.
Usually--when Danny’s not bone tired, when Gracie doesn’t have him worried like this--they have the best sex after the hardest cases. It’s not really a mystery, the reason why.
But then there’s this other thing, this stupid Steve thing, this way he looks at Danny in moments when his guard is down. That’s what the damn smile’s about, splayed crooked across his mouth--about things they’re not saying but mean anyway, about things they’ve always meant. Danny watches him, unsubtle in exhaustion, and wants to crawl into bed with him, tangle their limbs until discerning whose is whose becomes impossible. Danny wants to close his eyes and breathe him in, every ridiculous, reckless inch of him, until there’s no room in his lungs for anything else.
So he says, “Coffee, yeah, uh-huh, that thing is...you know what, no. Good luck, is what I’m saying here, because honestly, the machine, it’s more complicated than it looks,” and takes his clothes to the bathroom. His own reflection in the mirror looks haggard, bringing to mind long nights in a shit motel and longer days in court, reminds him of being older than he looked and younger than he seemed.
But when he pulls the shirt over his head it smells like the detergent Steve buys in bulk, like the Pine Sol they use in the office, like the lingering scent of gunpowder in the Camaro. Danny feels better for the change, more like himself even without the tie, even in pants he wouldn’t be caught dead in professionally.
He splashes water on his face, even though it never actually helps, runs a hand through his hair and sighs. At some point here he’s going to go home, and it’s going to be more glorious than he really wants to consider--until then he’s just got to hold it together, keep himself upright, keep going.
When he comes out, Rachel’s got a piece of pizza halfway to her mouth, relaxed enough that Gracie’s fever must be down a little. Steve’s laughing at some story she’s telling him--probably about his specific brand of idiocy, that seems likely--and picking pepperoni off his slice.
There’s a cup of expertly brewed coffee sitting on the counter.
Grace wakes up an hour later, wandering downstairs with Dolphin Trainer Annie tucked under her arm. She’s sniffling, but she’s got more color in her face, and Danny’s the first one to see her; he smiles at her, gestures her over to the couch.
“Hi, Monkey,” he says, “you feeling better?”
“Kinda,” she says, plopping down next to him. “Hi, Steve.”
“Hey, kiddo,” Steve says, in that weird strangled voice he uses with her sometimes, like he’s not sure how his vocal cords work. Danny reaches around behind Grace’s head and punches him lightly in the arm, which seems to snap him out of it. “We’re watching a movie.”
Gracie gives him a look that she definitely inherited from her father; it’s just short of an eyeroll, and Danny has to bite down on a grin. “I can see that,” she says, a little grouchy--it’s only to be expected, but he should probably say something anyway, manners being what they are.
“Grace,” Rachel chides, taking care of it for him, but Steve’s laughing, reaching down to ruffle her hair.
“Smart kid,” he says, and scoots over enough to give her a little room. Rachel smiles at them from the armchair across the room, and Danny’s hand is on Steve’s shoulder--he must have left it there after that punch, even if he doesn’t remember actually deciding to do so.
He’s not even sure what movie they’re watching, just that it’s something making Grace laugh every couple of minutes. He checks her for fever as unobtrusively as he can, although she gives him a look that says she’s onto him; it’s down, it’s definitely down, and he’s thinking it’s going to be time to go home here in a minute now. Only his head’s back against the couch and Steve’s shoulder is warm under his hand and Gracie’s leaning against him, and he kind of shorts out for a little while, not quite sleeping but not quite doing anything else.
He jerks when Steve prods him, and hey, the television’s off and Gracie’s asleep again, when did that happen? He shakes himself, trying to get his bearings, and eases his daughter into his arms to pick her up.
“I’m just gonna,” he says, gesturing at the stairs, “and then, babe, I think we should probably--”
“Yeah,” Steve says, “I’m kind of hitting the wall here, and you--”
“Don’t start,” Danny warns, softer than he’d normally be to avoid waking Grace. “Rachel, you’re okay if we--”
“Uninvite yourselves from my home?” she says, and rolls her eyes at his raised eyebrow. “Honestly, Daniel, I was more than capable of--”
“Well I know that,” Danny says, “but it’s--I, you know, I was just, you remember when she--”
“Yes,” Rachel says, her eyes going soft, “I do. And it’s not that I don’t appreciate it, but--”
“Thank you,” Danny says, meaning it suddenly. “For letting me stay, I mean, that was...thanks.”
“Stop,” Rachel says, because she is at heart a very kind woman, and she understands him too well. “This isn’t--you’re welcome, you know. Here. For things like this. In general, really, it’s not...I never intended to make you feel that you weren’t.”
“You kind of did,” Danny says, without rancor. She smiles at him, a little sad, a little fond.
“Yes, well,” she says, “I was angry, wasn’t I? But, ah, what was it that counselor said--”
“Co-parenting moments,” Danny says, wincing as the words come out of his mouth. “If we could not actually use the phrase, okay, because that guy--”
“Yes, I know,” Rachel says, and then blinks when she catches Steve’s bemused expression. “Ah, sorry. Daniel was of the distinct impression that our marriage counselor was, in fact, a murderer in his spare time.”
“He’ll be our next case,” Danny says to Steve, “something about his eyes, and his hands, okay, they were wrong, they were--murder hands--”
“Danno,” Steve says, “please go put Grace to bed so you can get some sleep. For all our sakes.”
“Yeah,” Danny says, “that’s probably a good call.”
He takes the stairs carefully, balancing Grace against him to keep from jostling her. She doesn’t wake even when he drops her in bed, just shifts a little and curls in around her pillow. He can’t help but watch her for a second, solemn in the darkness, swelling with an emotion he couldn’t put a name to if he tried. He’s glad that he was here for this, even if it’ll undoubtedly be the kind of day she doesn’t remember as an adult, just one of a thousand childhood memories abandoned for the sake of better knowledge.
He kisses her on the forehead before he goes downstairs, just once, for his own sake more than hers, and thinks long and hard about not forgetting this moment himself.
When he gets back to the first floor, the door’s open, and Danny wonders for a split second if Steve had one of his “What other people?” moments and went out to the car without him. Then he notices the suitcase in the corner, hears voices from the other room, and realizes that Stan must be home from his trip early.
There’s no reason that should make his heart sink, but there you go.
“Danny,” Stan says, when he and Rachel emerge. They’re holding hands, and Danny’s happy for her, is happy himself, but it’s...weird. It’s weird, and he wonders if it’s weird for Rachel, seeing him with Steve--and if it’s not, why not? Is it because of Steve, how he’s always been kind of superhuman anyway? It is it because she’s more mature, or because she’d loved him less?
Healthy thoughts these are not, and the things he wants to say--”What are you doing here, in your own home,” and “Seriously, you couldn’t have waited five minutes,” and “What, did you kill my SEAL and eat him, huh, where’d he go,”--are just as bad. He goes with, “Stan,” and nods at him, and then Steve comes out from around the corner, the sound of a toilet flushing echoing behind him.
“Oh,” he says, “Stan, hey. Good to see you, man.”
Steve, Danny knows, goes golfing with Stan sometimes, using the justification “Keep your friends close and your enemies closer.” Danny’s not sure if he’s more discomfited by the thought that he doesn’t mean that, or by the fact that he probably does--either way, the chill factor in the room goes down about ten degrees, and Stan smiles.
“Commander,” he says, and ugh, seriously, there is just something about the guy that makes Danny’s skin crawl, but at least it’s usually Steve who ends up dealing with him. “What brings you here?”
Steve steps into Danny’s space, their shoulders knocking together, and shrugs. “Oh, you know,” he says, “I go where I’m told.”
“You do not,” Danny says, “that is such a lie, McGarrett, do not misrepresent yourself like that. He doesn’t go where he’s told. He has never once done what he was told, if I told him to breathe he’d probably hold his breath just to spite me and he’d probably be able to do it for a year, okay, without even breaking a sweat, he makes not doing what he’s told into an art form--”
“Danny,” Stan says, cocking his head, and, okay, it’s officially the end of the world, Danny’s just going to give up and die now, “are you okay?”
“Everyone’s a critic,” Danny mutters.
Steve’s thumb brushes along his back, a light touch, there and gone again. It shouldn’t ground Danny the way it does, make him feel suddenly more and less present, but when he turns to look at Steve his eyebrows are up, and his mouth is quirked to the side. Danny is caught up suddenly in the strange, unbidden image of Steve meeting his family in Jersey, of what he’d say and how he’d be, of the way he’d probably reach for Danny the way he’s reaching now. Because that’s half of it, isn’t it, what makes them work--the way they tether each other, call for backup, trust in the push and pull.
Partners, he remembers, and then, stranger, family, because that’s what this is, in a way. It’s that same rush of affection mixed with something else, something like history and politics, something with a weight that shifts depending on the light. Danny trusts Steve with his life, Rachel with his past, and Stanley with his daughter, and maybe he doesn’t always like them, but they’ll be there when he calls.
“Right,” he says, “we were just gonna...go home now.” He takes Steve’s hand and drags him to the car.
Here’s the thing about being too exhausted to function: sometimes it backfires, leaves you riding the wave of sleep deprivation until you reach a fucking inconvenient crest. Danny’s in his bed, is finally, finally between the sheets, Steve curled and breathing evenly beside him. He wants to sleep so much it hurts, so much his whole body’s come alive with it--he moves, restless, his hands and eyelids twitching with the sharp desire to let it go. But he can’t, he can’t loosen up enough to fall away from himself; he’s so tired that he’s wide awake, and if he’s bitter and rigid and staring at the wall like he’ll burn a hole in it if he just tries hard enough, so what?
“Okay,” Steve says, and shit, Danny hadn’t even known he was up, “that’s enough, come on.”
“Shuttup,” Danny mutters, closing his eyes fruitlessly and swatting at him. He wants to move even less than he wants to be awake, not that he thinks that’s going to matter to Steve “Dog With a Bone” McGarrett. “I’m sleeping here.”
“No,” Steve says, “you’re not. You know how I know? Because if you were asleep, I could sleep, but you keep moving around and--”
“Oh,” Danny snaps, “well, okay then, fine, that’s how it’s gonna be then fine, I’m so sorry that my insomnia is--”
“Danny, for fuck’s sake,” Steve snaps, “just, fuck, I know you’re tired, alright? Just come on, I’ve got an idea.”
Danny glares at him, for all the good it does, but Steve’s thousand yard stare isn’t exactly limited to criminals these days. He sighs eventually and swings his legs over the edge of the bed, follows Steve down the stairs and through the kitchen, out the sliding doors and onto the lanai.
“What,” he says, the word cracking on a yawn, “what’re you gonna do, huh? You gonna take me for a dip in the ocean, because that is not sounding like a relaxing time to me, babe, I know that you’re all--hey, leggo, I’m--”
Steve rolls his eyes and then does, yes, actually physically drag him across the beach. Danny’s starting to have some serious worries about being thrown into the sea and left to drown, but then Steve veers right, crashes down onto the hammock, yanks Danny in on top of him.
“Oooph,” Danny grunts, his face against Steve’s chest. He shoves, tangling his feet with the threads holding them up, and maneuvers himself into a better position. His mouth is pressed against Steve’s neck when he’s done, and Steve’s arm is curling loosely around his back, and he might--begrudgingly, to himself--be willing to admit that this is pretty comfortable.
“Sleeping outside?” he says, for the sake of saving face.
“Shut up, Danno,” Steve says, easy, his voice smooth and low already. Danny envies him this sometimes, the way he can slip into that surfer guy he was at 16 without breaking a sweat, go all mellow without trying. It’s not fair, not when he’s so...Steve...the rest of the time, not when Danny’s own thoughts are chasing themselves around like vicious, wounded dogs.
“Make me,” he says.
“Okay,” Steve agrees, and he’s got a hand in Danny’s hair again, another one slipped up under the edge of his shirt. His fingers, long and tapered, deadly in the right light--Danny’s allowed to have these thoughts, okay, it’s been days, days since he felt like a normal human being--are tracing lines up Danny’s back in patternless strokes, the palm against his neck keeping time.
And, alright, okay, Steve maybe had a point about coming out here, it’s possible. The sound of the ocean is so much louder when you’re right up against it, and Danny’s not used to finding it soothing--he still wishes for car horns some nights, for sirens and traffic accidents screaming by his window. But this, the waves breaking against the shore, the breeze that’s cool, actually, as Hawaiian breezes go...it’s alright. He could get used to it.
“Mmph,” he says, which isn’t what he means to say at all.
“Yeah,” Steve says, and then, softer, “relax, Danny, okay? Come on, you can do it, let it go.”
Danny doesn’t even mean to, doesn’t want to prove the bastard right, but the ocean's so loud and Steve's voice is so soft and his hand doesn't stop moving, it's just running across Danny’s back, through Danny's hair again and again. And fuck, he hasn't showered in two days and it's gotta feel disgusting, between the sweat and the coffee, the worry pooled there, it’s gotta feel so gross, and there's salt on his lips and Steve's warm underneath him and he finds himself closing his eyes.
“See,” Steve says, “was that so hard?” and Danny rides on it, lets it carry him to that slow, smooth place he’s been looking for so long.